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One certain portrait may (I grant) be seen,
Which Heaven has varnish'd out, and made a queen;
The same for ever! and described by all
With truth and goodness, as with crown and ball,
Poets heap virtues, painters gems at will,
And show their zeal, and hide their want of skill.
'Tis well-but artists! who can paint or write,
To draw the naked is your true delight.
That robe of quality so trusts and swells,
None see what parts of nature it conceals:
The exactest traits of body or of mind,
We owe to models of an humble kind,
If Queensberry to strip there's no compelling,
'Tis from a handmaid we must take a Helen.
From peer or bishop 'tis no easy thing
To draw the man who loves his God or king;
Alas! I copy (or my draught would fail)
From honest Mahomet or plain parson Hale.
But grant, in public men sometimes are shown,
A woman's seen in private life alone;
Our bolder talents in full light display'd
Your virtues open fairest in the shade.
Bred to disguise, in public 'tis you hide;
There, none distinguish 'twixt your shame or pride, Weakness or delicacy; all so nice,
That each may seem a virtue or a vice.
In men we various ruling passions find;
In women, two almost divide the kind:
Those, only fix'd, they first or last obey,
The love of pleasure, and the love of sway.
That nature gives: and where the lesson taught
Is but to please, can pleasure seem a fault?
Experience, this; by man's oppression cursed,
They seek the second not to lose the first.
Men, some to business, some to pleasure take;
But every woman is at heart a rake:
Men, some to quiet, some to public strife,
But every lady would be queen for life.
Yet mark the fate of a whole sex of queens!
Power all their end, but beauty all the means;
In youth they conquer with so wild a rage,
As leaves them scarce a subject in their age:
For foreign glory, foreign joy, they roam;
No thought of peace or happiness at home,
But wisdom's triumph is well-timed retreat,
As hard a science to the fair as great!
Beauties like tyrants, old and friendless grown,
Yet hate repose, and dread to be alone;
Worn out in public, weary every eye,
Nor leave one sigh behind them when they die.
Pleasures the sex, as children birds
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;
A last, to follies youth could scarce defend,
It grows their age's prudence to pretend;
Ashamed to own they gave delight before,
Reduced to reign 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 their honour died.
See how the world its veterans rewards!
A youth of frolics, an 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 tired the sight,
A mild ascends the moon's more sober light,
Serene in virgin modesty she shines,
And unobserved 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;
Of 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.
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 bless'd.
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, and 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 unbless'd,
Toasts live a scorn, and queens may die a jest.
This Phoebus promised (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 parent's 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 dutchesses, 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, ver. 1, &c. The point discussed, whether the invention of money has been more commodious or pernicious to mankind, ver. 21 to 77. That riches, either to the avaricious or the prodigal, cannot afford happiness, scarcely necessaries, ver. 89 to 160. That avarice is an absolute frenzy, without an end or purpose, ver. 113, &c. 152. Conjectures about the motives of avaricious men, ver. 121 to 153. 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 perpetua revolutions, ver. 161 to 178. How a miser acts upon principle which appear to him reasonable, ver. 179. How a prodigal doe
the same, ver. 199. The true medium, and true use of riches, ver. 219. The man of Ross, ver. 250. The fate of the profuse, and the covetous, in two examples: both miserable in life and in death, ver. 300, &c. The story of Sir Balaam, ver. 339 to the end.
This epistle was written after a violent outcry against our author, on a supposition that he had ridiculed a worthy nobleman, merely for his wrong taste. He justified himself upon that article in a letter to the Earl of Burlington, at the end of which are these words: I have learnt that there are some who would rather be wicked than ridiculous: and therefore it may be safer to attack vices than follies. I will therefore leave my betters in the quiet possession of their idols, their groves and their high-places, and change my subject from their pride to their meanness, from their vanities to their miseries; and as the only certain way to avoid misconstructions, to lessen offence, and not to multiply ill-natured applications, I may probably in my next make use of real names instead of fictitious
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,