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The bending hermit here a prayer begun, “ Lord ! as in Heaven, on Earth thy will be done :" Then gladly turning sought his ancient place, And pass'd a life of piety and peace.
What ancient times (those times we fancy wise)
Have left on long record of woman's rise,
What morals teach it, and what fables hide,
What author wrote it, how that author dy'd,
All these I sing. In Greece they fram'd the tale
(In Greece 'twas thought a woman might be frail);
Ye modern beauties! where the poet drew
His softest pencil, think he dreamt of you;
And, warn'd by him, ye wanton pens beware
How Heaven's concern'd to vindicate the fair.
The case was Hesiod's; he the fable writ;
Some think with meaning, some with idle wit:
Perhaps 'tis either, as the ladies please ;
I wave the contest, and commence the lays,
In days of yore (no matter where or when, 'Twas ere the low creation swarm'd with men) That one Prometheus, sprung of heavenly birth, (Our author's song can witness) liv'd on Earth : He carv'd the turf to mould a manly frame, And stole from Jove his animating flame.
The sly contrivance o'er Olympus ran,
When thus the monarch of the stars began :
“ O versid in arts! whose daring thoughts aspire,
To kindle clay with never-dying fire !
Enjoy thy glory past, that gift was thine ;
The next thy creature meets, be fairly mine:
And such a gift, a vengeance so design’d,
As suits the counsel of a god to find;
A pleasing bosom-cheat, a specious ill,
Which felt the curse, yet covets still to feel."
He said, and Vulcan straight the sire commando To temper mortar with ethereal hands; In such a shape to mould a rising fair, As virgin goddesses are proud to wear ; To make her eyes with diamond-water shine, And form her organs for a voice divine. 'Twas thus the sire ordain'd: the power obey'd; And work'd, and wonder'd at the work he made ; The fairest, softest, sweetest frame beneath, Now made to seem, now more than seem to breathe.
As Vulcan ends, the cheerful queen of charms Clasp'd the new-panting creature in her arms : From that embrace a fine complexion spread, Where mingled whiteness glow'd with softer red. Then in a kiss she breath'd her various arts, Of trifling prettily with wounded hearts; A mind for love, but still a changing mind: The lisp affected, and the glance design'd; The sweet confusing blush, the secret wink, The gentle swimming walk, the courteous sink ; The stare for strangeness fit, for scorn the frown; For decent yielding, looks declining down;
The practis'd languish, where well-feign'd desire
Would own its melting in a mutual fire;
Gay smiles to comfort : April showers to move;
And all the nature, all the art of love.
Gold scepter'd Juno next exalts the fair;
Her touch endows her with imperious air,
Self-valuing fancy, highly-crested pride,
Strong sovereign will, and some desire to chide;
For which, an eloquence, that aims to vex,
With native troops of anger, arms the sex.
Minerva, skilful goddess, train’d the maid
To twirle the spindle by the twisting thread;
To fix the loom, instruct the reeds to part,
Cross the long weft, and close the web with art,
An useful gift; but what profuse expense,
What world of fashions, took its rise from hence !
Young Hermes next, a close contriving god,
Her brows encircled with his serpent rod;
Then plots and fair excuses fill'd her brain,
The views of breaking amorous vows for gain ;
The price of favours; the designing arts
That aim at riches in contempt of hearts;
And, for a comfort in the marriage life,
The little pilfering temper of a wife.
Full on the fair his beams Apollo Aung,
And fond persuasion tipp'd her easy tongue;
He gave her words, where oily flattery lays
The pleasing colours of the art of praise ;
And wit, to scandal exquisitely prone,
Which frets another's spleen to cure its own.
Those sacred Virgins whom the bards revere Tun'd all her voice, and shed a sweetness there,
To make her sense with double charms abound,
Or make her lively nonsense please by sound.
To dress the maid, the decent Graces brought
A robe in all the dies of beauty wrought,
And plac'd their boxes o'er a rich brocade,
Where pictur'd Loves on every cover play'd ;
Then spread those implements that Vulcan's art
Had fram'd to merit Cytherea's heart;
The wire to curl, the close indented comb
To call the locks, that lightly wander, home;
And chief, the mirror, where the ravish'd maid
Beholds and loves her own reflected shade.
Fair Flora lent her stores; the purpled Hours
Confin'd her tresses with a wreath of flowers ;
Within the wreath arose a radiant crown;
A veil pellucid hung depending down;
Back roll'd her azure veil with serpent fold,
The purfled border deck'd the floor with gold.
Her robe (which closely by the girdle brac'd
Reveal'd the beauties of a slender waist)
Flow'd to the feet, to copy Venus' air,
When Venus' statues have a robe to wear.
The new-sprung creature, finish'd thus for harms, Adjusts her habit, practises her charms, With blushes glows, or shines with lively smiles, Confirms her will, or recollects her wiles : Then, conscious of her worth, with easy pace Glides by the glass, and turning views her face.
A finer flax than what they wrought before, Through Time's deep cave, the sister Fates explore, Then fix the loom, their fingers nimbly weave, And thus their toil prophetic songs deceive.
“ Flow from the rock, my flax! and swiftly flow, Pursue thy thread; the spindle runs below. A creature fond and changing, fair and vain, The creature woman, rises now to reign. New beauty blooms, a beauty form’d to fly; New love begins, a love produc'd to die; New parts distress the troubled scenes of life, The fondling mistress, and the ruling wife.
“ Men born to labour, all with pains provide ; Women have time to sacrifice to pride : They want the care of man, their want they know, And dress to please with heart-alluring show; The show prevailing, for the sway contend, And make a servant where they meet a friend.
“ Thus in a thousand wax-erected forts
A loitering race the painful bee supports;
From sun to sun, from bank to bank he flies,
With honey loads his bag, with wax his thighs ;
Fly where he will, at home the race remain,
Prune the silk dress, and murmuring eat the gain.
“ Yet here and there we grant a gentle bride,
Whose temper betters by the father's side;
Unlike the rest that double human care,
Fond to relieve, or resolute to share:
Happy the man whom thus his stars advance !
The curse is general, but the blessing chance."
Thus sung the sisters, while the gods admire
Their beauteous creature, made for man in ire;
The young Pandora she, whom all contend
To make too perfect not to gain her end :
Then bid the winds, that fly to breathe the spring,
Return to bear her on a gentle wing;