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INSCRIBED TO THE RIGHT HON. THE LADY ELIZABETH
Interdum tamen et tollit comedia vocem.
I sought a patroness, but sought in vain.
Ye fair! to draw your excellence åt length,
Lavinia is polite, but not profane ;
She decently, in form, pays Heaven its due ;
Acquainted with the world, and quite well-bred,
Those charms are greatest which decline the sight, That makes the banquet poignant and polite. There is no woman, where there's no reserve ; And 't is on plenty your poor lovers starve. But with a modern fair, meridian merit Is a fierce thing, they call a nymph of spirit. Mark well the rollings of her flaming eye ; And tread on tiptoe, if you dare draw nigh. “ Or if you take a lion by the beard *, Or dare defy the fell Hyrcanian pard,
Or arm'd rhinoceros, or rough Russian bear,"
Flavia is constant to her old gallant,
She's faithful, she 's observant, and with pains
Amasia hates a prude, and scorns restraint;
So gay her air, her conduct is so free,
Some might suspect the nymph not over-good.·
Her cushion 's thread-bare with her constant prayers.
Her only grief is, that she cannot be
At once engag'd in prayer and charity.
If no disease reduce her pride before,
Lucia thinks happiness consists in state ;
The goods of fortune, which her soul possess, Are but the ground of unmade happiness ; The rude material : wisdom add to this, Wisdom, the sole artificer of bliss ; She from herself, if so compellid by need, Of thin content can draw the subtle thread ; But (no detraction to her sacred skill) If she can work in gold, 't is better still.
If Tullia had been blest with half her sense, None could too much admire her excellence : But since she can make errour shine so bright, She thinks it vulgar to defend the right. With understanding she is quite o'er-run ; And by too great accomplishments undone : With skill she vibrates her eternal tongue, For ever most divinely in the wrong.
Naked in nothing should a woman be; But veil her very wit with modesty : Let men discover, let not her display, But yield her charms of mind with sweet delay.
For pleasure form’d, perversely some believe, To make themselves important, men must grieve. Lesbia the fair, to fire her jealous lord, Pretends, the fop she laughs at, is ador’d. In vain she's proud of secret innocence ; The fact she feigns were scarce a worse offence.
Mira, endow'd with every charm to bless, Has no design, but on her husband's peace : He lov'd her much; and greatly was he mov'd At small inquietudes in her he lov’d. “ How charming this !” - The pleasure lasted long; Now every day the fits come thick and strong : At last he found the charmer only feign'd; And was diverted when he should be pain'd. What greater vengeance have the gods in store ? How tedious life, now she can plague no more ! She tries a thousand arts; but none succeed : She's forc'd a fever to procure indeed; Thus strictly prov'd this virtuous, loving wife, Her husband's pain was dearer than her life.
Anxious Melania rises to my view, Who never thinks her lover pays his due : Visit, present, treat, flatter, and adore ; Her majesty, to-morrow, calls for more. His wounded ears complaints eternal fill, As unoil'd hinges, querulously shrill. “ You went last night with Celia to the ball.” You prove it false. “ Not go! that 's worst of all.” Nothing can please her, nothing not inflame; And arrant contradictions are the same. Her lover must be sad, to please her spleen ; His mirth is an inexpiable sin : For of all rivals that can pain her breast, There's one, that wounds far deeper than the rest ; To wreck her quiet, the most dreadful shelf Is if her lover dares enjoy himself.
And this, because she 's exquisitely fair : Should I dispute her beauty, how she 'd stare !