Oh ye to whom the God of Wealth has given,
At ease in your own chariots to be driven;
Little ye know the various ills that wait
Those who with minds perchance as delicate,
With feelings as refin’d, as nice a sense,
For taste, and comfort, neatness, opulence;
Are doomed to wade thro mire the weary street
Or in a jarvey rest their aching feet.
A jarvey! sound abhorred, see with what care,
To pass unnoticed, mounts the sulky fare;
How while the coach draws up they stiffly stand,
Nor dare to cast their eyes on either hand,
Lest some acquaintance should untimely greet,
Or well known equipage drive thro’ the street
And see — Oh most calamitous event
The waterman his tattered arm present,
Hold by the step while you collect your pence,
For even shabbiness brings some expence;
Then with stentorian lung proclaim the place
Where you intend to finish your disgrace.
These ills attend your entrance but when in
Some other, harder trials must begin
The greasy lining glistens black with dirt.
You sit erect, (by practice made expert)
And though the posture puts you to the rack
You dare not touch the filthy sides or back —
One window won’t draw up, the other shakes,
The shattered step a ceaseless clatter makes;
The ill-closed door admits the rain or sleet,
And deep in musty straw, you plunge your feet.
The coachman drives you wrong, you seek in vain
To pull the check-string, and his course restrain;
In vain the blackened corners you explore,
Where was a string, is now a string no more.
You see indeed the hole thro’ which it past,
But long ere this the string had pulled its last.
One only mean remains, you sink the glass
And half your person thro’ the opening pass,
Three times perchance your doomed to scream in vain
Ere you succeed your meaning to explain,
Then as you inward draw your luckless head
You see — Oh sight of agony and dread,
Some boasted beau, some captain in the Guards,
Who all acquaintance with your face discards
Or gives a condescending nod at most —
This fatal chance has an admirer lost.
Expect not when you next shall join the dance,
With earnest haste that he will e’er advance,
Humbly to ask the honour of your hand,
And tho’ denied still hovering near you stand,
Anxious to catch the meaning of your eye,
And for whate’er you have occasion, fly.
Sunk to the level of the vulgar herd,
To call you now an angel were absurd,
And in whatever place you may approach,
You still will bring to mind, the hackney coach.
As fretting in this case availeth nought,
From the lost captain, to divert your thought,
Suppose you turn your fancy to the past,
And guess who occupied your jarvey last.
You need not wander far, the squalid wight,
Who drives you, rested in the coach last night
Pillowed his drowsy head upon the seat,
While dangled from the open door his feet.
Here has the frequent dram repell’d the cold,
Here have Virginia’s smoky volumes rolled —
Here has some lover seized th’ occasion fair,
To the loved nymph his passion to declare.
Here has she promised if her friends consent
And if her tender parents will assent,
(In courtship proper time consumed), to bless
Him with her hand, her heart, and happiness.
And now perhaps, the husband and the wife
Enjoy the comforts of domestic life
With children blest, in sweet embraces joined,
With joy recall the jarvey to their mind.
How different from your luckless fate, who found,
A hackney coach could cure love’s deepest wound.
Again you guess, but vainly try to find
Ought that brings consolation to your mind.
For still on love’s adventures turn your thought
Still is the captain to remembrance brought
Here from some ball or theatre conveyed,
First has some swain his destined spouse surveyed,
But hush, for now the coach draws up, the door
The driver opens, you can guess no more.
The step of iron, polished now by feet
Slants downward, and you slide into the street.
Nay falling find in it perhaps a seat.
Sorrowing you then your dirtied robes explore
And the sad chance with many a sigh deplore.
Then as you upward turn your luckless eyes,
You see, fit cause of sorrow and surprise,
The party sneering your disaster view,
And laughing mock your equipage and you.
The surly coachman asks you thrice your fare
You pay it for you cannot wrangle there.
For if you do, besides a gaping street,
Whose eye surveys you all from head to feet,
You dread in voice stentorian to hear
The driver threat a summons in your ear;
How great your shame if that should but take place
You’d rather pay than suffer such disgrace.
Then in you hasten, and prepare to meet
The general sneer that will your entrance greet.