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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
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 ?
Scarce once herself, by turns all woman-kind!
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 mist her, and the scandal hit.
Who breaks with her, provokes revenge from
But he's a bolder man who dares be well.
Her every turn with violence pursued,
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 dependant ? 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 unknown descends th' unguarded store,
Or wanders, Heaven-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, Heaven, 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 Heaven 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 show 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 :
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
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.
But grant, in public, men sometimes are shown,
A woman's seen in private life alone :
Our bolder talents in full life 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, only 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 foreign glory, foreign joy, they roam ;
No thought of peace or happiness at home.
But 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 hags 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 dy'd.
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!
Ah! friend! to dazzle let the vain design;
To raise the thought, and touch the heart, be thine !
That charm shall grow, while 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,