To A Lady With Child That Ask'D An Old Shirt.
And why an honour'd ragged shirt, that shows,
Like tatter'd ensigns, all its bodie's blows?
Should it be swathed in a vest so dire,
It were enough to set the child on fire;
Dishevell'd queen[s] should strip them of their hair,
And in it mantle the new rising heir:
Nor do I know ought worth to wrap it in,
Except my parchment upper-coat of skin;
And then expect no end of its chast tears,
That first was rowl'd in down, now furs of bears.
But since to ladies 't hath a custome been
Linnen to send, that travail and lye in;
To the nine sempstresses, my former friends,
I su'd; but they had nought but shreds and ends.
At last, the jolli'st of the three times three
Rent th' apron from her smock, and gave it me;
'Twas soft and gentle, subt'ly spun, no doubt;
Pardon my boldnese, madam; HERE'S THE CLOUT.