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This said, she plucks in Heaven's high bowers
A sprig of amaranthine flowers,
In nectar thrice infuses bays,
Three times refin'd in Titan's rays;
Then calls the Graces to her aid,
And sprinkles thrice the new-born maid :
From whence the tender skin assumes
A sweetness above all perfumes :
From whence a cleanliness remains
Incapable of outward stains :
From whence that decency of mind,
So lovely in the female kind,
Where not one careless thought intrudes,
Less modest than the speech of prudes;
Where never blush was call'd in aid,
That spurious virtue in a maid,
A virtue but at second-hand;
They blush because they understand.
The Graces next would act their part,
And show'd but little of their art;
Their work was half already done,
The child with native beauty shone;
The outward form no help requir'd :
Each, breathing on her thrice, inspir'd
That gentle, soft, engaging air,
Which in old times adorn'd the fair :
And said, “ Vanessa be the name
By which thou shalt be known to fame;
Vanessa, by the gods inroll’d:
Her name on Earth shall not be told."
But still the work was not complete;
When Venus thought on a deceit,
Drawn by her doves, away she flies,
And finds out Pallas in the skies.
“ Dear Pallas, I have been this morn
To see a lovely infant born ;
A boy in yonder isle below,
So like my own without his bow,
By beauty could your heart be won,
You 'd swear it is Apollo's son:
But it shall ne'er be said a child
So hopeful has by me been spoil'd;
I have enough besides to spare,
And give him wholly to your care.”
Wisdom 's above suspecting wiles :
The queen of learning gravely smiles,
Down from Olympus comes with joy,
Mistakes Vanessa for a boy;
Then sows within her tender mind
Seeds long unknown to woman-kind;
For manly bosoms chiefly fit,
The seeds of knowledge, judgment, wit.
Her soul was suddenly endued
With justice, truth, and fortitude;
With honour, which no breath can stain,
Which malice must attack in vain ;
With open heart and bounteous hand.
But Pallas here was at a stand ;
She knew, in our degenerate days,
Bare virtue could not live on praise;
That meat must be with money bought:
She therefore, upon second thought,
Infus'd, yet as it were by stealth,
Some small regard for state and wealth;
Of which, as she grew up, there staid
A tincture in the prudent maid :
She manag'd her estate with care,
Yet lik'd three footmen to her chair.
But, lest he should neglect his studies
Like a young heir, the thrifty goddess
(For fear young master should be spoil'd)
Would use him like a younger child ;
And, after long computing, found
'Twould come to just five thousand pound.
The queen of love was pleas'd, and proud,
To see Vanessa thus endow'd:
She doubted not but such a dame
Through every breast would dart a flame;
That every rich and lordly swain
With pride would drag about her chain;
That scholars would forsake their books,
To study bright Vanessa's looks;
As she advanc'd, that woman-kind
Would by her model form their mind,
And all their conduct would be try'd
By her, as an unerring guide;
Offending daughters oft would hear
Vanessa's praise rung in their ear :
Miss Betty, when she does a fault,
Lets fall her knife, or spills the salt,
Will thus be by her mother chid,
« 'Tis what Vanessa never did!”
“ Thus by the nymphs and swains ador'd,
My power shall be again restor’d,
And happy lovers bless my reign_"
So Venus hop'd, but hop'd in vain.
For when in time the martial maid Found out the trick that Venus play'd, She shakes her helm, she knits her brows, And, fir'd with indignation, vows, To-morrow, ere the setting sun, She 'd all undo that she had done.
But in the poets we may find: A wholesome law, time out of mind, Had been confirm'd by fate's decree, That gods, of whatsoe’er degree, Resume 'not what themselves have given, Or any brother-god in Heaven; Which keeps the peace among the gods, Or they must always be at odds : And Pallas, if she broke the laws, Must yield her foe the stronger cause; A shame to one so much ador'd For wisdom at Jove's council-board. Besides, she fear'd the queen of love Would meet with better friends above, And though she must with grief reflect, To see a mortal virgin deck'd With graces hitherto unknown To female breasts, except her own; Yet she would act as best became A goddess of unspotted fame. She knew, by augury divine, Venus would fail in her design : She study'd well the point, and found Her foe's conclusions were not sound, From premises erroneous brought ; And therefore the deduction 's nought,
And must have contrary effects
To what her treacherous foe expects.
In proper season Pallas meets
The queen of love, whom thus she greets :
(For gods, we are by Homer told,
Can in celestial language scold :)
“ Perfidious goddess ! but in vain
You form'd this project in your brain ;
A project for thy talents fit,
With much deceit and little wit.
Thou hast, as thou shalt quickly see,
Deceiv'd thyself, instead of me:
For how can heavenly wisdom prove
An instrument to earthly love ?
Know'st thou not yet, that men commence
Thy votaries, for want of sense?
Nor shall Vanessa be the theme
To manage thy abortive scheme:
She 'll prove the greatest of thy foes ;
And yet I scorn to interpose,
But, using neither skill nor force,
Leave all things to their natural course."
The goddess thus pronounc'd her doom : When lo! Vanessa in her bloom Advanc'd, like Atalanta's star, But rarely seen, and seen from far : In a new world with caution stept, Watch'd all the company she kept, Well knowing, from the books she read, What dangerous paths young virgins tread : Would seldom at the park appear, Nor saw the play-house twice a year ;