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MORAL ESSAY S

EPIST
T LE

ТО А LADY.

Of the Characters of WOMEN.

THERE is nothing in Mr. Pope's works more highly finished than this Epiftle: Yet its fuccefs was in no proportion to the pains he took in compofing it. Something he chanced to drop in a fhort advertisement prefixed to it, on its first publication, may perhaps account for the small attention given to it. He faid that no one character in it was drawn from the life. The public believed him on his word, and expreffed little curiofity about a Satire, in which there was nothing perfonal.

II..

NOTHIN

TOTHING fo true as what you once let fall, "Moft Women have no Characters at all." Matter too foft a lafting mark to bear,

And best distinguish'd by black, brown, or fair.
How many pictures of one Nymph we view,.
All how unlike each other, all how true!
Arcadia's Countefs, here, in ermin'd pride,
Is there, Paftora by a fountain fide.
Here Fannia, leering on her own good man,
And there, a naked Leda with a Swan.

5.

10 Let

Let then the fair-one beautifully cry,

In Magdalene's loofe hair, and lifted eye,
Or dreft in fmiles of fweet Cecilia fhine,
With fimpering Angels, Palms, and Harps divine;
Whether the Charmer finner it, or faint it,
If Folly grow romantic, I muft paint it.

Come then, the colours and the ground prepare!
Dip in the Rainbow, trick her off in Air;
Chufe a firm Cloud, before it fall, and in it
Catch, ere the change, the Cynthia of this minute. 20
Rufa, whofe eye, quick glancing o'er the Park,
Attracts each light gay meteor of a Spark,
Agrees as ill with Rufa ftudying Locke,
As Sappho's diamonds with her dirty fmock;
Or Sappho at her toilet's greafy task,
With Sappho fragrant at an evening Mask:
So morning Infects, that in muck begun,
Shine, buzz, and fly-blow in the fetting-fun.
How foft is Silia! fearful to offend;
The frail-one's advocate, the weak-one's friend.
To her Califta prov'd her conduct nice;
And good Simplicius afks of her advice.
Sudden, fhe ftorms! fhe raves! You tip the wink,
But fpare your cenfure; Silia does not drink.
All eyes may fee from what the change arofe,
All eyes may fee-a Pimple on her nofe.
Papillia, wedded to her amorous fpark,
Sighs for the fhades- How charming is a Park!"
A Park is purchas'd, but the Fair he fees

All bath'd in tears-" Oh odious, odious Trees!" 40

Ladies,

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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.
"Twas thus Calypfo once each heart alarm'd,
Aw'd without Virtue, without Beauty charm'd;
Her tongue bewitch'd as oddly as her Eyes,
Lefs Wit than Mimic, more a Wit than Wife;
Strange graces ftill, and stranger flights she had,
Was juft not ugly, and was just not mad;
Yet ne'er fo fure our paffion to create,
As when the touch'd the brink of all we hate..
Narciffa's nature, tolerably mild,

To make a wash, would hardly ftew a child;
Has ev'n been prov'd to grant a Lover's prayer,
And paid a Tradesman once to make him stare;
Gave alms at Eafter, in a Christian trim ;
And made a Widow happy, for a whim.
Why then declare Good-nature is her scorn,
When 'tis by that alone she can be born?
Why pique all mortals, yet affect a name?
A fool to Pleasure, yet a flave to fame :
Now deep in Taylor and the Book of Martyrs,
Now drinking Citron with his Grace and Chartres;
Now Confcience chills her, and now Paffion burns; 65
And Atheism and Religion take their turns;

A

very Heathen in the carnal part,

Yet ftill a fad good Christian at her heart.
See Sin in State, majestically drunk,
Proud as a Peerefs, prouder as a Punk;

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Chafte

Chafte to her Husband, frank to all befide,
A teeming Miftrefs, but a barren Bride.
What then? let Blood and Body bear the fault,
Her Head 's untouch'd, that noble Seat of Thought:
Such this day's doctrine-in another fit

She fins with Poets through pure love of Wit.
What has not fir'd her bofom or her brain ?
Cæfar and Tall-boy, Charles and Charlemagne.
As Helluo, late Dictator of the Feast,

The Nofe of Haut-gout, and the Tip of Tafte,
Critiqu'd your wine, and analyz'd your meat,
Yet on plain pudding deign'd at home to eat :
So Philomedé, lecturing all mankind
On the soft Paffion, and the Taste refin'd,
Th' Addrefs, the Delicacy-ftoops at once,
And makes her hearty meal upon a Dunce.

Flavia's a Wit, has too much fense to pray;
To toaft our wants and wifhes, is her way;
Nor afks of God, but of her Stars, to give
The mighty blefling, "while we live, to live."
Then all for Death, that Opiate of the foul!
Lucretia's dagger, Rofamonda's bowl.

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VARIATION..

Ver. 77. What has not fir'd, &c.] In the MS.

In whofe mad brain the mix'd ideas roll,
Of Tall-boy's breeches, and of Cæfar's foul.

δα

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90

Say, what can caufe fuch impotence of mind?
A Spark toc fickle, or a Spouse too kind.
Wife Witch with pleaiures too refin'd to pleafe; 95
With too much Spirit to be e'er at ease;

With too much Quickness ever to be taught;
With too much Thinking to have common Thought:
You purchase pain with all that Joy can give,
And die of nothing but a Rage to live.

Turn then from Wits; and look on Simo's Mate, No Afs fo meek, no Afs fo obftinate.

Or her, that owns her Faults, but never mends,
Because the 's honest, and the best of Friends.
Or her, whofe life the Church and Scandal share, 105
For ever in a Paffion, or a Prayer.

Or her, who laughs at Hell, but (like her Grace)
Cries, "Ah! how charming, if there's no fuch place!"
Or who in fweet viciffitude appears

But what are these to great Atoffa's mind ?
Scarce once herself, by turns all Womankind!
Who, with herfelf, or others, from her birth
Finds all her life one warfare upon earth:
Shines, in expofing Knaves, and painting Fools,
Yet is, whate'er fhe hates and ridicules.
No Thought advances, but her Eddy Brain
Whisks it about, and down it goes again.

Of Mirth and Opium, Ratafie and Tears,
The daily Anodyne, and nightly Draught,

To kill those foes to Fair-ones, Time and Thought.
Woman and Fool are two hard things to hit ;
For true No-meaning puzzles more than Wit.

VARIATION.

After ver. 122, in the MS.

Opprefs'd with wealth and wit, abundance fad!
One makes her poor, the other makes her mad.

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