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You purchase pain with all that joy can give,
And die of nothing but a rage to live.
Turn then from wits, and look on Simo's mate;
No ass so meek, no ass so obstinate ;
Or her that owns her faults but never mends,
Because she's honest and the best of friends
; Or her whose life the church and scandal share, For ever in a passion or a prayer ; Or her who laughs at hell, but (like her grace) Cries,“ Ah! how charming if there's no such place!" Or who in sweet vicissitude appears Of mirth and opium, ratifie and tears, The daily anodyne and nightly draught, To kill those foes to fair-ones, time and thought. Woman and fool are too hard things to hit; For true no meaning puzzles more than wit.
But what are these to great Atossa's mind? Scarce once herself, by turns all womankind ? Who with herself, or others, from her birth Finds all her life one warfare upon earth; Shines in exposing knaves and painting fools, Yet is whate'er she hates and ridicules : No thought advances, but her eddy brain Whisks it about, and down it goes again. Full sixty years the world has been her trade; The wisest fool much time has ever made. From loveless youth to unrespected age No passion gratify'd except her rage; So much the fury still outran the wit, The pleasure miss'd her, and the scandal hit. Who breaks with her provokes revenge from Hell, But he's a bolder man who dares be well. Her every turn with violence pursu'd, Nor more a storm her hate than gratitude: To that each passion turns or soon or late ; Love if it makes her yield must make her hate. Superiors ? death! and equals ? what a curse! But an inferior not dependent? worse. Offend her, and she knows not to forgive ; Oblige her, and she'll hate you while you live ;
But die, and she'll adore you-then the bust
And temple rise-then fall again to dust.
Last night her lord was all that's good and great ;
A knave this morning, and his will a cheat.
Strange! by the means defeated of the ends,
By spirit robb'd of power, by warmth of friends,
By wealth of followers! without one distress
Sick of herself through very selfishness !
Atossa, curs'd with every granted prayer,
Childless with all her children wants an heir:
To heirs unkpown descends the unguarded store,
Or wanders, Heav'n directed, to the poor.
Pictures like these, dear Madam! to design,
Asks no firm hand and no unerring line;
Some wandering touches, some reflected light,
Some flying stroke, alone can hit them right:
For how should equal colours do the knack ?
Cameleons who can paint in white and black ?
" Yet Chloe sure was form'd without a spot."-
Nature in her then err'd not, but forgot.
" With every pleasing, every prudent part,
Say, what can Chloe want?"-She wants a heart.
She speaks, behaves, and acts, just as she ought,
But never, never, reach'd one generous thought.
Virtue she finds too painful an endeavour,
Content to dwell in decencies for ever.
So very reasonable, so unmov'd,
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.
Forbid it, Heav'n! a favour or a debt
She e'er should cancel !--but she may forget.
Safe is your secret still in Chloe's ear;
But none of Chloe's shall you ever hear.
Of all her dears she never slander'd one,
But cares not if a thousand are undone.
Would Chloe know if you're alive or dead ?
She bids her footman put it in her head. .
Chloe is prudent-Would you too be wise?
Then never break your heart when Chloe dies.
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,
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 :
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, ouly 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 curst,
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 foreigo glory, foreiga joy, they roam; No thought of peace or happiness at home. Bat wisdom's triumph is well-tim'd 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, pursue,
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:
At last, to follies youth could scarce defend,
It grows their age's prudence to pretend ;
Asham'd to own they gave delight before,
Reduc'd to feign it when they give no more.
As bags 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 !
Ab, friend ! to dazzle let the vain design ;
To raise the thought and touch the heart be thine!
That charm shall grow, wbile what fatigues the ring,
Flaunts and goes down an unregarded thing.
So when the sun's broad beam has tir'd the sight,
All mild ascends the moon's more sober light;
Serene in virgin modesty she shines,
And unobserv'd the glaring orb declines.
Oh! 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,
Or, if she rules him, dever shews 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.
Heav'n when it strives to polish all it can
Its last best work, but forms a softer man ;
Picks from each sex to make the favorite blest,
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, art with truth ally'd,
Courage with softness, modesty with pride;
Fix'd principles, with fancy ever new,
Shakes altogether, and produces-you.
Be this a woman's fame; with this unblest,
Toasts live a scorn, and queens may die a jest.
This Phoebus promis'd (I forget the year)
When those blue eyes first open'd on the sphere;
Ascendant Phæbus watch'd that hour with care,
Averted half your parents' simple prayer,
And gave you beauty, but deny'd 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.