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_The Female Sex_
Embellished with Engravings
[Illustration: "_Ye wretches, hence the Eagle cries,_
_Printed for Scatchard & Letterman, Ave Maria Lane;
Longman, Hurst, Rees & Orme,
and H.D. Symonds, Paternoster Row.
(Printed by C. Whittingham)
FABLES FOR _THE FEMALE SEX_.
THE EAGLE AND THE ASSEMBLY OF BIRDS.
To her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales.
The moral lay, to beauty due,
I write, FAIR EXCELLENCE, to you;
Well pleas'd to hope my vacant hours
Have been employ'd to sweeten your's.
Truth under fiction I impart,
To weed out folly from the heart,
And shew the paths that lead astray
The wand'ring nymph from wisdom's way.
I flatter none. The great and good
Are by their actions understood;
Your monument if actions raise,
Shall I deface by idle praise?
I echo not the voice of Fame;
That dwells delighted on your name:
Her friendly tale, however true,
Were flatt'ry, if I told it you.
The proud, the envious, and the vain,
The jilt, the prude, demand my strain;
To these, detesting praise, I write,
And vent in charity my spite:
With friendly hand I hold the glass
To all, promiscuous, as they pass:
Should folly there her likeness view,
I fret not that the mirror's true;
If the fantastic form offend,
I made it not, but would amend.
_With friendly hand I hold the glass
To all promiscuous, as they pass;_
_London: Published May 1st 1799 by T. Heptinstall. No. 304 High Holborn._]
Virtue, in ev'ry clime and age,
Spurns at the folly-soothing page;
While satire, that offends the ear
Of vice and passion, pleases her.
Premising this, your anger spare;
And claim the fable you who dare.
The BIRDS in place, by faction press'd,
To JUPITER their pray'rs address'd;
By specious lies the state was vex'd,
Their counsels libellers perplex'd;
They begg'd (to stop seditious tongues)
A gracious hearing of their wrongs.
JOVE grants their suit. The EAGLE sate,
Decider of the grand debate.
The PYE, to trust and pow'r preferr'd,
Demands permission to be heard.
Says he, 'Prolixity of phrase
You know I hate. This libel says,
"Some birds there are, who, prone to noise,
Are hir'd to silence WISDOM'S voice;
And, skill'd to chatter out the hour,
Rise by their emptiness to pow'r."
That this is aim'd direct at me,
No doubt, you'll readily agree:
Yet well this sage assembly knows,
By parts to government I rose;
My prudent counsels prop the state;
MAGPIES were never known to prate.'
The KITE rose up. His honest heart
In VIRTUE'S suff'rings bore a part.
That there were birds of prey he knew;
So far the libeller said true,
"Voracious, bold, to rapine prone,
Who knew no int'rest but their own;
Who, hov'ring o'er the farmer's yard,
Nor pigeon, chick, nor duckling spar'd."
This might be true - but if apply'd
To him, in troth, the sland'rer ly'd.
Since IGN'RANCE then might be misled,
Such things, he thought, were best unsaid.
The CROW was vext. As yester-morn
He flew across the new-sown corn,
A screaming boy was set for pay,
He knew, to drive the CROWS away:
SCANDAL had found him out in turn,
And buzz'd abroad - that CROWS love corn.
The OWL arose, with solemn face,
And thus harangu'd upon the case:
'That MAGPIES prate, it may be true;
A KITE may be voracious too;
CROWS sometimes deal in new-sown pease;
He libels not, who strikes at these;
The slander's here - "But there are birds,
Whose wisdom lies in looks, not words;
Blund'rers who level in the dark,
And always shoot beside the mark."
He names not me; but these are hints
Which manifest at whom he squints;
I were indeed that blund'ring fowl,
To question if he meant an OWL.'
"Ye wretches, hence!" the EAGLE cries,
"'Tis conscience, conscience that applies;
The virtuous mind takes no alarm,
Secur'd by innocence from harm;
While GUILT, and his associate, FEAR,
Are startled at the passing air."
THE PANTHER, HORSE, AND OTHER BEASTS.
The man who seeks to win the fair,
(So custom says) must truth forbear;
Must fawn and flatter, cringe and lie,
And raise the goddess to the sky;
For truth is hateful to her ear,
A rudeness which she cannot bear -
A rudeness? - Yes, - I speak my thoughts,
For truth upbraids her with her faults.
How wretched, CHLOE, then am I,
Who love you, and yet cannot lie;
And still, to make you less my friend,
I strive your errors to amend!
But shall the senseless fop impart
The softest passion to your heart,
While he who tells you honest truth,
And points to happiness your youth,
Determines, by his cares, his lot,
And lives neglected and forgot?
Trust me, my dear, with greater ease,
Your taste for flatt'ry I could please.
And similes in each dull line,
Like glow-worms in the dark, should shine.
What if I say your lips disclose
The freshness of the op'ning rose?
Or that your cheeks are beds of flow'rs,
Enripen'd by refreshing show'rs?
Yet certain as these flow'rs shall fade,
Time ev'ry beauty will invade.
The BUTTERFLY of various hue,
More than the flow'r, resembles you:
Fair, flutt'ring, fickle, busy thing,
To pleasure ever on the wing,
Gayly coquetting for an hour,
To die, and ne'er be thought of more.
Would you the bloom of youth should last?
'Tis virtue that must bind it fast;
An easy carriage, wholly free
From sour reserve, or levity;
Good-natur'd mirth, an open heart,
And looks unskill'd in any art;
Humility, enough to own
The frailties which a friend makes known;
And decent pride, enough to know
The worth that virtue can bestow.
These are the charms which ne'er decay,
Tho' youth and beauty fade away;
And time, which all things else removes,
Still heightens virtue and improves.
You'll frown, and ask to what intent
This blunt address to you is sent;
I'll spare the question, and confess
I'd praise you, if I lov'd you less;
But rail, be angry, or complain,
I will be rude, while you are vain.
Beneath a LION'S peaceful reign,
When beasts met friendly on the plain,
A PANTHER, of majestic port,
(The vainest female of the court)
With spotted skin, and eyes of fire,
Fill'd ev'ry bosom with desire;
Where'er she mov'd, a servile crowd
Of fawning creatures cring'd and bow'd;
Assemblies ev'ry week she held,
(Like modern belles) with coxcombs fill'd,
Where noise and nonsense, and grimace,
And lies and scandal, fill'd the place.
Behold the gay, fantastic thing,
Encircled by the spacious ring;
Low-bowing, with important look,
As first in rank, the MONKEY spoke:
"Gad take me, madam! but I swear
No angel ever look'd so fair - -
Forgive my rudeness, but, I vow,
You were not quite divine till now;
Those limbs! that shape! and then those eyes,
O close them, or the gazer dies!"
'Nay, gentle PUG, for goodness hush,
I vow and swear you make me blush;
I shall be angry at this rate - -
'Tis so like flatt'ry, which I hate.'
The FOX, in deeper cunning vers'd,
The beauties of her mind rehears'd,
And talk'd of knowledge, taste, and sense,
To which the fair have most pretence;
Yet well he knew them always vain
Of what they strive not to attain,
And play'd so cunningly his part,
That PUG was rival'd in his art.
The GOAT avow'd his am'rous flame,
And burnt - for what he durst not name;
Yet hop'd a meeting in the wood
Might make his meaning understood.
Half angry at the bold address,
She frown'd; but yet she must confess,
Such beauties might inflame his blood;
But still his phrase was somewhat rude.
The HOG her neatness much admir'd;
The formal ASS her swiftness fir'd;
While all to feed her folly strove,
And by their praises shar'd her love.
The HORSE, whose gen'rous heart disdain'd
Applause by servile flatt'ry gain'd,
With graceful courage silence broke,
And thus with indignation spoke:
_From public view her charms will screen
And rarely in the crowd be seen_
_London: Published by Scatcherd & Letterman, Ave Maria Lane._]
"When flatt'ring MONKEYS fawn and prate,
They justly raise contempt, or hate;
For merit's turn'd to ridicule,
Applauded by the grinning fool.
The artful FOX your wit commends,
To lure you to his selfish ends;
From the vile flatt'rer turn away,
For knaves make friendship to betray.
Dismiss the train of fops and fools,
And learn to live by wisdom's rules.
Such beauties might the LION warm,
Did not your folly break the charm;
For who would court that lovely shape,
To be the rival of an APE?"
He said; and snorting in disdain,
Spurn'd at the crowd, and sought the plain.
THE NIGHTINGALE AND GLOW-WORM.
The prudent nymph, whose cheeks disclose
The lily and the blushing rose,
From public view her charms will skreen,
And rarely in the crowd be seen:
This simple truth shall keep her wise,
"The fairest fruits attract the flies."
One night a GLOW-WORM, proud and vain,
Contemplating her glitt'ring train,
Cry'd sure there never was in nature,
So elegant, so fine a creature;
All other insects that I see,
The frugal ANT, industrious BEE,
Or SILK-WORM, with contempt I view;
With all that low, mechanic crew,
Who servilely their lives employ
In business, enemy to joy.
Mean, vulgar herd! ye are my scorn,
For grandeur only I was born;
Or sure am sprung from race divine,
And plac'd on earth to live and shine.
Those lights, that sparkle so on high,
Are but the GLOW-WORMS of the sky;
And kings on earth their gems admire,
Because they imitate my fire.
She spoke. Attentive on a spray,
A NIGHTINGALE forbore his lay;
He saw the shining morsel near,
And flew, directed by the glare;
Awhile he gaz'd with sober look,
And thus the trembling prey bespoke:
Deluded fool, with pride elate,
Know, 'tis thy beauty brings thy fate;
Less dazzling, long thou might'st have lain,
Unheeded on the velvet plain;
Pride, soon or late, degraded mourns,
And beauty wrecks whom she adorns.
HYMEN AND DEATH.
Sixteen, d'ye say? Nay, then 'tis time;
Another year destroys your prime.
But stay - The settlement? "That's made?"
Why then's my simple girl afraid?
Yet hold a moment, if you can,
And heedfully the fable scan.
The shades were fled, the morning blush'd,
The winds were in their caverns hush'd,
When HYMEN, pensive and sedate,
Held o'er the fields his musing gait,
Behind him, thro' the green-wood shade,
DEATH'S meagre form the GOD survey'd,
Who quickly with gigantic stride,
Out-went his pace, and join'd his side.
The chat on various subjects ran,
Till angry HYMEN thus began:
"Relentless DEATH, whose iron sway
Mortals reluctant must obey,
Still of thy pow'r shall I complain,
And thy too partial hand arraign?
When CUPID brings a pair of hearts,
All over struck with equal darts,
Thy cruel shafts my hopes deride,
And cut the knot that HYMEN ty'd.
"Shall not the bloody, and the bold,
The miser, hoarding up his gold,
The harlot, reeking from the stew,
Alone thy fell revenge pursue?
But must the gentle, and the kind,
Thy fury, undistinguish'd find?"
The monarch calmly thus reply'd:
'Weigh well the cause, and then decide.
That friend of your's, you lately nam'd,
CUPID, alone, is to be blam'd;
Then let the charge be justly laid;
That idle boy neglects his trade,
And hardly once in twenty years
A couple to your temple bears.
The wretches, whom your office blends,
SILENUS now, or PLUTUS sends;
Hence care, and bitterness, and strife,
Are common to the nuptial life.
'Believe me; more than all mankind,
Your vot'ries my compassion find.
Yet cruel am I call'd, and base,
Who seek the wretched to release;
The captive from his bonds to free,
Indissoluble, but for me.
''Tis I entice him to the yoke;
By me your crowded altars smoke;
For mortals boldly dare the noose,
Secure, that DEATH will set them loose.'
THE POET AND HIS PATRON.
Why, CELIA, is your spreading waist
So loose, so negligently lac'd?
Why must the wrapping bed-gown hide
Your snowy bosom's swelling pride?
How ill that dress adorns your head,
Disdain'd and rumpled from the bed!
Those clouds, that shade your blooming face,
A little water might displace,
As NATURE every morn bestows
The crystal dew to cleanse the rose.
Those tresses, as the raven black,
That wav'd in ringlets down your back,
Uncomb'd, and injur'd by neglect,
Destroy the face which once they deck'd.
Whence this forgetfulness of dress!
Pray, madam, are you married? Yes.
Nay! then indeed the wonder ceases,
No matter now how loose your dress is;
The end is won, your fortune's made,
Your sister now may take the trade.
Alas! what pity 'tis to find
This fault in half the female kind!
From hence proceed aversion, strife,
And all that sours the wedded life.
BEAUTY can only point the dart,
'Tis NEATNESS guides it to the heart;
Let NEATNESS then, and BEAUTY strive
To keep a wav'ring flame alive.
'Tis harder far (you'll find it true)
To keep the conquest than subdue;
Admit us once behind the screen,
What is there farther to be seen?
A newer face may raise the flame,
But ev'ry woman is the same.
Then study chiefly to improve
The charm that fix'd your husband's love;
Weigh well his humour. Was it dress
That gave your beauty pow'r to bless?
Pursue it still; be neater seen,
'Tis always frugal to be clean;
So shall you keep alive desire,
And TIME'S swift wing shall fan the fire.
In garret high (as stories say)
A POET sung his tuneful lay;
So soft, so smooth his verse, you'd swear
APOLLO and the MUSES there;
Through all the town his praises rung,
His sonnets at the playhouse sung;
High waving o'er his lab'ring head,
The goddess WANT her pinions spread,
And with poetic fury fir'd,
What PHOEBUS faintly had inspir'd.
A noble youth, of taste and wit,
Approv'd the sprightly things he writ,
And sought him in his cobweb dome,
Discharg'd his rent, and brought him home.
Behold him at the stately board,
Who but the POET and my LORD!
Each day deliciously he dines,
And greedy quaffs the gen'rous wines;
His sides were plump, his skin was sleek,
And PLENTY wanton'd on his cheek;
Astonish'd at the change so new,
Away th' inspiring goddess flew.
Now, dropt for politics and news,
Neglected lay the drooping MUSE,
Unmindful whence his fortune came,
He stifled the poetic flame;
Nor tale nor sonnet, for my lady,
Lampoon, nor epigram was ready.
With just contempt his PATRON saw,
(Resolv'd his bounty to withdraw)
And thus, with anger in his look,
The late-repenting fool bespoke: -
"Blind to the good that courts thee grown,
Whence has the sun of favour shone?
Delighted with thy tuneful art,
Esteem was growing in my heart,
But idly thou reject'st the charm
That gave it birth, and kept it warm.
Unthinking fools alone despise
The arts that taught them first to rise."
THE WOLF, THE SHEEP, AND THE LAMB.
Duty demands the parent's voice
Should sanctify the daughter's choice;
In that is due obedience shewn;
To choose belongs to her alone.
May horror seize his midnight hour
Who builds upon a parent's pow'r,
And claims, by purchase vile and base,
The loathing maid for his embrace;
Hence virtue sickens, and the breast,
Where peace had built her downy nest,
Becomes the troubled seat of care,
And pines with anguish and despair.
A WOLF, rapacious, rough, and bold,
Whose nightly plunders thinn'd the fold,
Contemplating his ill-spent life,
And cloy'd with thefts, would take a wife.
His purpose known, the savage race
In num'rous crouds attend the place;
For why, a mighty WOLF he was,
And held dominion in his jaws.
Her fav'rite whelp each mother brought,
And humbly his alliance sought;
But cold by age, or else too nice,
None found acceptance in his eyes.
It happen'd, as at early dawn,
He, solitary, cross'd the lawn,
Stray'd from the fold, a sportive LAMB
Skip'd wanton by her fleecy DAM;
When CUPID, foe to man and beast,
Discharg'd an arrow at his breast.
The tim'rous breed the robber knew,
And trembling o'er the meadow flew;
Their nimblest speed the WOLF o'ertook,
And, courteous, thus the DAM bespoke:
Stay, fairest, and suspend your fear,
Trust me, no enemy is near;
These jaws, in slaughter oft imbru'd,
At length have known enough of blood,
And kinder business brings me now,
Vanquish'd, at beauty's feet to bow.
You have a daughter - Sweet, forgive
A WOLF'S address - In her I live;
Love from her eye like lightning came,
And set my marrow all on flame;
Let your consent confirm my choice,
And ratify our nuptial joys.
Me ample wealth and pow'r attend,
Wide o'er the plains my realms extend;
What midnight robber dare invade
The fold, if I the guard am made?
At home the shepherd's cur may sleep,
While I secure his master's sheep.
Discourse like his attention claim'd;
Grandeur the MOTHER'S breast inflam'd;
Now fearless by his side she walk'd,
Of settlements and jointures talk'd;
Propos'd and doubled her demands,
Of flow'ry fields and turnip lands.
The WOLF agrees. - Her bosom swells;
To MISS her happy fate she tells;
And, of the grand alliance vain,
Contemns her kindred of the plain.
The loathing LAMB with horror hears,
And wearies out her DAM with pray'rs,
But all in vain; mamma best knew
What unexperienc'd girls should do:
So, to a neighb'ring meadow carry'd,
A formal ass the couple marry'd.
Torn from the tyrant-mother's side,
The trembler goes, a victim-bride;
Reluctant meets the rude embrace,
And bleats among the howling race.
With horror oft her eyes behold
Her murder'd kindred of the fold;
Each day a sister-lamb is serv'd,
And at the glutton's table carv'd;
The crashing bones he grinds for food,
And slakes his thirst with streaming blood.
Love, who the cruel mind detests,
And lodges but in gentle breasts,
Was now no more. - Enjoyment past,
The savage hunger'd for the feast;
But (as we find in human race,
A mask conceals the villain's face)
Justice must authorize the treat:
Till then he long'd, but durst not eat.
As forth he walk'd, in quest of prey,
The hunters met him on the way;
Fear wings his flight; the marsh he sought,
The snuffing dogs are set at fault.
His stomach baulk'd, now hunger gnaws,
Howling he grinds his empty jaws;
Food must be had - and lamb is nigh;
His maw invokes the fraudful lie.
Is this, dissembling rage, he cry'd,
The gentle virtue of a bride?
That, leagu'd with man's destroying race,
She sets her husband for the chase?
By treach'ry prompts the noisy hound
To scent his footsteps o'er the ground?
Thou trait'ress vile, for this thy blood
Shall glut my rage, and dye the wood!
So saying, on the LAMB he flies:
Beneath his jaws the victim dies.
THE GOOSE AND THE SWANS.
I hate the face, however fair,
That carries an affected air;
The lisping tone, the shape constrain'd,
The study'd look, the passion feign'd,
Are fopperies, which only tend
To injure what they strive to mend.
With what superior grace enchants
The face which NATURE'S pencil paints!
Where eyes, unexercis'd in art,
Glow with the meaning of the heart!
Where FREEDOM and GOOD-HUMOUR sit,
And easy GAIETY and WIT!
Though perfect BEAUTY be not there,
The master lines, the finish'd air,
We catch from every look delight,
And grow enamour'd at the sight;
For beauty, though we all approve,
Excites our wonder more than love;
While the agreeable strikes sure,
And gives the wounds we cannot cure.
Why then, my AMORET, this care,
That forms you, in effect, less fair?
If NATURE on your cheek bestows
A bloom that emulates the rose,
Or from some heav'nly image drew
A form APELLES never knew,
Your ill-judg'd aid will you impart,
And spoil by meretricious art?
Or had you, NATURE'S error, come
Abortive from the mother's womb,
Your forming care she still rejects,
Which only heightens her defects.
When such, of glitt'ring jewels proud,
Still press the foremost in the crowd,
At every public shew are seen,
With look awry, and aukward mien,
The gaudy dress attracts the eye,
And magnifies deformity.
_The wretch with thrilling horror shook,
Loose ev'ry joint, and pale his look._
_London: Published by Scatcherd & Letterman, Ave Maria Lane._]
NATURE may underdo her part,
But seldom wants the help of ART;
Trust her, she is your surest friend,
Nor made your form for you to mend.
A GOOSE, affected, empty, vain,
The shrillest of the cackling train,
With proud and elevated crest,
Precedence claim'd above the rest.
Says she, I laugh at human race,
Who say, geese hobble in their pace;
Look here! - the sland'rous lie detect;
Not haughty man is so erect.
That PEACOCK yonder, lord, how vain
The creature's of his gaudy train!
If both were stript, I'd pawn my word,
A GOOSE would be the finer bird.
NATURE, to hide her own defects,
Her bungled work with fin'ry decks;
Were GEESE set off with half that show,
Would men admire the PEACOCK? No.
Thus vaunting, 'cross the mead she stalks,
The cackling breed attend her walks.
The SUN shot down his noontide beams,
The SWANS were sporting in the streams;
Their snowy plumes, and stately pride,
Provoke her spleen. Why, there, she cry'd,
Again what arrogance we see!
Those creatures! how they mimic me!
Shall ev'ry fowl the waters skim,
Because we GEESE are known to swim?
Humility they soon shall learn,
And their own emptiness discern.
So saying, with extended wings,
Lightly upon the wave she springs;
Her bosom swells, she spreads her plumes,
And the SWAN'S stately crest assumes.
Contempt and mockery ensu'd,
And bursts of laughter shook the flood.
A SWAN, superior to the rest,
Sprung forth, and thus the fool address'd:
Conceited thing! elate with pride,
Thy affectation all deride;
These airs thy aukwardness impart,
And shew thee plainly as thou art.
Among thy equals of the flock,
Thou hadst escap'd the public mock.
And, as thy parts to good conduce,
Been deem'd an honest hobbling GOOSE.
Learn hence to study WISDOM'S rules;
Know, foppery's the pride of fools;
And striving NATURE to conceal,
You only her defects reveal.
THE LAWYER AND JUSTICE.
Love; thou divinest good below,
Thy pure delights few mortals know:
Our rebel hearts thy sway disown,
While tyrant LUST usurps thy throne!
The bounteous GOD OF NATURE made
The sexes for each other's aid,
Their mutual talents to employ,
To lessen ills, and heighten joy.
To weaker woman he assign'd
That soft'ning gentleness of mind,
That can by sympathy impart
Its likeness to the roughest heart.
Her eyes with magic pow'r endu'd,
To fire the dull, and awe the rude.
His rosy fingers on her face
Shed lavish ev'ry blooming grace,
And stamp'd (perfection to display)
His mildest image on her clay.
Man, active, resolute, and bold,
He fashion'd in a diff'rent mould;
With useful arts his mind inform'd,
His breast with nobler passions warm'd;
He gave him knowledge, taste, and sense,
And courage for the fair's defence.
Her frame, resistless to each wrong,
Demands protection from the strong;
To man she flies, when fear alarms,
And claims the temple of his arms.