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Let conftant vigilance thy footfteps guide, And wary circumfpection guard thy fide;
Then fhalt thou walk unharm'd the dangerous night,
Nor need th' officious link boy's finoaky light.
Thou never wilt attempt to cross, the road,
Where ale-houfe benches reft the porter's load,
Grievous to heedlefs fhins; no barrow's wheel,
That bruifes oft' the truant fchool-boy's heel,
Behind thee rolling, with infidious pace,
Shall mark thy ftocking with a iniry trace.
Let not thy venturous fteps approach too nigh,
Where, gaping wide, low fleepy cellars lie.
Should thy fhoe wrench afide, down, down you fall,
And overturn the fcolding huck fter's ftall;
The fcolding huck fter fhall not o'er thee moan,
pence exact for nuts and pears o'erthrown.
Though you through cleanlier allies wind by day,
To fhun the hurries of the public way,
Yet ne'er to thofe dark paths by night retire;
Mind only fafety, and contemn the mire.
Then no impervious courts thy hafte detain,
Nor fneering alewives bid thee turn again.
Where Lincoln's-inn, wide fpace, is rail'd around,
Cross not with venturous ftep; there oft' is found
The lurking thief, who while the day-light fhone 135
Made the walls echo with his begging tone:
That crutch, which late compaflion mov'd, fhall wound
Thy bleeding head, and fell thee to the ground.
Though thou art tempted by the link-inan's call,
Yet truft him not along the lonely wall;
In the mid-way he'll quench the flaming brand,
And share the booty with the pilfering band.
Still keep the public ftreets, where oily rays,
Shot from the crystal lamp, o'erspread the ways.
Happy Augufta! law-defended town!
Here no dark lanterns fhade the villain's frown;
No Spanish jealoufies thy lanes infest,
Nor Roman vengeance ftabs th' unwary breast;
Here tyranny ne'er lifts her purple hand,
But liberty and juftice guard the land;
No bravos here profefs the bloody trade,
Nor is the church the murderer's refuge made.
Let not the chairmen, with affuming ftride,
Prefs near the wall, and rudely thruft thy fide:
The laws have fet him bounds; his fervile feet
Should ne'er encroach where pofts defend the street.
Yet who the footman's arrogance can quell,
Whofe flambeau gilds the fafhes of Pall-mall,
When in long rank a train of torches fame,
To light the midnight vitits of the dame?
Others, perhaps, by happier guidance led,
May where the chairman refts with fafety tread;
Whene'er I pafs, their poles (unfeen below)
Make my knee tremble with a jarring blow.
If wheels bar up the road, where ftreets are croft, 165 With gentle words the coachman's ear accoft : He ne'er the threat or harfh command obeys, But with contempt the fpatter'd fhoe furveys. Now man with utmoft fortitude thy foul, To crofs the way where carts and coaches roll;
Yet do not in thy hardy fkill confide,
Nor rafhly rifque the kennel's spacious stride;
Stay till afar the diftant wheel you hear,
Like dying thunder in the breaking air;
Thy foot will flide upon the miry ftone,
And paffing coaches crush thy tortur'd bone,
Or wheels inclofe the road; on either hand
Pent round with perils, in the midst you stand,
And call for aid in vain; the coachman fwears,
And carmen drive, unmindful of thy prayers.
Where wilt thou turn? ah! whither wilt thou fly?
On every fide the preffing fpokes are nigh.
So failors, while Charybdis' gulph they fhun,
Amaz'd, on Scylla's craggy dangers run.
Be fure obferve where brown Oftrea stands,
Who boafts her fhelly ware from Wallfleet fands;
There may'st thou pafs with fafe unmiry feet,
Where the rais'd pavement leads athwart the street.
If where Fleet-ditch with muddy current flows,
You chance to roam; where oyfter-tubs in rows
Are rang'd befide the pofts; there ftay thy hafte,
And with the favoury fish indulge thy tafte:
The damfel's knife the gaping fhell commands,
While the falt liquor ftreams between her hands.
The man had fure a palate cover'd o'er
With brafs or steel, that on the rocky fhore
First broke the oozy oyfter's pearly coat,
And rifqu'd the living morfel down his throat.
What will not luxury tafte? Earth, fea, and air,
Are daily ranfack'd for the bill of fare !
Blood stuff'd in skins is British chriftian's food;
And France robs marthes of the croaking brood!
Spungy morels in ftrong ragouts are found,
And in the foup the flimy fnail is drown'd.
When from high fpouts the dafhing torrents fall, 205 Ever be watchful to maintain the wall;
For, fhould't thou quit thy ground, the rushing throng
Will with impetuous fury drive along;
All prefs to gain thofe honours thou haft loft,
And rudely fhove thee far without the post.
Then to retrieve the fhed you ftrive in vain,
Draggled all o'er, and foak'd in floods of rain.
Yet rather bear the fhower, and toils of mud,
Than in the doubtful quarrel rifque thy blood.
O think on Oedipus' detefted state,
And by his woes be warn'd to fhun thy fate.
Where three roads join'd, he met his fire unknown;
(Unhappy fire, but more unhappy fon !)
Each claim'd the way, their fwords the ftrife decide,
The hoary monarch fell, he groan'd, and died!
Hence fprung the fatal plague that thinn'd thy reign,
Thy curfed inceft! and thy children flain!
Hence wert thou doom'd in endless night to ftray
Through Theban ftreets, and cheerlefs grope thy way.
Contemplate, mortal, on thy fleeting years;
See, with black train the funeral pomp appears!
Whether fome heir attends in fable state,
And mourns with outward grief a parent's fate;
Or the fair virgin, nipt in beauty's bloom,
A croud of lovers follow to her tomb:
Why is the hearfe with 'fcutcheons blazon'd round,
And with the nodding plume of oftrich crown'd?
No: the dead know it not, nor profit gain;
It only ferves to prove the living vain.
How fhort is life how frail is human trust !
Is all this pomp for laying duft to duft?
Where the nail'd hoop defends the painted ftall,
Brufh not thy fweeping fkirt too near the wall;
Thy heedlefs fleeve will drink the colour'd oil,
And fpot indelible thy pocket foil.
Has not wife nature ftrung the legs and feet
With firmeft nerves, defign'd to walk the ftreet?
Has the not given us hands to grope aright,
Amidst the frequent dangers of the night?
And think'ft thou not the double noftril meant,
To warn from oily woes by previous fcent?
Who can the various city frauds * recite,
With all the petty rapines of the night?
Who now the guinea-dropper's bait regards,
Trick'd by the fharper's dice, or juggler's cards?
Why fhould I warn thee ne'er to join the fray,
Where the fham quarrel interrupts the way?
Lives there in these our days fo foft a clown,
Brav'd by the bully's oaths, or threatening frown?
I need not fuict enjoin the pocket's care,
When from the crouded play thou lead'ft the fair;
Who has not here, or watch, or fnuff-box loft,
Or handkerchief that India's fhuttle boat?
*Various cheats formerly in practice.