West End Fair

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

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Dame Charity one day was tired
With nursing of her children three,—
So might you be
If you had nursed and nursed so long
A little squalling throng;—
So she, like any earthly lady,
Resolved for once she'd have a play-day.

“I cannot always go about
To hospitals and prisons trudging,
Or fag from morn to night
Teaching to spell and write
A barefoot rout,
Swept from the streets by poor Lancaster,
My sub-master.

“That Howard ran me out of breath,
And Thornton and a hundred more
Will be my death:
The air is sweet, the month is gay,
And I,” said she, “must have a holiday.”

So said, she doffed her robes of brown
In which she commonly is seen,—
Like French Beguine,—
And sent for ornaments to town:
And Taste in Flavia's form stood by,
Penciled her eyebrows, curled her hair,
Disposed each ornament with care,
And hung her round with trinkets rare,—
She scarcely, looking in the glass,
Knew her own face.

So forth she sallied blithe and gay,
And met dame Fashion by the way;
And many a kind and friendly greeting
Passed on their meeting:
Nor let the fact your wonder move,
Abroad, and on a gala-day,
Fashion and she are hand and glove.

So on they walked together,
Bright was the weather;
Dame Charity was frank and warm;
But being rather apt to tire,
She leant on Fashion's arm.

And now away for West End fair,
Where whiskey, chariot, coach, and chair,
Are all in requisition.
In neat attire the Graces

Behind the counters take their places,
And humbly do petition
To dress the booths with flowers and sweets,
As fine as any May-day,
Where Charity with Fashion meets,
And keeps her play-day.

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