The Fop’s Distress

or Fashionable Court Mourning

Miss Porden

At length the labours of the toilette cease,
Sir Thurio’s dressed, his valet is at ease,
His new court mourning fits so tight and well
And sure no tailor e’er was like Lapelle.
“Oh what a charming shape,” he cries, “how sure
The ladies all will think me quite divine,
What ist o’clock — Ye gods, ’tis half past eight,
I’d better go — Oh no, I will be late,
And then when all the company are there
I’ll enter with an easy, graceful air,
Talk of another party — pressed to stay,
And at the last was forced to steal away
Then I’ll sit down, and give with all my art
The lounge that softened Belladonna’s heart.
But ere I go, I’ll practise it no more
And heighten what was exquisite before.”
Now spreading o’er three chairs, before the glass
He gives his person all its wonted grace.

One chair his leg, his body one sustains
And o’er the third’s broad back his arm he strains [remains]
But while with ecstasy his bosom swells,
To see this grace all former grace excels,
O cruel destiny — on either side
He sees an argent crescent yawning wide —
The stingy tailor, sordid jackanape,
Had made, alas, his waistcoat armhole gape
On cabbage bent, to save an inch of stuff,
Made these too wide, his coat not wide enough
Which now thrown back, the sable pair between
Two horrid streak of spotless white were seen.

At this sad sight his cheek the colour flies
And treble lightning flashes from his eyes
In vain metrics the mischief to repair
Too late to alter, and too great to bear.
“Should Florio see it, he would ne’er have done
But I should be the butt of all his fun
I’ll stay at home, but shall Sir Fopling bear,
The smiles and glances of each modish fair,
And at Melinda’s boast that he has won
Those looks so late resound foe me alone
Distracting thought, I’ll go in coloured clothes
Nay then I shall be quizzed by all the beaux.”

“Stay, stay, like spruce Primello, to the throat
To hide these things, I’ll button up my coat
And let them wonder, this device to see
They’ll think it fashion, not necessity.”

This said he goes, and with delight surveys
His fellow foplings in as bad a case
Knights of the crescent, all the knights appear
The damsels giggle, and the matrons sneer.

Now Attic beauties, turn around your eyes
Are here no beaux to whom my tale applies.

The Inspector General

December 17th 1810