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THERE is nothing in Mr. Pope's works more highly
finished than this Epistle: Yet its success was in no proportion to the pains he took in composing it. Something he chanced to drop in a short advertisement prefixed to it, on its first publication, may perhaps account for the small attention given to it. He said that no one character in it was drawn from the life. The public believed him on his word, and expressed little curiosity about a Satire, in which there was nothing perfonal.
OTHING so true as what you once let fall,
“ Most Women have no Characters at all.” Matter too soft a lasting mark to bear, And best distinguish'd by black, brown, or fair.
How many pictures of one Nymph we view, 5 All how unlike each other, all how true! Arcadia's Counters, here, in ermin’d pride, Is there, Pastora by a fountain side. Here Fannia, leering on her own good man, And there, a naked Leda with a Swan.
Let then the fair-one beautifully cry,
15 If Folly grow romantic, I must paint it.
Come then, the colours and the ground prepare !
Rufa, whose eye, quick glancing o'er the Park,
How soft is Silia! fearful to offend;
Papillia, wedded to her amorous spark, Sighs for the shades_“ How charming is a Park !” A Park is purchas'd, but the Fair he sees All bath'd in tears--- Oh odious, odious Trees !” 40
Ladies, like variegated Tulips, show, 'Tis to their Changes half their charms we owe; Fine by defect, and delicately weak, Their happy Spots the nice admirer take. 'Twas thus Calypso once each heart alarm’d, 45 Aw'd without Virtue, without Beauty charm'd; Her Tongue bewitch'd as oddly as her Eyes, Less Wit than Mimic, more a Wiç than Wife; Strange graces still, and stranger flights the had, Was just not ugly, and was just not mad; Yet ne'er so sure our passion to create, As when she touch'd the brink of all we hate.
Narcissa's nature, tolerably mild, To make a wash, would hardly stew a child; Has ev'n been prov'd to grant a Lover's prayer, 55 And paid a Tradesman once to make him ftare ; Gave alms at Easter, in a Christian trim, And made a Widow happy, for a whim. Why then declare Good-nature is her scorn, When 'tis by that alone she can be born ? Why pique all mortals, yet affect a name? A fool to Pleasure, yet a slave to fame : Now deep in Taylor and the Book of Martyrs, Now drinking Citron with his Grace and Chartres ; Now Conscience chills her, and now Passion burns; 65 And Atheism and Religion take their turns; A very Heathen in the carnal part, Yet still a sad, good Christian at her heart.
See Sin in State, majestically drunk; Proud as a Peeress, prouder as a Punk ;
Chaste to her Husband, frank to all beside,
Flavia’s a Wit, has too much sense to pray ; To toast our wants and wishes, is her way; Nor alks of God, but of her Stars, to give The mighty blessing, “ while we live, to live.” ୨୦ Then all for Death, that Opiate of the soul ! Lucretia's dagger, Rofamonda's bowl. Say, what can cause such impotence of mind ? A Spark too fickle, or a Spouse too kind. Wife Wretch! with pleasures too refin’d to please ; 95 With too much Spirit to be e'er at ease;
Ver. 77. What has not fir’d, &c.] In the MS.
In whose mad brain the mixt ideas roll, : Of Tall-boy's breeches, and of Cæsar's soul.
With too much Quickness ever to be taught;
Turn then from Wits ; and look on Simo's Mate,
105 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, Ratafie and Tears, The daily Anodyne, and nightly Draught, To kill those foes to Fair-ones, Time and Thought. Woman and Fool are two hard things to hit; For true No-meaning puzzles more than Wit.
But what are these to great Atossa's mind ? 115 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 the hates and ridicules. No Thought advances, but her Eddy Brain Whisks it about, and down it goes again.
After ver. 122. in the MS.
Oppress'd with wealth and wit, abundance sad!