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THE SPLEEN: OR, THE OFFSPRING OF FOLLY. A LYRI-COMI-TRAGIC TALE. IN FOUR CANTOS. CUM NOTIS VARIORUM. DEDICATED TO GEORGE COLMAN, ESQ. AUTHOR OF THE SPLEEN, A COMIC PIECE, PERFORMED WITH WONDERFUL SUCCESS AT DRURY-LANE THEATRE.

De te fabula narratur.
Fondly mistaking Spleen for Wit,
Still, tho short-winded, all his aim
To blow the sounding trump of Fame.
GREEN's Spleen.

LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. BEW, IN PATER-NOSTER ROW. MDCCLXXVI.

TO GEORGE COLMAN, Esq.

SIR,

AS you have done me the honour to make me the subject of your dramatic satire; in doing which, you have flown off in a direct tangent from the circle of science; you will excuse me, if, in returning the compliment, I have at any time, ap­parently deviated from the line of mathematical truth, in modelling the figures of poetical fiction. The force of me­taphorical expressions is not to be estimated so precisely as the momentum of mechanic powers; and yet there may be as much veracity couched under the moral of an allegory as in the most demonstrable proposition of Euclid. Of this, at least, I am certain that my characters are as justly drawn and my allusions as apt and applicable as yours: Save and except, [Page vi] indeed, your incomparable parallels, which, at the same time as they preserve their parallelism, diverge, with a true poetical licence, like rays from a common centre*. Happy Oxonians, to whose superior privileges even lines and figures pay obsequious attention! Congratulating you as one of the first of those highly-favoured geniuses, permit an humble Cantab to subscribe himself,

Under particular obligations, Your unparalleled admirer, JOHN RUBRICK.

GENERAL ABSTRACT.

WIT and FOLLY beget the hero of the piece—The Genius of Britain disgusted at their preposterous union—SPLEEN adopts the embrio in the womb—Accompanies the mother to France and Italy—Our hero prematurely dropt on the road—Modern Italy apostrophized—FLORENCE, our hero's birth-place, apostrophized— Spleen, his mother's midwife, becomes his wet-nurse—Found incapable—A she-wolf proposed—Not to be got—Her substitute a tabby cat—How the boy thriv'd on cat's milk—Grew playful —Narrowly escaped being castrated—Is brought to England— Presented to his father WIT, by whom he is partly acknow­ledged.—Our hero sent to college—Shoots up apace under the auspices of his Sire—His growth stinted by his mother and nurse —Never learns to walk alone—Hangs about his chums—Grows thievish and sucks their brains—Turns poet and paragraph writer—Takes to puppet-shews, and goes apprentice to a player —Takes to stealing farces—The play-wright's an easy trade— Marries a stroler's strumpet—Turns manager—Stirs the green­room fire and sets the house a blazing.—Invocation to the muse—Woman the source of mischief—Actresses all Helens— Painted pusses—Our hero goes caterwauling—His wife grows jealous and dies of the hip—Reaumur's rabbit and hen—Our hero compared to a bantum capon—To Don Quixote falling foul of the puppets—To Punch, who kicks all before him— [Page viii] He fines his players—Snatches old Macklin's bread and butter —Frightens his brother patentees—Is damn'd as a man-of-bu­siness—Puts metaphorically to sea—Is thrown over-board for a Jonas—His partners set sail and leave him—Apostrophizes the whale and dolphin—Is sav'd on the back of a sprat—Is seized with a quartan ague—Carried to Drury Hospital—Neglected— Dying of the Spleen—Is metamorphosed into a bat, and im­mortalized as the Emblem of Folly.

THE SPLEEN. IN FOUR CANTOS.

CANTO I.

ARGUMENT.

WIT and FOLLY beget the hero of the piece—The Genius of Britain disgusted at their preposterous union—SPLEEN adopts the embrio in the womb—Accompa­nies the mother to France and Italy—Our hero prematurely dropt on the road— Modern Italy apostrophized.

I.
AS WIT with FOLLY, on a day,
Amus'd himself in amorous play,
As oft he did of yore;
So well the sport dame Folly lov'd,
That soon the teeming wanton prov'd
How late she had play'd the whore.
II.
But what a misgot, mulish thing
Time from her pregnant womb might bring,
Was held awhile in doubt:
When, lo, at length, before its time,
In Italy's licentious clime,
The brat came sprawling out.
III.
For, tho, 'tis said, the bastard's lot
In Britain's clime to be begot,
The Genius of our isle,
Foreseeing of what little worth
Would prove the bantling, at its birth,
Thought 'twould the land defile.
IV.
Disgusted in a moody fit,
Against th' unnatural taste of WIT,
In fondling with the mother;
He almost thought it was no sin
The worthless embrio, while within
The womb, in time, to smother.
V.
When SPLEEN, with her obstetric aid,
Still following the midwife's trade,
Determin'd to adopt it;
Resolv'd to make its growth her charge,
And set the souterkin at large
Where'er the mother dropt it.
VI.
From England banish'd, strait through France
The pregnant day-mare took a dance;
Her hag still waiting on her;
Officious, as if ma'am had been
A Swedish or a Danish Queen,
And she her dame of honour.
VII.
But, aw'd by Angle [...]erre's Genie,
Th' obsequious Gallic bel-esprit,
Soon gave them both a sweating.
"FOLLY," dit il, and then took snuff,
"In France has lain in oft enough
"Of fools, our own begetting.—
VIII.
"So, hence begone, mesdames, morbleu!
"This be no littering place for you;
"Accouchez vous a Rome;
"In Italy alone you'll find
"The characters that mark your kind,
"There FOLLY is at home.
IX.
They wanted not the bidding twice;
FOLLY is so attach'd to vice,
When mask'd beneath virtû,
That madame and her midwife SPLEEN,
Together in their voiturin,
Set off without ado.
X.
Beyond the Alps, beyond reproach;
The ladies now set up their coach;
When, from a sudden jolt,
As once pope Joan (tho since, 'tis said,
The popes, tho cover'd, have not bred)
The loose mare slipp'd her colt.
XI.
From parish thus to parish pass'd,
The beggar's brat is dropp'd at last;
(The simile must strike)
For, high or low, the rogue and whore,
Making the GRAND or petty tour,
In coach or cart, are like.
XII.
All hail! Italia's hated clime!
Where every meanness, every crime
That Nature can debase,
Where fly suspicion, foul distrust,
Malice, revenge and foulest lust
Pollute the human race.
XIII.
Detested soil! where rankly grows
Each vicious weed, the devil sows,
To modest Nature's sorrow;
'Till, swelling with avengeful ire,
Earth opens wide, and liquid fire*
Pours o'er this new Gomorrah,
XIV.
Ev'n Stanhope's self, who taught his son
Dissimulation's race to run,
And act the part of Mask-all, *
Was in his morals yet so nice,
He fear'd that, in thy sink of vice,
He'd prove too great a rascal.
XV.
I hail thee, as, in time of yore,
Grim Satan hail'd the Stygian shore;
When, from Olympus hurl'd,
He took (there ever doom'd to dwell)
Possession of profoundest hell;
Greeting th' infernal world.§
XVI.
No greeting with complacence sweet,
Where mutual gratulations meet;
But hatred and disgust.
I greet thee as the hell on earth,
That gave our bye-blow bantling birth,
Offspring of FOLLY'S lust.

THE SPLEEN. IN FOUR CANTOS. CANTO II.

ARGUMENT.

FLORENCE, our hero's birth-place, apostrophized—SPLEEN, the mother's midwife, becomes his wet-nurse—Found incapable—A she-wolf proposed—Not to be obtained— her substitute, a tabby cat—How the boy thrived on cat's milk—Grew playful— Narrowly escaped being castrated—Is brought to England—Presented to his father, WIT; by whom he is partly acknowledged.

I.
SEVEN cities once, like fools, 'tis said,
For Homer, went to loggerhead;*
Each boasting him her own.
Less quarrelsome than those of Greece,
Italia's towns are all at peace;
Our bardling's birth-place known;
II.
Hail, FLORENCE! foul as thou art fair!
Thine was our Hero's native air;
Thanks to that midwife, SPLEEN!
Who now, to make the matter worse,
Resolves to be the bantling's nurse;
A woeful nurse, I ween!
III.
For ah! in vain the puny thing
Attempted nourishment to wring
From out her flabby udder:
For lank her long dugs, hanging down,
Seem'd as if suck'd by half the town;
Enough to make one shudder!
IV.
When FOLLY, fearing lest her child,
For lack of bubby, should be spoil'd,
Bethought her of the story,
How Romulus, with Ree his brother,
A she-wolf had, for foster-mother;
Whence sprung the Roman glory!*
VI.
The country search'd in vain around,
No new-milch wols-dug could be found.
Alas, the sad disaster!
When SPLEEN proposed, as still more fitting,*
Her tabby cat should wean her kitten,
And suckle little master.
VI.
This done, 'tis said, tho strange to tell,
Cat's milk agreed with him so well
(Congenial humours meeting)
The puling thing began to mew,
And frisk and play, as kittens do,
Mamma and Midwife greeting.
VII.
FOLLY and SPLEEN, now saw, with joy,
Their scratching cat-o'barnet boy,
Its wet-nurse taking after.
So playful was the pretty fellow,
As e'en to rival Punchinello;
The Macaroon of laughter!
VIII.
They, therefore, thought it now high time
To change the country and the clime,
And hie for England, over.
Hence, tripping back again through France,
They struck up a cotillon dance,
And soon arrived at Dover.
IX.
Most opportune, the little ape.
Thus made his fortunate escape.
His dry-nurse, an Italian,
Having (to make him sing) begun
To work on FOLLY'S favourite son,
And spoil him for a stallion. *
X.
Half-made, half-marr'd, the surgeons say,
The ridgil * thus was brought away.—
Mark but that look of his;
That half a smile, that half a grin,
Speaking the eunuch-soul within,
His feeble-featur'd phiz!
XI.
At Britain's Genius spit her spite,
SPLEEN now maintain'd the filial right
Of this, her favourite kitling;
Presented him to's father, WIT,
Who, in a gay, good-natur'd fit,
Half own'd th' exotic WITLING.

THE SPLEEN. IN FOUR CANTOS. CANTO III.

ARGUMENT.

Our hero sent to college—Shoots up apace under the auspices of his Sire—His growth stinted by his mother and nurse—Never learns to walk alone—Hangs about his chums— Grows thievish, and sucks their brains—Turns poet and paragraph-writer—Takes to puppet-shews, and goes apprentice to a player—His Sire and the College disgusted— Put to the law and turned adrift—Takes to stealing farces—The playwright's an easy trade—Marries a stroler's strumpet—Turns shew-man and manager—Stirs the green-room fire and sets the house a blazing.

I.
TO Alma-Mater sent the boy,
A burnish'd, base, Bath-metal *, toy,
That, new, look'd bright and glossy;
But all that glitters is not gold;
Its lustre soil'd, thus, soon, behold
The trinket dull and drossy!
II.
While fondly fostered, it is true,
Apace the ill-weed witling grew,
To more than school-boy stature:
When Mother FOLLY, midwife SPLEEN,
And nurse's milk stepp'd in between;
And habit shrunk from Nature.
III.
Fantastic, feeble, fractious grown,
And never taught to stand alone
On every chum he hung:
On Thornton now, and now on Lloyd *
Till, with the mewling kitling cloy'd,
They curs'd him as he clung.
IV.
Tho, unsuspecting his intent,
They never dreamt much harm he meant,
Nor thought cattivo theivish;
Till suck'd their brains, au Connoisseur,
Bob, careless, call'd his mother whore,
And Bonnel, bit, grew peevish.
V.
Discarded by his college chums,
Alone, he pick'd up a few crumbs,
For poesies, writ for cutlers;
Wrote lying paragraphs for news,
And verses, so reduc'd his muse!
For chamber-maids and butlers.
VI.
To Flockton * flyiNg next for aid,
Begging to learn the shew-man's trade,
Apprentic'd was our hero;
So Punch and Punch's wife, 'tis said,
And Scaramouch ran in his head,
And Harlequin and Pierrot.
VII.
At this disgusted, WIT, his fire,
And Alma-Mater both took fire,
And turn'd our 'Squire adrift;
For, having limb'd him to the law,
They thought, to make or mend a flaw,
He might have made a shift.
VIII.
Nay, so delighted with the child,
On whom they fancied Genius smil'd,
While yet the merest minor,
To run for the professor's plate,
They started him a candidate
With Blackstone versus * Viner
IX.
But humbled suddenly their pride
By seeing, justly mortified,
Ev'n chums black-ball their croney
So have I seen outstrip the wind
A racer fleet; left far behind
A poor pretending poney.
X.
At lesser game, yet, still, they said,
He might successfully have play'd;
Poor creatures prosper daily.
In Chanc'ry, King's-Bench, Common-Pleas,
Although he might not pick up fees,
He might at the Old-Bailey.
XI.
But, doom'd his fortunes still to marr,
The stage prefering to the bar,
And pert to prudent quibbling,
He only sigh'd for Davy's * skill
In managing the grey-goose quill,
To profit by transcribbling.
XII.
Blest times are these our modern days,
Abounding in forgotten plays,
Through time and chance neglected—
Give Managers a fellow-feeling,
Play-wrights may safely go on stealing,
And brave the being detected.
XIII.
How loud and long the town's horse-laugh
With Kelly, Foote and Bickerstaff,
At a Joe Miller's jest;
E'en in the manner if they're caught,
How readily excus'd the fault!
"Old songs and jokes are best."
XIV.
Nay so it is, tho past belief,
False to themselves, the rogues rob thief;*
Safe if they make us merry.
Sure the loud clap, the noisy roar,
The clattering club, encore, encore!
And bravo Mr. Sherry.
XV.
The drama's art so easy made,
So flourishing the shew-booth trade,
Our hero fond of pelf,
With eagerness to thrive the faster,
Projected setting up as master,
And scribbling for himself.
XVI.
For, of some small success so vain,
A paper'd house had turn'd his brain,
The little brain still left him.
When now, behold, to top her part,
A stroler's strumpet stole his heart
And quite of head bereft him.
XVII.
"For ah ! what pleasure is in life,
"And what's a man without a wife?
"A mistress may cornute one."
Thus said, to church he blushing led
The bride; who soon well comb'd his head;
For ma'am was not a mute one.*
XVIII.
Now, wiv'd and wanting wealth to get,
A playhous soon was to be lett;
The devil so apt to lay,
Whene'er weak mortals feel within
Themselves dispos'd to any sin,
Temptation in their way.
XIX.
Three novices,* alike dispos'd,
That for the purchase just had clos'd,
Wanting a manager;
As such the trio strait he join'd;
All puffing, as they raise the wind,
That he their fire should stir.
XX.
But, poking, like an etourdi,
Soon (such a man-of-business he)
The booth was set a blazing;
All in confusion, actors, singers,
Burn'd, some their feet and some their fingers:
At which the town stood gazing!

THE SPLEEN. IN FOUR CANTOS. CANTO IV.

ARGUMENT.

Invocation to the muse—Woman the source of mischief—Actresses all Helens—Paintea pusses—Our Hero goes caterwauling—His wife grows jealous and dies of the hip— Reaumur's rabbit and hen—Our Hero compared to a bantum capon—To Don Quixote falling foul of the puppets—To punch, who kicks all before him—He fines his players— Snatches old Macklin's bread and butter out of his mouth.—Abuses play-wrights— Frightens his brother patentees—Is damn'd as a man-of-business—Puts metaphorically to sea—Is thrown overboard, for a Jonas—His partners set sail and leave him— Apostrophizes the whale and dolphin—Is sav'd on the back of a sprat—Is seized with a quartan ague—Carried to Drury Hospital—Neglected—Dying of the Spleen—Is changed into a bat, and immortalized as the emblem of Folly.

I.
SAY, Muse, from whence such discord sprung.
Sing such a tale, as ne'er was sung,
By Homer or by Virgil
What was't in ashes laid old Troy?
What is't, like woman, can destroy,
Whene'er she means to urge ill?
II.
Who was't, to damn mankind so civil,
Familiar chatted with the devil;
Forgetful of her duty?
The first of Helens, Madam Eve;
Who, if we Milton may believe,
Surpassed them all in beauty.
III.
If so much mischief one could do,
Still how much more might Helens two,
And still more two and twenty;
For, furbish'd up, behind the scenes,
The frippery flirts all Trojan Queens;
Of Helens he had plenty*.
IV.
Beroug'd, bepainted and bedress'd,
In bibs and tuckers of their best,
The trappings of their calling,
No wonder that, attracted thus,
He after every painted puss,
Soon went a cater-wauling.
V.
So have I seen a bantum proud,
Strutting about and crowing loud,
A feather'd macaroni.
Mount this and that and t'other hen,
Each pecking him soon off agen,
Despising poor Caponi! §
VI.
And yet a hen, the learned say,
Will ev'n indulge in am'rous play
A rabbit fondly smitten.—*
Tell, then ye sages, tell us why,
E'en virgin-pullets should be shy
Of a castrato kitten.
VII.
Yet, hence at home the devil to do!
His houshold female jealous grew;
And jealousy's the devil.
But, luckily, to end the strife,
She died; which in a Jealous Wife,
It must be own'd, is civil.
VIII.
Partlet, untrod, so takes the pip,
And drooping gives the perch a trip,
And leaves poor doodle-doo;
The scorn of all the cocker'd race,
And with the fair, the foul disgrace
Of all the cockrel crew.
IX.
By FOLLY now to madness drove,
To hate all turn'd our hero's love;
Like Quixote, in a rage,
In spleenful mood, he curs'd and swore
And call'd his puppets rogue and whore,
And drove them off the stage.
X.
The scorn of wits, the dread of fools,
Despotic now the tyrant rules,
Fearless of dire disaster;
Like mighty Punch, who in a huff,
Gives this a kick, and that a cuff,
To shew he's lord and master.
XI.
To make his purse-proud actors feel,
He stints them of a daily meal
Nor spares, (ungrateful sinner!)
E'en his old friend the man of Ross,
Who, when himself was at a loss,
Oft gave him a good dinner*.
XII.
Snatches old Macklin's bread and butter,
Which made him make so damn'd a clutter,
And blasted Kenrick's bays;*
Sharing alone with bards as dull
As he himself and Hoole and Hull;
The profit and the praise.
XIII.
Congenial souls! to dullness dear!
Smile on, when snarling critics sneer,
Or angry judges frown.
No matter what the wise ones think,
A nod's as good as is a wink
To that blind horse, the Town.
XIV.
The other patentees aghast,
Now stand and wonder how at last
Will end the mischief, brewing:
For lo, with all our hero's wit,
The empty benches of the pit
Threaten impending ruin!
XV.
While sole director of the scene,
This son of Folly and of Spleen,
Whom once they thought so clever,
Grew only more and more perplex'd;
Till, play'd the man-of-business * next,
He damn'd himself for ever.
XVI.
As mariners, amidst a storm,
Make vows, they mean not to perform,
So pious and so civil;
Would give the saints their sterling gold,
Nay consecrated candles hold
For safety, to the devil.
XVII.
In similar distress e'en so,
Harris and Leake and Dagge and Co *.
Each saint and devil implor'd;
Tied round the victim's neck a purse.
To make him sink, and, with a curse,
Threw Jonas overboard.
XVIII.
By vanity awhile upborne,
Light as a cork he laugh'd to scorn
The hands, he saw the helm in;
Supposing that, for want of skill,
They'd make the ship soon shew her keel;
The wild waves all o'erwhelming.
XIX.
But, see at once the storm subside;
Of public favour turn'd the tide,
While, right before the wind,
The batter'd bark with swelling sail,
Urg'd forward by a prosperous gale,
Poor Jonas leaves behind*.
XX.
At this behold his courage fled,
His heart as heavy grows as lead,
And soon salt-water drinking,
His spirits shrink into his heels
Down ducks his head and now he feels
His little body sinking.
XXI.
To Neptune, now, in dire despair,
And Venus he prefers his prayer,
With terrible devotion;
Each Nymph and Triton calls by name,
But neither Nymph nor Triton came
Nor Venus nor old Ocean.
XXII.
Attracted by the dismal cry,
Around him flock the finny fry;
(To each held forth his hand.)
"Dolphins and whales," said he, "of yore,
"Have half-drown'd bards and prophets bore*
"Safe to the neighbouring strand.
XXIII.
"For pity's sake, then, lend your aid
"A poet I, by birth and trade,
"Could once like Orpheus sing;
"Tho, cast away without my lyre,
"And tho the muses nine inspire,
"I now do no such thing!"
XXIV.
Then flow'd his tears, which seem'd to melt
To tenderness a soft-roed smelt,
Who yet its aid forbore;
When now, upon his friendly back,
A charitable sprat, alack!
Convey'd him to the shore.
XXV.
Flat as a flounder on the beach,
Sometime, he lay, depriv'd of speech,
'Till seen the ship away go;
When envy, rage and grief, by turns,
Torment him, as he chills and burns,
Seiz'd with a quartan ague.
XXVI.
To th' hospital * of Drury-Lane
Returning, now, in suppliant strain,
An object to be pitied!
He vow'd that all his future days,
He'd Spatter play and puff and praise,
If once again admitted.
XXVII.
But ah! his proffer'd puffs too late,
His place supplied by parson Bate,
That prince of playhouse puffers;
Who gives the ton to half the town,
Sets actors up and knocks them down,
From kings to candle-snuffers.
XXVIII.
Garrick, enfeebled and decay'd,
And glad, tho poor, to leave off trade,
With him is strong and clever;
He swears 'tis all a lie that's told,
About his growing fat and old;
For he'll be young for ever.
XXIX.
The parson swears the play'r will see,
When next he comes from Italy,
The scheme, last time projected,*
Of only entering on the scene
To entertain the king and queen,
With wish'd eclat effected.
XXX.
Thus puff'd our hero's quondam tutor
No more would be his coadjutor,
But left poor Epicoene *,
To shift, as it could best, alone;
While trembling, tottering, tumbling down,
It dying lay with Spleen .
XXXI.
TO PHOEBUS, Folly now applies;
And, on her knees, with streaming eyes,
A piteous story tells.
Wisdom, she said, had got her owl;
And might not she with some such fowl
Bedeck her cap and bells.
XXXII.
"Oh! change my fallen foundling's nature
"Into some emblematic creature,
"Any, except a cat;"
A smile Apollo strove to smother,
And metamorphos'd, for the mother,
Her son into a Bat *.
XXXIII.
All day, perdu, Lo! now he lies,
Domitian like, in wait for flies,
That cannot bear the light;
Haunting, like ghosts that love to glide
Through places where their honour died,
The Play-House every night!
THE END.

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