Page images

Then mark, my loofer hand may fit
The lines, too coarfe for Love to hit.

'Tis faid that woman, prone to changing,
Thro' all the rounds of folly ranging,
On life's uncertain ocean riding,
No reafon, rule, nor rudder guiding,
Is like the comet's wand'ring light,
Eccentric, ominous, and bright;
Tracklefs, and fhifting as the wind;
A fea, whofe fathom none can find;
A moon, still changing and revolving;
A riddle, paft all human folving;
A biifs, a plague, a heaven, a hell;
A—something that no man can tell.
Now learn a fecret from a friend,
But keep your counfel, and attend.

Tho' in their tempers thought fo diftant,
Nor with their fex nor felves confiftent,
'Tis but the difference of a name,
And ev'ry woman is the fame;
For as the world, however varied,
And through unnumber'd changes carried,
Of elemental modes and forms,

Clouds, meteors, colours, calms and storms,
Tho' in a thoufand fuits array'd,
Is of one fubject matter made;
So, Sir, a woman's conftitution,
The world's enigma, finds folution;
And let her form be what you will,
I am the fubject effence ftill.

With the firft fpark of female fense,
The fpeck of being, I commence,
Within the womb make fresh advances,
And dictate future qualms and fancies;
Thence in the growing form expand,
With childhood travel hand in hand,
And give a tafte for all their joys
In gewgaws, rattles, pomp, and noise.
And now, familiar and unaw'd,
I fend the flutt'ring foul abroad.
Prais'd for her shape, her air, her mien,
The little goddess, and the queen,
Takes at her infant thrine oblation,
And drinks fweet draughts of adulation.
Now blooming, tall, erect, and fair,
To drefs becomes her darling care;
The realms of beauty then I bound;
I fwell the hoop's enchanted round,
Shrink in the waift's defcending fize,
Heav'd in the fnowy bofom, rife,
High on the flowing lappet fail,
Or, curl'd in treffes, kifs the gale.
Then to her glafs I lead the fair,
And fhew the lovely idol there;
Where, ftruck as by divine emotion,
She bows with moft fincere devotion,
And, numb'ring ev'ry beauty o'er,
In fecret bids the world adore.

Then all for parking and parading,
Coquetting, dancing, mafquerading:

For balls, plays, courts, and crowds what paffion!
And churches, fometimes-if the fashion;
For woman's fenfe of right and wrong
Is rul'd by the almighty throng;

Still turns to each meander tame,
And fwims the straw of ev'ry ftream.
Her foul intrinfic worth rejects,
Accomplish'd only in defects;
Such excellence is her ambition,
Folly her wifeft acquifition;
And even from pity and difdain
She 'Il cull fome reafon to be vain.

Thus, Sir, from ev'ry form and feature, The wealth and wants of female nature, And even from vice, which you 'd admire, I gather fuel to my fire;

And on the very base of shame
Erect my monument of fame.

Let me another truth attempt,

Of which your god fhip has not dreamt.
Thofe fhining virtues, which you muster,
Whence think you they derive their luftre?
From native honour and devotion?
O yes, a mighty likely notion!
Trust me, from titled dames to spinners,
'Tis I make faints, whoe'er makes finners;
'Tis I inftruct them to withdraw,
And hold prefumptuous man in awe;
For female worth, as I inspire,
In just degrees, ftill mounts the higher
And virtue, fo extremely nice,
Demands long toil and mighty price.
Like Samfon's pillars, fix'd clate,
I bear the fex's tott'ring state;
Sap thefe, and in a moment's fpace
Down finks the fabric to its bafc.

Alike from titles and from toys
I fpring, the fount of female joys;
In ev'ry widow, wife, and mifs,
The fole artificer of blifs;
For them each tropic I explore,
I cleave the fand of ev'ry fhore;
To them uniting Indias fail,
Sabaa breathes her fartheft gale:
For them the bullion I refine,
Dig fenfe and virtue from the mine,
And from the bowels of invention
Spin out the various arts you mention.

Nor blifs alone my pow'rs beftow,
They hold the fov'reign balm of woe
Beyond the ftoic's boafted art
I footh the heavings of the heart;
To pain give fplendor and relief,
And gild the pallid face of grief.

Alike the palace and the plain
Admit the glories of my reign!
Thro' ev'ry age, in ev'ry nation,

Tafte, talents, tempers, ftate, and station,
Whate'er a woman fays, I fay;
Whate'er a woman spends, I pay;
Alike I fill and empty bags,
Flutter in finery and rags,

With light coquettes thro' folly range,
And with the prude difdain to change.

And now you'd think, 'twixt you and I,
That things were ripe for a reply-
But foft, and while I'm in the mood,
Kindly permit me to conclude,

N 3


Their utmoft mazes to unravel,
And touch the fartheft ftep they travel.
When ev'ry pleafure 's run aground,
And folly tir'd thro' many a round,
The nymph, conceiving difcontent hence,
May ripen to an hour's repentance,
And vapours, fhed in pious moisture,
Difmifs her to a church, or cloyster;
Then on I lead her, with devotion
Confpicucus in her drefs and motion,
Infpire the heavenly-breathing air,
Roll up the lucid eye in pray'r,
Soften the voice, and in the face
Look melting harmony and grace.
Thus far extends my friendly pow'r,
Nor quits her in her latest hour;
The couch of decent pain I spread,
In form recline her languid head;
Her thoughts I methodize in death,
And part not with her parting breath;
Then do I fet, in order bright,
A length of fun'ral pomp to fight,
The glitt'ring tapers and attire,
The plumes that whiten o'er the bier;
And laft, prefenting to her eye
Angelic fineries on high,

To fcenes of painted blifs I waft her,
And form the heaven the hopes hereafter.
In truth, rejoin'd love's gentle God,
You've gone a tedious length of road,
And, ftrange, in all the toilfome way
No houfe of kind refreshment lay;

No nymph, whofe virtues might have tempted
To hold her from her fex exempted.

For one we 'll never quarrel, man;
Take her, and keep her, if you can;
And pleas'd I yield to your petition,
Since ev'ry fair, by fuch permiflion,
Will hold herself the one felected;
And fo my fyften ftands protected.

O, deaf to virtue, deaf to glory,
To truths divinely vouch'd in story!
The Godhead in his zeal return'd,
And, kindling at her malice, burn'd:
Then fweetly rais'd his voice, and told
Of heavenly nymphs, rever'd of old;
Hypfipyle, who fav'd her fire,
And Portia's love, approv'd by fire;
Alike Penelope was quoted,
Nor laurel'd Daphne pafs'd unnoted,
Nor Laodamia's fatal garter,

Nor fam'd Lucretia, honour's martyr,
Alcefte's voluntary steel,

And Catherine, filing on the wheel.
But who can hope to plant conviction
Where cavil grows on contradiction?
Some the evades or difavows,
Demurs to all, and none allows-
A kind of ancient thing call'd fables!
And thus the Goddef's turn'd the tables.

Now both in argument grew high,
And choler flash'd from either eye;
Nor wonder each refus'd to yield
The conqueft of so fair a field.

When happily arriv'd in view
A Goddefs whom our grandames knew,
Of afpect grave, and sober gait,
Majeftic, awful, and fedate,

As heaven's autumnal eve fercne,
When not a cloud o'ercafts the scene;
Once Prudence call'd, a matron fam'd,
And in old Rome Cornelia nam'd.
Quick at a venture both agree
To leave their ftrife to her decree.

And now by each the facts were stated,
In form and manner as related.
The cafe was short. They crav'd opinion,
Which held o'er females chief dominion:
When thus the Goddefs, anfw'ring mild,
First shook her gracious head, and smil'd;
Alas, how willing to comply,
Yet how unfit a judge am I!
In times of golden date, 'tis true,
I fhar'd the fickle fex with you;
But from their prefence long precluded,
Or held as one whofe form intruded,
Full fifty annual funs can tell,
Prudence has bid the fex farewell.

In this dilemma what to do,
Or who to think of, neither knew;
For both, ftill biafs'd in opinion,
And arrogant of fole dominion,
Were forc'd to hold the cafe compounded,
Or leave the quarrel where they found it.
When in the nick, a rural fair,

Of inexperienc'd gait and air,
Who ne'er had crofs'd the neighb'ring lake,
Nor feen the world beyond a wake,
With cambric coif, and kerchief clean,
Tripp'd lightly by them o'er the green.
Now, now I cried love's triumphant child,
And at approaching conqueft fmil'd,
If Vanity will once be guided,
Our diffrence foon may be decided;
Behold yon wench, a fit occafion
To try your force of gay perfuafion.
Go you, while I retire aloof,
Go, put thofe boafted pow'rs to proof;
And if your prevalence of art
Tranfcends my yet unerring dart,
I give the fav'rite conteft o'er,
And ne'er will boaft my empire more.
At once, fo faid, and fo confented;
And well our Goddess feem'd contented,
Nor paufing made a moment's stand,
But tripp'd, and took the girl in hand.
Meanwhile the Godhead, unalarm'd,
As one to each occafion arm'd,
Forth from his quiver cull'd a dart,
That erft had wounded many a heart;
Then, bending, drew it to the head;
The bow-ftring twang'd, the arrow fled,
And, to her fecret foul addreft,
Transfix'd the whitenefs of her breast.
But here the Dame, whofe guardian care
Had to a moment watch'd the fair,
At once her pocket-mirror drew,
And held the wonder full in view;


[blocks in formation]

YE deep philofophers, who can
Explain that various creature, Man,

Say, is there any point fo nice

As that of off ring an advice?

To bid your friend his errors mend,
Is almoft certain to offend:
Tho' you in fofteft terms advise,
Confefs him good, admit him wife;
In vain you fweeten the difcourse,
He thinks you call him fool, or worse.
You paint his character, and try
If he will own it, and apply;
Without a name reprove and warn;
Here none are hurt, and all may learn:
This too muft fail; the picture fhewn,
No man will take it for his own.
In moral lectures treat the cafe,
Say this is honeft, that is base;
In converfation none will bear it;
And for the pulpit, few come near it.
And is there then no other way
A moral leffon to convey?
Muft all that fall attempt to teach,
Admonish, satirize, or preach?
Yes, there is one, an ancient art,
By fages found to reach the heart,
Ere fcience, with diftinctions nice,
Had fix'd what virtue is, and vice,
Inventing all the various names
On which the moralift declaims:
They would by finple tales advise,
Which took the healer by furprife;
Alarm'd his confcience, unprepar'd,
Ere pride had put it on its guard;
And made him from himfelf receive
The leffons which they meant to give.
That this device will oft prevail,
And gain its end when others fail,
If any fhall pretend to doubt,
The tale which follows makes it out.
There was a little ftubborn dame,
Whom no authority could tame;
Reftive, by long indulgence, grown,
No will the minded but her own:
At trifles oft fhe'd fcold and fret,
Then in a corner take a feat,
And, fourly moping all the day,
Difdain alike to work or play.

Papa all fofter arts had tried,
And fharper remedies applied;
But both were vain; for ev'ry courfe
He took, ftill made her worfe and worse.

'Tis ftrange to think how female wit
So oft fhould make a lucky hit;
When man, with all his high pretence
To deeper judgment, founder fenfe,
Will err, and measures falfe purfue—
'Tis very frange, I own, but true.-
Mamma obferv'd the rifing lafs
By ftealth retiring to the glats,
To practife little airs unfeen,
In the true genius of thirteen:
On this a deep defign fhe laid
To tame the humour of the Maid;
Contriving, like a prudent mother,
To make one folly cure another.
Upon the wall, against the feat
Which Jeffy us'd for her retreat,
Whene'er by accident offended,
A looking-glafs was ftraight fufpended,
That it might fhew her how deform'd
She look'd, and frightful, when the ftorm'd;
And warn her, as fle priz'd her beauty,
To bend her humour to her duty.
All this the looking-glafs achiev'd;
Its threats were minded and believ'd.
The Maid, who fpurn'd at all advice,
Grew tame and gentle in a trice:
So, when all other means had fail'd,
The filent monitor prevail'd.

Thus, Fable to the human kind
Prefents an image of the mind;
It is a mirror, where we fpy
At large our own deformity,

And learn of courfe thofe faults to mend,
Which but to mention would offend.

$327. The Boy and the Rainbow. WILKIE. DECLARE, ye fages, if ye find

'Mongft animals of ev'ry kind,

Of each condition, fort, and fize,
From whales and elephants to flies,
A creature that mistakes his plan,
And errs, fo conftantly as man.
Each kind purfues his proper good,
And feeks for pleasure, reft, and food,
As nature points, and never errs
In what it choofes and prefers;
Man only blunders, though poffeA
Of talents far above the rest.

Defcend to instances, and try;
An ox will fearce attempt to fly,
Or leave his pasture in the wood,
With fishes to explore the flood.
Man only acts, of ev'ry creature,
In oppofition to his nature.
The happiness of human-kind
Confifts in rectitude of mind;
A will fubdu'd to reafon's fway,
And paffions practis'd to obey;
An open and a gen'rous heart,
Refin'd from felnifhnefs and art;
Patience, which mocks at fortune's pow'r,
And wifdom never fad nor four:
In thefe confifts our proper blifs;
Elfe Plato reafons much amils:

N 4


But foolish mortals still pursue
Falfe happiness in place of true;
Ambition ferves us for a guide,
Or luft, or avarice, or pride;
While Reafon no affent can gain,
And Revelation warns in vain.

Hence through our lives, in ev'ry stage,
From infancy itself to age,

A happiness we toil to find,

Which ftill avoids us like the wind;
Ev'n when we think the prize our own,
At once 'tis vanish'd, loft and gone.
You'll ask me why I thus rehearse
All Epictetus in my verfe?
And if I fondly hope to pleafe
With dry reflections, fuch as thefe,
So trite, fo hackney'd, and fo ftale?
I'll take the hint, and tell a tale.

One evening, as a fimple fwain
His flock attended on the plain,
The fhining bow he chanc'd to spy,
Which warns us when a fhow'r is nigh.
With brighteft rays it feem'd to glow:
Its diftance eighty yards or fo.
This bumpkin had, it feems, been told
The story of the cup of gold,
Which fame reports is to be found

Just where the Rainbow meets the ground;
He therefore felt a fudden itch
To feize the goblet, and be rich;
Hoping, yet hopes are oft but vain,
No more to toil thro' wind and rain,
But fit indulging by the fire,
'Midft eafe and plenty, like a 'fquire.
He mark'd the very fpot of land
On which the Rainbow feem'd to ftand,
And, ftepping forwards at his leifure,
Expected to have found the treafure.
But as he mov'd, the colour'd ray
Still chang'd its place, and flipp'd away,
As feeming his approach to fhun.
From walking he began to run;
But all in vain, it ftill withdrew
As nimbly as he could purfue.
At laft, thro' many a bog and lake,
Rough craggy road, and thorny brake,
It led the cafy fool, till night
Approach'd, then vanifh'd in his fight,
And left him to compute his gains,
With nought but labour for his pains.

[blocks in formation]

At which our trav'ller, as he fat, By intervals began to chat.

'Tis odd, quoth he, to think what strains
Of folly govern fome folks' brains :
What makes you choofe this wild abode ?
You'll fay, 'Tis to converfe with God.
Alas, I fear, 'tis all a whim;

You never faw or fpoke with him.
They talk of Providence's pow'r,
And fay, it rules us ev'ry hour:
To me all nature fecms confufion,
And fuch weak fancies mere delufion.
Say, if it rul'd and govern'd right,
Could there be fuch a thing as night;
Which, when the fun has left the fkics,
Puts all things in a deep difguife?
If then a tray'ller chance to ftray
The least step from the public way,
He's foon in endless mazes loft,
As I have found it to my coft.
Befides, the gloom which nature wears
Aflifts imaginary fears,

Of ghofts and goblins from the wayes
Of fulph'rous lakes and yawning graves;
All fprung from fuperftitious feed,
Like other maxims of the creed.
For my part, I reject the tales
Which faith fuggefts when reafon fails;
And reafon nothing underftands,
Unwarranted by eyes and hands.
Thefe fubtile offences, like wind,

Which fome have dreamt of, and call mind,
It ne'er admits; nor joins the lye,
Which fays men rot, but never die.
It holds all future things in doubt,
And therefore wifely leaves them out:
Suggefting what is worth our care,
To take things prefent as they are,
Our wifeft courfe: the rest is folly,
The fruit of spleen and melancholy.—

Sir, quoth the Hermit, I agree
That Reafon fill our guide fould be;
And will admit her as the teft
Of what is true, and what is beft:
But Reafon fare would blush for fhame
At what you mention in her name;
Her dictates are fublime and holy;
Impiety's the child of Folly;
Reafon, with meafur'd steps and flow,
To things above from things below
Afcends, and guides us thro' her sphere
With caution, vigilance, and care.
Faith in the utmost frontier stands,
And Reafon puts us in her hands;
But not till her commiffion giv'n
Is found authentic, and from Heav'n.
'Tis strange, that man, a reas'ning creature,
Should mifs a God in viewing nature;
Whofe high perfections are difplay'd
In ev'ry thing his hands have made :
Ev'n when we think their traces loft,
When found again, we fee them moft:
The night itself, which you would blame.
As fomething wrong in nature's frame,

Is but a curtain to invest
Her weary children, when at rest:
Like that which mothers draw to keep
The light off from a child asleep.
Befide, the fears which darkneis breeds
(At least augments) in vulgar heads,
Are far from ufelefs, when the mind
Is narrow, and to earth confin'd;
They make the worldling think with pain
On frauds, and oaths, and ill-got gain;
Force from the ruffian's hand the knife
Juft rais'd against his neighbour's life;
And in defence of virtue's caufe,
Aflift each fanction of the laws.

But fouls ferene, where wifdom dwells,
And fuperftitious dread expels,
The filent majefty of night
Excites to take a nobler flight;
With faints and angels to explore
The wonders of creating pow'r;
And lifts on contemplation's wings
Above the fphere of mortal things.
Walk forth, and tread thofe dewy plains
Where night in awful filence reigns;
The sky's ferene, the air is ftill,
The woods ftand lift'ning on each hill,
To catch the founds that fink and fwell,
Wide-floating from the ev'ning bell,
While foxes howl, and beetles hum,
Sounds which make filence ftill more dumb;
And try if folly, rafh and rude,
Dare on the facred hour intrude.
Then turn your eyes to heav'n's broad frame,
Attempt to quote thofe lights by name
Which fhine fo thick, and spread so far;
Conceive a fun in ev'ry star,
Round which unnumber'd planets roll,
While comets fhoot athwart the whole;
From fyftem ftill to fyftem ranging,
Their various benefits exchanging,
And fhaking from their flaming hair
The things moft needed ev'rywhere—
Explore this glorious fcene, and fay
That night difcovers lefs than day;
That 'tis quite useless, and a fign
That chance difpofes, not defign:
Whoe'er maintains it, I'll pronounce
Him either mad, or elfe a dunce;
For reason, tho' 'tis far from strong,
Will foon find out that nothing's wrong,
From figns and evidences clear
Of wife contrivance ev'rywhere.

The Hermit ended, and the youth
Became a convert to the truth;
At least he yielded, and confefs'd
That all was order'd for the best.

$329. The Youth and the Philofopher.

A GRECIAN youth, of talents rare,

Whom Plato's philofophic care Had form'd for virtue's nobler view, By precept and example too,

Would often boaft his matchlefs skill
To curb the fteed, and guide the wheel;
And as he pafs'd the gazing throng
With graceful cafe, and fmack'd the thong,
The idiot wonder they exprefs'd
Was praife and tranfport to his breast.

At length quite vain, he needs would fhew
His mafter what his art could do;
And bade his flaves the chariot lead
To Academus' facred fhade..
The trembling grove confefs'd its fright,
The wood-nyinphs ftarted at the fight;
The Mufes drop the learned lyre,
And to their inmoft fhades retire.
Howe'er, the youth, with forward air,
Bows to the fage, and mounts the car;
The lafh refounds, the courfers spring,
The chariot marks the rolling ring;
And gath'ring crowds, with eager eyes,
And fhouts, purfue him as he flics.

Triumphant to the goal return'd,
With nobler thirst his bofom burn'd;
And now along th' indented plain
The felf-fame track he marks again;
Purfues with care the nice defign,
Nor ever deviates from the line.

Amazement feiz'd the circling crowd;
The youths with emulation glow'd;
Ev'n bearded fages hail'd the boy,
And all but Plato gaz'd with joy.
For he, deep-judging fage, beheid
With pain the triumphs of the field:
And when the charioteer drew nigh,
And, flufh'd with hope, had caught his eye,
Alas! unhappy youth, he cried,
Expect no praife from me (and figh'd).
With indignation I furvey
Such skill and judgment thrown away.
The time profufely fquander'd there
On vulgar arts, beneath thy care,
If well employ'd, at lefs expence,
Had taught thee honour, virtue, fenfe,
And rais'd thee from a coachman's fate
To govern men, and guide the state.

$330. The Bee, the Ant, and the Sparrow. Dr. COTTON. Addreffed to Phoebe and Kitty C. at BoardingSchool.

MY dears, 'tis faid, in days of old

That beafts could talk, and birds could fcold: But now, it feems, the human race Alone engrofs the fpeaker's place. Yet lately, if report be true,

(And much the tale relates to you)
There met a Sparrow, Ant, and Bee,
Which reafon'd and convers'd as we.

Who reads my page will doubtless grant
That Phe's the wife induftrious Ant;
And all with half an eye may fee
That Kitty is the busy Bee.

Here then are two-but where 's the third ? Go fearch the school, you'll find the bird.


« PreviousContinue »