Page images
PDF
EPUB

Some wand’ring touches, some reflected light,
Some flying stroke alone can hit 'em right:
For how could equal colours do the knack?

155 Cameleons who can paint in white and black ?

“ Yet Cloe sure was form’d without a spot. Nature in her then err'd not, but forgot. “ With ev'ry pleasing, ev'ry prudent part,

159
Say, what can Cloe want?”-She wants a heart. Fontottle
She speaks, behaves, and acts, just as she ought;
But never, never, reach'd one gen'rous Thought.
Virtue she finds too painful an endeavour,
Content to dwell in Decencies for ever.
So very reasonable, so unmov'd,

165
As never yet to love, or to be lov’d.
She, while her Lover pants upon her breast,
Can mark the figures on an Indian chest:
And when she sees her Friend in deep despair,
Observes how much a Chintz exceeds Mohair. 170
Forbid it, Heav'n, a Favour or a Debt
She e'er should cancel !—but she may forget.
Safe is your Secret still in Cloe's ear;
But none of Cloe's shall you ever hear.
Of all her Dears she never slander'd one, 175
But cares not if a thousand are undone.
Would Cloe know if you're alive or dead?
She bids her Footman put it in her head.

NOTES.

every five

years, so many new and unimaginable female characters (I am afraid she said foibles and follies) daily arise.

Ver. 159. With ev'ry pleasing,] “ These two lines,” Lord Huntingdon one day said to me, “ exactly paint the character of my old friend, Fontenelle.” Tacitus says, that Galba was rather without vices than really virtuous.

Cloe is prudent-Would you too be wise ?
Then never break your heart when Cloe dies. 180

One certain Portrait may (I grant) be seen,
Which Heav'n has varnish'd out, and made a Queen :
THE SAME FOR EVER! and describ’d by all
With Truth and Goodness, as with Crown and Ball.
Poets heap Virtues, Painters Gems at will, 185
And shew 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 struts and swells,
None see what Parts of Nature it conceals : 190
Th’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

195 To draw the Man who loves his God, or King: Alas ! I copy (or my draught would fail) From honest Mah’met, or plain Parson Hale.

VARIATIONS.

for my

After Ver. 198 in the MS.

Fain I'd in Fulvia spy the tender Wife;
I cannot prove
it on her,

life :
And, for a noble pride, I blush no less,
Instead of Berenice to think on Bess.
Thus while immortal Cibber only sings
(As * and H**y preach) for queens and kings,
The nymph, that ne'er read Milton's mighty line,
May, if she love, and merit verse, have mine.

*

NOTES.

Ver. 180. when Cloe dies.] This highly-finished portrait was intended for Lady Suffolk, with whom, at the time he wrote it, he But grant, in Public, Men sometimes are shown, A Woman's seen in private Life alone:

200 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,

NOTES.

lived in a state of intimacy. At ver. 178 he alludes to a particular circumstance: Pope, being at dinner with her, heard her order her footman to put her in mind to send to know how Mrs. Blount, who was ill, had passed the night.

Ver. 190. conceals :) A bad rhyme to swells. Such blemishes should be noted.

Ver. 198. Mah’met, servant to the late King, said to be the son of a Turkish Bassa, whom he took at the siege of Buda, and constantly kept about his person. P.

Ver. 198. Dr. Stephen Hale ; not more estimable for his useful discoveries as a natural Philosopher, than for his exemplary life and pastoral charity as a parish priest. W.

Ver. 199. But grant, in Public, &c.] In the former Editions, between this and the foregoing lines, a want of Connexion might be perceived, occasioned by the omission of certain Examples and Illustrations to the Maxims laid down; and though some of these have since been found, viz. the Characters of Philomedé, Atossa, Cloe, and some verses following, others are still wanting, nor can we answer that these are exactly inserted. · P.

Ver. 201. light display'd ;] That is, are displayed.

Ver. 202. Your Virtues open] To balance the many severe things our Author has said of Women in this Epistle, I cannot forbear adding a passage from a writer who has been usually thought by no means a friend to the fair sex. And it may occasion surprise to find such a passage from Dean Swift. degeneracy of conversation, with the pernicious consequences thereof upon our humours and dispositions, hath been owing, among other causes, to the custom arisen, for some time past, of excluding women from any share in our society, farther than in parties at play, or dancing, or in the pursuit of an amour. I take the highest period of Politeness in England (and it is of

66 The

205

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;

VARIATIONS.

Ver. 207 in the first Edition,

In sev'ral Men, we sev'ral Passions find;
In Women, two almost divide the Kind.

NOTES.

the same date in France) to have been the peaceable part of King Charles the First's reign ; and from what we read of those times, as well as from the accounts I have formerly met with from some who lived in that court, the methods then used for raising and cultivating conversation were altogether different from ours; several ladies, whom we find celebrated by the poets of that age, had assemblies at their houses, where persons of the best understanding, and of both sexes, met to pass the evenings in discoursing upon whatever agreeable subjects were occasionally started; and although we are apt to ridicule the sublime platonic notions they had, or personated, in love and friendship, I conceive their refinements were grounded upon reason, and that a little grain of the romance is no ill ingredient to preserve and exalt the dignity of human nature, without which it is apt to degenerate into every thing that is sordid, vicious, and low. If there were no other use in the conversation of ladies, it is sufficient that it would lay a restraint upon those odious topics of immodesty and indecencies into which the rudeness of our northern genius is so apt to fall.”

Ver. 203. Bred to disguise, in Public 'tis you hide ;] There is something apparently exceptionable in the turn of this assertion, which makes their disguising in public the natural effect of their being bred to disguise : but if we consider that female education is the art of teaching, not to be but to appear, we shall have no reason to find fault with the exactness of the expression. W.

Ver. 207. The former part having shewn, that the particular Characters of Women are more various than those of Men, it is nevertheless observed, that the general Characteristic of the sex, as to the ruling Passion, is more uniform. P.

Ver. 208. In Women, two] I cannot think our Author would

Those, only fix'd, they first or last obey,
The Love of Pleasure, and the Love of Sway. 210

That, Nature gives; and where the lesson taught
Is but to please, can Pleasure seem a fault?
Experience, this; by Man's oppression curst,
They seek the second not to lose the first.

Men, some to Bus’ness, some to Pleasure take; But ev'ry Woman is at heart a Rake:

216 Men, some to Quiet, some to public Strife; But ev'ry Lady would be Queen for Life.

Yet mark the fate of a whole sex of Queens ! Pow'r all their end, but Beauty all the means : 220 In Youth they conquer, with so wild a rage, As leaves them scarce a subject in their Age:

NOTES.

suffer by a minute comparison of this Epistle with the most shining and applauded morsels of the tenth satire of Boileau, which undoubtedly are his portraits of the affected female Pedant, ver. 439. The Gamester, ver. 215. His Jealous Lady, ver. 378. The Haughty Lady of Family, ver. 470. And above all, what Boileau himself valued most, the Devout Lady and her Director, ver. 558. Boileau was severely attacked for this epistle by Perrault; but was powerfully defended by the great Arnauld, a rigid moralist, and also by La Bruyere.

Ver. 211. This is occasioned partly by their Nature, partly by their Education, and in some degree by Necessity. P.

Ver. 216. But ev'ry Woman is at heart a Rake:) This line has given offence: but in behalf of the Poet we may observe, that what he says amounts only to this, “Some men take to business, some to pleasure; but every woman would willingly make pleasure her business ;" which being the proper periphrasis of a Rake, he uses that word, but of course includes in it no more of the Rake's ill qualities than is implied in this definition, of one who makes pleasure her business. W.

Ver. 219. What are the Aims and the Fate of this sex.-I. As to power. P.

« PreviousContinue »