The Boots.

Think not, my friend, you love in vain,
Tho' CHLOE treats ou with disdain,
Nay, tho' she frowns at all you say,
And scornful turns her head away;
Yet let not that disturb your mind,
The fair one may at last be kind;
For there's in love one happy hour,
In which few women have the pow'r
To cross a wanton inclination,
Or struggle with a strong temptation;
But if the lucky minute's lost,
You never can a conquest boast.

          I know the truth of what I say,
I've let that minute slip away:
Long time I waited, but in vain,
It never more came back again.
But I in love affairs was raw,
And of the fair one stood in awe:
I thought her chaste as turtle-dove,
For I confess I was in love;
And freely own it to my shame,
That it was I who was to blame,
As she has oftentimes confess'd,
And of my folly made a jest.
But men are wiser grown of late,
And real love is out of date:
Few know the soft respectful passion,
While lewdness is become the fashion;
Seducing widows, maidens, wives,
Is all the pleasure of their lives;
And, tho' they find the fair one shy,
And what they ask with scorn deny,
Yet they do not their suit give o'er,
Resistance but inflames the more;
And, tho' at first their projects fail,
They think by time for to prevail;
The lucky minute watch with care,
And hope at last to gain the fair.

          Such men as these, I must confess,
Both meet with, and deserve success.
That perseverance will prevail,
I shall illustrate by a tale.

          A handsome captain, young and gay,
With some dragoons at Limerick lay,
And with a Quaker quarter'd there,
Whose wife was to a wonder fair:
The captain view'd her with surprise,
Admir'd her features, shape and eyes.
She seem'd so form'd to give delight,
That, quite transported with the sight,
He scarcely could conceal the flame
Rais'd in his bosom by the dame.

          The Quaker knew his wife was fair,
And did not for young captain's care;
For, being far advanc'd in years,
He was not free from jealous fears,
Since JUDITH, spite of all her dress,
Was full of love and wantonness;
Was ever smiling, always gay:
Yet she had never gone astray,
But what she had not done, she might;
This kept EZEKIEL in a fright.

          The captain, though exceeding young,
Had wit and a deluding tongue:
Whene'er he with EZEKIEL sat,
He still complain'd of this and that,
And seem'd to be so very nice,
He scarce could pardon any vice;
Regretted all the crying crimes
That are so frequent in our times:
At drunkenness he loudly rail'd,
And swearing that so much prevail'd;
Against uncleanness much inveigh'd,
And gravely said he was a maid.

          Thus did he talk, in hopes to gain
EZEKIEL's favour, but in vain;
The Quaker was not apt to bite,
but thought him a young hypocrite,
And always was upon his gaurd,
Nor for his cant a farthing car'd.

          But, when with JUDITH left alone,
The youthful captain chang'd his tone;
He talk'd of love, of flames, and darts,
Of killing eyes, and wounded hearts:
And, falling down upon his knees,
did on her slender fingers seize,
And swore that he would die for grief
If she deny'd him kind relief.
'Twas thus he told his am'rous pain,
But all he said was spoke in vain;
For JUDITH, without frown or smile,
Stood list'ning to him all the while;
And when she saw that he was done,
She laugh'd aloud, and thus begun:

          I tell thee, friend, thou art deceiv'd,
If thou hast sillily believ'd,
Because that I was young and gay,
And pass the time in mirth away,
That therefore I was lewdly given,
And did not fear the wrath of heaven:
Know, friend, thou art mistaken quite,
For, tho' in laughing I delight,
I am not that abandon'd fool
As e'er to swerve from virtue's rule:
I still shall laugh, and still be gay,
And, spite of all that thou canst say,
Shall lead an honest virtuous life,
And be EZEKIEL's faithful wife,
Altho' he is long past his youth:
Believe me, friend, I speak the truth.

          The captain sigh'd at what she spoke,
Yet hop'd the fair one was in joke:
But, to his grief, he found it true,
She never more complacent grew,
And, tho' a thousand ways he try'd
Her virtue, was as oft deny'd;
Till, quite o'ercome wit discontent,
One day he to the country went,
And with him took dog, gun, and net,
In hopes he might his love forget:
but while that JUDITH was unkind,
He could nor sport nor pleasure find;
So gave his tackle to the groom,
And stright returned to his room;
Where being come, he saw a sight,
That fill'd his soul with great delight;
'Twas lovely JUDITH all alone,
Who, for a frolic, had put on
His winter boots. When this he spy'd,
The happy youth in raptures cry'd,
You're mine: and, without more ado,
Upon the bed the charmer threw.
The lucky minute now was come,
Surprise had struck poor JUDITH dumb;
Upon the bed she speechless lay,
And let the captain take his way;
But what he did I do not know.
EZEKIEL, who was set below,
Hearing the noise upon the floor,
Run up,and peeping thro' the door,
Beheld four legs upon the bed,
One pair in boots, and one in red.

          Away he run down stairs in haste,
As if by twenty devils chas'd:
Ghe loving couple heard the noise,
And JUDITH knew her cuckold's voice:
Away the fatal boots she threw,
Kiss'd the dear capitain, and withdrew.
She found EZEKIEL in the hall,
And fear'd he had discover'd all:
Poor man! he shook from head to foot,
And mutter'd something of a boot,
While JUDITH trembled at his look
Yet happily the cause mistook.

          The captain too came down the stair,
To see an end of this affair:
But old EZEKIEL cryi'd, Avaunt!
Out of my house, vile miscreant!
You spoke of whoredom with despite,
Yet art thyself a Sodomite,
And did that deed with a dragoon,
That brought down fire on Sodom town;
I saw the boots – too much I saw,
Thy life is forfeit by the law;
But if thou'lt leave this house to-day,
Of what I've seen I'll nothing say.

          The captain swore 'twas amistake;
I'm not, said he, so great a rake:
I had a swimming in my head,
That made me ly upon the bed;
And, if you will go up the stair,
Yo'll find the boots still lying there.

          Away the wife and EZEKIEL went.
He found the boots, and was content.

SOURCE: Forty Select Poems on Several Occasions, by The Right Honourable [Thomas Hamilton] The Earl of Haddington, London, 1769, Vol. II, pp. 142–151.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Boots", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, <>, 16 July 2013.

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