Ex Parte Pocket Handkerchief

Miss Vardill

Since Ridicule a plea put in
Your verdict at my cost to win
I move the court and beg relief
Ex Parte Pocket Handkerchief.

Though now no more my kindred deck
With starch and wires the stately neck,
Shall I, whose origin and race
Scarce mighty Trusler’s self could trace.
I, from the looms of Gallia drawn
(Pure cambric, or at least long lawn)
I, whose extremities are rich
With pearls of point — or satin stitch,
Shall I hang out like Sorrow’s flag
Or dwell imprisoned in a bag?

Who’er my snow-white pomp beholds
Or scents my incense-breathing folds
Well knows how aptly and how oft
With waving grace and blandish soft
I utter more than words can reach
And crown the flourishes of speech.
I fill a learned Brother’s pause
While ermined Judges weigh the cause;
Or when the argument grows weaker,
Adorn the bow to “Mr Speaker!”
What stage-box beauty takes her stand
Till I unfold to arm her hand?
Would Erskine’s self unroll a brief
Without his Pocket-Handkerchief?
I grace the widow’s holy woe,
I hide the tear which ought to flow:
And dipp’d in rare Circassian dew
Her bloom with patent-pink renew —
Jury of gentle dames! if e’er
Ye hope to shed that precious tear,
Or in a lover’s eye to see
The drop so seldom claim’d by me,
Let not imperious Fashion rend
From Beauty’s side her ancient Friend
With fans and card-purses to roam
An Exile from our native home:
While fair-ones whisper, “Look my dear,
How came that vagrant kerchief here?
A token of distress, no doubt!
Well, show the truant thing about.”
Let me again with pence and keys
Salts, scissors, thimbles and etwees,
Enrich the Pocket’s ample store
As in those blissful days of yore
When even Beauty’s hands might hem,
And true-love’s tears my whiteness gem:
But if, by thankless Fashion’s doom,
I only come to waste perfume,
The Muses’ ridicule to fit,
And flutter where the Graces sit,
Still let me fall on classic ground
And in your Attic Chest be found!