FASHION: A SATIRE.
Honestius putamus, quod frequentius; recti apud nos loca tenet error, ubi publicus factus. SENECA.
1 YES, yes, my friend, disguise it as you will,
2 To right or wrong 'tis Fashion guides us still;
3 A few perhaps rise singularly good,
4 Defy, and stem the fool-o'erwhelming flood;
5 The rest to wander from their brethren fear,
6 As social herrings in large shoals appear.
7 'Twas not a taste, but pow'rful mode, that bade
8 Yon' purblind, poking peer run picture mad;
9 With the same wonder-gaping face he stares
10 On flat DUTCH dawbing, as on GUIDO'S airs;
11 What might his oak-crown'd manors mortgag'd gain?
12 Alas! five faded landscapes of*
* Claude Loraine. LORAINE.
13 Not so GARGILIUS — sleek voluptuous lord,
14 A hundred dainties smoak upon his board;
15 Earth, air, and ocean's ransack'd for the feast,
16 In masquerade of foreign OLIO'S dress'd;
17 Who praises, in this sauce-enamour'd age,
18 Calm, healthful temp'rance, like an INDIAN sage:[Page 275]
19 But could he walk in publick, were it said,
20 "GARGILIUS din'd on beef, and eat brown bread?"
21 Happy the grotto'd hermit with his pulse,
22 Who wants no truffles, rich ragouts — nor*
* The Physician. HULSE.
23 How strict on Sundays gay LAETITIA'S face!
24 How curl'd her hair, how clean her Brussels lace!
25 She lifts her eyes, her sparkling eyes to heav'n,
26 Most nun-like mourns, and hopes to be forgiv'n.
27 Think not she prays, or is grown penitent —
28 She went to church — because the parish went.
29 Close CHREMES, deaf to the pale widow's grief,
30 Parts with an unsun'd guinea for relief;
31 No meltings o'er his ruthless bosom steal,
32 More than fierce Arabs, or proud tyrants feel;
33 Yet, since his neighbours give, the churl unlocks,
34 Damning the poor, his triple-bolted box.
35 Why loves not HIPPIA rank obscenity?
36 Why would she not with twenty porters lie?
37 Why not in crowded Malls quite naked walk?
38 Not aw'd by virtue — but "The world would talk." —
39 Yet how demurely looks the wishing maid,
40 For ever, but in bed, of man afraid!
† Lucretius, lib. 6. 848. HAMMON'S spring by day feels icy-cool,
42 At night is hot as hell's sulphureous pool.
43 Each panting warble of VESCONTI'S throat,
44 To DICK, is heav'nlier than a seraph's note;[Page 276]
45 The thrills, he swears, soft-stealing to his breast,
46 Are lullabies, to sooth his cares to rest;
47 Are sweeter far, than LAURA'S luscious kiss,
48 Charm the whole man, and lap his soul in bliss:
49 Who can such counterfeited raptures bear,
50 Of a deaf fool who scarce can thunders hear?
51 CROWDER o might with him for FESTIN pass,
52 And touching HANDES yield to trifling HASSE.
53 But curd-fac'd CURIO comes! all prate, and smile,
54 Supreme of beaux, great bulwarks of our isle!
55 Mark well his feather'd hat, his gilt cockade,
56 Rich rings, white hand, and coat of stiff brocade;
57 Such weak-wing'd May-flies BRITAIN'S troops disgrace,
58 That FLANDRIA, wond'ring, mourns our alter'd race:
59 With him the fair, enraptur'd with a rattle,
60 Of VAUXHALL, GARRICK, or PAMELA prattle:
61 This self-pleas'd king of emptiness permit
62 At the dear toilette harmlessly to sit;
63 As mirthless infants, idling out the day,
64 With wooden swords, or toothless puppies play:
65 'Tis meaner (cries the manling) to command
66 A conquering host, or save a sinking land,
67 Than furl fair FLAVIA'S fan, or lead a dance,
68 Or broach new-minted FASHIONS fresh from FRANCE.
69 O FRANCE, whose edicts govern dress and meat,
70 Thy victor BRITAIN bends beneath thy feet!
71 Strange! that pert grasshoppers should lions lead,
72 And teach to hop, and chirp across the mead;[Page 277]
73 Of fleets and laurel'd chiefs let others boast,
74 Thy honours are to bow, dance, boil and roast.
75 Let ITALY give mimick canvas fire,
76 Carve rock to life, or tune the lulling lyre;
77 For gold let rich POTOSI be renown'd,
78 Be balmy-breathing gums in INDIA found;
79 'Tis thine for slaves to teach the shantiest cuts,
80 Give empty coxcombs more important struts,
81 Prescribe new rules for knots, hoops, manteaus, wigs,
82 Shoes, soups, complexions, coaches, farces, jigs.
83 MUSCALIA dreams of last night's ball till ten,
84 Drinks chocolate, stroaks FOP, and sleeps agen,
85 Perhaps at twelve dares ope her drowsy eyes,
86 Asks LUCY if 'tis late enough to rise;
87 By three each curl and feature justly set,
88 She dines, talks scandal, visits, plays piquette:
89 Meanwhile her babes with some foul nurse remain,
90 For modern dames a mother's cares disdain;
91 Each fortnight once she bears to see the brats,
92 "For oh they stun one's ears, like squalling cats!"
93 Tigers and pards protect, and nurse their young,
94 The parent-snake will roll her forked tongue,
95 The vulture hovers vengeful o'er her nest,
96 If the rude hand her helpless brood infest;
97 Shall lovely woman, softest frame of heav'n,
98 To whom were tears, and feeling pity giv'n,
99 Most fashionably cruel, less regard
100 Her offspring, than the vulture, snake, and pard?
101 What art, O FASHION, pow'r supreme below!
102 You make us virtue, nature, sense, forego;
103 You sanctify knave, atheist, whore, and fool,
104 And shield from justice, shame, and ridicule.
105 Our grandames modes, long absent from our eyes,
106 At your all-powerful bidding duteous rise;
107 As ARETHUSA sunk beneath the plain
108 For many a league, emerging flows again;
* Mary queen of Scots mobs, much worn by the ladies. Mary's mobs, and flounces you approve,
110 Now shape-disguising sacks, and slippers love:
111 Scarce have you chose (like Fortune fond to joke)
112 Some reigning dress, but you the choice revoke:
113 So when the deep-tongu'd organ's notes swell high,
114 And loud HOSANNAHS reach the distant sky,
115 Hark, how at once the dying strains decay,
116 And soften unexpectedly away.
117 The peer, prince, peasant, soldier, squire, divine,
118 Goddess of Change, bend low before your shrine,
119 Swearing to follow, wheresoe'er you lead,
120 Tho' you eat toads, or walk upon your head.
121 'Tis hence belles game, intrigue, sip citron-drams,
122 And hide their lovely locks with†
† Têtê de Mouton, literally translated. heads of rams;
123 Hence girls, once modest, without blush appear,
124 With legs display'd, and swan-soft bosoms bare;[Page 279]
125 Hence stale, autumnal dames, still deck'd with laces,
126 Look like vile canker'd coins in velvet cases.
127 Ask you, why whores live more belov'd than wives,
128 Why weeping virtue exil'd, flattery thrives,
129 Why mad for pensions, BRITONS young and old
130 Adore base ministers, those calves of gold,
131 Why witling templars on religion joke,
132 Fat, rosy justices, drink, doze, and smoak,
133 Dull criticks on best bards pour harmless spite,
134 As babes that mumble coral, cannot bite,
135 Why knaves malicious, brother-knaves embrace,
136 With hearts of gall, but courtly-smiling face,
137 Why scornful FOLLY from her gawdy coach,
138 At starving houseless VIRTUE points reproach,
139 Why AV'RICE is the great all-worship'd God?
140 Methinks some DAEMON answers — "'Tis the mode!"
141 At this CORRUPTION smiles with ghastly grin,
142 Presaging triumphs to her mother, SIN;
143 Who, as with baneful wings aloft she flies,
144 "This falling land be mine!" — exulting cries;
145 Grim TYRANNY attends her on her way,
146 And frowns, and whets his sword that thirsts to slay.
147 Look, from the frigid to the torrid zone,
148 By custom all are led, by nature none.
* The following facts are taken from the accounts of different countries.The hungry TARTAR rides upon his meat,
150 To cook the dainty flesh with buttock's heat:[Page 280]
151 The CHINESE complaisantly takes his bed
152 With his big wife, and is with cawdle fed.
153 How would our tender British beauties shriek,
154 To see slim beaux on bulls their lances break!
155 Yet not LUCINDA, in heroic SPAIN,
156 Admits a youth, but who his beast has slain.
157 See, wond'rous lands, where the fell victor brings,
158 To his glad wives, the heads of slaughter'd kings,
159 The mangled heads! — o'er which they sing and laugh,
160 And in dire banquets the warm life-blood quaff;
161 Where youths their grandsires, age-bent, trembling, grey,
162 Pitying their weary weakness, kindly slay:
163 Where sainted BRACHMANS, sick of life, retire,
164 To die spontaneous on the spicy pyre;
165 Where (stranger still!) with their wild dates content,
166 The simple swains no sighs for gold torment.
167 How fondly partial are our judgments grown,
168 We deem all manners odious, but our own!
169 O teach me, friend, to know wise NATURE'S rules,
170 And laugh, like you, at FASHION'S hoodwink'd fools;
171 You, who to woods remov'd from modish sin,
172 Despise the distant world's hoarse, busy din;
173 As shepherds from high rocks hear far below,
174 Hear unconcern'd loud torrents fiercely flow;
175 You, tho' mad millions the mean taste upbraid,
176 Who still love VIRTUE, fair, forsaken maid;
177 As BACCHUS charming ARIADNE bore,
178 By all abandon'd, from the lonesome shore.