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Her tallies useless lie and idle,
If plac'd exactly in the middle;
But forc'd from this unactive state,
By virtue of some casual weight,
On either side you hear them clatter,
And judge of right and left hand matter.
'Now, Richard, this coercive force
Without your choice must take its course.
Great kings to wars are pointed forth,
Like loaded needles to the North,
And thou and I, by power unseen,
Are barely passive, and suck'd in
To Henault's vaults or Celia's chamber,
As straw and paper are by amber.
If we sit down to play or set
(Suppose at Ombre or Basset)
Let people call us cheats or fools,
Our cards and we are equal tools.
We sure in vain the cards condemn;
Ourselves both cut and shuffled them :
In vain on Fortune's aid rely;
She only is a stander-by.
Poor men! poor papers! we and they
Do some impulsive force obey,
And are but play'd with-do not play.
But space and matter we should blame;
They palm'd the trick that lost the game.
Thus to save further contradiction
Against what you may think but fiction,
I for attraction, Dick, declare,
Deny it those bold men that dare.
As well your motion as your thought
Is all by hidden impulse wrought;
Ev'n saying that you think or walk,
How like a country 'squire you talk?
'Mark then ;-Where fancy or desire
Collects the beams of vital fire,
Into that limb fair Alma slides,
And there, pro tempore, resides;
She dwells in Nicolini's tongue,
When Pyrrhus chants the heavenly song;
When Pedro does the lute command,
She guides the cunning artist's hand,
Through Macer's gullet she runs down,
When the vile glutton dines alone;
And, void of modesty and thought,
She follows Bibo's endless draught.
Through the soft sex again she ranges,
As youth, caprice, or fashion, changes,
Fair Alma, careless and serene,
In Fanny's sprightly eyes is seen,
While they diffuse their infant beams,
Themselves not conscious of their flames.
Again, fair Alma sits confess'd
On Florimel's experter breast,
When she the rising sigh constrains,
And, by concealing, speaks her pains.
In Cynthia's neck fair Alma glows,
When the vain thing her jewels shows;
When Jenny's stays are newly lac'd,
Fair Alma plays about her waist;
And when the swelling hoop sustains
The rich brocade, fair Alma deigns
Into that lower space to enter,
Of the large round herself the centre.
Again; that single limb or feature
(Such is the cogent force of Nature)
Which most did Alma's passion move,
In the first object of her love,
For ever will be found confess'd,
And printed on the amorous breast.
'O Abelard! ill-fated youth,
Thy tale will justify this truth;
But well I weet thy cruel wrong
Adorns a nobler poet's song:
Dan Pope, for thy misfortune. griev'd,
With kind concern and skill has weav'd
A silken web, and ne'er shall fade
Its colours gently; as he laid
The mantle o'er thy sad distress,
And Venus shall the texture bless.
He o'er the weeping nun has drawn
Such artful folds of sacred lawn,
That Love, with equal grief and pride,
Shall see the crime he strives to hide,
And softly drawing back the veil,
The god shall to his votaries tell
Each conscious tear, each blushing grace,
That deck'd dear Eloïsa's face.
Happy the poet, bless'd the lays,
Which Buckingham has deign'd to praise.
Next, Dick, as youth and habit sways,
A hundred gambols Alma plays.
If, whilst a boy, Jack run from school,
Fond of his hunting-horn and pole,
Though gout and age his speed detain,
Old John halloos his hounds again :
By his fire-side he starts the hare,
And turns her in his wicker-chair.
His feet, however lame, you find,
Have got the better of his mind.
If, while the Mind was in her leg,
The dance affected nimble Peg,
Old Madge bewitch'd, at sixty-one
Calls for Green-Sleeves and Jumping-Joan.
In public mask or private ball,
From Lincoln's-Inn to Goldsmith's-Hall,
All Christmas long away she trudges,
Trips it with 'prentices and judges;
In vain her children urge her stay,
And age or palsy bar the way:
But if those images prevail,
Which whilom did affect the tail,
She still reviews the ancient scene,
Forgets the forty years between;
Awkwardly gay, and oddly merry,
Her scarf pale pink, her headknot cherry,
O'erheated with ideal rage,
She cheats her son to wed her page.
'If Alma, whilst the man was young,
Slipp'd up too soon into his tongue,
Pleas'd with his own fantastic skill,
He lets that weapon ne'er lie still:
On any point if you dispute,
Depend upon it he'll confute:
Change sides, and you increase your pain;
For he'll confute you back again:
For one may speak with Tully's tongue,
Yet all the while be in the wrong;
And 'tis remarkable that they
Talk most, who have the least to say.
Your dainty speakers have the curse
To plead bad causes down to worst;
As dames who native beauty want,
Still uglier look the more they paint.
'Again; if in the female sex
Alma should on this member fix,
(A cruel and a desperate case,
From which heaven shield my lovely lass!)
For evermore all care is vain
That would bring Alma down again.
As in habitual gout or stone,
The only thing that can be done
Is to correct your drink and diet,
And keep the inward foe in quiet;
So if for any sins of ours,
Or our forefathers, higher powers,
Severe though just, afflict our life
With that prime ill, a talking wife,
Till death shall bring the kind relief,
We must be patient or be deaf.
'You know a certain lady, Dick,
Who saw me when I last was sick;
She kindly talk'd, at least three hours,
Of plastic forms, and mental pow'rs;
Describ'd our pre-existing station,
Before this vile terrene creation;
And, lest I should be wearied, Madam,
To cut things short, came down to Adam;
From whence, as fast as she was able,
She drowns the world, and builds up Babel:
Through Syria, Persia, Greece, she goes,
And takes the Romans in the close.
'But we'll descant on general nature; This is a system, not a satire.
Turn we this globe, and let us see
How different nations disagree
In what we wear, or eat, and drink;
Nay, Dick, perhaps in what we think.
In water as you smell and taste
The soils through which it rose and past,
In Alma's manners you may read
The place where she was born and bred.
'One people from their swaddling-bands Releas'd their infants' feet and hands: Here Alma to these limbs was brought, And Sparta's offspring kick'd and fought. Another taught their babes to talk, Ere they could yet in go-carts walk: There Alma settled in the tongue, And orators from Athens sprung.
'Observe but in these neighbouring lands
The different use of mouths and hands;
As men repos'd their various hopes,
In battles these, and those in tropes.
'In, Britain's isles, as Heylin notes,
The ladies trip in petticoats,
Which, for the honour of their nation,
They quit but on some great occasion:
Men there in breeches clad you view;
They claim that garment as their due.
In Turkey the reverse appears;
Long coats the haughty husband wears,
And greets his wife with angry speeches,
If she be seen without her breeches.
In our fantastic climes, the fair
With cleanly powder dry their hair,