« PreviousContinue »
She threw her law-books on the shelf,
Then sows within her tender mind And thus debated with herself.
Seeds long unknown to womankind; Since men allege, they ne'er can find
For manly bosoms chiefly fit, Those beauties in a female mind,
The seeds of knowledge, judgment, wit. Which raise a flame that will endure
Her soul was suddenly endued For ever uncorrupt and pure ;
With justice, truth, and fortitude ; If 'tis with reason they complain,
With honour, which no breath can stain, This infant shall restore my reign.
Which malice must attack in vain; I'll search where every virtue dwells,
With open heart and bounteous hand. From courts inclusive down to cells:
But Pallas here was at a stand; What preachers talk, or sages write;
She knew, in our degenerate days, These I will gather and unite,
Bare virtue could not live on praise ; And represent them to mankind
That meat must be with money bought:
She therefore, upon second thought,
Some small regard for state and wealth; In nectar thrice infuses bays,
Of which, as she grew up, there staid Three times refin'd in Titan's rays;
A tincture in the prudent maid: Then calls the Graces to her aid,
She manag'd her estate with care, And sprinkles thrice the new-born maid:
Yet lik'd three footmen to her chair. From whence the tender skin assumes
But, lest he should neglect his studies, A sweetness above all perfumes :
Like a young heir, the thrifty goddess From whence a cleanliness remains,
(For fear young master should be spoil'd) Incapable of outward stains :
Would use him like a younger child; From whence that decency of mind,
And, after long computing, found So lovely in the female kind,
'Twould come to just five thousand ponnd. Where not one careless thought intrudes,
The Queen of Love was pleas'd, and proud, Less modest than the speech of prudes;
To see Vanessa thus endow'd : Where never blush was call'd in aid,
She doubted not but such a dame That spurious virtue in a maid,
Through every breast would dart a flame: A virtue but at second-hand;
That every rich and lordly swain They blush, because they understand.
With pride would drag about her chain; The Graces next would act their part,
That scholars would forsake their books, And show'd but little of their art;
To study bright Vanessa's looks; Their work was half already done,
As she advanc'd, that womankind The child with native beauty shone;
Would by her model form their mind, The outward form no help requir'd:
And all their conduct would be try'd Each, breathing on her thrice, inspir'd
By her, as an unerring guide; That gentle, soft, engaging air,
Offending daughters oft would hear Which in old times adorn'd the fair:
Vanessa's praise rung in their ear: And said, “ Vanessa be the name
Miss Betty, when she does a fault, By which thou shalt be known to fame;
Lets fall her knife, or spills the salt, Vanessa, by the gods inrollid:
Will thus be by her mother chid, Her name on earth shall not be told.”
“ 'Tis what Vanessa never did !" But still the work was not complete :
Thus by the nymphs and swains ador’d, When Venus thought on a deceit;
My power shall be again restor’d, Drawn by her doves, away she fies,
And happy lovers bless my reign—" And finds out Pallas in the skies.
So Venus hop'd, but hop'd in vain. Dear Pallas, I have been this morn
For when in time the martial maid To see a lovely infant born;
Found out the trick that Venus play'd, A boy in yonder isle below,
She shakes her helm, she knits her brows, So like my own without his bow,
And, fir'd with indignation, vows, By beauty could your heart be won,
To-morrow, ere the setting sun, You'd swear it is Apollo's son:
Shed all undo that she had done. But it shall ne'er be said, a child
But in the poets we may tind So hopeful has by me been spoil'd;
A wholesome law, time out of mind, I have enough besides to spare,
Had been confirm'd by fate's decree, And give him wholly to your care.
That gods, of whatsoe'er degree, Wisdom's above suspecting wiles :
Resume not what themselves have given, The Queen of Learning gravely smiles,
Or any brother-god in Heaven; Down from Olympus comes with joy,
Which keeps the peace among the gods, Mistakes Vanessa for a boy ;
Or they must always be at odds :
And Pallas, if she broke the laws,
Last night was so extremely fine, Must yield her foe the stronger cause ;
The ladies walk'd till after nine ; A shame to one so much ador'd
Then, in soft voice and speech absurd, For wisdom at Jove's council-board.
With nonsense every second word, Besides, she fear'd the Queen of Love
With fustain from exploded plays, Would meet with better friends above.
They celebrate her beauty's praise ; And though she must with grief reflect,
Run o'er their cant of stupid lies, To see a mortal virgin deck'd
And tell the murders of her eyes. With graces hitherto unknown
With silent scorn Vanessa sat, To female breasts, except her own ;
Scarce listening to their idle chat; Yet she would act as best became
Further than sometimes by a frown, A goddess of unspotted same.
When they grew pert, to pull them down. She knew, by augury divine,
At last she spitefully was bent Venus vould fail in her design:
To try their wisdom's full extent; She study'd well the point, and found
And said she valued nothing less Her foe's conclusions were not sound,
Than titles, figure, shape and dress ; From premises erroneous brought;
That merit should be chiefly plac'd And therefore the deduction's nought,
In judgment, knowledge, wit, and taste; And must have contrary effects
And these, she offer'd to dispute, To what her treacherous foe expects.
Alone distinguish'd man from brute: In proper season Pallas meets
That present times have no pretence The Queen of Love, whom thus she greets
To virtue, in the noble sense (For gods, we are by Homer told,
By Greeks and Romans understood, Can in celestial language scold):
To perish for our country's good. Perfidious goddess ! but in vain
She nam'd the ancient heroes round, You form'd this project in your brain ;
Explain'd for what they were renown'd, A project for thy talents fit,
Then spoke with censure or applause With much deceit and little wit.
Of foreign customs, rises, and laws; Thou hast, as thou shalt quickly see,
Through nature and through art she rang'd, Deceiv'd thyself, instead of me:
And gracefully her subject chang'd; For how can heavenly wisdom prove
In vain! her hearers had no share An instrument to earthly love?
In all she spoke, except to stare. Know'st thou not yet, that men commence
Their judgment was upon the whole, Thy votaries, for want of sense ?
- That lady is the dullest soul !Nor shall Vanessa be the theme
Then tipt their forehead in a jeer, To manage thy abortive scheme:
As who should say—she wants it here ! She'll prove the greatest of thy foes !
She may be handsome, young, and rich, And yet I scorn to interpose, I
But none will burn her for a witch ! But, using neither skill nor force,
A party next of glittering dames, Leave all things to their natural course.
From round the purlieus of St. James, The goddess thus pronounc'd her doom :
Came early, out of pure good-will, When lo! Vanessa in her bloom
To see the girl in dishabille. Advanc'd, like Atalanta's star,
Their clamour, 'lighting from their chairs, But rarely seen, and seen from far:
Grew louder all the way up stairs; In a new world with caution stept,
At entrance loudest, where they found Watch'd all the company she kept,
The room with volumes litter'd round. Well knowing, from the books she read,
Vanessa held Montaigne, and read, What dangerous paths young virgins tread:
Whilst Mrs. Susan comb'd her head. Would seldoin at the park appear,
They callid for tea and chocolate, Nor saw the playhouse twice a year;
And fell into their usual chat, Yet, not incurious, was inclin'd
Discoursing, with important face, To know the converse of mankind.
On ribbons, fans, and gloves, and lace ; First issued from perfumers' shops
Show'd patterns just from India brought, A crowd of fashionable fops;
And gravely ask'd her what she thought, They ask'd her how she lik'd the play;
Whether the red or green were best, Then told the tattle of the day;
And what they cost ? Vanessa guess'd, A duel fought last night at two,
As came into her fancy first ; About a lady-you know who:
Nam'd half the rates, and lik'd the worst. Mention'd a new Italian come
To scandal next-What awkward thing Either from Muscovy or Rome;
Was that last Sunday in the ring? Gave hints of who and who's together ;
I'm sorry Mopsa breaks so fast : Then fell a talking of the weather ;
I said her face would never last.
Corinna, with that youthful air,
And with address each genius held Is thirty, and a bit to spare :
To that wherein it most excell'd; Her fondness for a certain earl
Thus, making others' wisdom known, Began when I was but a girl!
Could please them, and improve her own. Phillis, who but a month ago
A modest youth said something new; Was marry'd to the Tunbridge beau,
She plac'd it in the strongest view. I saw coquetting t'other night
All humble worth she strove to raise ; In public with that odious knight!
Would not be prais'd, yet lov’d to praise. They railly'd next Vanessa's dress :
The learned met with free approach, That gown was made for old Queen Bess.
Although they came not in a coach : Dear Madam, let me see your head:
Some clergy too she would allow, Don't you intend to put on red ?
Nor quarreld at their awkward bow; A petticoat without a hoop!
But this was for Cadenus' sake, Sure, you are not asham'd to stoop!
A gownman of a different make; With handsome garters at your knees,
Whom Pallas, once Vanessa's tutor, No matter what a fellow sees.
Had fix'd on for her coadjutor. Filld with disdain, with rage inflam’d,
But Cupid, full of mischief, longs Both of herself and sex asham'd,
To vindicate his mother's wrongs. The nymph stood silent out of spite,
On Pallas all attempts are vain : Nor would vouchsafe to set them right.
One way he knows to give her pain ; Away the fair detractors went,
Vows on Vanessa's heart to take And gave by turns their censures vent.
Due vengeance, for her patron's sake. She's not so handsome in my eyes:
Those early seeds by Venus sown, For wit, I wonder where it lies!
In spite of Pallas, now were grown; She's fair and clean, and that's the most:
And Cupid hop'd they would improve But why proclaim her for a toast ?
By time, and ripen into love. A baby face; no life, no airs,
The boy made use of all his craft, But what she learn’d at country-fairs;
In vain discharging many a shaft, Scarce knows what difference is between
Pointed at colonels, lords, and beaux : Rich Flanders lace and colberteen.
Cadenus warded off the blows; I'll undertake, my little Nancy
For, placing still some book betwixt, In flounces hath a better fancy!
The darts were in the cover fix'd, With all her wit, I would not ask
Or, often blunted and recoil'd, Her judgment how to buy a mask.
On Plutarch's Morals struck, were spoil'd. We begg'd her but to patch her face,
The Queen of Wisdom could foresee, She never hit one proper place;
But not prevent the Fates' decree: Which every girl at five years old
And human caution tries in vain Can do as soon as she is told.
To break that adamantine chain. I own, that out-of-fashion stuff
Vanessa, though by Pallas taught, Becomes the creature well enough.
By love invulnerable thought, The girl might pass, if we could get her
Searching in books for wisdom's aid, To know the world a little better.
Was, in the very search, betray'd. (To know the world! a modern phrase
Cupid, though all his darts were lost, For visits, ombre, balls, and plays.)
Yet still resolv'd to spare no cost: Thus, to the world's perpetual shame,
He could not answer to his fame The Queen of Beauty lost her aim;
The triumphs of that stubborn dame, Too late with grief she understood,
A nymph so hard to be subdued, Pallas had done more harm than good :
Who neither was coquette nor prude. For great examples are but vain,
I find, said he, she wants a doctor, Where ignorance begets disdain.
Both to adore her, and instruct her: Both sexes, arm'd with guilt and spite,
I'll give her what she most admires, Against Vanessa's power unite:
Among those venerable sires. To copy her, few nymphs aspir’d;
Cadenus is a subject fit, Her virtues fewer swains admir'd.
Grown old in politics and wit, So stars beyond a certain height
Caress'd by ministers of state, Give mortals neither heat nor light.
Of half mankind the dread and hate. Yet some of either sex, endow'd
Whate'er vexations love attend, With gifts superior to the crowd,
She need no rivals apprehend. With virtue, knowledge, taste, and wit,
Her sex, with universal voice, She condescended to admit;
Must laugh at her capricious choice, With pleasing art she could reduce
Cadenus many things had writ: Men's talents to their proper use ;
Vanessa much esteem'd his wit,
And call'd for his poetic works:
Said she should be no longer teas'd, Meantime the boy in secret lurks;
Might have her freedom when she pleas'd; And, while the book was in her hand,
Was now convinc'd he acted wrong, The urchin from his private stand
To hide her from the world so long, Took aim, and shot with all his strength
And in dull studies to engage A dart of such prodigious length,
One of her tender sex and age; It pierc'd the feeble volume through,
That every nymph with envy
own'd, And deep transfix'd her bosom too.
How she might shine in the grande monde; Some lines, more moving than the rest,
And every shepherd was undone Stuck to the point that pierc'd her breast,
To see her cloister'd like a nun. And, borne directly to the heart,
This was a visionary scheme : With pains unknown, increas'd her smart.
He wak’d, and found it but a dream; Vanessa, not in years a score,
A project far above his skill; Dreams of a gown of forty-four ;
For nature must be nature still. Imaginary charms can find
If he were bolder than became In eyes with reading almost blind:
A scholar to a courtly dame, Cadenus now no more appears
She might excuse a man of letters ; Declin'd in health, advanc'd in years.
Thus tutors often treat their betters: She fancies music in his tongue ;
And, since his talk offensive grew, No farther looks, but thinks him young.
He came to take his last adieu. What mariner is not afraid
Vanessa, fill'd with just disdain, To venture in a ship decay'd ?
Would still her dignity maintain, What planter will attempt to yoke
Instructed from her early years A sapling with a falling oak?
To scorn the art of female tears. As years increase, she brighter shines:
Had he employed his time so long Cadenus with each day declines :
To teach her what was right and wrong; And he must fall a prey to time,
Yet could such notions entertain While she continues in her prime.
That all his lectures were in vain? Cadenus, common forms a part,
She own'd the wandering of her thoughts; In every scene had kept his heart;
But he must answer for her faults. Had sigh'd and languish’d, vow'd and writ,
She well remember'd, to her cost, For pastime, or to show his wit.
That all his lessons were not lost. But books, and time, and state affairs,
Two maxims she could still produce, Had spoil'd his fashionable airs :
And sad experience taught their use : He now could praise, esteem, approve,
That virtue, pleas'd by being shown, But understood not what was love.
Knows nothing which it dares not own; His conduct might have made him styl'd
Can inake us without fear disclose A father, and the nymph his child.
Our inmost secrets to our foes: That innocent delight he took
That common forms were not design'd To see the virgin mind her book,
Directors to a noble mind. Was but the master's secret joy
Now, said the nymph, to let you see In school to hear the finest boy.
My actions with your rules agree; Her knowledge with her fancy grew;
That I can vulgar forms despise, She hourly press'd for something new;
And have no secrets to disguise : Ideas came into her mind
I knew, by what you said and writ, So fast, his lessons lagg'd behind;
How dangerous things were men of wit; She reason'd, without plodding long,
You caution’d me against their charms, Nor ever gave her judgment wrong.
But never gave me equal arms; But now a sudden change was wrought:
Your lessons found the weakest part, She minds no longer what he taught.
Aim'd at the head, but reach'd the heart. Cadenus was amaz’d, to find
Cadenus felt within him rise Such marks of a distracted mind:
Shame, disappointment, guilt, surprise. For though she seem'd to listen more
He knew not how to reconcile To all he spoke, than e'er before,
Such language with her usual style: He found her thoughts would absent range,
And yet her words were so exprest, Yet guess'd not whence could spring the change. He could not hope she spoke in jest. And first he modestly conjectures
His thoughts had wholly been confin’d His pupil might be tir’d with lectures ;
To form and cultivate her mind. Which help'd to mortify his pride,
He hardly knew, till he was told, Yet gave him not the heart to chide:
Whether the nymph were young or old ; But in a mild dejected strain,
Had met her in a public place, At last he ventured to complain ;
Without distinguishing her face:
Much less could his declining age
Hardly at length he silence broke,
But, not to dwell on things minute,
How would it be esteem'd and read,
Love can with speech inspire a mute,
Cadenus, who could ne'er suspect
'Tis an old maxim in the schools, That flattery's the food of fools/