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The hardy chief upon the rugged rock
Washed by the sea, or on the gravelly bank
Thrown up by wintry torrents roaring loud,
Fearless of wrong, reposed his weary strength.
Those barbarous ages paft, succeeded next
The birth-day of invention; weak at first,
Dull in design, and clumsy to perform.
Joint-stools were then created; on three legs
Upborne they stood. Three legs upholding firm
A massy Nab, in fashion square or round.
On such a stool immortal Alfred sat,
And swayed the sceptre of his infant realms :
And such in ancient halls and manfions drear
May still be seen ; but perforated fore,
And drilled in holes, the folid oak is found,
By wor ns voracious eating through and oug
At length a generation more refined Improved the simple plan; made three legs four, Gave them a twisted form vermicular, And over the feat, with plenteous wadding stuffed, Induced a splendid cover, green and blue, Yellow and red, of tapestry richly wrought And woven close, or needle-work sublime. There might ye see the piony spread wide, The full-blown rose, the shepherd and his lass,
Lap-dog and lambkin with black staring eyes,
And parrots with twin cherries in their beak.
Now came the cane from India mooth and bright With Nature's varnish ; severed into stripes, That interlaced each other, these supplied Of texture firm a lattice-work, that braced The new machine, and it became a chair. But reftless was the chair; the back erect Distressed the weary loins, that felt no ease; The slippery feat betrayed the sliding part, That preffed it, and the feet hung dangling down, Anxious in vain to find the diftant floor. These for the rich : the rest, whom fate had placed In modeft mediocrity, content With base materials, sat on well-tanned hides, Obdurate and vnyielding, glaffy smooth, With here and there a tuft of crimfon
yarn, Or scarlet crewel, in the cushion fixt, If cushion might be called, what harder seemed Than the firm oak, of which the frame was formed. No want of timber then was felt or feared In Albion's happy isle. The lumber stood Ponderous and fixt by its own maffy weight. But elbows ftill were wanting; these, fome say,
An alderman of Cripplegate contrived;
And some ascribe the invention to a priest
Burly and big, and studious of his ease.
But, rude at first, and not with easy nope
Receding wide, they pressed against the ribs,
And bruised the fide; and, elevated high,
Taught the raised shoulders to invade the ears.
Long time elapsed or ever our rugged fires
Complained, though incommodiously pent in,
And ill at ease behind. The ladies first
'Gan murmur, as became the softer sex.
Ingenious fancy, never better pleased
Than when employed to accommodate the fair,
Heard the sweet moan with pity, and devised
The soft settee; one elbow at each end,
And in the midft an elbow it received,
United yet divided, twain at once.
So fit two kings of Brentford on one throne;
And so two citizens who take the air,
Close packed, and smiling, in a chaise and one.
But relaxation of the languid frame,
By soft recumbency of outstretched limbs,
Was bliss reserved for happier days. So now
The growth of what is excellent; so hard
To attain perfection in this nether world.
Thus firft neceffity invented stools,
Convenience next suggested elbow-chairs,
And luxury the accomplished sopa last.
The nurse sleeps sweetly, hired to watch the fick, Whom snoring she difturbs. As sweetly he, Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour To fleep within the carriage more secure, His legs depending at the open door. Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk, The tedious rector drawling over his head; And sweet the clerk below. But neither sleep Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead, Nor his, who quits the box at midnight hour To flumber in the carriage more secure, Nor sleep enjoyed by curate in his desk, Nor yet the dozings of the clerk, are sweet, Compared with the repose the sofa yields.
may I live exempted (while I live
Guiltless of pampered appetite obscene)
From pangs arthritic, that infeft the toe
Of libertine excess. The sofa suits
The gouty limb, 'tis true; but gouty limb,
Though on a sofa, may I never feel :
For I have loved the rural walk through lanes
Of graffy swarth, close cropt by nibbling sheep,
And skirted thick with intertexture firm
Of thorny boughs; have loved the rural walk
Over hills, through vallies, and by rivers' brink,
Ever since a truant boy I pafled my bounds
To enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames;
And still remember, nor without regret
Of hours, that forrow fince has much endeared,
How oft, my slice of pocket store consumed,
Still hungering, pennyless, and far from home,
I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws,
Or blushing crabs, or berries, that imboss
The bramble, black as jet, or soes austere.
Hard fare! but such as boyish appetite
Disdains not; nor the palate, undepraved
By culinary arts, unsavory deems.
No sofa then awaited my return ;
Nor sofa then I needed. Youth repairs
His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil
Incurring short fatigue; and, though our years,
As life declines, speed rapidly away,
And not a year but pilfers as he goes
Some youthful grace, that age would gladly keep;
A tooth or auburn lock, and by degrees
Their length and colour from the locks they fpare ;
The elastic spring of an unwearied foot,