John Arthur Phillips

Here you will find the Long Poem The Splendid Shilling of poet John Arthur Phillips

The Splendid Shilling

-- -- Sing, Heavenly Muse,
Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime,
A Shilling, Breeches, and Chimera's Dire.

 Happy the Man, who void of Cares and Strife,
 In Silken, or in Leathern Purse retains
 A Splendid Shilling: He nor hears with Pain
 New Oysters cry'd, nor sighs for chearful Ale;
 But with his Friends, when nightly Mists arise,
 To Juniper's, Magpye, or Town-Hall repairs:
 Where, mindful of the Nymph, whose wanton Eye
 Transfix'd his Soul, and kindled Amorous Flames,
 Chloe, or Phillis; he each Circling Glass
 Wisheth her Health, and Joy, and equal Love.
 Mean while he smoaks, and laughs at merry Tale,
 Or Pun ambiguous, or Conundrum quaint.
 But I, whom griping Penury surrounds,
 And Hunger, sure Attendant upon Want,
 With scanty Offals, and small acid Tiff
 (Wretched Repast!) my meagre Corps sustain:
 Then Solitary walk, or doze at home
 In Garret vile, and with a warming puff
 Regale chill'd Fingers; or from Tube as black
 As Winter-Chimney, or well-polish'd Jet,
 Exhale Mundungus, ill-perfuming Scent:
 Not blacker Tube, nor of a shorter Size
 Smoaks Cambro-Britain (vers'd in Pedigree,
 Sprung from Cadwalader and Arthur, Kings
 Full famous in Romantic tale) when he
 O'er many a craggy Hill, and barren Cliff,
 Upon a Cargo of fam'd Cestrian Cheese,
 High over-shadowing rides, with a design
 To vend his Wares, or at th'Arvonian Mart,
 Or Maridunum, or the ancient Town
 Eclip'd Brechinia, or where Vaga's Stream
 Encircles Ariconium, fruitful Soil,
 Whence flow Nectareous Wines, that well may vye
 With Massic, Setin, or renown'd Falern.

 Thus while my joyless Minutes tedious flow
 With Looks demure, and silent Pace, a Dunn,
 Horrible Monster! hated by Gods and Men,
 To my aerial Citadel ascends;
 With Vocal Heel thrice thund'ring at my Gates,
 With hideous Accent thrice he calls; I know
 The Voice ill-boding, and the solemn Sound.
 What shou'd I do? or whither turn? amaz'd,
 Confounded, to the dark Recess I fly
 Of Woodhole; strait my bristling Hairs erect
 Thrô sudden Fear; a chilly Sweat bedews
 My shud'ring Limbs, and (wonderful to tell!)
 My Tongue forgets her Faculty of Speech;
 So horrible he seems! his faded Brow
 Entrench'd with many a Frown, and Conic Beard,
 And spreading Band, admir'd by Modern Saints,
 Disastrous Acts forebode; in his Right Hand
 Long Scrolls of Paper solemnly he waves,
 With Characters, and Figures dire inscrib'd
 Grievous to mortal Eyes; (ye Gods avert
 Such Plagues from righteous Men!) behind him stalks
 Another Monster, not unlike himself,
 Sullen of Aspect, by the Vulgar call'd
 A Catchpole, whose polluted Hands the Gods
 With Force incredible, and Magick Charms
 Erst have indu'd, if he his ample Palm
 Should haply on ill-fated Shoulder lay
 Of Debtor, strait his Body, to the Touch
 Obsequious, (as whilom Knights were wont)
 To some enchanted Castle is convey'd,
 Where Gates impregnable, and coercive Chains
 In Durance strict detain him, 'till in form
 Of Mony, Pallas sets the Captive free.

 Beware, ye Debtors, when ye walk beware,
 Be circumspect; oft with insidious Ken
 This Caitif eyes your Steps aloof, and oft
 Lies perdue in a Nook or gloomy Cave,
 Prompt to enchant some inadvertent wretch
 With his unhallow'd Touch. So (Poets sing)
 Grimalkin to Domestick Vermin sworn
 An everlasting Foe, with watchful Eye,
 Lyes nightly brooding o'er a chinky gap,
 Protending her fell Claws, to thoughtless Mice
 Sure Ruin. So her disembowell'd Web
 Arachne in a Hall, or Kitchin spreads,
 Obvious to vagrant Flies: She secret stands
 Within her woven Cell; the Humming Prey,
 Regardless of their Fate, rush on the toils
 Inextricable, nor will aught avail
 Their Arts, nor Arms, nor Shapes of lovely Hue;
 The Wasp insidious, and the buzzing Drone,
 And Butterfly proud of expanded wings
 Distinct with Gold, entangled in her Snares,
 Useless Resistance make: With eager strides,
 She tow'ring flies to her expected Spoils;
 Then with envenom'd Jaws the vital Blood
 Drinks of reluctant Foes, and to her Cave
 Their bulky Carcasses triumphant drags.

 So pass my Days. But when Nocturnal Shades
 This World invelop, and th'inclement Air
 Persuades Men to repel benumming Frosts,
 With pleasant Wines, and crackling blaze of Wood;
 Me Lonely sitting, nor the glimmering Light
 Of Make-weight Candle, nor the joyous Talk
 Of loving Friend delights; distress'd, forlorn,
 Amidst the horrors of the tedious Night,
 Darkling I sigh, and feed with dismal Thoughts
 My anxious Mind; or sometimes mournful Verse
 Indite, and sing of Groves and Myrtle Shades,
 Or desperate Lady near a purling Stream,
 Or Lover pendent on a Willow-Tree:
 Mean while I Labour with eterna