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The Hannah More Project

Computational Analysis, Author Attribution, and the Cheap Repository Tracts of the 18th Century

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John the Shopkeeper Part II



TURNED SAILOR; OR, THE Folly of going out of our Element. In which a particular Account is given of the several Branches of this worthy Family, PART II.


‘TWAS told you in a former lay,

How on a luckless evil day

The Trader John, a landsman brave,

Left the dry ground to try the wave.

But here the poet must rehearse,

In soft, and sweet, and tender verse,

How gentle Johnny had a wife,

The joy and solace of his life,

The sharer of his griefs and cares,

Privy to all his great affairs;

One who when ty’d in wedlock’s noose

Had prov’d a helpmate sit for use;

One whom he married—not for whim—

But who could keep his house in trim;

No high-slown miss, or Belle, or Beauty,

A simple Girl that knew her duty;

Had well obey’d her Father, Mother,

And counsell’d well her younger Brother;

Healthy when young, and rather stout:

Moral?—nay more, she was devout:

And now a Christian quite at heart,

She carefully fulfils her part,

Well skill’d alike her house to guide,

And serve the shop at Johnny’s side.

See now she works to help the trade,

And now instructs her under maid;

But ’tis her chief and special care,

Her Husband’s daily toil to spare;

When sick, or weary and opprest,

To ease the troubles of his breast,

To soothe his sorrows, calm his fears,

And help him thro’ this vale of tears;

Remind him where his treasure lies,

And point to realms above the skies,

Where, when this shifting scene is o’er,

The faithful meet to part no more.

Now twenty summers or above

Have glided by and prov’d her love:

And though they may have marr’d her face,

Have ripen’d many a Christian Grace;

Hence it may now be fairly guess’d,

Her latest days shall be her best.

John knows her worth, and now-a-days,

He grows quite eager in her praise;

For ev’ry calling friend is told,

“My Wife is worth her weight in Gold.”

To this blest couple there was born,

One Daughter cheerful as the morn;

A Maiden she of spotless fame,

E’en in her mirth quite clear from blame.

Train’d in Religion’s “narrow way,”

Her mind untainted by a Play,

She hates your giddy glitt’ring scenes,

Tho’ long since enter’d on her teens;

Sees all things in a proper light,

And vice quite puts her in a fright;

Prompt and obedient from a Child,

Obliging, humble, meek and mild;

Still, before strangers, as a mouse;

Yet vastly useful in the House—

Toils for the shop, tho’ seldom seen;

—Ah!—there she sits behind the screen;

There, like some flower both sweet and gay,

She shuns as yet the blaze of day;

(Well does her praise adorn my tale)

A new-blown Lily of the Vale.

Now should perchance some fool draw near,

And get to whisper in her ear,

Of Plays, and Balls, and Fairs, and Races,

Fine mid-night Routs, and public Places,

And wonder how she can endure,

A life so useful and so pure—

Extol her form, her piercing Eyes,

And tell a hundred flatt’ring lies;

—While the sweet praise he thinks she sips,

The tortur’d Maiden bites her lips;

Thinks his fine flatt’ry mere pretence,

And longs to tell him to talk sense;

Yet dreads to take the dunce in hand,

Lest he should still not understand.

But should he let his


peep out,

The meek-ey’d Girl can then turn stout;

For once (’tis said) in terms direct,

A spruce and saucy spark she check’d;

(She grew so solemn in her speeches

The Bucks give out that “Nancy preaches”)

And once put on the sweetest air,

And begg’d a Carman not to swear.

Thus while she spends her peaceful days,

Her parents’ care she well repays;

Honors her father, loves her mother,

She’ll prove methinks just such another;

And tho’ scarce seen, except at church,

The men won’t leave her in the lurch;

Some honest Christian man she’ll strike,

No Buck or Blood—for like loves like.

Next in my song, of equal fame,

Comes a good honest antient dame;

John’s mother—with no fault but one—

I mean—she doated on her son;

For when her own dear spouse was gone,

Her whole affections fell to John;

‘Twas then, the widow’s age so great,

Her prospects small, her income strait,

That Johnny weighed the matter well,

And took her to his home to dwell:

No cost or trouble did he grudge,

For John had rightly learn’d to judge

That people, once of little fame,

But now of high and mighty name,

Oft owe the glory of their station,

To the mere help of Education.

Quoth he—”Were all men good and true,

“Their wealth, methinks, might half be due,

“To some good dame who now is found

“Quite thrust upon the mere back ground:

“Besides (he added half in tears)

“A child is always in arrears,

“In debt, alas! o’er head and ears,”

Oh with what joy, what thanks and praise

To the Great Length’ner of her days,

What feelings not to be outdone,

Tow’rds her dear John, her only son,

Did the good parent take her station,

And kindly own the obligation!

And now his tenderness she pays,

By helping in a thousand ways.

Deck’d in her best she comes in view,

And serves the shop from twelve to two;

Knows not each price perhaps quite pat,

Yet keeps the croud in civil chat,

Till John himself comes up to sell

A yard of lutestring, or an ell:

Next to the Cook her aid she brings,

And does a hundred little things:

Loves her own self to lay the cloth,

To dress the sallad, skim the broth;

At shelling peas is quick and nimble,

Tho’ now grown tardy with her thimble;

And always puts you quite at ease,

Walks out, and leaves you if you please,

Plain as she seems, has much good sense.

And hence she never takes offence;

And all agree, for all are lenient,

The good old Lady’s quite convenient.

Yet let me add, if things go wrong,

Madam soon shews her fears are strong;

And then she gives a certain spice

Of plain and downright good advice;

Talks in a most convincing tone

“Of what


seen and what



And in a way that vastly wins,

Will warn you of her own past sins:

Tranquil at eve, in elbow chair.

Tells what her former follies were;

Recounts her dangers, nice escapes,

Sad sufferings once, and aukward scrapes;

And while she paints her varied life,

Adds wisdom e’en to Johnny’s wife;

John, warn’d of her each matter weighs,

And Nancy trembles and obeys.

Thus some old seaman, once so brave,

And buffeted by wind and wave;

Of the rude seas too long the sport,

Enters at length some peaceful port;

Rejoices now no more to roam,

Yet acts as Pilot nearer home.


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