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Origin of Flattery.
[*]
This little poem was written almost extempore on occasion of a conversation where many pleasant things were said on the subject of flattery; and some French gentlemen who were of the party, inquired for a synonime in English to the French word fleurette. The poem was inserted in the two first editions, and having been asked for by[Page 126] very respectable subscribers to the present, it is reprinted. The sonnets have been thought too gloomy, and the author has been advised to insert some of a more cheerful cast. This poem may by others be thought too gay, and is indeed so little in unison with the present sentiments and feelings of its author, that it had been wholly omitted but for the respectable approbation of those to whose judgment she owed implicit deference.

1 WHEN Jove, in anger to the sons of earth,
2 Bid artful Vulcan give Pandora birth,
3 And sent the fatal gift, which spread below
4 O'er all the wretched race, contagious woe,
5 Unhappy man, by Vice and Folly tost,
6 Found in the storms of life his quiet lost,
7 While Envy, Avarice and Ambition, hurl'd
8 Discord and Death around the warring world;
9 Then the blest peasant left his fields and fold,
10 And barter'd love and peace for pow'r and gold;
11 Left his calm cottage and his native plain,
12 In search of wealth to tempt the faithless main;
13 Or, braving danger, in the battle stood,
14 And bath'd his savage hands in human blood:
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15 No longer then, his woodland walks among,
16 The shepherd lad his genuine passion sung,
17 Or sought at early morn his soul's delight,
18 Or grav'd her name upon the bark at night;
19 To deck her flowing hair no more he wove
20 The simple wreath, or with ambitious love
21 Bound his own brow with myrtle or with bay,
22 But broke his pipe, and threw his crook away.
23 The nymphs forsaken, other pleasures sought;
24 Then first for gold their venal hearts were bought,
25 And Nature's blush to sickly Art gave place,
26 And Affectation seiz'd the seat of Grace:
27 No more Simplicity, by Sense refin'd,
28 Or gen'rous Sentiment, possess'd the mind;
29 No more they felt each other's joy and woe,
30 And Cupid fled, and hid his useless bow.
31 But with deep grief propitious Venus pin'd,
32 To see the ills which threaten'd womankind;
33 Ills, that she knew her empire would disarm,
34 And rob her subjects of their sweetest charm;
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35 Good humour's potent influence destroy,
36 And change for low'ring frowns, the smile of joy.
37 Then deeply sighing at the mournful view,
38 She try'd at length what heavenly Art could do
39 To bring back Pleasure to her pensive train,
40 And vindicate the glories of her reign.
41 A thousand little loves attend the task,
42 And bear from Mars's head his radiant casque,
43 The fair enchantress on its silver bound,
44 Wreath'd with soft spells her magic cestus round.
45 Then shaking from her hair ambrosial dew,
46 Infus'd fair Hope, and Expectation new,
47 And stifled wishes, and persuasive sighs,
48 And fond belief, and 'eloquence of eyes,'
49 And fault'ring accents, which explain so well
50 What studied speeches vainly try to tell,
51 And more pathetic silence, which imparts
52 Infectious tenderness to feeling hearts,
53 Soft tones of pity; fascinating smiles;
54 And Maia's son assisted her with wiles,
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55 And brought gay dreams, fantastic visions brought,
56 And wav'd his wand o'er the seducing draught.
57 Then Zephyr came: To him the goddess cry'd,
58 'Go fetch from Flora all her flow'ry pride
59 'To fill my charm, each scented bud that blows,
60 ' And bind my myrtles with her thornless rose;
61 'Then speed thy flight to Gallia's smiling plain,
62 ' Where rolls the Loire, the Garonne and the Seine;
63 'Dip in their waters thy celestial wing,
64 ' And the soft dew to fill my chalice bring;
65 'But chiefly tell thy Flora, that to me
66 ' She send a bouquet of her fleurs de lys;
67 'That poignant spirit will complete my spell.'
68 'Tis done! the lovely sorc'ress says 'tis well.
69 And now Apollo lends a ray of fire,
70 The caldron bubbles, and the flames aspire;
71 The watchful Graces round the circle dance,
72 With arms entwin'd, to mark the work's advance;
73 And with full quiver sportive Cupid came,
74 Temp'ring his fav'rite arrows in the flame.
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75 Then Venus speaks, the wav'ring flames retire,
76 And Zephyr's breath extinguishes the fire.
77 At length the goddess in the helmet's round
78 A sweet and subtile spirit duly found,
79 More soft than oil, than ether more refin'd,
80 Of pow'r to cure the woes of womankind,
81 And call'd it Flatt'ry: balm of female life,
82 It charms alike the widow, maid and wife;
83 Clears the sad brow of virgins in despair,
84 And smooths the cruel traces left by Care;
85 Bids palsy'd Age with youthful spirit glow,
86 And hangs May's garlands on December's snow.
87 Delicious essence! howsoe'er apply'd,
88 By what rude nature is thy charm deny'd?
89 Some form seducing still thy whisper wears,
90 Stern Wisdom turns to thee her willing ears,
91 And Prudery listens, and forgets her fears.
92 The rustic nymph, whom rigid aunts restrain,
93 Condemn'd to dress, and practise airs in vain,
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94 At thy first summons finds her bosom swell,
95 And bids her crabbed governantes farewell;
96 While, fir'd by thee with spirit not her own,
97 She grows a toast, and rises into ton.
98 The faded beauty who with secret pain,
99 Sees younger charms usurp her envied reign,
100 By thee assisted, can with smiles behold
101 The record where her conquests are enroll'd;
102 And dwelling yet on scenes by mem'ry nurs'd,
103 When George the second reign'd, or George the first;
104 She sees the shades of ancient beaux arise,
105 Who swear her eyes exceeded modern eyes,
106 When poets sung for her and lovers bled,
107 And giddy Fashion follow'd as she led.
108 Departed modes appear in long array,
109 The flow'rs and flounces of her happier day;
110 Again her locks the decent fillets bind,
111 The waving lappet flutters in the wind,
112 And then comparing with a proud disdain
113 The more fantastic tastes that now obtain,
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114 She deems ungraceful, trifling and absurd,
115 The gayer world that moves round George the third.
116 Nor thy soft influence will the train refuse,
117 Who court in distant shades the modest Muse,
118 Tho' in a form more pure and more refin'd,
119 Thy soothing spirit meets the letter'd mind;
120 Not Death itself thine empire can destroy;
121 Tow'rds thee, e'en then, we turn the languid eye;
122 Still trust in thee to bid our mem'ry bloom,
123 And scatter roses round the silent tomb.

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Title (in Source Edition): Origin of Flattery.
Themes:
Genres: heroic couplet

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Source edition

Elegiac sonnets, and other poems. By Charlotte Smith. The first Worcester edition, from the sixth London edition, with additions. Printed at Worcester [Mass.]: by Isaiah Thomas, sold by him in Worcester, and by said Thomas and Andrews in Boston, 1795, pp. 90-96. xix,[2],22-126,[2]p.,[5] leaves of plates: ill.; 15 cm. (12mo) (OTA N22357)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

Other works by Charlotte Smith (née Turner)