THE BOWER OF ELEGANCE.
ADDRESSED TO A VERY ACCOMPLISHED WOMAN.
1 THE sultry Sun had spread along the sky,
2 Then bade the gales his sacred presence fly,
3 Descend to earth, and wander by the stream,
4 Till they should mark his last departing beam;
5 Or till some fleecy or benignant shower
6 Dropp'd a fresh essence on the thirsty flower,
7 Moisten'd the eye of every opening bud,
8 And let them see their image in the flood;
9 Then dip their wings, and through the soften'd air
10 Waft the fresh sweet, and every perfume bear. [Page 62]
11 Such heat oppressive sicken'd through the sky,
12 That panting flocks beneath the hedges lie;
13 The milky thorn, white as their coats, was seen,
14 Tufted with top-knots of eye-loving green;
15 The sun behind the fragrant hedge retir'd,
16 And lent that coolness all so much desir'd;
17 The shady walk tempts on my wandering feet
18 To a close grove, impervious to the heat,
19 Where every tree could wave a leafy fan,
20 And breathe refreshment on exhausted man.
21 The poplar tall o'er many a head would rise,
22 Resolv'd to meet the ardour of the skies;
23 The trembling asp a whispering breeze would hear,
24 And shake its every leaf with needless fear;
25 The sheltering limes their spreading arms extend,
26 Born to protect, and happy to defend;
27 The stately oak look'd on, and firmly stood
28 The noble patron of the growing wood;
29 The growing wood in spiry shrubs arose,
30 There clings the woodbine, there the sweetbriar blows.
31 There melts the frutex, there the barberry reigns —
32 The red tide glowing through transparent veins;
33 With mountain-ash, to which the blackbird flies,
34 And his red harvest for the winter eyes,
35 Then perching on the dear providing spray,
36 Whistles his mate, and carols through the day.
37 Where softest moss her various kinds had brought,
38 And to cling closely to a rock had taught;
39 Where many a shrub that Taste had train'd to grow,
40 From her fair hand all careless seem'd to throw;[Page 63]
41 And, bending o'er the love-wrought mossy seat,
42 Lilacs and roses fondly made to meet;
43 The modest jess'mine, too, embrac'd the bower,
44 Fearful to show the world too gay a flower;
45 Th' enamour'd eglantine her sweets defends,
46 And warrior spears from every arm extends;
47 The prickly spears the rifling fingers feel
48 No less acute than those of pointed steel;
49 The myrtle to this guardian friend applied,
50 Clung to his arm, fast rooted by his side.
51 At a small distance ran a tinkling rill,
52 That made sad murmurs to the rocky hill,
53 On which this happy bower so sweet was plac'd,
54 This bower so cultur'd by the hand of Taste.
55 No wonder Taste bestow'd her tenderest care,
56 And taught the vine to curl around yon chair;
57 For here a nymph at sultry noon would come,
58 And call this bower her flowery dressing room.
59 The darling nymph from whom soft arts have sprung,
60 The name that softens on the roughen'd tongue;
61 The winning form where grace and ease agree
62 To smooth the manners, and yet leave them free;
63 Where every polish that the mind e'er takes
64 Shines in the eye, and the soft accent wakes;
65 Where sweetest thoughts their own pure course pursue,
66 Vary the old, and ornament the new;
67 While all the winning ways that sense can lend,
68 Melt in the looks, and with the manners blend;
69 A form as gentle as if sweetness strove
70 To see how far she could succeed with love —[Page 64]
71 To see how far the lily could prevail
72 To gain the heart, when gayer roses fail!
73 This lovely form on the soft couch reclin'd,
74 Screen'd from the sun, and shelter'd from the wind;
75 Save where the breeze a load of sweets would bring,
76 And gently move the jess'mine's fragrant wing.
77 A silken loom o'erhung with lilac stands,
78 And often courts her fair creative bands.
79 Distracted Dido o'er the canvas bends,
80 Hastes to the pile, nor heeds her weeping friends;
81 Her searching eye the lessening vessel sees,
82 Swift as the gale, fly o'er the rolling seas;
83 But when her straining eye no speck can find,
84 No sail stream out — though lengthen'd by the wind,
85 Her sword she grasps — her Anna rends her hair,
86 Looks, sobs, and tears prevent, yet form a prayer.
87 When gazing long, you think at last you hear
88 These moving accents murmur in your ear —
89 "Was all this pomp, this sacrifice I see,
90 All only to deceive unhappy me!
91 Which is the worst? didst thou in death pretend
92 To scorn thy sister, or delude thy friend?
93 Thy summon'd sister and thy friend had come,
94 One sword had serv'd us both — one common tomb!"
95 A soft-breath'd lyre now died along the glade,
96 Amidst its strings the wandering fingers stray'd;
97 The wandering fingers melody had found,
98 And with a gentle touch wak'd every chord around.
99 Some crayon pencils Art had taught to vie
100 With the meek lustre of the living eye;[Page 65]
101 The living eye her forming hand could show,
102 And sense and feeling in its pupil throw;
103 An easy figure from her fingers stray'd,
104 And the heart languish'd for the mimic shade,
105 But not the shade when Elegance was by, —
106 Nought else could win, nought else could keep the eye!
107 Her sister Taste some flow'rets taught to grow,
108 Some hide their heads, and 'mong the dark grass blow;
109 Some taller seem, and stalk with greater state,
110 And look like porters at the flowery gate;
111 While some to meek simplicity incline,
112 And such, sweet Lily of the Vale, is thine;
113 Thine is the lot, the happy lot to know,
114 And on the breast of Elegance to blow;
115 Taste plac'd thee there, thy back ground dark and high
116 Forms a sweet arbour for the resting eye;
117 The resting eye thy purity can see,
118 And think how much my L— resembles thee.
119 Yet all things suited to the soften'd mind,
120 Require a scene we may not hope to find;
121 If, when high polish'd, fewer things delight,
122 Does then refinement with our good unite?
123 When the bright diamond throws a sunlike glare,
124 And every colour of the prism's there,
125 The lapidary's eye in rapturous gaze
126 Marks the bright rainbow in its hundred rays;
127 The humble peasant sees its radiance stream,
128 And much admires the variegated beam,
129 But thinks his glassy beads as full of light,
130 As finely varied, and as precious quite. [Page 66]
131 Have you not seen Refinement sicken o'er
132 The languid heart that erst was gay before?
133 How happy they when every day can roll
134 A tide of pleasure to the very soul!
135 Who seek not by Refinement's small spun thread
136 The mazy labyrinths of life to tread.
137 That slender guide should a rude breath destroy,
138 The wanderer's lost, though in the court of joy;
139 Though Innocence herself should lead the train,
140 Silent she'd sit, and Wit might flash in vain.
141 How blessed are they whom Elegance has brought
142 To the true standard of reflecting thought!
143 Whose mind is still unfetter'd to enjoy,
144 With whom nought can the common charms destroy;
145 The wish to please their handmaid still retain,
146 Nor see one wish to please solicit them in vain.
147 Now the bright sun slid down the sloping sky,
148 And slow-pac'd Evening gain'd upon the eye.
149 The fragrant breezes wav'd along the mead,
150 Whisper'd the grass, and tapp'd the floweret's head;
151 The flocks and herds now low'd along the plain,
152 And the shrill pipe employ'd the leisure swain;
153 The weary cart-horse stalk'd with equal pace,
154 And o'er the ground dragg'd on the loosen'd trace;
155 The joyful cur ran forth to meet his friend,
156 And yelp'd and leap'd delighted to attend;
157 The little children haste to beg a ride,
158 Fearful, yet pleas'd, hang on, whilst daddy walks beside.
159 Sweet Elegance arose and left her bower,
160 Warn'd by the dewdrop on each nodding flower;[Page 67]
161 Homewards she bends, and Taste that home had made
162 As sweet a dwelling as the jess'mine shade.
163 Myrtles and oranges bold lights oppose,
164 And thus the staircase in soft twilight glows;
165 The playful sun looks artfully between,
166 But soon despairs to blindfold strong-eyed green.
167 In this blest window two sweet cherubs play'd,
168 And many a feast and many a cap were made;
169 At social life you see the darlings aim,
170 And all their fondness their dear children claim.
171 Now soft indulgence the kind mother shows,
172 Now from her arm the naughty baby throws;
173 The birchen rod, though but of two twigs made,
174 Makes both the mother and the child afraid.
175 A christening dinner now prepares with haste,
176 Here bits of cake must turn again to paste;
177 A harden'd crust a round of beef must prove,
178 And that bit cheese may serve as a remove;
179 While apples sliced a dumpling well may seem,
180 Yon peach be curds, and yon drop water cream;
181 The brimful glasses on the salver stand,
182 And the fair waiter helps with cautious hand;
183 With steady step, and serious, smileless face,
184 She gives to each with modest maiden grace.
185 And now to school the fancied children go,
186 Miss Kitty learns to read, Miss Jean to sow.
187 That pocket-handkerchief is neatly done,
188 For that a prize of sweet, sweet figs was won.
189 The dame is good, but then she will insist
190 That shirt shall be unpicked about the wrist;[Page 68]
191 With every stitch ta'en back a tear descends,
192 And slaps are given for leaving long thread-ends.
193 Yon garter, too, had once three loops to show,
194 And now you see the needle holds but two!
195 For shame, Miss Doll! go, in yon corner stand,
196 Or else the rod shall smart that dirty hand;
197 A naughty thing! I know you can do better;
198 And you Miss Pert, what sets you in that titter?
199 Do mind your work, and let your sampler show
200 How learning from the needle's point may grow.
201 Now the tea kettle dangles o'er the fire,
202 And acorn cups as china we admire;
203 In due precedence round the dolls are set,
204 This drinks tea now, that must not have it yet.
205 Order presides — Mamma is copied still,
206 Is the guide now, as ever more she will.
207 Ye happy parents, here observe your power,
208 See how your precepts regulate the hour;
209 See how your manners round these cherubs cling,
210 Your air, your words, your looks, your every thing.
211 Mamma said so, is echoed all around,
212 Mamma did so, is breathed in every sound,
213 Mamma bade me, and so I need not fear,
214 And thus mamma's the worshipp'd idol here!
215 Mark well this lesson, since your forming hand
216 Moulds the soft mind, and can its powers command,
217 Since now your actions are not yours alone,
218 But every word is copied one by one;
219 Think to what consequence each thought may rise,
220 Your every word the vacant mind supplies;[Page 69]
221 E'en in their play the useful dictate give,
222 For e'en in play they may be taught to live,
223 May learn strict justice 'mongst their dolls to deal,
224 May learn forbearance, and may learn to feel,
225 May learn to share their little precious store,
226 And know no grudge though lesser ones get more.
227 O! may no voice in false persuasion's tone
228 Bid them snatch all for fear it should be gone,
229 And every part of narrow manners teach
230 That little jealousy and self can reach!
231 There's not one virtue future life shall bless,
232 But this faint shadow may some way express,
233 May prove the practice through the mimic scene,
234 And be in life what here the child has been.