Page images
PDF
EPUB

he

From visits to receive and pay;

For Cowley's briefs, and pleas of Waller,
From scandal, politics, and play;

Still their authority was smaller.
From fans, and founces, and brocades,

There was on both sides much to say:
From equipage and park-parades,

She 'd hear the cause another day.
From all the thousand female toys,

And so she did ; and then a third
From every trifle that employs

She heard it — there, she kept her word:
The out or inside of their heads,

But, with rejoinders or replies,
Between their toilets and their beds.

Long bills, and answers stuff'd with lies,
In a dull stream, which moving slow,

Demur, imparlance, and essoign,
You hardly see the current flow;

The parties ne'er could issue join :
If a small breeze obstruct the course,

For sixteen years the cause was spun,
It whirls about, for want of force,

And then stood where it first begun.
And in its narrow circle gathers

Now, gentle Clio, sing or say,
Nothing but chaff, and straws, and feathers. What Venus meant by this delay.
The current of a female mind

The goddess, much perplex'd in mind
Stops thus, and turns with every wind;

To see her empire thus declin'd,
Thus whirling round together draws

When first this grand debate arose,
Fools, fops, and rakes, for chaff and straws.

Above her wisdom to compose,
Hence we conclude, no women's hearts

Conceiv'd a project in her head
Are won by virtue, wit, and parts :

To work her ends; which, if it sped,
Nor are the men of sense to blame,

Would show the merits of the cause For breasts incapable of flame;

Far better than consulting laws. The fault must on the nymphs be plac'd,

In a glad hour Lucina's aid
Grown so corrupted in their taste.

Produc'd on Earth a wondrous maid,
The pleader, having spoke his best,

On whom the queen of love was bent
Had witness ready to attest,

To try a new experiment. Who fairly could on oath depose,

She threw her law-books on the shelf, When questions on the fact arose,

And thus debated with herself. That every article was true;

“ Since men allege, they ne'er can find Nor further these deponents knew :

Those beauties in a female mind, Therefore he humbly would insist,

Which raise a flame that will endure The bill might be with costs dismiss'd.

For ever uncorrupt and pure ; The cause appear'd of so much weight,

If 'tis with reason they complain, That Venus, from her judgment-seat,

This infant shall restore my reign. Desir'd them not to talk so lou

I'll search where every virtue dwells, Else she must interpose a cloud :

From courts inclusive down to cells : For, if the heavenly folk should know

What preachers talk, or sages write ; These pleadings in the courts below,

These I will gather and unite, That mortals here disdain to love,

And represent them to mankind She ne'er could show her face above;

Collected in that infant's mind." For gods, their betters, are too wise

This said, she plucks in Heaven's high bowers To value that which men despise.

A sprig of amaranthine flowers, “ And then,” said she, “ my son and I

In nectar thrice infuses bays, Must stroll in air, 'twixt land and sky;

Three times refin'd in Titan's rays; Or else, shut out from heaven and earth,

Then calls the Graces to her aid, Fly to the sea, my place of birth;

And sprinkles thrice the new-born maid: There live, with daggled mermaids pent,

From whence the tender skin assumes
And keep on fish perpetual Lent."

A sweetness above all perfumes :
But, since the case appear'd so nice,

From whence a cleanliness remains
She thought it best to take advice.

Incapable of outward stains : The Muses, by their king's permission,

From whence that decency of mind, Though foes to love, attend the session,

So lovely in the female kind, And on the right hand took their places

Where not one careless thought intrudes, In order; on the left, the Graces :

Less modest than the speech of prudes; To whom she might her doubts propose

Where never blush was call'd in aid, On all emergencies that rose.

That spurious virtue in a maid, The Muses oft' were seen to frown;

A virtue but at second-hand; The Graces half-asham'd look down;

They blush because they understand. And 'twas observ'd there were but few

The Graces next would act their part, Of either sex among the crew,

And show'd but little of their art; Whom she or her assessors knew.

Their work was half already done, The goddess soon began to see,

The child with native beauty shone ; Things were not ripe for a decree;

The outward form no help requir'd: And said she must consult her books,

Each, breathing on her thrice, inspir'd The lovers' Fietas, Bractons, Cokes.

That gentle, soft, engaging air, First to a dapper clerk she beckon'd,

Which in old times adorn'd the fair : To turn to Ovid, book the second;

And said, “ Vanessa be the name She then referr'd them to a place

By which thou shalt be known to fame; In Virgil (vide Dido's case :)

Vanessa, by the gods inrollid : As for Tibullus's reports,

Her name on Earth shall not be told." They never pass'd for law in courts :

Cc 4

[ocr errors]

But still the work was not complete ;

To-morrow, ere the setting sun, When Venus thought on a deceit,

She 'd all undo that she had done. Drawn by her doves, away she flies,

But in the poets we may find And finds out Pallas in the skies.

A wholesome law, time out of mind, “ Dear Pallas, I have been this morn

Had been confirm'd by fate's decree, To see a lovely infant born;

That gods, of whatso'er degree, A boy in yonder isle below,

Resume not what themselves have given, So like my own without his bow,

Or any brother-god in Heaven ; By beauty could your heart be won,

Which keeps the peace among the gods, You 'd swear it is Apollo's son:

Or they must always be at odds : But it shall ne'er be said a child

And Pallas, if she broke the laws, So hopeful has by me been spoil'd;

Must yield her foe the stronger cause ; I have enough besides to spare,

A shame to one so much ador'd And give him wholly to your care.'

For wisdom at Jove's council-board. Wisdom 's above suspecting wiles :

Besides, she fear'd the queen of love The queen of learning gravely smiles,

Would meet with better friends above. Down from Olympus comes with joy,

And though she must with grief reflect, Mistakes Vanessa for a boy;

To see a mortal virgin deck'd Then sows within her tender mind

With graces hitherto unknown Seeds long unknown to woman-kind;

To female breasts, except her own; For manly bosoms chiefly fit,

Yet she would act as best became The seeds of knowledge, judgment, wit.

A goddess of unspotted fame. Her soul was suddenly endued

She knew, by augury divine, With justice, truth, and fortitude;

Venus would fail in her design : With honour, which no breath can stain,

She study'd well the point, and found Which malice must attack in vain ;

Her foe's conclusions were not sound, With open heart and bounteous hand.

From premises erroneous brought ; But Pallas here was at a stand ;

And therefore the deduction 's nought, She knew, in our degenerate days,

And must have contrary effects Bare virtue could not live on praise ;

To what her treacherous foe expects. That meat must be with money bought :

In proper season Pallas meets She therefore, upon second thought,

The queen of love, whom thus she greets: Infus'd, yet as it were by stealth,

(For gods, we are by Homer told, Some small regard for state and wealth;

Can in celestial language scold :) Of which, as she grew up, there staid

“ Perfidious goddess ! but in vain A tincture in the prudent maid :

You form'd this project in your brain; She manag'd her estate with care,

A project for thy talents fit, Yet lik'd three footmen to her chair.

With much deceit and little wit. But lest he should neglect his studies

Thou hast, as thou shalt quickly see, Like a young heir, the thrifty goddess

Deceiv'd thyself, instead of me: (For fear young master should be spoil'd)

For how can heavenly wisdom prove Would use him like a younger child ;

An instrument to earthly love? And, after long computing, found

Know'st thou not yet, that men commence 'Twould come to just five thousand pound.

Thy votaries, for want of sense ? · The queen of love was pleas'd, and proud, Nor shall Vanessa be the theme To see Vanessa thus endow'd :

To manage thy abortive scheme: She doubted not but such a dame

She 'll prove the greatest of thy foes; Through every breast would dart a flame;

And yet I scorn to interpose, That every rich and lordly swain

But, using neither skill nor force, With pride would drag about her chain;

Leave all things to their natural course." That scholars would forsake their books,

The goddess thus pronounc'd her doom: To study bright Vanessa's looks ;

When lo! Vanessa in her bloom As she advanc'd, that woman-kind

Advanc'd, like Atalanta's star, Would by her model form their mind,

But rarely seen, and seen from far: And all their conduct would be try'd

In a new world with caution stept, By her, as an unerring guide;

Watch'd all the company she kept, Offending daughters oft' would hear

Well knowing, from the books she read, Vanessa's praise rung in their ear :

What dangerous paths young virgins tread: Miss Betty, when she does a fault,

Would seldom at the park appear, Lets fall her knife, or spills the salt,

Nor saw the play-house twice a year ; Will thus be by her mother chid,

Yet, not incurious, was inclin'd “ 'Tis what Vanessa never did!"

To know the converse of mankind. “ Thus by the nymphs and swains ador'd,

First issued from perfumers' shops, My power shall be again restor'd,

A crowd of fashionable fops : And happy lovers bless my reign

They ask'd her, how she lik’d the play? So Venus hop'd, but hop'd in vain.

Then told the tattle of the day ; For when in time the martial maid

A duel fought last night at two, Found out the trick that Venus play'd,

About a lady - you know who; She shakes her helm, she knits her brows,

Mention'd a new Italian come And, fir'd with indignation, vows,

Either from Muscovy or Rome;

Gave hints of who and who's together ;

I saw coquetting tother night Then fell a talking of the weather ;

In public with that odious knight !” Last night was so extremely fine,

They rally'd next Vanessa's dress : The ladies walk'd till after nine ;

“ That gown was made for old queen Bess. Then, in soft voice and speech absurd,

Dear madam, let me see your head : With nonsense every second word,

Don't you intend to put on red ? With fustian from exploded plays,

A petticoat without a hoop! They celebrate her beauty's praise ;

Sure, you are not asham'd to stoop! Run o'er their care of stupid lies,

With handsome garters at your knees, And tell the murders of her eyes.

No matter what a fellow sees. With silent scorn Vanessa sat,

Fill'd with disdain, with rage inflam'd, Scarce listening to their idle chat ;

Both of herself and sex asham'd, Further than somctimes by a frown,

The nymph stood silent out of spite, When they grew pert, to pull them down.

Nor would vouchsafe to set them right At last she spitefully was bent

Away the fair detractors went, To try their wisdom's full extent;

And gave by turns their censures vent. And said she valued nothing less

She 's not so handsome in my eyes : Than titles, figure, shape, and dress;

For wit, I wonder, where it lies ! That merit should be chiefly plac'd

“ She 's fair and clean, and that 's the most : In judgment, knowledge, wit, and taste;

But why proclaim her for a toast ? And these, she offer'd to dispute,

A baby face: no life, no airs, Alone distinguish'd man from brute :

But what she learn’d at country-fairs : That present times have no pretence

Scarce knows what difference is between To virtue, in the noble sense

Rich Flanders lace and colberteen. By Greeks and Romans understood,

I'll undertake, my little Nancy To perish for our country's good.

In flounces hath a better fancy! She nam'd the ancient heroes round,

With all her wit, I would not ask Explain'd for what they were renown'd;

Her judgment, how to buy a mask. Then spoke with censure or applause

We begg'd her but to patch her face, Of foreign customs, rites, and laws;

She never hit one proper place; Through nature and through art she rang'd, Which every girl at five years old And gracefully her subject chang'd;

Can do as soon as she is told. In vain! her hearers had no share

I own, that out-of-fashion stuff In all she spoke, except to stare.

Becomes the creature well enough. Their judgment was, upon the whole,

The girl might pass, if we could get her “ That lady is the dullest soul !

To know the world a little better." Then tipt their forehead in a jcer,

(To know the world! a modern phrase, As who should say - “ She wants it here!

For visits, ombre, balls, and plays.) She may be handsome, young, and rich,

Thus, to the world's perpetual shame, But none will burn her for a witch !"

The queen of beauty lost her aim; A party next of glittering dames,

Too late with grief she understood, From round the purlieus of St. James,

Pallas had done more harm than good; Came early, out of pure good-will,

For great examples are but vain, To see the girl in disbabille.

Where ignorance begets disdain. Their clamour, 'lighting from their chairs,

Both sexes, arm'd with guilt and spite, Grew louder all the way up stairs ;

Against Vanessa's power unite : At entrance loudest, where they found

To copy her few nymphs aspir’d; The room with volumes litter'd round.

Her virtues fewer swains admir'd. Vanessa held Montaigne, and read,

So stars beyond a certain height Whilst Mrs. Susan comb'd her head.

Give mortals neither heat nor light. They called for tea and chocolate,

Yet some of either sex, endow'd And fell into their usual chat,

With gifts superior to the crowd, Discoursing, with important face,

With virtue, knowledge, taste, and wit, On ribbons, fans, and gloves, and lace;

She condescended to admit: Show'd patterns just from India brought,

With pleasing arts she could reduce And gravely ask'd her what she thought,

Men's talents to their proper use : Whether thie red or green were best,

And with address each genius held And what they cost ? Vanessa guess'd,

To that wherein it most excell'd; As came into her fancy first ;

Thus making others' wisdom known, Nam'd half the rates, and lik'd the worst.

Could please them, and improve her own. To scandal next — “ What awkward thing

A modest youth said something new w; Was that last Sunday in the ring?

She plac'd it in the strongest view. I'm sorry Mopsa breaks so fast;

All humble worth she strove to raise ; I said, her face would never last.

Would not be prais'd, yet lov'd to praise. Corinna, with that youthful air,

The learned met with free approach, Is thirty, and a bit to spare :

Although they came not in a coach: Her fondness for a certain earl

Some clergy too she would allow, Began when I was but a girl!

Nor quarrell'd at their awkward bow; Phyllis, who but a month ago

But this was for Cadenus' sake, Was marry'd to the Tunbridge-Lcau,

A gownman of a different make;

Whom Pallas, once Vanessa's tutor,

What planter will attempt to yoke Had fix'd on for her coadjutor.

A sapling with a falling oak ? But Cupid, full of mischief, longs

As years increase, she brighter shines : To vindicate his mother's wrongs.

Cadenus with each day declines : On Pallas all attempts are vain :

And he must fall a prey to time, One way he knows to give her pain ;

While she continues in her prime. Vows on Vanessa's heart to take

Cadenus, common forms apart, Due vengeance, for her patron's sake.

In every scene had kept his heart; Those early seeds by Venus sown,

Had sigh'd and languish'd, vow'd and writ, In spite of Pallas, now were grown;

For pastime, or to show his wit. And Cupid hop'd they would improve

But books, and time, and state affairs, By time, and ripen into love.

Had spoil'd his fashionable airs : The boy made use of all his craft,

He now could praise, esteem, approve, In vain discharging many a shaft,

But understood not what was love. Pointed at colonels, lords, and beaux :

His conduct might have made him styld Cadenus warded off the blows;

A father, and the nymph his child. For, placing still some book betwixt,

That innocent delight he took The darts were in the cover fix’d,

To see the virgin mind her book, Or, often blunted and recoil'd,

Was but the master's secret joy On Plutarch's Morals struck, were spoil'd.

In school to hear the finest boy. The queen of wisdom could foresee,

Her knowledge with her fancy grew ; But not prevent the Fates' decree :

She hourly press’d for something new; And human caution tries in vain

Ideas came into her mind To break that adamantine chain.

So fast, his lessons lagg'd behind ; Vanessa, though by Pallas taught,

She reason'd, without plodding long, By Love invulnerable thought,

Nor ever gave her judgment wrong. Searching in books for wisdom's aid

But now a sudden change was wrought : Was, in the very search, betray'd.

She minds no longer what he taught. Cupid, though all his darts were lost,

Cadenus was amaz'd to find Yet still resolv'd to spare no cost :

Such marks of a distracted mind: He could not answer to his fame

For, though she seem’d to listen more The triumphs of that stubborn dame,

To all he spoke, than e'er before, A nymph so hard to be subdued,

He found her thoughts would absent range, Who neither was coquette nor prude.

Yet guess'd not whence could spring the change “ I find,” said he, “she wants a doctor

And first he modestly conjectures Both to adore her, and instruct her :

His pupil might be tir'd with lectures; I'll give her what she most admires,

Which help'd

to mortify his pride, Among those venerable sires,

Yet gave him not the heart to chide: Cadenus is a subject fit,

But, in a mild dejected strain, Grown old in politics and wit,

At last he ventur'd to complain ; Caress'd by ministers of state,

Said, she should be no longer teas'd, Of half mankind the dread and hate.

Might have her freedom when she pleas'd; Whate'er vexations love attend,

Was now convinc'd he acted wrong, She need no rivals apprehend.

To hide her from the world so long, Her sex, with universal voice,

And in dull studies to engage Must laugh at her capricious choice."

One of her tender sex and age ; Cadenus many things had writ:

That every nymph with envy own'd, Vanessa much esteem'd his wit,

How she might shine in the grand moncle; And call'd for his poetic works :

And every shepherd was undone Meantime the boy in secret lurks;

To see her cloister'd like a nun. And, while the book was in her hand,

This was a visionary scheme : The urchin from his private stand

He wak'd, and found it but a dream; Took aim, and shot with all his strength

A project far above his skill ; A dart of such prodigious length,

For nature must be nature still. It pierc'd the feeble volume through,

If he were bolder than became And deep transfix'd her bosom too.

A scholar to a courtly dame, Some lines, more moving than the rest,

She might excuse a man of letters; Stuck to the point that pierc'd her breast,

Thus tutors often treat their betters: And, borne directly to the heart,

And, since his talk offensive grew, With pains unknown, increas'd her smart,

He came to take his last adieu. Vanessa, not in years a score,

Vanessa, fillid with just disdain, Dreams of a gown of forty-four;

Would still her dignity maintain, Imaginary charms can find

Instructed from her early years In eyes with reading almost blind :

To scorn the art of female tears. Cadenus now no more appears

Had he employ'd his time so long Declin'd in health, advanc'd in years.

To teach her what was right and wrong: She fancies music in his tongue;

Yet could such notions entertain No farther looks, but thinks him young.

That all his lectures were in vain ? What mariner is not afraid

She own’d the wandering of her thoughts; To venture in a ship decay'd ?

But he must answer for her faults

She well remembered, to her cost,

But, not to dwell on things minute, That all his lessons were not lost.

Vanessa finish'd the dispute, Two maxims she could still produce,

Brought weighty arguments to prove And sad experience taught their use;

That reason was her guide in love. That virtue, pleas'd by being shown,

She thought he had himself describ'd Xnows nothing which it dares not own;

His doctrines when she first imbib'd: Can make us without fear disclose

What he had planted now was grown; Our inmost secrets to our foes :

His virtues she might call her own; That common forms were not design'd

As he approves, as he dislikes, Directors to a noble mind.

Love or contempt her fancy strikes. “ Now,” said the nymph, “ to let you see

Self-love, in nature rooted fast, My actions with your rules agree;

Attends us first, and leaves us last: That I can vulgar forms despise,

Why she likes him, admire not at her; And have no secrets to disguise :

She loves herself, and that 's the matter. I knew, by what you said and writ,

How was her tutor wont to praise How dangerous things were men of wit ;

The geniuses of ancient days! You caution’d me against their charms,

(Those authors he so oft had nam'd, But never gave me equal arms;

For learning, wit, and wisdom fam'd,) Your lessons found the weakest part,

Was struck with love, esteem, and awe, Aim'd at the head, but reach'd the heart.”

For persons whom he never saw. Cadenus felt within him rise

Suppose Cadenus flourish'd then, Shame, disappointinent, guilt, surprise.

He must adore such godlike men. He knew not how to reconcile

If one short volume could comprise Such language with her usual style :

All that was witty, learn'd, and wise, And yet her words were so express'd,

How would it be esteem'd and read, He could not hope she spoke in jest,

Although the writer long were dead! His thoughts had wholly been confin'd

If such an author were alive, To form and cultivate her mind.

How all would for his friendship strive, He hardly knew, till he was told,

And come in crowds to see his face ! Whether the nymph were young or old ;

And this she takes to be her case. Had met her in a public place,

Cadenus answers every end, Without distinguishing her face :

The book, the author, and the friend; Much less could his declining age

The utmost her desires will reach, Vanessa's earliest thoughts engage;

Is but to learn what he can teach : And, if her youth indifference met,

His converse is a system fit His person must contempt beget:

Alone to fill up all her wit; Or, grant her passion be sincere,

While every passion of her mind How shall his innocence be clear?

In him is center'd and confin'd. Appearances were all so strong,

Love can with speech inspire a mute, The world must think him in the wrong ;

And taught Vanessa to dispute. Would say, he made a treacherous use

This topic, never touch'd before, Of wit, to flatter and seduce :

Display'd her eloquence the more: The town would swear, he had betray'd

Her knowledge, with such pains acquir’d, By magic spells the harmless maid :

By this new passion grew inspir’d; And every beau would have his jokes,

Through this she made all objects pass, That scholars were like other folks ;

Which gave a tincture o'er the mass ; And, when Platonic lights were over,

As rivers, though they bend and twine, The tutor turn'd a mortal lover!

Still to the sea their course incline; So tender of the young and fair !

Or, as philosophers, who find It show'd a true paternal care —

Some favourite system to their mind, Five thousand guineas in her purse !

In every point to make it fit, The doctor might have fancied worse.

Will force all nature to submit. Hardly at length he silence broke,

Cadenus, who could ne'er suspect And faulter'd every word he spoke;

His lessons would have such effcct, Interpreting her complaisance,

Or be so artfully apply'd, Just as a man sans conséquence.

Insensibly came on her side. She rallied well, he always knew :

It was an unforeseen event; Her manner now was something new ;

Things took a turn he never meant And what she spoke was in an air

Whoe'er excels in what we prize, As serious as a tragic player.

Appears a hero in our eyes : But those who aim at ridicule

Each girl, when pleas'd with what is taught, Should fix upon some certain rule,

Will have the teacher in her thought. Which fairly hints they are in jest,

When Miss delights in her spinnet, Else he must enter his protest :

A fiddler may a fortune get; For, let a man be ne'er so wise,

A blockhead, with melodious voice, He may be caught with sober lies;

In boarding-schools may have his choice; A science which he never taught,

And oft' the dancing-master's art And, to be free, was dearly bought ;

Climbs from the toe to touch the heart. For, take it in its proper light,

In learning let a nymph delight, 'Tis just what coxcombs call a bitc.

The pedant gets a mistress by 't.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »