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Ah, no! she scorns the trappings of her Art ;
No theme but truth, no prompter but the heart!
But, Ladies, say, must I alone unmask ?
Is here no other actress, let me ask.
Believe me, those, who best the heart dissect,
Know every Woman studies stage-effect.
She moulds her manners to the part she fills,
As Instinct teaches, or as Humour wills;
And, as the grave or gay her talent calls,
Acts in the drama, till the curtain falls.
First, how her little breast with triumph swells,
When the red coral rings its golden bells !
To play in pantomime is then the rage,
Along the carpet's many-coloured stage ;
Or lisp her merry thoughts with loud endeavour,
Now here, now there,-in noise and mischief ever!
school-girl next, she curls her hair in
papers, And mimics father's gout, and mother's vapours ; Discards her doll, bribes Betty for romances; Playful at church, and serious when she dances ; Tramples alike on customs and on toes, And whispers all she hears to all she knows; Terror of caps, and wigs, and sober notions ! A romp! that longest of perpetual motions !
-Till tamed and tortured into foreign graces,
She sports her lovely face at public places ;
And with blue, laughing eyes, behind her fan,
First acts her part with that great actor, Man.
Too soon a flirt, approach her and she flies!
Frowns when pursued, and, when entreated, sighs!
Plays with unhappy men as cats with mice;
Till fading beauty hints the late advice.
Her prudence dictates what her pride disdained,
And now she sues to slaves herself had chained!
Then comes that good old character, a Wife,
With all the dear, distracting cares of life ;
A thousand cards a day at doors to leave,
And, in return, a thousand cards receive ;
Rouge high, play deep, to lead the ton aspire,
With nightly blaze set PORTLAND Place on fire ;
Snatch half a glimpse at Concert, Opera, Ball,
A meteor, traced by none, tho' seen by all ;
And, when her shattered nerves forbid to roam,
In very spleen-rehearse the girls at home.
Last the gray Dowager, in ancient flounces,
With snuff and spectacles the age denounces ;
Boasts how the Sires of this degenerate Isle
Knelt for a look, and duelled for a smile.
The scourge and ridicule of Goth and Vandal,
Her tea she sweetens, as she sips, with scandal ;
With modern Belles eternal warfare wages,
, Like her own birds that clamour from their
cages ; And shuffles round to bear her tale to all, Like some old Ruin, “nodding to its fall!"
Thus WOMAN makes her entrance and her exit ; Not least an actress when she least suspects it. Yet Nature oft peeps out and mars the plot, Each lesson lost, each poor pretence forgot ; Full oft, with energy that scorns control, At once lights up the features of the soul ; Unlocks each thought chained down by coward Art, And to full day the latent passions start ! -And she, whose first, best wish is your applause, Herself exemplifies the truth she draws. Born on the stage-thro' every shifting scene , Obscure or bright, tempestuous or serene, Still has your smile her trembling spirit fired! And can she act, with thoughts like these inspired ? Thus from her mind all artifice she flings, All skill, all practice, now unmeaning things! To you, unchecked, each genuine feeling flows; For all that life endears—to you she owes.
SLEEP on, and dream of Heaven awhile.
Tho'shut so close thy laughing eyes,
Thy rosy lips still wear a smile,
And move, and breathe delicious sighs ! -
Ah, now soft blushes tinge her cheeks,
And mantle o'er her neck of snow.
Ah, now she murmurs, now she speaks
What most I wish and fear to know.
She starts, she trembles, and she weeps ! Her fair hands folded on her breast. -And now, how like a saint she sleeps ! A seraph in the realms of rest!
Sleep on secure! Above control,
Thy thoughts belong to Heaven and thee!
And may the secret of thy soul
Remain within its sanctuary !
While on the cliff with calm delight she kneels,
And the blue vales a thousand joys recall,
See, to the last, last verge her infant steals!
O fly—yet stir not, speak not, lest it fall.
Far better taught, she lays her bosom bare, And the fond boy springs back to nestle there.
There is a streamlet issuing from a rock.
The village-girls singing wild madrigals,
Dip their white vestments in its waters clear,
And hang them to the sun. There first I saw her ;
There on that day. Her dark and eloquent eyes
'Twas heaven to look upon ; and her sweet voice
As tuneable as harp of many strings,
At once spoke joy and sadness to my soul!
Dear is that valley to the murmuring bees ;
And all, who know it, come and come again.