THE MODERN FINE LADY.
— Miseri quibus
1 SKILL'D in each art, that can adorn the fair,
2 The spritely dance, the soft Italian air,
3 The toss of quality, and high-bred fleer,
4 Now lady Harriot reach'd her fifteenth year.
5 Wing'd with diversions all her moments flew,
6 Each, as it pass'd, presenting something new;[Page 172]
7 Breakfasts and auctions wear the morn away,
8 Each evening gives an opera, or a play;
9 Then Brag's eternal joys all night remain,
10 And kindly usher in the morn again.
11 For love no time has she, or inclination,
12 Yet must coquet it for the sake of fashion;
13 For this she listens to each fop that's near,
14 Th' embroider'd colonel flatters with a sneer,
15 And the cropt ensign nuzzles in her ear.
16 But with most warmth her dress and airs inspire
17 Th' ambitious bosom of the landed 'squire,
18 Who fain would quit plump Dolly's softer charms,
19 For wither'd lean right honourable arms;
20 He bows with reverence at her sacred shrine,
21 And treats her as if sprung from race divine,
22 Which she returns with insolence and scorn,
23 Nor deigns to smile on a plebeian born.
24 Ere long by friends, by cards, and lovers cross'd,
25 Her fortune, health, and reputation lost;
26 Her money gone, yet not a tradesman paid,
27 Her fame, yet she still damn'd to be a maid,
28 Her spirits sink, her nerves are so unstrung,
29 She weeps, if but a handsome thief is hung:
30 By mercers, lacemen, mantua-makers press'd,
31 But most for ready cash for play distress'd,
32 Where can she turn? — the 'squire must all repair,
33 She condescends to listen to his pray'r,
34 And marries him at length in mere despair.
35 But soon th' endearments of a husband cloy,
36 Her soul, her frame incapable of joy:
37 She feels no transports in the bridal bed,
38 Of which so oft sh' has heard, so much has read;
39 Then vex'd, that she should be condemn'd alone
40 To seek in vain this philosophick stone,
41 To abler tutors she resolves t'apply,
42 A prostitute from curiosity:
43 Hence men of ev'ry sort, and ev'ry size,
44 Impatient for heav'n's cordial drop, she tries;
45 The fribbling beau, the rough unwieldy clown,
46 The ruddy templar newly on the town,
47 Th' Hibernian captain of gigantic make,
48 The brimful parson, and th' exhausted rake.
49 But still malignant Fate her wish denies,
50 Cards yield superior joys, to cards she flies;
51 All night from rout to rout her chairmen run,
52 Again she plays, and is again undone.
53 Behold her now in Ruin's frightful jaws!
54 Bonds, judgments, executions, ope their paws;
55 Seize jewels, furniture, and plate, nor spare
56 The gilded chariot, or the tossel'd chair,
57 For lonely seat she's forc'd to quit the town,
58 And Tubbs conveys the wretched exile down.
59 Now rumbling o'er the stones of Tyburn-road,
60 Ne'er press'd with a more griev'd or guilty load,
61 She bids adieu to all the well-known streets,
62 And envies ev'ry cinder-wench she meets:[Page 174]
63 And now the dreaded country first appears,
64 With sighs unfeign'd the dying noise she hears
65 Of distant coaches fainter by degrees,
66 Then starts and trembles at the sight of trees.
67 Silent and sullen, like some captive queen,
68 She's drawn along, unwilling to be seen,
69 Until at length appears the ruin'd hall
70 Within the grass-green moat, and ivy'd wall,
71 The doleful prison where for ever she,
72 But not, alas! her griefs, must bury'd be.
73 Her coach the curate and the tradesmen meet,
74 Great-coated tenants her arrival greet,
75 And boys with stubble bonfires light the street,
76 While bells her ears with tongues discordant grate,
77 Types of the nuptial tyes they celebrate:
78 But no rejoicings can unbend her brow,
79 Nor deigns she to return one aukward bow,
80 But bounces in disdaining once to speak,
81 And wipes the trickling tear from off her cheek.
82 Now see her in the sad decline of life,
83 A peevish mistress, and a sulky wife;
84 Her nerves unbrac'd, her faded cheek grown pale
85 With many a real, many a fancy'd ail;
86 Of cards, admirers, equipage bereft;
87 Her insolence, and title only left;
88 Severely humbled to her one-horse chair,
89 And the low pastimes of a country fair:[Page 175]
90 Too wretched to endure one lonely day,
91 Too proud one friendly visit to repay,
92 Too indolent to read, too criminal to pray.
93 At length half dead, half mad, and quite confin'd,
94 Shunning, and shunn'd by all of human kind,
95 Ev'n robb'd of the last comfort of her life,
96 Insulting the poor curate's callous wife,
97 Pride, disappointed pride, now stops her breath,
98 And with true scorpion rage she stings herself to death.