Written for my Son, and Spoken by Him at his First Putting on Breeches

Original Text: 
Poems by Eminent Ladies (London: R. Baldwin, 1755): I, 10-12. B-10 6457 Fisher Rare Book Library
1WHAT is it our mamma's bewitches,
2To plague us little boys with breeches ?
3To tyrant Custom we must yield,
4Whilst vanquish'd Reason flies the field.
5Our legs must suffer by ligation,
6To keep the blood from circulation ;
7And then our feet, tho' young and tender,
8We to the shoemaker's surrender ;
9Who often makes our shoes so strait,
10Our growing feet they cramp and fret ;
11Whilst, with contrivance most profound,
12Across our insteps we are bound ;
13Which is the cause, I make no doubt,
14Why thousands suffer in the gout.
15Our wiser ancestors wore brogues,
16Before the surgeons brib'd these rogues,
17With narrow toes, and heels like pegs,
18To help to make us break our legs.
19Then, ere we know to use our fists,
20Our mothers closely bind our wrists ;
21And never think our cloaths are neat,
22Till they're so tight we cannot eat.
23And, to increase our other pains,
24The hatband helps to cramp our brains.
25The cravat finishes the work,
26Like bowstring sent from the Grand Turk.
27Thus dress, that should prolong our date,
28Is made to hasten on our fate.
29Fair privilege of nobler natures,
30To be more plagu'd than other creatures !
31The wild inhabitants of air
32Are cloath'd by heav'n with wondrous care :
33Their beauteous, well-compacted feathers
34Are coats of mail against all weathers ;
35Enamell'd, to delight the eye ;
36Gay as the bow that decks the sky.
37The beasts are cloath'd with beauteous skins :
38The fishes arm'd with scales and fins ;
39Whose lustre lends the sailor light,
40When all the stars are hid in night.
41O were our dress contriv'd like these,
42For use, for ornament, and ease !
43Man only seems to sorrow born,
44Naked, defenceless, and forlorn.
45Yet we have Reason to supply
46What nature did to man deny :
47Weak Viceroy ! Who thy pow'r will own,
48When Custom has usurp'd thy throne ?
49In vain did I appeal to thee,
50Ere I would wear his livery ;
51Who, in defiance of thy rules,
52Delights to make us act like fools.
53O'er human race the tyrant reigns,
54And binds them in eternal chains.
55We yield to his despotic sway,
56The only monarch all obey.
Publication Start Year: 
1755
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1996-2000.
Form: