Wrong is the creator-owned magazine of uncanny and disturbing stories.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

The Pathetick History of Sir Wilful Wildrake

by Howard Phillips Lovecraft

Dedicated to the Rt. Hon. Rheinhart Kleiner, Gent.

In Elder Days, when ruttish Rips
Were always pardon'd for their Slips;
When CHARLES (as if to set the Pace)
With Doxies swell'd our British Race,
There liv'd a Rake of ancient Name
Whose Sires had known a martial Fame;
But who, indiff'rent to the Sword,
Fought softer Fights, and gayly whor'd.
This Brat, of rampant Squire begot,
Was sure to design for Lecher's Lot:
At Birth he had a roving Eye
That winkt at Wenches passing by,
And ere he could in Speech converse
He got a Bastard on his Nurse.
When ten the Boy was known with Pride
Each Trollop of the Countryside,
And pass'd, so ably did he whore 'em,
The old Jus Trium Librorum !
His Father, liking not to see
So swift a Growth of Peasantry
(Or yet a Rival quite so bold as he),
Ere long the little Satyr sent
To travel on the Continent;
But many a Tale his Tutor told
That prov'd the Stripling still more bold.
He charm'd the easie Gallick Jades,
And Bitches of Italia’s Shades—
God help us all if Years ahead
Our Sons must fight the Troops he bred!
(Myself, I think it downright Treason
To wench abroad in any Season.)
But in due Time young WILDRAKE came
Back to our Isle to vaunt his Fame,
And gain the Prize for our King design
For Merit of a Gallant Kind.
Behold him now at ev'ry Ball
That frets the Peace of Windsor Hall;
A Maccaronie of Renown
With ev'ry Baggage of the Town;
Bold with the Trulls, and quick to boast
Of Vict'ries o'er each reigning Toast,
Nor slow to hint they hath been rash
With Lady Blank , or Countess Dash!
One idle Day a Nymph he knew
Prov'd pleasing to the Royal View,
Whereat our crafty riggish Imp
To serve his Fortune turn'd a Pimp:
The Fray was won — the Maiden blighted—
And WILL, to pay his Virtue, knighted.
(I need but add, the Drab was made
A Duchess, grand in red Brocade.)
Whene'er some pious Fool wou'd snivel
That such damn'd Raking pleas'd the Devil,
Our love-lockt Goat wou'd wink in Scorn
And vow that he for this was born;
For sure, the only Joy he knew
Was of the Cyprian and the Stew,
Whilst he wou'd rather far be dead
Than out of some loose Mopsy's Bed.
Of Husbands WILL Was Much In Awe,
And smil'd the more, the less he saw;
But Cupid oft will craft provide,
So WILDRAKE early learn'd to hide.
Now all went well, till one sad Day
WILL'S Nose beam'd out with redder Ray,
And powder'd Leeches cry'd that sure
He must depart to take the Cure.
Not once but often did they force
The rake-hell Blade to change his Course,
Yet spyte of all the poor Wretch grows
Pain'd, pox'd, and putrid with his Woes.
The years as well their Tribute claim,
They seam his Face and bend his Frame,
Till ere his Mind his State can see,
He finds no Joy in Venerie.
The Ladies flee as he draws near,
And ev'ry Strumpet costs him dear.
And what is worse, each bawdy Fling
No Spark of Pleasure can now bring.
Bred up to live on Lust alone,
A Courtier by Priapus' Throne,
He sees ahead a weary Waste
Whose Bliss he never learn'd to taste.
"Alas!" he whines, “had I but thought
Of what vast Ills by Love are wrought!
Had I but train'd my mind to glimpse
Some Goal above my Whores and Pimps!
Fifty and feeble, I must crave
And ogle vainly to my Grave,
Whilst even then (if Crones err not)
My itching Ghost will haunt the Spot! ”
But one last Joy our WILDRAKE learns,
The while in pox'd old Age he burns;
For tho 'the Flame of Love be low,
In Godliness new Beauties grow.
The Rake, his genial Ardor spent,
Turns pious, proud, and penitent;
Dons sober gray; three Church each Week
To dose, or hear the Parson speak;
Too old to whore, the Rip grows chaste,
And damns the Bliss he once embrac'd.
Resolv'd to wed, he seeks a Maid
Of Age and Chancres unafraid;
An ugly Chit, tho 'young and sound,
And bred on her ancestral Ground;
Nor (save for Errours with a Groom)
Devoid of Dian's virgin Bloom.
With this sweet Nymph the Rake essays
In rustick Peace to end his Days;
Trades Bawdry for a Patriot's Fire,
And turns a stolid country Squire.
Three infant Forms the Household bless,
Entrancing in their Loveliness;
An idiot Girl, a weakling Boy,
And one small Saint, the Mother's Joy,
Whose Groom-like Looks his lover's Sire annoy.
So ends poor WILL, whom Parents praise
For prudish Tongue and virtuous Ways;
First to reprove a lick'rish Air,
And first to stone the erring Fair.
'Tis he that rails with righteous Zest
At Modern Nymphs in Style undress'd
With shrinking Petticoat and naked Breast.
His Merits all the Country fill,
And Heirs adore him for his Will;
No one (aloud) can think with Ease
That Death so good a Man will seize.
Nagg'd, cuckolded by doltish Wife,
The Hypocrite concludes his Life;
Once hot for Cupid’s Pleasures only
He pines — dull, rotten, lewd, and lonely!

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