To Mrs. Ward.
1 O thou, my beauteous, ever tender Friend,
2 Thou, on whom all my worldly Joys depend,
3 Accept these Numbers; and with Pleasure hear
4 Unstudy'd Truth, which few, alas! can bear;
5 While conscious Virtue takes the Muse's Part,
6 Glows on thy Cheek, and warms thy gen'rous Heart.
7 Let Birth-day Suits be thoughtless Celia's Cire;
8 And Rows of Di'monds recommend the Fair;
9 While gazing Crouds around the Pageant press,
10 Charm'd with her Pride, and Luxury of Dress:[Page 214]
11 Far other Joys thy just Ambition move,
12 To cherish and reward a Husband's Love;
13 To slight vain Titles, in Retreat to shine,
14 Shun public Praise, and call a Poet thine.
15 And know, ye Fair, a Poet can supply,
16 What Wealth, and Pow'r, and Equipage deny.
17 When the vain Bus'ness of your Lives is o'er,
18 And the Glass frightens, whom it charm'd before;
19 When not a Trace remains of what you were,
20 And not a Compliment salutes your Ear;
21 Without one Virtue, to redeem Respect,
22 Without one Beauty, to forbid Neglect;
23 With Tears unpity'd, you may then lament
24 The gloomy Setting of a Life mis-spent;
25 Nor Delia's Choice with witty Malice blame,
26 Who gave up Show for Happiness and Fame.
27 O! If the Muse, not uninspir'd, divine,
28 Thy bright Example shall for ever shine;[Page 215]
29 Teach the wise Virgin, where to fix her Choice,
30 And weigh no Marriage by the common Voice;
31 To yield with Dignity, reject with Grace;
32 Nor tire the Lover with a tedious Chace:
33 With Ease to conquer, and with Ease retain,
34 Brighten Prosperity, or soften Pain:
35 Know Woman's Glory, and her proper End;
36 Live to her Husband, Family, and Friend:
37 Thro' varying Life her various Virtues prove,
38 Honour her Portion here, and Bliss above.
39 Say, What Persuasion, or what Arts of mine,
40 Could gain a Passage to a Soul like thine?
41 Where Female Softness, Strength of Reason meet,
42 A piercing Judgment, and a Wit discrect;
43 Where ev'ry Passion, ev'ry Duty, knows
44 Its proper Bounds, and not unlicens'd flows.
45 Say, for thou know'st, my ever ablest Guide,
46 (One doubtful Act remains unjustify'd)[Page 216]
47 On Me, on Me, thy choicest Favours fell;
48 Could You so err, or I deserve so well?
49 Instruct me thou the happy Art to steer,
50 And still with Modesty thy Conduct clear;
51 So in thy Praises may the World agree;
52 Nor load with Vanity the Muse and Me.
53 With Song still usher'd shall the Morn arise,
54 That shew'd thee first, all-charming, to my Eyes:
55 I gaz'd with Rapture, yet chastiz'd with Awe:
56 So the First Man descending Angels saw.
57 Speaking, or silent, O! secure to charm,
58 To win with Wisdom, or with Beauty warm:
59 The Graces unobserv'd, with easy Care,
60 Form thy soft Accents, and compose thy Air.
61 I saw, and heard; nor heard, nor saw, unmov'd,
62 Unknowing, or I durst not know, I lov'd.
63 What thence I suffer'd, let high Heav'n declare,
64 Pitying my Grief, propitious to my Pray'r. [Page 217]
65 Heav'n try'd my Passion, and pronounc'd it true:
66 Hence I embolden'd, and hence softer You.
67 Yet oft with-held, and falt'ring oft with Pain,
68 My Tongue half utters, what my Eyes explain,
69 Nor prone to flatter, nor to Virtue blind;
70 Not void of Knowledge, and to learn inclin'd;
71 Nor sprung from noble, nor ungen'rous Blood;
72 Boasting a Father honest, wise, and good;
73 Such long observ'd, and by long Converse shown,
74 My Temper, Manners, and my Failings known:
75 You trust my Vows, and pity Love sincere;
76 Haste to relieve, and smile away my Fear;
77 Give all you can, and all the rest forsake,
78 The noblest Sacrifice, that Love could make!
79 Of what Avail the Use of Wealth to Thee?
80 Or what the Blessing, if unshar'd with Me?
81 O doubly honour'd by the grateful Mind,
82 For what you bring, and what you leave behind! [Page 218]
83 Is there a Man in Science not unread,
84 In simple Neatness elegantly bred,
85 Of what or Health or Nature asks, possess'd,
86 Receiv'd by all, and by his Friends caress'd,
87 False and insidious can the Fair pursue,
88 And look on Beauty with a Miser's View?
89 Taught by the Muse such abject Souls to hate,
90 And hope sweet Converse from the Marriage-State,
91 I place my Triumphs in a matchless Wife,
92 Nor seek superfluous Vanities of Life:
93 Thus, unobnoxious to Detraction's Aim,
94 Nor base Suspicion can attaint my Fame.
95 Degen'rate Thought! Let sland'rous Tongues assail;
96 Spread all their Poison, all their Rage prevail;
97 So gracious Heav'n restore thee, to enjoy
98 What Love could leave, but Wisdom could employ. [Page 219]
99 Mean-while my Delia manifests her Worth;
100 The Loss of Riches calls her Prudence forth:
101 Behold her now with Dignity descend;
102 And low, but necessary, Cares attend;
103 Chearful, what Fortune not allows, resign;
104 And, harder still, her Charities confine:
105 But Heav'n in secret sees the kind Intent,
106 Each Act of Pity, or of Bounty, meant;
107 Heav'n sees in secret; but in open Day
108 Will crown thy Merit, and thy Praise display.
109 Tho' small thy Store, not Millions could suffice,
110 To furnish all thy lib'ral Thought supplies.
111 How oft thy lov'd Sapphira melts thy Breast,
112 Obscur'd her Worth, her Genius half depress'd!
113 How oft thy Fancy helps Old-Age along!
114 Or hears the Widow's, and the Orphan's Song!
115 Now visionary Temples rise around;
116 And half thy Empire, GEORGE, is sacred Ground. [Page 220]
117 From Thee, my Delia, from thy watchful Care,
118 My Little lasts; my Little, Friends can share:
119 Nor Debts distract, nor Usuries devour;
120 Poor if I am, within my Fortune poor.
121 Smile on, my Fair, tho' cautious, void of Fear,
122 Wise to shun Sorrows, or prepar'd to bear.
123 Who copies Thee, shall never fail to find,
124 'Midst Clouds and Storms, the Sun-shine of the Mind:
125 For Piety (whatever Ill impends)
126 Omniscience guides, Omnipotence defends.
127 Bless'd in Retirement, Competence, and Love,
128 Below all Envy, and all Vice above,
129 Crown'd with Content, I only burn to show,
130 (Hopeless to recompense) how much I owe.
131 O born with Genius, and with Learning fill'd,
132 In ev'ry Rule of happy Writings skill'd;[Page 221]
133 Whom Beauties strike, false Ornaments offend;
134 Who weigh with Care each Author's Scope and End;
135 Know why Pope slackens, or augments his Fire;
136 And oft, where others damn, the most admire;
137 (So shallow Wits, with bolder Folly, blame,
138 From Parts, the faultless Universal Frame:
139 But Newton's Genius could the Whole explore,
140 See All was good, and Wisdom's Hand adore.)
141 This Verse (you know me free from faulty Pride)
142 Or kindly authorize, or kindly hide:
143 Approve; and Fame shall sanctify my Lays:
144 Suppress; yet Love my grateful Labour pays.