The Norman Cap

Mr Johnson

Dear Editress

Underneath is a copy of some lines which I picked up on your stairs when I called upon you last Sunday. They seem to belong to one of your maids who went before to announce my name. I thought at first it was a love letter, and you know we think it no sin to read any thing of that nature which falls into our hands, and I reckon every thing as such ’till I find the contrary. As this you know, my dear, is our sex’s fault you must not blame me individually for it.


Whence spring the thoughts that fill my teeming brain,
And chase diurnal household cares away,
Spurn (as Miss says) “existence bounded reign”
And soar aloft, and emulate the day?
Sure Phibbus self has e’en vouchsaf’d a ray,
My mind is gilded o’er, in measures true
Dance all my words, and frolick somely gay
Choose partners, and to be recorded sue
And hence the cause that thus they wedded come to you.

Sure ’tis not Love, the Passion I despise,
No proud he-monster e’er shall rule my heart,
For conquerors, not subjects are my eyes,
Receive I’ll never, tho’ I’ll cause the smart
For Love too frequently doth pain impart:
No, stor’d with pleasing fancies is my head
Diverse and brilliant as Soho’s fam’d Mart;
Which scorn concealment, eager to be read,
Untaught as yet the Attic frown, the Critics scowl to dread.

And now the cause I know, nor must you blame
A maid, Dear Miss, by your example taught,
The Attic Cap with which from France you came
That Cap with magic wonders surely fraught
Last Tuesday night my eager fancy caught:
To see it on your head was to admire,
Next morn with early haste your drawer I sought
Methought my brows were crown’d by Sal’sbry spire,
When in the Glass I view’d its tow’ring form aspire.

Instant my eye-balls in fine frenzy driv’n
Roll’d up and down as lambent meteors play,
Glancing from heav’n to earth, from earth to heav’n,
Nor could my will their frantic wand’rings stay;
Meanwhile th’ imagination did portray
Figures of things I never saw before;
Which to describe my pen did straight essay,
And brain-created palaces to store
With gay fantastic shapes, and deeds of fairly lore.

Colloquial terms and words were now disdain’d;
High rais’d on stilts how march’d each stately phrase,
But rang’d in ranks as raw recruits new train’d,
Struck their fond Authoress with fresh amaze
Who view’d her verbal host with joyful gaze:
Responsive sounds the music’s place supplied
For each succeeding line this tribute pays
Unto his predecessor: thus allied
Each line alternate a symphonious brother spied.

Charg’d with electric fire the cap convey’d
From Miss’s head the wondrous flame to mine
And thus the Muse at second hand has paid
Her debt—the Muse with borrow’d garnish fine
Like bold Prometheus aping pow’rs divine:
Nor do thou Miss condemn the furtive deed,
My sole intent was in the glass to shine,
Tho’ this result the tuneful nine decreed,
That I my fault should tell, you should its product read.