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And on the right hand took their places
In order ; on the left, the Graces ;
To whom she might her doubts propose
On all emergencies that rose.
The Muses oft were seen to frown,
The Graces half-asham'd look down ;
And 'twas observ'd there were but few
Of either sex among the crew,
Whom she or her assessors knew.
The goddess soon began to see
Things were not ripe for a decree,
And said she must consult her books,
T lovers' Fletas, Bractons, Cokes.
First to a dapper clerk she beckon'd
To turn to Ovid, book the second ;
She then referr'd them to a place
In Virgil (vide Dido's case)
As for Tibullus's reports,
They never pass'd for law in courts ;
For Cowley's briefs, and pleas of Waller,
Still their authority was smaller.
There was on both sides much to say;
She'd hear the cause another day ;
And so she did, and then a third ;
She heard it-there she kept her word:
But with rejoinders and replies,
Long bills, and answers stuff'd with lies,
Demur, imparlance, and essoign,
The parties ne'er could issue join :
For sixteen years the cause was spun,
And then stood where it first begun.
Now, gentle Clio ! sing or say
What Venus meant by this delay.
The goddess, much perplex'd in mind
To see her empire thus declin'd,
When first this grand debate arose,
Above her wisdom to compose,
Conceiv'd a project in her head
To work her ends, which, if it sped,
Would show the merits of the cause
Far better than consulting laws.
In a glad hour Lucina's aid
Produc'd on earth a wondrous maid,
On whom the Queen of Love was bent
To try a new experiment :
She threw her law-books on the shelf,
And thus debated with herself,
Since men allege they ne'er can find
Those beauties in a female mind
Which raise a flame, that will endure
For ever uncorrupt and pure :
If 'tis with reason they complain,
This instant shall restore my reign:
I'll search where every virtue dwells,
From courts inclusive down to cells,
What preachers talk, or sages write;
These I will gather and unite,
And represent them to mankind , Collected in that infant's mind.'
This said, she plucks, in heaven's high bow'rs, A sprig of amaranthine flow'rs, 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 inrollid;
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 spoild; 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 stay'd
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 severy 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 tried
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 giv'n,
Or any brother-god in heav'n,
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 studied 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,
Deceiy'd thyself instead of me;