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INSCRIBED TO THE RIGHT HON. THE LADY ELIZABETH
Interdum tamen et tollit comœdia vocem.
I SOUGHT a patroness, but sought in vain.
Apollo whisper'd in my ear—“ Germain.”
I know her not. “Your reason 's somewhat odd;
Who knows his patron, now ?” replied the god
"Men write, to me, and to the world, unknown;
Then steal great names, to shield them from the
Detected worth, like beauty disarray'd,
To covert flies, of praise itself afraid;
Should she refuse to patronise your lays,
In vengeance write a volume in her praise.
Nor think it hard so great a length to run;
When such the theme, 't will easily be done."
Ye fair! to draw your excellence at length,
Exceeds the narrow bounds of human strength;
You, here, in miniature your picture see;
Nor hope from Zinck more justice than from me.
My portraits grace your mind, as his your side;
His portraits will inflame, mine quench, your pride :
He's dear, you frugal; choose my cheaper lay;
And be your reformation all my pay.
Lavinia is polite, but not profane;
To church as constant as to Drury-lane.
She decently, in form, pays Heaven its due ;
And makes a civil visit to her pew.
Her lifted fan, to give a solemn air,
Conceals her face, which passes for a prayer :
Curt'sies to curt'sies, then, with grace, succeed;
Not one the fair omits, but at the Creed.
Or, if she joins the service, 't is to speak;
Through dreadful silence the pent heart might break:
Untaught to bear it, women talk away
To God himself, and fondly think they pray.
But sweet their accent, and their air refin'd ;
For they're before their Maker — and mankind:
When ladies once are proud of praying well,
Satan himself will toll the parish bell.
Acquainted with the world, and quite well-bred, Drusa receives her visitants in bed;
But, chaste as ice, this Vesta, to defy
The very blackest tongue of calumny,
When from the sheets her lovely form she lifts,
She begs you just would turn you, while she shifts.
Those charms are greatest which decline the sight,
That makes the banquet poignant and polite.
There is no woman, where there's no reserve ;
And 't is on plenty your poor lovers starve.
But with a modern fair, meridian merit
Is a fierce thing, they call a nymph of spirit.
Mark well the rollings of her flaming eye;
And tread on tiptoe, if you dare draw nigh.
"Or if you take a lion by the beard *,
Or dare defy the fell Hyrcanian pard,
Or arm'd rhinoceros, or rough Russian bear,”
First make your will, and then converse with her.
This lady glories in profuse expense;
And thinks distraction is magnificence.
To beggar her gallant is some delight;
To be more fatal still, is exquisite;
Had ever nymph such reason to be glad?
In duel fell two lovers; one run mad;
Her foes their honest execrations pour ;
Her lovers only should detest her more.
Flavia is constant to her old gallant,
And generously supports him in his want.
But marriage is a fetter, is a snare,
A hell, no lady so polite can bear.
She's faithful, she 's observant, and with pains
Her angel-brood of bastards she maintains.
Nor least advantage has the fair to plead
But that of guilt above the marriage-bed.
Amasia hates a prude, and scorns restraint;
Whate'er she is, she'll not appear a saint:
Her soul superior flies formality;
So gay her air, her conduct is so free,
Some might suspect the nymph not over-good.
Nor would they be mistaken, if they should.
Unmarried Abra puts on formal airs;
Her cushion's thread-bare with her constant prayers.
Her only grief is, that she cannot be
At once engag'd in prayer and charity.
And this, to do her justice, must be said,
"Who would not think that Abra was a maid ?"
Some ladies are too beauteous to be wed;
For where's the man that's worthy of their bed?
If no disease reduce her pride before,
Lavinia will be ravish'd at threescore.
Then she submits to venture in the dark;
And nothing now is wanting—but her spark.
Lucia thinks happiness consists in state;
She weds an idiot, but she eats in plate.
The goods of fortune, which her soul possess,
Are but the ground of unmade happiness;
The rude material: wisdom add to this,
Wisdom, the sole artificer of bliss;
She from herself, if so compell'd by need,
Of thin content can draw the subtle thread;
But (no detraction to her sacred skill)
If she can work in gold, 't is better still.
If Tullia had been blest with half her sense, None could too much admire her excellence : But since she can make errour shine so bright, She thinks it vulgar to defend the right. With understanding she is quite o'er-run ; And by too great accomplishments undone : With skill she vibrates her eternal tongue, For ever most divinely in the wrong.
Naked in nothing should a woman be But veil her very wit with modesty : Let men discover, let not her display, But yield her charms of mind with sweet delay. For pleasure form'd, perversely some believe, To make themselves important, men must grieve. Lesbia the fair, to fire her jealous lord, Pretends, the fop she laughs at, is ador'd. In vain she's proud of sccret innocence; The fact she feigns were scarce a worse offence.
Mira, endow'd with every charm to bless, Has no design, but on her husband's peace : He lov'd her much; and greatly was he mov'd At small inquietudes in her he lov'd.
"How charming this!". - The pleasure lasted long;
Now every day the fits come thick and strong:
At last he found the charmer only feign'd;
And was diverted when he should be pain'd.
What greater vengeance have the gods in store?
How tedious life, now she can plague no more!
She tries a thousand arts; but none succeed:
She's forc'd a fever to procure indeed;
Thus strictly prov'd this virtuous, loving wife,
Her husband's pain was dearer than her life.
Anxious Melania rises to my view,
Who never thinks her lover pays his due:
Visit, present, treat, flatter, and adore;
Her majesty, to-morrow, calls for more.
His wounded ears complaints eternal fill,
As unoil'd hinges, querulously shrill.
"You went last night with Celia to the ball."
You prove it false. "Not go! that 's worst of all."
Nothing can please her, nothing not inflame;
And arrant contradictions are the same.
Her lover must be sad, to please her spleen;
His mirth is an inexpiable sin :
For of all rivals that can pain her breast,
There's one, that wounds far deeper than the rest;
To wreck her quiet, the most dreadful shelf
Is if her lover dares enjoy himself.
And this, because she 's exquisitely fair: Should I dispute her beauty, how she 'd stare!