This HTML etext of "Cadenus and Vanessa" (1713) by Jonathan Swift, was created in December 2006 by Anniina Jokinen of Luminarium.
Jonathan Swift wrote "Cadenus and Vanessa" for Esther Vanhomrigh, who was passionately in love with him; it was not intended for publication. For more on the unhappy love affair, see the Life of Jonathan Swift. At her death in 1723, Esther Vanhomrigh ("Van"-, from her last name, + -"Essa", a poetic pet name from "Esther"), let it be known she wanted the poem published. Cadenus and Vanessa was published in 1726 by J. Roberts at the Oxford-Arms in
Warwick-Lane, and the following year in the Miscellanies in Prose and Verse by Pope, Swift and Gay (1727).
The present etext is unaltered and preserves the formatting of the original within the limits allowed by the medium.
Swift, Jonathan. "Cadenus and Vanessa."
The Works of Jonathan Swift. Vol XIV.
Sir Walter Scott, Ed.
London: Bickers & Son, 1883. 429-454.
This edition is made available to the public for nonprofit purposes only. It is not represented by the publisher as a scholarly edition in the peer-reviewed sense. Unique site content is copyright ©2006 Anniina Jokinen. This e-text may not be reproduced or published in any form (including the Internet) without express written consent from the copyright holder. Permission granted for printing and distributing in the classroom for educational purposes, with this header included. For corrections, comments, and queries, please email the publisher.
Esther (or Hester) Vanhomrigh
CADENUS AND VANESSA.|
WRITTEN AT WINDSOR, 1713.
HE shepherds and the nymphs were seen
Pleading before the Cyprian queen.
The counsel for the fair began
Accusing the false creature Man.
The brief with weighty crimes was charged,
On which the pleader much enlarged;
That Cupid now has lost his art
Or blunts the point of every dart;—
His altar now no longer smokes,
His mother's aid no youth invokes:
This tempts freethinkers to refine,
And bring in doubt their powers divine;
Now love is dwindled to intrigue,
And marriage grown a money league;
Which crimes aforesaid (with her leave)
Were (as he humbly did conceive)
Against our sovereign lady's peace,
Against the statutes in that case,
Against her dignity and crown:
Then pray'd an answer, and sat down.
The nymphs with scorn beheld their foes;
When the defendant's counsel rose,
And, what no lawyer ever lack'd,
With impudence own'd all the fact;
But, what the gentlest heart would vex,
Laid all the fault on t'other sex.
That modern love is no such thing
As what those ancient poets sing;
A fire celestial, chaste, refined,
Conceived and kindled in the mind;
Which, having found an equal flame,
Unites, and both become the same,
In different breasts together burn,
Together both to ashes turn.
But women now feel no such fire,
And only know the gross desire.
Their passions move in lower spheres,
Where'er caprice or folly steers,
A dog, a parrot, or an ape,
Or some worse brute in human shape,
Engross the fancies of the fair,
The few soft moments they can spare,
From visits to receive and pay,
From scandal, politics, and play;
From fans, and flounces, and brocades,
From equipage and park parades,
From all the thousand female toys,
From every trifle that employs
The out or inside of their heads,
Between their toilets and their beds.
In a dull stream, which moving slow,
You hardly see the current flow;
If a small breeze obstructs the course,
It whirls about, for want of force,
And in its narrow circle gathers
Nothing but chaff, and straws, and feathers.
The current of a female mind
Stops thus, and turns with every wind:
Thus whirling round together draws
Fools, fops, and rakes, for chaff and straws.
Hence we conclude, no women's hearts
Are won by virtue, wit, and parts:
Nor are the men of sense to blame,
For breasts incapable of flame;
The faults must on the nymphs be placed,
Grown so corrupted in their taste.
The pleader having spoke his best,
Had witness ready to attest,
Who fairly could on oath depose,
When questions on the fact arose,
That every article was true;
Nor further those deponents knew:
Therefore he humbly would insist,
The bill might be with costs dismiss'd.
The cause appear'd with so much weight,
That Venus, from her judgment seat,
Desired them not to talk so loud,
Else she must interpose a cloud:
For if the heavenly folks should know
These pleadings in the courts below,
That mortals here disdain to love,
She ne'er could shew her face above;
For gods, their betters, are too wise
To value that which men despise.
And then, said she, my son and I
Must stroll in air, 'twixt land and sky;
Or else, shut out from heaven and earth,
Fly to the sea, my place of birth:
There live with daggled mermaids pent,
And keep on fish perpetual Lent.
But since the case appear'd so nice,
She thought it best to take advice.
The Muses, by the king's permission,
Though foes to love, attend the session,
And on the right hand took their places
In order; on the left, the Graces:
To whom she might her doubts propose
On all emergencies that rose.
The Muses oft were seen to frown;
The Graces half ashamed looked down;
And 'twas observed, there were but few
Of either sex among the crew,
Whom she or her assessors knew.
The goddess soon began to see,
Things were not ripe for a decree;
And said, she must consult her books,
The lovers' Fletas, Bractons, Cokes.
First to a dapper clerk she beckon'd
To turn to Ovid, book the second:
She then referr'd them to a place
In Virgil, vide Dido's case:
As for Tibullus's reports,
They never pass'd for law in courts:
For Cowley's briefs, and pleas of Waller,
Still their authority is smaller.
There was on both sides much to say:
She'd hear the cause another day;
And so she did; and then a third;
She heard it — there she kept her word:
But, with rejoinders or replies,
Long bills, and answers stuff'd with lies,
Demur, imparlance, and essoign,
The parties ne'er could issue join:
For sixteen years the cause was spun,
And then stood where it first begun.
Now, gentle Clio, sing, or say
What Venus meant by this delay?
The goddess much perplex'd in mind
To see her empire thus declined,
When first this grand debate arose,
Above her wisdom to compose,
Conceived a project in her head
To work her ends; which, if it sped,
Would shew the merits of the cause
Far better than consulting laws.
In a glad hour Lucina's aid
Produced on earth a wondrous maid,
On whom the Queen of Love was bent,
To try a new experiment.
She threw her law-books on the shelf,
And thus debated with herself.
Since men allege, they ne'er can find
Those beauties in a female mind,
Which raise a flame that will endure
For ever uncorrupt and pure;
If 'tis with reason they complain,
This infant shall restore my reign.
I'll search where every virtue dwells,
From courts inclusive down to cells:
What preachers talk, or sages write;
These will I gather and unite,
And represent them to mankind
Collected in that infant's mind.
This said, she plucks in Heaven's high bowers
A sprig of amaranthine flowers.
In nectar thrice infuses bays,
Three times refined in Titan's rays;
Then calls the Graces to her aid,
And sprinkles thrice the newborn maid:
From whence the tender skin assumes
A sweetness above all perfumes:
From whence a cleanliness remains,
Incapable of outward stains:
From whence that decency of mind,
So lovely in the female kind,
Where not one careless thought intrudes;
Less modest than the speech of prudes;
Where never blush was call'd in aid,
That spurious virtue in a maid,
A virtue but at second-hand;
They blush because they understand.
The Graces next would act their part,
And shew'd but little of their art;
Their work was half already done,
The child with native beauty shone;
The outward form no help required:
Each, breathing on her thrice, inspired
That gentle, soft, engaging air,
Which in old times adorn'd the fair:
And said, "Vanessa be the name
By which thou shalt be known to fame:
Vanessa, by the gods enroll'd:
Her name on earth shall not be told."
But still the work was not complete;
When Venus thought on a deceit.
Drawn by her doves, away she flies,
And finds out Pallas in the skies.
Dear Pallas, I have been this morn
To see a lovely infant born:
A boy in yonder isle below,
So like my own without his bow,
By beauty could your heart be won,
You'd swear it is Apollo's son:
But it shall ne'er be said, a child
So hopeful, has by me been spoil'd:
I have enough besides to spare,
And give him wholly to your care.
Wisdom's above suspecting wiles;
The Queen of learning gravely smiles,
Down from Olympus comes with joy,
Mistakes Vanessa for a boy!
Then sows within her tender mind
Seeds long unknown to womankind:
For manly bosoms chiefly fit,
The seeds of knowledge, judgment, wit.
Her soul was suddenly endued
With justice, truth, and fortitude;
With honour, which no breath can stain,
Which malice must attack in vain;
With open heart and bounteous hand.
But Pallas here was at a stand;
She knEw, in our degenerate days,
Bare virtue could not live on praise;
That meat must be with money bought:
She therefore, upon second thought,
Infused, yet as it were by stealth,
Some small regard for state and wealth;
Of which, as she grew up, there staid
A tincture in the prudent maid:
She managed her estate with care,
Yet liked three footmen to her chair.
But, lest he should neglect his studies
Like a young heir, the thrifty goddess
(For fear young master should be spoil'd)
Would use him like a younger child;
And, after long computing, found
'Twould come to just five thousand pound.
The Queen of Love was pleased, and proud,
To see Vanessa thus endow'd:
She doubted not but such a dame
Through every breast would dart a flame;
That every rich and lordly swain
With pride would drag about her chain;
That scholars would forsake their books,
To study bright Vanessa's looks;
As she advanced, that womankind
Would by her model form their mind,
And all their conduct would be tried
By her, as an unerring guide;
Offending daughters oft would hear
Vanessa's praise rung in their ear:
Miss Betty, when she does a fault,
Lets fall her knife, or spills the salt,
Will thus be by her mother chid,
"'Tis what Vanessa never did!"
Thus by the nymphs and swains adored,
My power shall be again restored,
And happy lovers bless my reign —
So Venus hoped, but hoped in vain.
For when in time the Martial Maid
Found out the trick that Venus play'd,
She shakes her helm, she knits her brows,
And, fired with indignation, vows,
To-morrow, ere the setting sun,
She'd all undo that she had done.
But in the poets we may find
A wholesome law, time out of mind,
Had been confirmed by Fate's decree,
That gods, of whatsoe'er degree,
Resume not what themselves have given,
Or any brother god in Heaven:
Which keeps the peace among the gods,
Or they must always be at odds:
And Pallas, if she broke the laws,
Must yield her foe the stronger cause:
A shame to one so much adored
For wisdom at Jove's council-board.
Besides, she fear'd the Queen of Love
Would meet with better friends above.
And though she must with grief reflect,
To see a mortal virgin deck'd
With graces hitherto unknown
To female breasts, except her own:
Yet she would act as best became
A goddess of unspotted fame.
She knew, by augury divine,
Venus would fail in her design:
She studied well the point, and found
Her foe's conclusions were not sound,
From premises erroneous brought,
And therefore the deduction's naught,
And must have contrary effects,
To what her treacherous foe expects.
In proper season Pallas meets
The Queen of Love, whom thus she greets,
(For gods, we are by Homer told,
Can in celestial language scold:)—
Perfidious goddess! but in vain
You form'd this project in your brain;
A project for thy talents fit,
With much deceit and little wit.
Thou hast, as thou shalt quickly see,
Deceived thyself, instead of me;
For how can heavenly wisdom prove
An instrument to earthly love?
Know'st thou not yet, that men commence
Thy votaries for want of sense?
Nor shall Vanessa be the theme
To manage thy abortive scheme:
She'll prove the greatest of thy foes;
And yet I scorn to interpose,
But, using neither skill nor force,
Leave all things to their natural course.
The goddess thus pronounced her doom:
When, lo! Vanessa in her bloom,
Advanced, like Atalanta's star,
But rarely seen, and seen from far:
In a new world with caution stept,
Watch'd all the company she kept,
Well knowing, from the books she read,
What dangerous paths young virgins tread:
Would seldom at the Park appear,
Nor saw the play-house twice a year;
Yet, not incurious, was inclined
To know the converse of mankind.
First issued from perfumers' shops,
A crowd of fashionable fops:
They asked her how she liked the play;
Then told the tattle of the day;
A duel fought last night at two,
About a lady — you know who;
Mention'd a new Italian, come
Either from Muscovy or Rome;
Gave hints of who and who's together;
Then fell to talking of the weather;
Last night was so extremely fine,
The ladies walk'd till after nine:
Then, in soft voice and speech absurd,
With nonsense every second word,
With fustian from exploded plays,
They celebrate her beauty's praise;
Run o'er their cant of stupid lies,
And tell the murders of her eyes.
With silent scorn Vanessa sat,
Scarce listening to their idle chat;
Farther than sometimes by a frown,
When they grew pert, to pull them down.
At last she spitefully was bent
To try their wisdom's full extent;
And said, she valued nothing less
Than titles, figure, shape, and dress;
That merit should be chiefly placed
In judgment, knowledge, wit, and taste;
And these, she offer'd to dispute,
Alone distinguish'd man from brute:
That present times have no pretence
To virtue, in the noble sense
By Greeks and Romans understood,
To perish for our country's good.
She named the ancient heroes round,
Explain'd for what they were renown'd;
Then spoke with censure or applause,
Of foreign customs, rites, and laws;
Through nature and through art she ranged,
And gracefully her subject changed;
In vain! her hearers had no share
In all she spoke, except to stare.
Their judgment was, upon the whole,
— That lady is the dullest soul!—
Then tapt their forehead in a jeer,
As who should say — She wants it here!
She may be handsome, young, and rich,
But none will burn her for a witch!
A party next of glittering dames,
From round the purlieus of St. James,
Came early, out of pure good will,
To see the girl in dishabille.
Their clamour, 'lighting from their chairs,
Grew louder all the way up stairs;
At entrance loudest, where they found
The rooms with volumes litter'd round.
Vanessa held Montaigne, and read,
Whilst Mrs. Susan comb'd her head.
They call'd for tea and chocolate,
And fell into their usual chat,
Discoursing with important face,
On ribbons, fans, and gloves, and lace;
Shew'd patterns just from India brought,
And gravely ask'd her what she thought,
Whether the red or green were best,
And what they cost? Vanessa guess'd,
As came into her fancy first;
Named half the rates, and liked the worst.
To scandal next — What awkward thing
Was that last Sunday in the ring?
I'm sorry Mopsa breaks so fast:
I said her face would never last.
Corinna, with that youthful air,
Is thirty, and a bit to spare:
Her fondness for a certain earl
Began when I was but a girl!
Phillis, who but a month ago
Was married to the Tunbridge beau,
I saw coquetting t'other night
In public with that odious knight!
They rallied next Vanessa's dress:
That gown was made for old Queen Bess.
Dear madam, let me set your head:
Don't you intend to put on red?
A petticoat without a hoop!
Sure, you are not ashamed to stoop!
With handsome garters at your knees,
No matter what a fellow sees.
Fill'd with disdain, with rage inflamed,
Both of herself and sex ashamed,
The nymph stood silent out of spite,
Nor would vouchsafe to set them right.
Away the fair detractors went,
And gave by turns their censures vent.
She's not so handsome in my eyes:
For wit, I wonder where it lies!
She's fair and clean, and that's the most:
But why proclaim her for a toast?
A baby face; no life, no airs,
But what she learn'd at country fairs:
Scarce knows what difference is between
Rich Flanders lace and Colberteen.
I'll undertake, my little Nancy
In flounces has a better fancy;
With all her wit, I would not ask
Her judgment how to buy a mask.
We begg'd her but to patch her face,
She never hit one proper place;
Which every girl at five years old
Can do as soon as she is told.
I own, that out-of-fashion stuff
Becomes the creature well enough.
The girl might pass, if we could get her
To know the world a little better.
(To know the world! a modern phrase
For visits, ombre, balls, and plays.)
Thus, to the world's perpetual shame,
The Queen of Beauty lost her aim;
Too late with grief she understood
Pallas had done more harm than good;
For great examples are but vain,
Where ignorance begets disdain.
Both sexes, arm'd with guilt and spite,
Against Vanessa's power unite:
To copy her few nymphs aspired;
Her virtues fewer swains admired.
So stars, beyond a certain height,
Give mortals neither heat nor light.
Yet some of either sex, endow'd
With gifts superior to the crowd,
With virtue, knowledge, taste, and wit,
She condescended to admit:
With pleasing arts she could reduce
Men's talents to their proper use;
And with address each genius held
To that wherein it most excell'd;
Thus, making others' wisdom known,
Could please them, and improve her own.
A modest youth said something new;
She placed it in the strongest view.
All humble worth she strove to raise,
Would not be praised, yet loved to praise.
The learned met with free approach,
Although they came not in a coach:
Some clergy too she would allow,
Nor quarrell'd at their awkward bow;
But this was for Cadenus' sake,
A gownman of a different make;
Whom Pallas once, Vanessa's tutor,
Had fix'd on for her coadjutor.
But Cupid, full of mischief, longs
To vindicate his mother's wrongs.
On Pallas all attempts are vain:
One way he knows to give her pain;
Vows on Vanessa's heart to take
Due vengeance, for her patron's sake;
Those early seeds by Venus sown,
In spite of Pallas now were grown;
And Cupid hoped they would improve
By time, and ripen into love.
The boy made use of all his craft,
In vain discharging many a shaft,
Pointed at colonels, lords, and beaux:
Cadenus warded off the blows;
For, placing still some book betwixt,
The darts were in the cover fix'd,
Or, often blunted and recoil'd,
On Plutarch's Morals struck, were spoil'd.
The Queen of Wisdom could foresee,
But not prevent, the Fates' decree:
And human caution tries in vain
To break that adamantine chain.
Vanessa, though by Pallas taught,
By Love invulnerable thought,
Searching in books for wisdom's aid,
Was, in the very search, betray'd.
Cupid, though all his darts were lost,
Yet still resolved to spare no cost:
He could not answer to his fame
The triumphs of that stubborn dame,
A nymph so hard to be subdued,
Who neither was coquette nor prude.
I find, said he, she wants a doctor,
Both to adore her, and instruct her:
I'll give her what she most admires
Among those venerable sires.
Cadenus is a subject fit,
Grown old in politics and wit,
Caress'd by ministers of state,
Of half mankind the dread and hate.
Whate'er vexations love attend,
She need no rivals apprehend.
Her sex, with universal voice,
Must laugh at her capricious choice.
Cadenus many things had writ:
Vanessa much esteem'd his wit,
And call'd for his poetic works:
Meantime the boy in secret lurks;
And, while the book was in her hand,
The urchin from his private stand
Took aim, and shot with all his strength
A dart of such prodigious length,
It pierced the feeble volume through,
And deep transfixed her bosom too.
Some lines, more moving than the rest,
Stuck to the point that pierced her breast,
And, borne directly to the heart,
With pains unknown increased her smart.
Vanessa, not in years a score,
Dreams of a gown of forty-four;
Imaginary charms can find
In eyes with reading almost blind:
Cadenus now no more appears
Declined in health, advanced in years.
She fancies music in his tongue;
Nor farther looks, but thinks him young.
What mariner is not afraid
To venture in a ship decay'd?
What planter will attempt to yoke
A sapling with a falling oak?
As years increase, she brighter shines;
Cadenus with each day declines:
And he must fall a prey to time,
While she continues in her prime.
Cadenus, common forms apart,
In every scene had kept his heart;
Had sigh'd and languish'd, vow'd and writ,
For pastime, or to shew his wit,
But books, and time, and state affairs,
Had spoil'd his fashionable airs:
He now could praise, esteem, approve,
But understood not what was love.
His conduct might have made him styled
A father, and the nymph his child.
That innocent delight he took
To see the virgin mind her book,
Was but the master's secret joy
In school to hear the finest boy.
Her knowledge with her fancy grew,
She hourly press'd for something new;
Ideas came into her mind
So fast, his lessons lagg'd behind;
She reason'd, without plodding long,
Nor ever gave her judgment wrong.
But now a sudden change was wrought;
She minds no longer what he taught.
Cadenus was amazed to find
Such marks of a distracted mind:
For, though she seem'd to listen more
To all he spoke, than e'er before,
He found her thoughts would absent range,
Yet guess'd not whence could spring the change.
And first he modestly conjectures
His pupil might be tired with lectures;
Which help'd to mortify his pride,
Yet gave him not the heart to chide:
But, in a mild dejected strain,
At last he ventured to complain:
Said, she should be no longer teazed,
Might have her freedom when she pleased;
Was now convinced he acted wrong
To hide her from the world so long,
And in dull studies to engage
One of her tender sex and age;
That every nymph with envy own'd,
How she might shine in the grande monde;
And every shepherd was undone
To see her cloister'd like a nun.
This was a visionary scheme:
He waked, and found it but a dream;
A project far above his skill;
For nature must be nature still.
If he were bolder than became
A scholar to a courtly dame,
She might excuse a man of letters;
Thus tutors often treat their betters;
And, since his talk offensive grew,
He came to take his last adieu.
Vanessa, fill'd with just disdain,
Would still her dignity maintain,
Instructed from her early years
To scorn the art of female tears.
Had he employ'd his time so long
To teach her what was right and wrong;
Yet could such notions entertain
That all his lectures were in vain?
She own'd the wandering of her thoughts;
But he must answer for her faults.
She well remember'd to her cost,
That all his lessons were not lost.
Two maxims she could still produce
And sad experience taught their use;
That virtue, pleased by being shown,
Knows nothing which it dares not own;
Can make us without fear disclose
Our inmost secrets to our foes;
That common forms were not design'd
Directors to a noble mind.
Now, said the nymph, to let you see
My actions with your rules agree;
That I can vulgar forms despise,
And have no secrets to disguise;
I knew, by what you said and writ,
How dangerous things were men of wit;
You caution'd me against their charms,
But never gave me equal arms;
Your lessons found the weakest part,
Aim'd at the head, but reach'd the heart.
Cadenus felt within him rise
Shame, disappointment, guilt, surprise.
He knew not how to reconcile
Such language with her usual style:
And yet her words were so exprest,
He could not hope she spoke in jest.
His thought had wholly been confined
To form and cultivate her mind.
He hardly knew, till he was told,
Whether the nymph were young or old;
Had met her in a public place,
Without distinguishing her face;
Much less could his declining age
Vanessa's earliest thoughts engage;
And, if her youth indifference met,
His person must contempt beget;
Or grant her passion be sincere,
How shall his innocence be clear?
Appearances were all so strong,
The world must think him in the wrong;
Would say, he made a treacherous use
Of wit, to flatter and seduce;
The town would swear he had betray'd,
By magic spells the harmless maid:
And every beau would have his jokes,
That scholars were like other folks;
And, when Platonic flights were over,
The tutor turn'd a mortal lover!
So tender of the young and fair!
It shew'd a true paternal care—
Five thousand guineas in her purse!
The doctor might have fancied worse.—
Hardly at length he silence broke,
And falter'd every word he spoke;
Interpreting her complaisance,
Just as a man sans consequence.
She rallied well, he always knew:
Her manner now was something new;
And what she spoke was in an air
As serious as a tragic player.
But those who aim at ridicule
Should fix upon some certain rule,
Which fairly hints they are in jest,
Else he must enter his protest:
For let a man be ne'er so wise,
He may be caught with sober lies;
A science which he never taught,
And, to be free, was dearly bought;
For, take it in its proper light,
'Tis just what coxcombs call a bite.
But, not to dwell on things minute,
Vanessa finish'd the dispute;
Brought weighty arguments to prove
That reason was her guide in love.
She thought he had himself described
His doctrines when she fist imbibed;
What he had planted, now was grown;
His virtues she might call her own;
As he approves, as he dislikes,
Love or contempt her fancy strikes.
Self-love, in nature rooted fast,
Attends us first, and leaves us last;
Why she likes him, admire not at her;
She loves herself, and that's the matter.
How was her tutor wont to praise
The geniuses of ancient days!
(Those authors he so oft had named,
For learning, wit, and wisdom, famed;)
Was struck with love, esteem, and awe,
For persons whom he never saw.
Suppose Cadenus flourish'd then,
He must adore such godlike men.
If one short volume could comprise
All that was witty, learn'd and wise,
How would it be esteem'd and read,
Although the writer long were dead!
If such an author were alive,
How all would for his friendship strive,
And come in crowds to see his face;
And this she takes to be her case.
Cadenus answers every end,
The book, the author, and the friend;
The utmost her desires will reach,
Is but to learn what he can teach:
His converse is a system fit
Alone to fill up all her wit;
While every passion of her mind
In him is centred and confined.
Love can with speech inspire a mute,
And taught Vanessa to dispute.
This topic, never touch'd before,
Display'd her eloquence the more:
Her knowledge, with such pains acquired,
By this new passion grew inspired;
Through this she made all objects pass,
Which gave a tincture o'er the mass;
As rivers, though they bend and twine,
Still to the sea their course incline:
Or, as philosophers, who find
Some favourite system to their mind;
In every point to make it fit,
Will force all nature to submit.
Cadenus, who could ne'er suspect
His lessons would have such effect,
Or be so artfully applied,
Insensibly came on her side.
It was an unforeseen event;
Things took a turn he never meant.
Whoe'er excels in what we prize,
Appears a hero in our eyes;
Each girl, when pleased with what is taught,
Will have the teacher in her thought.
When miss delights in her spinet,
A fiddler may a fortune get;
A blockhead, with melodious voice,
In boarding-schools can have his choice:
And oft the dancing-master's art
Climbs from the toe to touch the heart.
In learning let a nymph delight,
The pedant gets a mistress by't.
Cadenus, to his grief and shame,
Could scarce oppose Vanessa's flame;
And, though her arguments were strong,
At least could hardly with them wrong.
Howe'er it came, he could not tell,
But sure, she never talk'd so well.
His pride began to interpose;
Preferr'd before a crowd of beaux!
So bright a nymph to come unsought!
Such wonder by his merit wrought!
'Tis merit must with her prevail!
He never knew her judgment fail!
She noted all she ever read!
And had a most discerning head!
'Tis an old maxim in the schools,
That flattery's the food of fools;
Yet now and then your men of wit
Will condescend to take a bit.
So when Cadenus could not hide,
He chose to justify his pride;
Construing the passion she had shown,
Much to her praise, more to his own.
Nature in him had merit placed,
In her a most judicious taste.
Love, hitherto a transient guest,
Ne'er held possession in his breast;
So long attending at the gate,
Disdain'd to enter in so late.
Love why do we one passion call,
When 'tis a compound of them all?
Where hot and cold, where sharp and sweet,
In all their equipages meet;
Where pleasures mix'd with pains appear,
Sorrow with joy, and hope with fear;
Wherein his dignity and age
Forbid Cadenus to engage.
But friendship, in its greatest height,
A constant, rational delight,
On virtue's basis fix'd to last,
When love allurements long are past,
Which gently warms, but cannot burn,
He gladly offers in return;
His want of passion will redeem
With gratitude, respect, esteem:
With that devotion we bestow,
When goddesses appear below.
While thus Cadenus entertains
Vanessa in exalted strains,
The nymph in sober words entreats
A truce with all sublime conceits;
For why such raptures, flights, and fancies,
To her who durst not read romances?
In lofty style to make replies,
Which he had taught her to despise?
But when her tutor will affect
Devotion, duty, and respect,
He fairly abdicates the throne:
The government is now her own;
He has a forfeiture incurr'd;
She vows to take him at his word,
And hopes he will not take it strange,
If both should now their stations change;
The nymph will have her turn to be
The tutor; and the pupil, he:
Though she already can discern
Her scholar is not apt to learn;
Or wants capacity to reach
The science she designs to teach;
Wherein his genius was below
The skill of every common beau,
Who, though he cannot spell, is wise
Enough to read a lady's eyes,
And will each accidental glance
Interpret for a kind advance.
But what success Vanessa met
Is to the world a secret yet.
Whether the nymph, to please her swain,
Talks in a high romantic strain;
Or whether he at last descends
To acte with less seraphic ends;
Or to compound the business, whether
They temper love and books together;
Must never to mankind be told,
Nor shall the conscious Muse unfold.
Meantime the mournful Queen of Love
Led but a weary life above.
She ventures now to leave the skies,
Grown by Vanessa's conduct wise:
For though by one perverse event
Pallas had cross'd her first intent;
Though her design was not obtain'd:
Yet had she much experience gain'd,
And, by the project vainly tried,
Could better now the cause decide.
She gave due notice, that both parties,
Coram Regina, prox' die Martis,
Should at their peril, without fail,
Come and appear, and save their bail.
All met; and silence thrice proclaim'd,
One lawyer to each side was named.
The judge discover'd in her face
Resentments for her late disgrace;
And full of anger, shame, and grief,
Directed them to mind their brief;
Nor spend their time to shew their reading:
She'd have a summary proceeding.
She gather'd under every head
The sum of what each lawyer said,
Gave her own reasons last, and then
Decreed the cause against the men.
But in a weighty case like this,
To shew she did not judge amiss,
Which evil tongues might else report,
She made a speech in open court;
Wherein she grievously complains,
"How she was cheated by the swains;
On whose petition (humbly shewing
That women were not worth the wooing,
And that, unless the sex would mend,
The race of lovers soon must end)—
She was at Lord knows what expense
To form a nymph of wit and sense,
A model for her sex design'd,
Who never could one lover find.
She saw her favour was misplaced;
The fellows had a wretched taste;
She needs must tell them to their face,
They were a stupid, senseless race:
And, were she to begin again,
She'd study to reform the men;
Or add some grains of folly more
To women, than they had before,
To put them on an equal foot;
And this, or nothing else, would do't.
This might their mutual fancy strike;
Since every being loves its like.
"But now, repenting what was done,
She left all business to her son;
She put the world in his possession,
And let him use it at discretion."
The crier was order'd to dismiss
The court, so made his last "O yes!"
The goddess would no longer wait;
But, rising from her chair of state,
Left all below at six and seven,
Harness'd her doves, and flew to Heaven.
F I N I S.