Character of Fribble

At Fribble’s birth Dame Nature gave him Sense,

Not in abundance but a competence

If not sufficient to acquire him Fame

Enough to save a Fool’s reproachfull Name,

Enough to teach him how to shun a Knave, 5

Oblige a Friend his health and Fortune save.

Into his Heart some sparks she too infused

Of Generositytho now disused.

A Person too she gave him like the rest )

Of midling Stature and his Face exprest ) 10

The moderate share of reason in his Breast. )

But fond Mama who fear’d her Child should be

Spoil’d with dull rules or formal Pedantry,

Or least the university should make

Her darling Heir a Libertine or Rake, 15

Wisely resolved at home he should be Bred;

Nor in the paths of Vice or Learning tread

But he should be Polite, Learn French and Dance,

Which was enough his fortune to advance.

Our Missish Master learns to Sing and Play, 20

To write Italian Hand and lisping pay

His Compliments to ev’ry pretty Fair,

To Hand her Fan or Tea-Cup with an Air.

His Education now compleat he’ll try

To court the Muses, but the Muses fly. 25

Yet write he will tho’ each lay Madd refuses

In spite both of Apollo and the Muses.

For sometime thus a quiet Life he spent

And just as Nature made him was content.

No vicious ways to dissipate his store, 30

He kindly lent assistance to the Poor.

But when that vile Militia Scheme took place

No Country Gentleman could shew his Face

Without a Red Coatt – Fribble too must go.

Fribble had ever wish’d to be a Beau 35

With Sword Knot, Shoulder Knot, and Cockade gay,

To steal the Heart of ev’ry Belle away.

To Camp he goes and quickly learns the Air,

The look, the dress, the Strutt on Militaire.

He gets acquainted with each rakish Youth, 40

Forsakes his Honor and forswears his Truth

And quite forgetting Mama’s prudent Care,

Swears that a Rake’s a name he longs to bear.

A Fop in Dress, to Folly still a Slave,

He scorns the Simple Blessing Nature gave, 45

Resolves the Love of ev’ry Fair to win,

Nor thinks seducing Innocence a sin.

If Gayety alone could satisfy,

Fribble in Phaeton with Lords might vie.

The Taylor and the Laceman make thee fine, 50

But when ambitious as a Wit to Shine,

Ah Fribble! you your talent quite mistake

And of Yourself a common jest you make.

When with low puns, with ribaldry obscene,

With Similes unlike, with quibbling mean 55

You strive the Company to entertain,

You always find the Humour is in vain.

When to excite applause yourself laugh out,

How do all Eyes enquire what ’tis about.

Or if they join you ’tis in ridicule; 60

You at the jest may Laugh, but they the Fool.

This as advice of which you stand in need

Accept – I to your Character proceed.

Now to betray the unguarded Maid he tries )

Each Tender artifice, each fond disquise, ) 65

Insinuating words and artfull sighs, )

He lulls the Parent and the Guardian’s fears

While Friendship’s specious mask he artfull wears.

If he successful gains the heed’lous Maid,

With Insolence and Scorn her Love’s repaid. 70

He glories in her fall, proclaims her shame,

And thinks it adds a lustre to his Name.

But if she prudently his Suit denies )

And scorns alike his Person and his Lies, )

Resentment then the place of Love supplies. ) 75

He strives with artfull mean insinuation

To blast her Fame and wound her reputation,

But when found out and all despise and shun him,

He vows he’ll quit those paths which have undone him.

He’ll marry and reform, but where to find 80

One who to join with him will be inclined?

For tho’ his Years no more than Thirty counts,

His Constitution to Three Score amounts.

He feels the Effect of an Intemperate Life

And to save Nurses, wisely seeks a Wife. 85

Money he must have or the G––e must fall,

It is pretty Nick Nack baby House and all.

He lays his snare at first amongst the Witty, )

The rich, the well bred, Elegant and pretty, )

And searches thro the Country, Court, and City )

But vainly, then descends and hopes to find

Some antiquated Maid or Widow kind. 90

But when even these his Courtship treat with Scorn,

He vows their Insolence can ne’re be born.

Into the Country flies, devour’d with Spleen,

Sick of the World and hating to be seen.

But still a Wife he’ll have, she must supply 95

The want of Fortune with Œconomy.

A Parson’s Daughter first attracts his Eyes

Whose chief accomplishment was making Pies.

Of Birth nor fortune was Maid possess’d,

Nor was her Mind or Form by nature bless’d; 100

Her Manners Vulgar, Education mean,

Who nothing of the World had ever seen.

Yet do her justice, spite of ridicule,

The Girl was Virtuous, prudent, and no Fool;

Could draw a Landscape, play a Tune, had art 105

And even in Age was Fribble’s counterpart.

On her he fix’d a partner for Life,

She’ll make a notable, Obedient Wife.

But how inadequate the Muses’ strains )

To paint the strict Œconomy that reigns, ) 110

Of which each Servant and the Poor complains. )

Husband and Father, now when e’re the Gout

Keeps him at home, Nancy must not stir out.

She must obey his will but thinks it hard

To be of all her pleasure thus debarr’d. 115

But ’mongst their crosses ’twas decreed by fate )

This Blessing still should on our Couple wait – )

Fribble can ne’re be jealous of his Mate. )


Text: Box 28, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 4, pp. 162-64.