A Gown was given to a Maid. The Gown disdained a Rag. The Rag made it clear the Gown would sink to Rag and then worse at the end.
Don’t exalt yourself over others you may join.
From a fine Lady to her maid,
A Gown descended of brocade;
French?—Yes, from Paris—that’s enough,
That would give dignity to stuff.
By accident, or by design,
Or from some cause I can’t divine,
A linen Rag (sad source of wrangling)
On a contiguous peg was dangling,
Vilely besmear’d—for late it’s master
It serv’d in quality of plaister.
The Gown, contemptuous beholder,
Gave a French shrug from either shoulder,
And rustling with emotion furious,
Bespoke the Rag in terms injurious:
‘Unfit for tinder, lint, or fodder,
‘Thou thing of filth, with nauseous odour;
‘Discarded thus, art not afraid?
‘But dar’st approach a rich brocade?
‘Instant away—or in this place
‘I’ll spurn you from me with disgrace.’
To this replied the honest Rag,
Who lik’d a jest, and was a wag;
‘Tho’ thy glib tongue without an halt run,
‘Thou shabby, second-hand subaltern,
‘At once so ancient and so easy,
‘At once so gorgeous and so greasy;
‘I value not your gasconading,
‘Nor all your insolent parading.
‘But to abstain from words imperious,
‘And to be sober, grave, and serious;
‘When me you lessen, friend, you dream
‘For know I am not what I seem;
‘Soon by the mill’s refining motion,
‘The sweetest daughter of the ocean,
‘Fair Medway shall with snowy hue
‘My virgin purity renew;
‘And give me reinform’d existence,
‘A good retention and subsistence.
‘Then shall the sons of genius join
‘To make my second life divine;
‘Oh! Milton, let me then dispense
‘Some portion of thy eloquence;
‘For Greek and Roman rhetoric shine,
‘United and improved in thine.
‘Immortal poets then may deign
‘To stamp me deathless with their pen,
‘While flows approved by all the Nine,
‘The immortal soul of every line!
‘—Such glories my mean lot betide;
‘Hear, tawdry fool, and check thy pride—
‘Thou after scouring, dying, turning,
‘(If haply you escape a burning,)
‘From Gown to petticoat descending,
‘And in a beggar’s mantle ending,
‘Shalt in a dunghill or a sty,
”Midst filth and vermin rot and die.