The Mad Man’s Petition

Give me, ye Gods! A farm as snug
As woolen blanket to a bug;
I’ll dance and sing, and rhyme and sleep,
To lowing cows and bleating sheep;
Carve Nancy’s name on every tree,
But Nancy’s false—as false as me!
A plague consume the filthy cot,
Perish the herds—the sheep may rot!

Give me a warehouse cramm’d with goods,
And filthy ships to plough the floods;
I’ll strut and swear, and job and range,
The fiercest merchant upon ’Change;
—No, by my truth, I’ll leave the Stocks,
To Bears and Bulls and waddling ducks.

How wretched is a bach’lor’s life!
Give me, ye Gods, a pretty wife!
As Pallas wise, as Venus fair,
Gay as the light, as chaste as the air,
—No, now I think on’t, wives have tongues,
And mine are weak, consumptive lungs.

Then grant me an enormous wig,
And fable coat, ten times too big:
With purple, pimpled face I’ll shine
A worthy orthodox divine:
Six days and nights in riot spent,
Hallow the seventh and repent,
Then off again on Monday morn,
Nor rest still sabbath day return:
—No, my good Granmum used to say,
That there will come a Judgement Day!

Well then I’ll be a soldier brave,
A Soldier’s coat fits fool or knave;
With tongue of brass and heart of self-ware,
As thousands more beside myself are,
Like Hercules I’ll mount a breach,
And butcher all within my reach:
‘Stop’, roars a bullet, ‘Damn your eyes,’
Cries Hercules—and falls—and dies!
A rout succeeds, a rout, a rout!
I cannot run—confound the gout!
Then give me, Jove, an hermit’s cell,
Where I live like snail in shell,
And like another honest Ass,
Drink the clear spring and feed on grass;
From mourn to night, in my retreat,
I’ll eat and bray, and bray and eat!

—No, who would be an Ass, that can
In any shape be—Man?

Give me a house in Grosvenor-square,
With forty thousand pounds a year;
An host of friends to wait my call,
Yet not a friend amongst them all!
But who would sigh for loss of friends,
A Star and Garter make amends;
Nicknames and fools—caps are ador’d,
Heav’ns! what a thing, to be a LORD!
Then in a chariot to be whirl’d,
And kick a dust up in the world!
—Hold!—Carriages are apt to break,
And mine’s a very brittle neck;
‘Tis fun to thunder up and down,
But not to fall and crack one’s crown;
Sweet is the noise of rattling stones,
But curse the crash of rattling bones!

What shall I ask for next, ye Gods!
Of all this world’s evens, or its odds,
Alike to me is odd or even,
There’s no such thing on Earth, as Heav’n!
I bow to content to your decrees—
Give me, O give me—what you please!

By J. M. G.
Sheffield, Aug 12 1793

Printed in the Sheffield Register No. 325, 25 August 1793 (currently held in Sheffield University Library Special Collections)

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