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THE HISTORY OF VANBRUGH'S HOUSE,
When Mother Cludd * had rose from play,
And call'd to take the cards away,
Van saw, but seem'd not to regard,
How Miss pick'd every painted card,
And busy both with hand and eye,
Soon rear'd a house two stories high.
Van's genius, without thought or lecture,
Is hugely turn'd to architecture :
He view'd the edifice, and smil'd,
Vow'd it was pretty for a child :
was so perfect in its kind,
He kept the model in his mind.
But, when he found the boys at play,
And saw them dabbling in their clay,
He stood behind a stall to lurk,
And mark the progress of their work ;
With true delight observ'd them all
Raking up mud to build a wall.
The plan he much admir'd, and took
The model in his table-book :
Thought himself now exactly skill'd,
And so resoly'd a house to build :
A real house, with rooms, and stairs,
Five times at least as big as theirs;
Taller than Miss's by two yards ;
Not a sham thing of clay or cards :
And so he did; for, in a while,
He built up such a monstrous pile,
That no two chairmen could be found
Able to lift it from the ground.
Still at Whitehall it stands in view,
Just in the place where first it grew;
There all the little schoolboys run,
Envying to see themselves outdone.
From such deep rudiments as these,
Van is become, by due degrees,
For building fam'd, and justly reckon’d,
At court, Vitruvius the second : *
No wonder, since wise authors show,
That best foundations must be low :
And now the duke has wisely ta'en him
To be his architect at Blenheim.
But raillery at once apart,
If this rule holds in every art;
Or if his grace were no more skill'd in
The art of battering walls than building,
We might expect to see next year,
A mouse-trap man chief engineer.
ON THE EVER-LAMENTED LOSS OF THE TWO YEW
TREES IN THE PARISH OF CHILTHORNE, SOMERSET. 1706.
IMITATED FROM THE EIGHTH BOOK OF OVID,
In ancient times, as story tells,
The saints would often leave their cells,
And stroll about but hide their quality
To try good people's hospitality
It happen'd on a winter night,
As authors of the legend write,
Two brother hermits, saints by trade,
Taking their tour in masquerade,
Disguis'd in tatter'd habits, went
To a small village down in Kent;
Where, in the strollers' canting strain,
They begg'd from door to door in vain,
Tried every tone might pity win;
But not a soul would let them in.
Our wandering saints, in woful state,
Treated at this ungodly rate,
Having through all the village past,
To a small cottage came at last !
Where dwelt a good old honest ye’man,
Call'd in the neighbourhood Philemon ;
Who kindly did these saints invite
In his poor hut to pass the night;
And then the hospitable sire
Bid goody Baucis mend the fire ;
While he from out the chimney took
A flitch of bacon off the hook,
And freely from the fattest side
Cut out large slices to be fry'd;
Then stepp'd aside to fetch them drink,
Fill'd a large jug up to the brink,
And saw it fairly twice go round;
Yet (what was wonderful) they found,
'Twas still replenish'd to the top,
As if they ne'er had touch'd a drop.
The good old couple were amaz’d,
And often on each other gaz'd;
For both were frighten'd to the heart,
And just began to cry, “ What ar't!"
Then softly turn'd aside, to view
Whether the lights were burning blue.
The gentle pilgrims, soon aware on't,
Told them their calling and their errand :
“Good folks, you need not be afraid,
We are but saints," the hermits said;
« No hurt shall come to you or yours:
But for that pack of churlish boors,
Not fit to live on Christian ground,
They and their houses shall be drown'd;
you shall see your cottage rise, And grow a church before your eyes.
They scarce had spoke, when fair and soft,
The roof began to mount aloft;
Aloft rose every beam and rafter;
The heavy wall climb'd slowly after.
The chimney widen'd, and grew higher,
Became a steeple with a spire.
The kettle to the top was hoist,
And there stood fasten'd to a joist,
But with the upside down, to show
Its inclination for below:
In vain; for a superior force
Apply'd at bottom stops its course :
Doom'd ever in suspense to dwell,
'Tis now no kettle, but a bell.
A wooden jack, which had almost
Lost by disuse the art to roast,
A sudden alteration feels,
Increas'd by new intestine wheels;
And, what exalts the wonder more,
The number made the motion slower.
The flier, though it had leaden feet,
Turn'd round so quick you scarce could see't ;
But, slacken'd by some secret power,
Now hardly moves an inch an hour.
The jack and chimney, near allied,
Had never left each other's side :
The chimney to a steeple grown,
The jack would not be left alone ;
But, up against the steeple rear'd,
Became a clock, and still adher'd;
And still its love to household cares,
By a shrill voice at ngon, declares,
Warning the cookmaid not to burn
That roast meat, which it cannot turn.
The groaning-chair began to crawl,
Like a huge snail, along the wall;
There stuck aloft in public view,
And with small change, a pulpit grew.
The porringers, that in a row
Hung high, and made a glittering show,
To a less noble substance chang'd,
Were now but leathern buckets rang’d.
The ballads, pasted on the wall,
Of Joan of France, and English Mall, *
* Probably Molly Ambree, upon whose warlike exploits in Flanders a popular ballad was composed. It is preserved in the Reliqnes of English Poetry, Vol. II.