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Plate 21: The Broken Rake with Good Title Deeds


Publish'd as the Act Directs, June 1773

7 3/4"w x 5"h


From "The EXPLANATION OF THE PLATES in the Book of Heads entitled



Y Lord at Arthur's sharp'd of all his store,
I'th morning quested how to finger more :

He heard old Screwby oft supply'd the needs
Of broken rakes, who had good title deeds.
So he bunch'd up two packets, like in shape,
Ty'd in blue paper with a silken tape :
One deeds of lands, seven hundred pounds a year,
The other parchments old and cancell'd were.
The genuine packet he to Screwby took,
Who hem'd and haw'd, and thro' the whole did look
He lik'd the ware — and after coughing twice,
With twang of nose, he query'd thus o'th' price.

   And pray, my lord, what may you want on these?
One thousand pounds, old father, if you please ;
And in the morning this day week, at nine,
A thousand more — security is thine.

   My lord — a mortgage — mortgages I want,
Things dubious grow ; — and money's wondrous scan :
On these fair terms, a thousand down I'll lay,
And the remainder on the mention'd day.
So Screwby counts the cash ; the deeds secures
My lord wheels off to gambling, rakes, and whores.

   Time on his wings brings the appointed day,
On which his lordship doth the visit pay ;
Who in his pocket takes the feigned deeds,
Besides the thousand which his project needs.

   The usual compliments no sooner past,
My lord, in bustle, seem'd to be in haste :
Come, Mr. Screwby — come, the writings soon,
And let me see if honesty be done.

   Old Screwby then lays down the mortgage deeds ;
His lordship dams each article he reads,
And throws them down : — old Screwby all aghast,
Clearing his weasand, thus broke out at last.

   My lord, there's no man — no man, on my word,
Will lend his cash ; — and not be sure, my lord.

Why dam your Surety: these I'll never sign ;
Hero take your trash; — and give me what is mine.

   Old Screwby scratching both his elbows, said,
My lord, for writings five pounds must be paid.
Here 'tis ; but give me first of all what's mine ;
Thou hast the cash, and mortgage deeds are thine.

   But they're not signed, and so not worth a straw;
Nor ever shall be whilst my breath I draw.
My lord took up, and found the writings right,
And tied them up again in Screwby's sight,
And in his pocket whore th' sham writings lay,
He put them close, and coolly bad — good-day.

   Griev'd to the soul, old Screwby sore did fret,
That he vou'd not this precious morsel get:
His stick he takes — his greasy hat put o'er
His brown-white wig, and limp'd hard out of door
After his lordship : Ho — my lord — ho lo !
Pray what's to do, old father grey-beard now?

   If''t please you, Sir, what must I give in hand,
For you to sign, and let this bargain stand?

   Two hundred pounds — : besides two thousand down,
And then I'll sign, — the mortgage deeds your own.

   Come back, my lord — : for witnesses In send,
Sign you and seal, and so this job we'll end.

   Gripe now in stretched bags of solid sounds,
On table set twenty-two hundred pounds.
His lordship throws the mimic writings down,
And thus each face has banish'd ev'ry frown.

   The mortgage deeds are executed fair,
Gripe put's th' old parchments in his bosom bare ;
Whilst solid gold my lord lugs to his chaise,
And makes it fly 'mongst courtiers, whores, and plays.

   The new-made deeds so fill'd old Screwby's head,
That the false writings never once were read
'Till two months past; and then he nearly scans
The shou'd-be deeds of all the mortgag'd lands.
When lo ! old leases, with determin'd dates ;
Some cancell'd bonds ; parchments of law debates,
Salutes with wonder his old winking eyes ;
Which made him start from chair in great suiprize !
His piss-burnt wig he wirls upon the ground,
And stamping on't, he wildly stares around !
What — must our nobles cheat the poor — quo' he,
And still be screen'd from stocks, and pillory?
Must thus the king give titles to the great,
With power to ruin, murder, rob, and cheat?
Must some pack'd rogues thus plunder all the rest,
And when we're bankrupts, laugh it into jest?
But I'll have right ; — or stab the titled knave,
And sweetly go reveng'd unto my grave.

   Old Screwby now is close upon the scent,
In every place his lordship did frequent.
Some knew the man ; — some knew he lov'd a whore;
But all affirm'd he dy'd six weeks before.
At last he meets two friends, who testify'd
He very fairly in a duel dy'd.

   Gripe, full to th' throat, his grief in sighs burst o'er :
Nor ever thought of his remaining store.
For he by squeezing rich and poor, we find,
Full thirty thousand still had left behind :
But yet so hanker'd after what was gone,
He must have that, or else he would have none :
For this lost sheep was such a fatal blow,
He'd even fetch it from the shades below.
This was resolv'd — : Tears flow'd for loss of pelf:
He hastens home, and there ho hangs himself !

   Calm reason judge ; give sentence if thou can,
   Which murder'd most the character of man !

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