Prose on several occasions: accompanied with some pieces in verse. By George Colman. ... [pt.3]
Colman, George, 1732-1794.
Page  200

PROLOGUE TO THE COMEDY OF BON TON. Spoken by Mr. KING. November, 1773.

FASHION in ev'ry thing bears sov'reign sway,
And Words and Perriwigs have both their day.
Each have their purlieus too, are modish each
In stated districts, Wigs as well as Speech.
The Tyburn Scratch, thick Club, and Temple Tye,
The Parson's Feather-top, frizz'd broad and high!
The Coachman's Cauliflow'r, built tiers on tiers!
Differ not more from Bags and Brigadiers,
Than great St. George's, or St. James's stiles,
From the broad dialect of Broad St. Giles.
What is BON TON?—Oh, damme, cries a Buck
—Half drunk—ask me, my dear, and you're in luck!
Bon Ton's to swear, break windows, beat the watch,
Pick up a wench, drink healths, and roar a catch.
Keep it up, keep it up! damme, take your swing!
Bon Ton is Life, my Boy; Bon Ton's the Thing!
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Ah! I loves Life, and all the joys it yields—
Says Madam Fussock, warm from Spitalfields.
Bone Tone's the space 'twixt Saturday and Monday,
And riding in a one-horse chair o'Sunday!
'Tis drinking tea on summer afternoons
At Bagnigge-Wells, with China and gilt spoons!
'Tis laying-by our stuffs, red cloaks, and pattens,
To dance Cow-tillions, all in silks and sattins!
Vulgar! cries Miss. Observe in higher life
The feather'd spinster, and thrice-feather'd wife!
The CLUB's Bon Ton. Bon Ton's a constant trade
Of Rout, Festino, Ball, and Masquerade!
'Tis Plays and Puppet-shews; 'tis something new;
'Tis losing thousands ev'ry night at Lu!
Nature it thwarts, and contradicts all reason;
'Tis stiff French stays, and Fruit when out of season!
A Rose, when Half a Guinea is the price;
A set of Bays, scarce bigger than six mice;
To visit friends, you never wish to see;
Marriage 'twixt those, who never can agree;
Old Dowagers, drest, painted, patch'd and curl'd;
This is Bon Ton, and this we call the WORLD!
True, says my Lord; and thou, my only son,
Whate'er your faults, ne'er sin against BON TON!
Page  202Who toils for learning at a Publick School,
And digs for Greek and Latin, is a fool!
French, French, my boy's the Thing! jasez! prate, chatter!
Trim be the mode, whipt syllabub the matter!
Walk like a Frenchman! for on English pegs
Moves native aukwardness with two left legs.
Of courtly friendship form a treacherous league;
Seduce men's daughters, with their wives intrigue;
In fightly semi-circle round your nails;
Keep your teeth clean—and grin, if small talk fails—
But never laugh, whatever jest prevails!
Nothing but nonsense e'er gave laughter birth,
That vulgar way the vulgar shew their mirth.
Laughter's a rude convulsion, sense that justles,
Disturbs the cockles, and distorts the muscles.
Hearts may be black, but all should wear clean faces;
The Graces, Boy! the Graces, Graces, GRACES!
Such is BON TON! and walk this City thro',
In Building, Scribbling, Fighting, and Virtù,
And various other shapes, 'twill rise to view.
To night our Bayes, with bold but careless tints,
Hits off a sketch or two, like Darly's prints.
Should Connoisseurs allow his rough draughts strike 'em,
'Twill be BON TON to see 'em and to like 'em.