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TO A . LADY.
OF THE CHARACTERS OF WOMEN.
That the particular characters of women are not so strongly
marked as those of men, seldom so fixed, and still more inconsistent with themselves. Instances of contrarieties given, even from such characters as are more strongly marked, and seemingly, therefore, most consistent: as 1. In the affected. 2. In the soft-natured. 3. In the cunning and artful. 4. In the whimsical. 5. In the lewd and vicious. 6. In the witty and refined. 7. In the stupid and simple. The former part having shown that the particular characters of women are more various than those of men, it is nevertheless observed that the general characteristic of the sex, as to the ruling passion, is more uniform. This is occasioned partly by their nature, partly by their education, and in some degree by necessity. What are the aims and the fate of this sex: 1. As to power. 2. As to pleasure. Advice for their true interest. The picture of an estimable woman, with the best kind of contrarieties.
Nothing so true as what you once let fall,
1 Martha Blount.
How many pictures of one nymph we view, And how unlike each other, all how true! Arcadia’s countess here, in ermin'd pride, Is there, Pastora by a fountain side: Here Fannia, leering on her own good man, And there a naked Leda with a swan. Let then the fair one beautifully cry, In Magdalen's loose hair and lifted eye; Or dress'd in smiles of sweet Cecilia shine, With simpering angels, palms, and harps divine ; Whether the charmer sinner it, or saint it, If folly grow romantic, I must paint it.
Come, then, the colours and the ground prepare; Dip in the rainbow, trick her off in air; Choose a firm cloud before it fall, and in it Catch, ere she change, the Cynthia of this minute.
Rufa, whose eye quick glancing o'er the park, Attracts each light gay meteor of a spark, Agrees as ill with Rufa studying Locke, As Sappho’s diamonds with her dirty smock, Or Sappho at her toilet's greasy task, With Sappho fragrant at an evening mask: So morning insects, that in muck begun, Shine, buzz, and fly-blow in the setting sun.
How soft is Silia! fearful to offend ; The frail one's advocate, the weak one's friend. To her Calista prov'd her conduct nice, And good Simplicius asks of her advice. Sudden she storms ! she raves ! you tip the wink; But spare your censure; Silia does not drink.
All eyes may see from what the change arose ; All
eyes may seema pimple on her nose. Papillia, wedded to her amorous spark, Sighs for the shades—" How charming is a park!” A park is purchas'd; but the fair he sees All bath'd in tears—“Oh, odious, odious trees !
Ladies, like variegated tulips, show; 'Tis to their changes half their charms we owe: Fine by defect, and delicately weak, Their happy spots the nice admirer take. 'Twas thus Calypso once each heart alarm’d, Aw'd without virtue, without beauty charm’d; Her tongue bewitch'd as oddly as her eyes; Less wit than mimic, more a wit than wise. Strange graces still, and stranger flights, she had; Was just not ugly, and was just not mad; Yet ne'er so sure our passion to create, As when she touch'd the brink of all we hate.
Narcissa's nature, tolerably mild, To make a wash would hardly stew a child ; Has e'en been prov'd to grant a lover's prayer, And paid a tradesman once to make him stare; Gave alms at Easter in a christian trim, And made a widow happy for a whim. Why then declare good-nature is her scorn, When 'tis by that alone she can be borne? Why pique all mortals, yet affect a name? A fool to pleasure, yet a slave to fame:
2 Duchess of Hamilton.
Now deep in Taylor and the Book of Martyrs,
See sin in state, majestically drunk,
Flavia's a wit, has too much sense to pray;
Henrietta, usually called the young Duchess of Marlborough; to whom Congreve left the greater part of his fortune.
Then all for death, that opiate of the soul !
Turn then from wits, and look on Simo's mate;
Or who in sweet vicissitude appears
But what are these to great Atossa's mind ? Scarce once herself, by turns all womankind !
4 The Duchess of Montague. 5 The famous Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough.