Page images





All eyes may see from what the change arose,
All eyes may see—a pimple on her nose.

Papillia, wedded to her am'rous spark,
Sighs for the shades—“How charming is a park !"
A park is purchased; but the fair he sees
All bathed in tears—“Oh, odious, odious trees !".

Ladies like variegated tulips show:
'Tis to their changes half their charms we owe;
Fine by defect, and delicately weak,
Their happy spots the nice admirer take.
’T was thus Calypso once each heart alarmed,
Awed without virtue, without beauty charmed;
Her tongue bewitched as oddly as her eyes,
Less wit than mimic, more a wit than wise;
Strange graces still and stranger flights she had
Was just not ugly, and was just not mad;
Yet ne'er so sure our passion to create
As when she touched the brink of all we hate.

Narcissa's nature, tolerably mild,
To make a wash would hardly stew a child;
Has ev'n been proved to grant a lover's pray'r,
And paid a tradesman once to make him stare;
Gave alms at Easter, in a Christian trim,
And made a widow happy, for a whim.
Why, then, declare good nature is her scorn,
When 't is by that alone she can be borne?
Why pique all mortals, yet affect a name?
A fool to pleasure, yet a slave to fame:
Now deep in Taylor and the “Book of Martyrs,”
Now drinking citron with his Grace and Chartres ;
Now conscience chills her, and now passion burns,
And atheism and religion take their turns;
A very heathen in the carnal part,
Yet still a sad, good Christian at her heart.





But what are these to great Atossa's mind?
Scarce once herself, by turns all womankind !
Who, with herself or others, from her birth
Finds all her life one warfare upon earth;
Shines in exposing knaves and painting fools,
Yet is whate'er she hates and ridicules;
No thought advances, but her eddy brain

75 80


Whisks it about, and down it goes again.
Full sixty years the world has been her trade,
The wisest fool much time has ever made;
From loveless youth to unrespected age,
No passion gratified except her rage;
So much the fury still outran the wit,
The pleasure missed her, and the scandal hit.
Who breaks with her provokes revenge from hell,
But he's a bolder man who dares be well :
Her ev'ry turn with violence pursued,
Nor more a storm her hate than gratitude;
To that each passion turns, or soon or late;
Love, if it makes her yield, must make her hate.
Superiors ? death! and equals? what a curse!
But an inferior not dependent? worse.
Offend her, and she knows not to forgive;
Oblige her, and she 'll hate you while you live;
But die, and she 'll adore you—then the bust
And temple rise—then fall again to dust.
Last night her lord was all that's good and great;
A knave this morning, and his will a cheat.
Strange! by the means defeated of the ends,
By spirit robbed of pow'r, by warmth of friends,
By wealth of foll’wers! without one distress,
Sick of herself through very selfishness!
Atossa, curst with every granted pray'r,
Childless with all her children, wants an heir :
To heirs unknown descends th' unguarded store,
Or wanders, Heav'n-directed, to the poor.







Ah, friend! to dazzle let the vain design;
To raise the thought and touch the heart be thine!
That charm shall grow, while what fatigues the Ring
Flaunts and goes down, an unregarded thing:
So when the sun's broad beam has tired the sight,
All mild ascends the moon's more sober light;
Serene in virgin modesty she shines,
And unobserved the glaring orb declines.

Oh, blest with temper whose unclouded ray
Can make to-morrow cheerful as to-day;
She who can love a sister's charms, or hear
Sighs for a daughter with unwounded ear:


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

She who ne'er answers till a husband cools,
Or, if she rules him, never shows she rules;
Charms by accepting, by submitting sways,
Yet has her humour most when she obeys;
Let fops or fortune fly which way they will,
Disdains all loss of tickets or codille;
Spleen, vapours, or small-pox, above them all,
And mistress of herself though china fall.

And yet, believe me, good as well as ill,
Woman's at best a contradiction still.
Heav'n, when it strives to polish all it can
Its last best work, but forms a softer man;
Picks from each sex, to make the fav’rite blest,
Your love of pleasure, our desire of rest;
Blends, in exception to all gen'ral rules,
Your taste of follies with our scorn of fools,
Reserve with frankness, art with truth allied,
Courage with softness, modesty with pride,
Fixed principles with fancy ever new;
Shakes all together, and produces—You.

Be this a woman's fame; with this unblest,
Toasts live a scorn, and queens may die a jest.
This Phoebus promised (I forget the year)
When those blue eyes first opened on the sphere;
Ascendant Phobus watched that hour with care,
Averted half your parents' simple pray'r,
And gave you beauty, but denied the pelf
That buys your sex a tyrant o'er itself.
The gen'rous god, who wit and gold refines,
And ripens spirits as he ripens mines,
Kept dross for duchesses—the world shall know it,-
To you gave sense, good humour, and a poet.








Shakespear (whom you and ev'ry play-house bill
Style the divine, the matchless, what you will)
For gain, not glory, winged his roving flight,





And grew immortal in his own despite.
Ben, old and poor, as little seemed to heed
The life to come, in ev'ry poet's creed.
Who now reads Cowley? if he pleases yet,
His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
Forgot his epic, nay Pindaric art,
But still I love the language of his heart.

"Yet surely, surely, these were famous men!
What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben?
In all debates where critics bear a part,
Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's art,
Of Shakespear's nature, and of Cowley's wit;
How Beaumont's judgment checked what Fletcher writ;
How Shadwell hasty, Wycherley was slow,
But for the passions, Southern sure and Rowe.
These, only these, support the crowded stage,
From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age."

All this may be: the people's voice is odd;
It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
To “Gammer Gurton" if it give the bays,
And yet deny the “Careless Husband” praise,
Or say our fathers never broke a rule,
Why then, I say, the public is a fool;
But let them own that greater faults than we
They had, and greater virtues, I'll agree.
Spenser himself affects the obsolete,
And Sidney's verse halts ill on Roman feet.
Milton's strong pinion now not Heav'n can bound,
Now, serpent-like, in prose he sweeps the ground;
In quibbles angel and archangel join,
And God the Father turns a school-divine:
Not that I'd lop the beauties from his book,
Like slashing Bentley with his desp'rate hook,
Or damn all Shakespear, like th' affected fool
At court, who hates whate'er he read at school.

But for the wits of either Charles's days,
The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease,
Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more
(Like twinkling stars the Miscellanies o’er)
One simile that solitary shines
In the dry desert of a thousand lines,





Or lengthened thought that gleams through many a page, 45
Has sanctified whole poems for an age.
I lose my patience, and I own it too,
When works are censured, not as bad, but new;
While if our elders break all Reason's laws,
These fools demand, not pardon, but applause.

On Avon's bank, where flow'rs eternal blow,
If I but ask if any weed can grow;
One tragic sentence if I dare deride,
Which Betterton's grave action dignified,
Or well-mouthed Booth with emphasis proclaims 55
(Though but, perhaps, a muster-roll of names),
How will our fathers rise up in a rage,
And swear all shame is lost in George's age !
You'd think no fools disgraced the former reign,
Did not some grave examples yet remain,

60 Who scorn a lad should teach his father skill, And, having once been wrong, will be so still. He who, to seem more deep than you or I, Extols old bards or "Merlin's Prophecy," Mistake him not; he envies, not admires,

65 And to debase the sons exalts the sires. Had ancient times conspired to disallow What then was new, what had been ancient now? Or what remained, so worthy to be read By learned critics, of the mighty dead?






“Lovely, lasting peace of mind,
Sweet delight of human-kind,
Heavenly born and bred on high,
To crown the fav’rites of the sky
With inore of happiness below
Than victors in a triumph know,
Whither, O whither art thou fled,
To lay thy meek, contented head?


« PreviousContinue »