Almonds for Parrots

NOTE: This poem, published in August 1708, was prompted by Joseph Browne's St. James's Park (July 1708), a satire on contemporary manners. It is part of a literary tradition using St James's Park as a site for satirizing disreputable public behaviour, as in Edmund Waller's A Poem on St. James's Park (1661), which the author alludes to. Some of the persons mentioned in the poem were first mentioned in Browne's poem, such as Litton and Gerrad (first line), who apparently were "two eternal Fops about the Town". "Pretty S--d--y" is Henry Sidney, 1st Earl of Romney (1641-1704), a famous handsome libertine. But most of the allusions are obscure. This is one of the first poems in English to mention the condom (or "condon"). I reproduce only the first part, which concentrates on effeminate and homosexual men.

How glorious bright L[it]t[o]n and G[erra]d shine!
And fragrant smell, like any Columbine!
Whose Lilly Looks, at first Apperance, show
The Blood-red Courage of his Heart below.
The Ladies well may such a Soldier fear,
That carries bearded Arrows ev’ry where.
His Shape, his Mein, his Eyes prevail;
But the great Secret of his Charms, lies in his T[ail].
Bless me! what silly Things are Women grown,
Compar’d to th’ pretty Fellows of the Town!
For Shame, ye Fair, your boasted Charms disown.
No more expect to be address’d again,
But put on on [sic] Breeches, and attack the Men.
You may perhaps find something more to say,
Than in dumb Language court the Modern Way.
You then may find the Men made to your Mind,
Soft, Complaisant, Agreeable, and Kind;
Gentle as Wal[le]r, when he’s pleas’d to smile,
Like Maidens taught at Fifteen to beguile.
But sure no Virgin of his Age will dare
Her Beauty with his Breeding to compare!
For one so nicely vers’d in ev’ry Art
The Females use, must be allow’d his Part:
He knows to vanquish, or to yield a Heart:
He knows each Knack and Myst’ry of the Fair
To crimp and curl, take off, or put on Hair;
To cleanse the Teeth, wash, patch, or paint;
Look pert, or else demure as any Saint:
He knows the wond’rous Arts some have to please;
How to prevent, or cure the foul Disease;
How to Advantage best to put on Red,
And most commodiously dispose a Bridal Bed:
Nay, to compleat his Art, t’instruct the Fair,
And put her in a Posture for an Heir.
     Proceed, my Muse; he’s not the only He
That, dress’d in Petty-coats, would make a beauteous She.
How many are disguis’d in Coat and Sword,
That speak themselves meer Women ev’ry Word;
Sit at their Toilet ev’ry Morn they rise,
To learn the Art of governing their Eyes;
That ev’ry Day the pretty Things are dress’d,
They may be taught what Looks become them best; [p. 3]
Whether a languishing and sleepy Grace,
Will best that Day adorn their Face;
Or’t be expedient to look out-right,
And kill th’ unguarded Female at first Sight.
These Things are well consulted at the Glass,
Or e’re they can adjust a modish Face:
Which, when trimm’d up to the nice Rules of Art,
They doubt not but will conquer any Heart.
     Thus pretty S[i]d[n]y reigns among the Fair.
And passes for the bright Idalian Star,
The Men are apt to take him for a She,
And pay false Homage to the Deity.
'Tis pity Nature so mistook her Way,
To make at once both Sexes go astray,
That when she did the Masculine create,
He should turn Tail, and prove effeminate.
But this in Camps may of more Service prove,
Where Male with Male are forc’d to kindle Love.
     This cools the Rage of Feminine Desire,
Which so debases all their Manly Fire:
For who would love a silly Maid, that can
Be happy with that Lordly Creature, Man?
When free from Female Fooleries, they may
Revel together all the Night and Day;
Never be weary, ’till their Souls are fled
And they are peacefully convey’d to Bed;
Where no fond She’s to interrupt their Joys,
Or they’re awak’d with Matrimonial Crys,
The grating Sound of squalling Girls and Boys.
     Rather like B—y, in the publick Streets,
That kisses ev’ry Fellow that she meets,

Let them with rapt’rous Thoughts enjoy each other,
’Till ev’ry pretty Youth is made a Mother;
That by their own Experience they may see
Th’ Effect of base prepost’rous Venery.
How Nature startles at the foul Offence!
But always triumphs in bright Innocence.
     Yet C—te affects the Female Gender more
Than F— the Male, or R— the Wh[ore].
But what a pleasant Prospect would it be,
To see in Publick this Variety!
Behold, the Breeches put on B[ol]t[o]n’s Wife!
And see a Brigadier dress’d in a Quif! [p. 4]
How like a simp’ring Susan, Tom would look?
And how old M[o]r[to]n dress’d up like a Cook?
How for a Country Maid, Wal[lr]r might pass,
That was just taken fresh from Grass?
So amiable each Creature would appear,
The Ladies durst now shew themselves, for fear
These modish Dalilahs should force their Rear.
     Alas! how awkward would our Women seem,
In Mode, or Shape, or Dress, compar’d to them?
With such soft Voices, and such decent Pride,
Such winning Graces, and such Ways beside,
They Dance and Sing like an Essex Bride.
And now they have discover’d, after all,
What we a true Hermophrodite may call;
For Nature ne’er made Men so soft and fair,
And yet adorn’d their Heads and Beards with Hair.
But Art surpasses Nature; and we find
Men may be transform’d into Woman-kind.
O happy Change! But far more wond’rous Skill!
That curse’s Love’s Wounds, without the Doctor’s Pill:
Anticipates ev’n Condon’s secret Art,
At first invented to secure the Part.
     O matchless Condon! thou’st secur’d thy Fame
To last as long as Condon is a Name.
Such mighty Things are by thy Influence done,
Thou ha’st the foremost of this Age out-run.
Vulcan himself has been out-stript by thee,
Thou Patron of the Paphian Deity.
For Mars’s Heroes, sing Arms he made;
But thou for Venus, takes up Vulcan’s Trade.
Superior much, thou do’st the God out-shine.
Achilles Armour cannot match with thine.
Think makes the Knight invulnerable still;
And Condon triumph’s o’er Apollo’s Skill.
Sons of the Sun, no more in vain pretend
To heal what all your Art can never mend.
No more to Hermes mighty Skill aspire;
Condon has quench’d the heat of Venus’s Fire,
And yet preserv’d the Flame of Love’s Desire.
     Hail! mighty Leader of the Condon Crew,
Who charge the Fair, arm’d Cap-a-pee, like you!
To noble A—le first you did impart
The secret Knowledge of your saving Art:
Which, had you taught O[r]r[e]ry before,
You’d sav’d his Calfs, not such as Israel did adore,
But such as he has offer’d to his Wh[ore]. [p. 5]
     And now, who have we of Illustrious Race,
From my Lord’s Valet, to his very Grace,
That can be said to be instructed right,
Unless he knows with Condons how to fight?
Happy Invention! that is grown a Trade,
Whereby some Honest People get their Bread;
But they in ev’ry Market can’t be had,
The Huckster-Dealers only will them sell,
At th’ Park, Spring-Garden, Play-House or the Mall.
’Tis pitty that a Grant is not obtain’d,
That something may be to the Publick gain’d;
That like New Rome, New Britain may appear,
And our wise Laws appoint a Register
To enter Condon-Hawkers ev’ry Year. [p. 6]

[The remaining 3 and a half pages of the poem are about the condom.]

SOURCE: Almonds for Parrots: or, A Soft Answer to a Scurrilous Satyr, call’d, St. James’s Park. With a Word or two in Praise of Condons, London, 1708.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Almonds for Parrots, 1708," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 5 June 2004, updated 15 June 2008 <>.

Return to Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England