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Worn out in public, weary every eye,
Nor leave one sigh behind them when they die.
Pleasures the sex, as children birds, pursue,
Still out of reach, yet never out of view;
Sure if they catch to spoil the toy at most,
To covet flying, and regret when lost :
At last to follies youth could scarce defend,
It grows their age's prudence to pretend;
Asham'd to own they gave delight before,
Reduc'd to feign it when they give no more.
As hags hold sabbaths less for joy than spite,
So these their merry miserable night;
Still round and round the ghosts of beauty glide,
And haunt the places where there honour died.
See how the world its veterans rewards!
A youth of frolics, and old age of cards;
Fair to no purpose, artful to no end,
Young without lovers, old without a friend;
A fop their passion, but their prize a sot,
Alive ridiculous, and dead forgot!
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 tir'd the sight,
All mild ascends the moon's more sober light,
Serene in virgin modesty she shines,
And unobserv'd the glaring orb declines.
O! bless'd 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;
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 smallpox, 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.
Heaven, when it strives to polish all it can
Its last best work, but forms a softer man;
Picks from each sex to make the favourite blest,
Your love of pleasure, our desire of rest;
Blends, in exception to all general rules,
Your taste of follies with our scorn of fools;
Reserve with frankness, art with truth allied,
Courage with softness, modesty with pride;
Fix'd 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 promis'd (I forget the year)
When those blue eyes first open'd on the sphere;
Ascendant Phoebus watch'd that hour with care,
Averted half your parents' simple prayer,
And gave you beauty, but denied the pelf
That buys your sex a tyrant o'er itself.
The generous 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.
That it is known to few, most falling into one of the extremes, avarice or profusion. The point discussed, whether the invention of money has been more commodious or pernicious to mankind. That riches, either to the avaricious or the prodigal, cannot afford happiness, scarcely necessaries. That avarice is an absolute frenzy, without an end or purpose. Conjectures about the motives of avaricious men. That the conduct of men, with respect to riches, can only be accounted for by the order of Providence, which works the general good out of extremes, and brings all to its great end by perpetual revolutions. How a miser acts upon principles which appear to him reasonable. How a prodigal does the same. The due medium and true use of riches. The Man of Ross. The fate of the profuse and the covetous, in two examples; both miserable in life and in death. The story of Sir Balaam.
P. WHO shall decide when doctors disagree,
And soundest casuists doubt, like you and me?
You hold the word from Jove to Momus given,
That man was made the standing jest of heaven;
And gold but sent to keep the fools in play,
For some to heap, and some to throw away.
But I, who think more highly of our kind, (And surely heaven and I are of a mind) Opine that nature, as in duty bound, Deep hid the shining mischief under ground: But when by man's audacious labour won, Flam'd forth this rival to its sire the sun, Then careful heaven supplied two sorts of men, To squander these, and those to hide again.
Like doctors thus, when much dispute has past, We find our tenets just the same at last : Both fairly owning riches, in effect,
No grace of heaven, or token of th' elect; Given to the fool, the mad, the vain, the evil, To1 Ward, to Waters, Chartres, and the devil. B. What nature wants, commodious gold
'Tis thus we eat the bread another sows.
P. But how unequal it bestows observe;
'Tis thus we riot, while who sow it starve:
What nature wants (a phrase I much distrust)
Extends to luxury, extends to lust:
Useful I grant, it serves what life requires,
But dreadful too, the dark assassin hires.
B. Trade it may help, society extend.
P. But lures the pirate, and corrupts the friend.
B. It raises armies in a nation's aid.
P. But bribes a senate, and the land's betray'd.
1 Three personages notorious for having amassed money by nefarious practices: for an account of Chartres, sce note p. 75.