FLORIO: A POETICAL TALE, FOR FINE GENTLEMEN AND FINE LADIES.
1 FLORIO, a youth of gay renown,
2 Who figur'd much about the Town,
3 Had pass'd, with general approbation,
4 The modish forms of Education;
5 Knew what was proper to be known,
6 Th' establislih'd jargon of Bon-ton;[Page 2]
7 Had learnt, with very moderate reading,
8 The whole new system of good breeding:
9 Knew to be negligent and rude;
10 But still his feelings wou'd intrude:
11 For FLORIO was not meant by nature,
12 A silly, or a worthless creature:
13 He had a heart dispos'd to feel,
14 Had sense and spirit, taste and zeal;
15 Was handsome, generous; but, by fate,
16 Predestin'd to a large estate!
17 Hence all the hopes he gave were foil'd;
18 His mind by praise and pleasure spoil'd.
19 The Destiny, who wove the thread
20 Of FLORIO'S being, sigh'd, and said,
21 Poor youth! this cumbrous twist of gold,
22 More, than my shuttle well can hold,[Page 3]
23 For which thy anxious fathers toil'd,
24 Thy white and even thread has spoil'd:
25 This shall seduce thy pliant youth
26 From sense, simplicity, and truth;
27 Thy erring fire, by this misled,
28 Shall scatter pleasures round thy head,
29 When wholesome disicipline's controul,
30 Shou'd brace the sinews of thy soul;
31 Coldly thou'lt toil for Learning's prize,
32 For why shou'd he that's rich be wise?
33 The gracious Master of mankind,
34 Who knew us vain, and weak, and blind,
35 In mercy, tho' in anger, said,
36 That man shou'd earn his daily bread;
37 Who counteracts the order given,
38 Disputes the high behest of Heaven.[Page 4]
39 Forgive (nor lay the fault on me)
40 This mixture of mythology;
41 The bard of Paradise has deign'd
42 With truth to mingle fables feign'd;
43 Who cannot reach his style, or thoughts,
44 With ease may irritate his faults.
45 Poor FLORIO, at the ardent age
46 When youth shou'd rush on Glory's stage;
47 When Life shou'd open fresh and fair,
48 And Hope advance with smiling air;
49 Of youthful gaiety bereft,
50 Had scarce an unbroach'd pleasure left;
51 He found already to his cost,
52 The shining gloss of life was lost;
53 And Pleasure was so coy a prude,
54 She fled the more the more pursued.[Page 5]
55 But FLORIO knew the WORLD, that Science
56 Set Sense and Learning at defiance;
57 He thought the world to him was known,
58 Whereas he only knew the Town;
59 In men this blunder still you find,
60 All think their little set — Mankind.
61 Tho' high renown the youth had gain'd,
62 No flagrant crimes his life had stain'd;
63 No tool of falsehood, slave of passion,
64 But spoilt by CUSTOM, and the FASHION.
65 Tho' known among a certain set,
66 He did not like to be in debt;
67 He shudder'd at the dicer's box,
68 Nor thought it very heterodox
69 That tradesmen shou'd be sometimes paid,
70 And promises be kept when made.[Page 6]
71 His utmost credit, as a sinner,
72 Was that he sometimes spoilt a dinner;
73 Ever, by system, came too late,
74 And made his choicest parties wait;
75 Yet 'twas a hopeful indication,
76 On which to found a reputation:
77 Small habits, well pursued betimes,
78 May reach the dignity of crimes.
79 His mornings were not spent in vice,
80 'Twas lounging, sauntering, eating ice:
81 Walk up and down St. James's Street,
82 Full fifty times the youth you'd meet:
83 He hated cards, detested drinking,
84 But stroll'd to shun the toil of thinking;
85 'Twas doing nothing was his curse,
86 Is there a vice can plague us worse?[Page 7]
87 The wretch who digs the mine for bread,
88 Or ploughs, that others may be fed,
89 Feels less fatigue than that decreed
90 To him who cannot think, or read.
91 Not all the struggle of temptation,
92 Not all the furious war of passion,
93 Can quench the spark of Glory's flame,
94 Or blot out Virtue's very name;
95 Like the true taste for genuine saunter,
96 No rival passions can supplant her;
97 They rule in short and quick succession,
98 But SLOTH keeps one long, fast possession;
99 Ambition's reign is quickly clos'd,
100 Th' usurper Rage is soon depos'd;
101 Intemperance, where there's no temptation,
102 Makes voluntary abdication;[Page 8]
103 Of other tyrants short the strife,
104 But INDOLENCE is king for life.
105 Yet tho' so polish'd FLORIO'S breeding,
106 Think him not ignorant of reading;
107 For he, to keep him from the vapours,
108 Subscrib'd at HOOKHAM'S, saw the papers;
109 Was deep in Poet's-corner wit,
110 Knew what was in Italics writ;
111 Explain'd fictitious names at will,
112 Each gutted syllable cou'd fill;
113 There oft, in paragraphs, his name
114 Gave symptom sweet of growing fame,
115 Tho' yet they serv'd but to apprize
116 Of buttons' form, or buckles' size.
117 He studied while he dress'd, for true 'tis
118 He read Compendiums, Extracts, Beauties,[Page 9]
119 Abregés, Dictionnaires, Recueils,
120 Mercures, Journaux, Extraits, and Feuilles:
121 No work in substance now is follow'd,
122 The Chemic Extract only's swallow'd.
123 He lik'd those literary cooks
124 Who skim the cream of others' books,
125 And ruin half an Author's graces,
126 By plucking bons-mots from their places;
127 He wonders any writing sells,
128 But these spic'd mushrooms and morells;
129 His palate these alone can touch,
130 Where every mouthful is bonne bouche.
131 Of each new Play he saw a part,
132 And all the Anas had by heart;
133 He found whatever they produce
134 Is fit for conversation-use;[Page 10]
135 Is ever ready for display;
136 A page would prime him for a day:
137 They cram not with a mass of knowledge,
138 Which smacks of toil, and smells of college,
139 Which in the memory useless lies,
140 And only makes men — good and wise.
141 A friend he had, BELLARIO hight,
142 A reasoning, reading, learned wight;
143 At least, with men of FLORIO'S breeding,
144 He was a prodigy of reading.
145 He knew each stale and vapid lye
146 In tomes of French Philosophy;
147 And then, we fairly may presume,
148 From PYRRHO down to DAVID HUME,
149 'Twere difficult to single out
150 A man more full of shallow doubt;[Page 11]
151 He knew the little sceptic prattle,
152 The sophist's paltry arts of battle;
153 Talk'd gravely of th' atomic dance,
154 Of moral fitness, fate, and chance;
155 Quoted the nonsense of LUCRETIUS,
156 Stripp'd of the charm which makes it specious;
157 Dropt hints, with wondrous penetration,
158 Against the history of Creation;
159 Then prov'd, by argument circuitous,
160 The combination was fortuitous:
161 Swore, Priests whole trade was to deceive,
162 And prey on bigots who believe;
163 With bitter ridicule cou'd jeer,
164 And had the true free-thinking sneer;
165 Stale arguments he had in store,
166 Which have been answer'd o'er and o'er.[Page 12]
167 Practis'd, to raise his reputation,
168 The trite, old trick of false citation;
169 And wou'd from ancient Authors quote
170 A sentiment they never wrote.
171 Upon his highest shelf there stood
172 The Classics, neatly cut in wood;
173 And in a more commodious station,
174 You found them in a French translation:
175 He swears, 'tis from the Greek he quotes,
176 But keeps the French, just for the notes.
177 He worshipp'd certain modern names
178 Who History write in Epigrams,
179 In pointed periods, shining phrases,
180 And all the small poetic daisies,
181 Which crowd the pert and florid style,
182 Where fact is dropt to raise a smile;[Page 13]
183 Arts scorn'd by History's sober Muse,
184 Arts CLARENDON disdain'd to use.
185 Whate'er the subject of debate,
186 'Twas larded still with sceptic prate;
187 The good, with shame I speak it, feel
188 Not half this proselyting zeal.
189 Tho' FLORIO did not yet believe him,
190 He thought, why shou'd a friend deceive him?
191 Much as he priz'd BELLARIO'S wit,
192 He lik'd not all his notions yet;
193 He thought him charming, pleasant, odd,
194 But hop'd he might believe in God;
195 Still, tho' he tried a thousand ways,
196 Truth's insuppressive torch wou'd blaze;
197 Where once her flame has burnt, I doubt
198 If ever it go fairly out.
199 Yet, under great BELLARIO'S care,
200 He gain'd each day a better air;
201 With many a leader of renown,
202 Deep in the learning of the Town,
203 Who never other science knew,
204 But what from that prime source they drew;
205 Pleas'd, to the opera they repair,
206 To get recruits of knowledge there;
207 Mythology gain at a glance,
208 And learn the Classics from a dance:
209 For tho' they never car'd a groat,
210 How far'd the vent'rous Argonaut,
211 Yet, pleas'd, they see MEDEA rise
212 On fiery dragons to the skies:
213 For DIDO, tho' they never knew her
214 As MARO'S magic pencil drew her,[Page 15]
215 Fond as she was, and broken-hearted,
216 Her pious vagabond departed;
217 Yet, for DIDONE how they roar!
218 And Cara! Cara! loud encore.
219 One taste, BELLARIO'S soul possess'd,
220 The master passion of his breast;
221 Not one of those frail, transient joys,
222 Which, by possession, quickly cloys;
223 This bliss was solid, constant, true,
224 'Twas action, and 'twas passion too;
225 For tho' the business might be finish'd,
226 The pleasure scarcely was diminish'd;
227 Did he ride out, or sit, or walk,
228 Still he liv'd o'er again in talk
229 This keen, this ever new delight,
230 His joy by day, his dream by night.[Page 16]
231 'Twas eating did his soul allure,
232 In short, a modish Epicure;
233 Tho' once this word, as I opine,
234 Meant not such men as live to dine,
235 Yet all our modern Wits assure us,
236 That's all they know of EPICURUS:
237 They fondly fancy, that repletion
238 Was the chief good of that fam'd Grecian.
239 To live in gardens full of flowers,
240 And talk philosophy in bowers,
241 Or, in the covert of a wood,
242 To descant on the sovereign good,
243 Might be the notion of their founder,
244 But they have notions vastly sounder;
245 Their bolder standards they erect,
246 To form a more voluptuous sect;[Page 17]
247 Old EPICURUS wou'd not own 'em,
248 A dinner is their summum bonum.
249 You'll rather find such sparks as these
250 Like EPICURUS' deities;
251 Like them they laugh at human cares,
252 And with disdain view all affairs.
253 BELLARIO had embrac'd with glee,
254 This practical philosophy.
255 Young FLORIO'S father had a friend,
256 And ne'er did Heaven a worthier send;
257 A cheerful knight of good estate,
258 Whose heart was warm, whose bounty great.
259 At Christmas still his oxen bled,
260 With which the grateful poor were fed;
261 Resentment vanish'd where he came,
262 And law-suits died before his name;[Page 18]
263 The old esteem'd, the young caress'd him,
264 And all the smiling village bless'd him.
265 Within his Castle's Gothic gate,
266 Sate Plenty, and old-fashion'd State:
267 Scarce Prudence cou'd his bounties stint; —
268 Such characters are out of print:
269 O! wou'd kind Heaven, the age to mend,
270 A new edition of them send,
271 Before our tottering Castles fall,
272 And swarming Nabobs seize on all!
273 Some little whims he had, 'tis true,
274 But they were harmless, and were few;
275 He dreaded nought like alteration,
276 Improvement still was innovation;
277 He said, when any change was brewing,
278 Reform was a fine name for ruin;[Page 19]
279 He thought 'twou'd shew a falling state,
280 If STERNHOLD shou'd give way to TATE.
281 This ever dwelt upon his tongue,
282 How things were chang'd since he was young!
283 Of moderate parts, of moderate wit,
284 But parts for life and business fit:
285 He of no history made profession,
286 But of the Protestant succession:
287 On all occasions, ne'er wou'd fail,
288 At Popery and the FRENCH to rail.
289 Of BLACKSTONE he had read a part,
290 And all BURN'S JUSTICE knew by heart:
291 In books that he might waste no minute,
292 His poetry had business in it;
293 He ne'er had heard of Bards of Greece,
294 But had read half of "DYER'S Fleece;"[Page 20]
295 To make his sphere of knowledge wider,
296 His Georgics, "PHILIPS upon cyder:"
297 He cou'd produce in proper place,
298 Three apt quotations from the*
* A Poem by Mr. SOMERVILE."Chace,"
299 And in the hall, from day to day,
300 Old ISAAC WALTON'S angler lay.
301 This good and venerable knight,
302 One daughter had, his soul's delight:
303 For face, no mortal cou'd resist her,
304 She smil'd like HEBE'S youngest sister:
305 Her life, as lovely as her face,
306 Each duty mark'd with every grace;
307 Her native sense improv'd by reading,
308 Her native sweetness by good-breeding:[Page 21]
309 No pretty starts of feign'd surprise,
310 No sweet minauderies clos'd her eyes;
311 Led by Simplicity divine,
312 She pleas'd, and never tried to shine;
313 She gave to Chance each unschool'd feature,
314 And left her cause to Sense and Nature.
315 The Sire of FLORIO, ere he died,
316 Decreed fair CELIA, FLORIO'S bride;
317 Bade him his latest wish attend,
318 And win the daughter of his friend;
319 When the last rites to him were paid,
320 He charg'd him to address the maid:
321 Sir GILBERT'S heart the wish approv'd,
322 For much his ancient friend he lov'd.
323 Six rapid months like lightning fly,
324 And the last grey was now thrown by;[Page 22]
325 FLORIO, reluctant, calls to mind
326 The orders of a Sire too kind:
327 Yet go he must; he must fulfil
328 The hard conditions of the will:
329 Go, at that precious hour of prime,
330 Go, at that swarming, bustling time,
331 When the full Town to joy invites,
332 Distracted with its own delights;
333 When Pleasure pours from her full urn,
334 Each tiresome transport in its turn;
335 When Dissipation's altars blaze,
336 And men run mad a thousand ways;
337 When, on his tablets, there were found
338 Engagements for full six weeks round;
339 Must leave, with grief and desperation,
340 Three packs of cards of invitation,[Page 23]
341 And all the wearisome delights
342 Of slavish days, and sleepless nights.
343 Ye Nymphs, whom tyrant Power drags down,
344 With hand despotic, from the Town,
345 When ALMACK'S doors wide open stand,
346 And the gay partner's offer'd hand
347 Courts to the dance; when steaming rooms,
348 Fetid with unguents and perfumes,
349 Invite you to the dear delight
350 Of well-bred crowds, and mobs polite;
351 You may conceive what FLORIO felt,
352 And sympathetically melt;
353 None else can guess the hardship dire,
354 To lawns and woodlands to retire,
355 When, freed from Winter's icy chain,
356 Glad Nature revels on the plain;[Page 24]
357 When blushing Spring leads on the hours,
358 And May is prodigal of flow'rs;
359 When Passion warbles thro' the grove,
360 And all is song, and all is love;
361 When new-born breezes sweep the vale,
362 And health adds fragrance to the gale.
363 Six bays, unconscious of their weight,
364 Soon lodg'd him at Sir GILBERT'S gate;
365 His trusty Swiss, who flew still faster,
366 Announc'd th' arrival of his Master:
367 So loud the rap which shook the door,
368 The hall re-echo'd to the roar;
369 Since first the Castle walls were rear'd,
370 So dread a sound had ne'er been heard;
371 The din alarm'd the frighten'd deer,
372 Who in a corner slunk for fear;[Page 25]
373 The Butler thought 'twas beat of drum,
374 The Steward swore the French were come;
375 It ting'd with red poor FLORIO'S face,
376 He thought himself in Portland Place.
377 Short joy! he enter'd, and the gate
378 Clos'd on him with its ponderous weight.
379 Who like Sir GILBERT now was blest?
380 With rapture he embrac'd his guest.
381 Fair CELIA blush'd, and FLORIO utter'd
382 Half sentences, or rather mutter'd
383 Disjointed words — as, "honour! pleasure!
384 " Kind! — vastly good, Ma'am! — beyond measure; "
385 Tame expletives, with which dull Fashion
386 Fills vacancies of sense and passion.
387 Yet, tho' disciple of cold Art,
388 FLORIO perceiv'd he had a heart;[Page 26]
389 He saw; and but that Admiration,
390 Had been too active, too like passion,
391 Or had he been to Ton less true,
392 Cupid had shot him thro' and thro;
393 But, vainly speeds the surest dart,
394 Where FASHION'S mail defends the heart,
395 The shaft her cold repulsion found,
396 And fell, without the pow'r to wound:
397 For Fashion, with a mother's joy,
398 Dipp'd in her lake the darling boy,
399 That lake, whose chilling waves impart
400 The gift to freeze the warmest heart:
401 Yet, guarded as he was with phlegm,
402 With such delight he ey'd the dame,
403 The Goddess strait his peril knew,
404 And, instant, to his succour flew;[Page 27]
405 But all was safe; she saw and smil'd,
406 And claim'd the triumph of her child.
407 CELIA a dinner still supplied,
408 Which modish luxury might deride:
409 Yet her discreet, well-order'd table,
410 Tho' sober, still was hospitable.
411 A modest dinner best displays
412 The Master eats on other days.
413 And decent Elegance was there,
414 And Plenty, with her liberal air;
415 But vulgar plenty gave offence,
416 And shock'd poor FLORIO'S nicer sense:
417 One dish there was which never fail'd,
418 CELIA with this each guest regal'd;
419 'Twas simple mutton, roast, or boil'd,
420 Sole dish French cookery has not spoil'd.[Page 28]
421 Tho' rich in game, and stor'd with fish,
422 She ne'er forgot her standing dish.
423 FLORIO in secret wou'd repine,
424 For FLORIO now but liv'd to dine;
425 Disgusted at the constant round
426 For ever at her table found;
427 He scarce cou'd stand the slender loyn,
428 But fainted at the ample chine;
429 Yet still afraid to give offence,
430 Or shock his CELIA'S grosser sense,
431 Patient he yielded to his fate,
432 When good Sir GILBERT pil'd his plate;
433 He bow'd submissive, made no question
434 But that 'twas sovereign for digestion;
435 But, such was his unlucky whim,
436 It never wou'd agree with him.[Page 29]
437 Yet feign'd to praise the vulgar treat,
438 And, if he eat not, seem'd to eat.
439 In sleep sad FLORIO hop'd to find,
440 The pleasures he had left behind.
441 He dreamt, and lo! to charm his eyes,
442 The form of WELTJE seem'd to rise;
443 The gracious vision wav'd his wand,
444 And banquets sprung to FLORIO'S hand;
445 Th' imaginary savours rose
446 In tempting odours to his nose.
447 A bell, not Fancy's false creation,
448 Gives joyful "note of preparation;"
449 He starts, he wakes, the bell he hears;
450 Alas! it rings for morning pray'rs.
451 But how to spend next tedious morning,
452 Was past his possible discerning;[Page 30]
453 Unable to amuse himself,
454 He tumbled every well-rang'd shelf;
455 This book was dull, and that was wise,
456 And this was monstrous as to size.
457 With eager joy he gobbled down
458 Whate'er related to the town;
459 Whate'er look'd small, whate'er look'd new,
460 Half-bound, or only stitch'd in blue;
461 Old play-bills, ASTLEY'S last year's feats,
462 And Opera disputes in sheets.
463 As these dear records meet his eyes,
464 Ghosts of departed pleasures rise;
465 He lays the book upon the shelf,
466 And leaves the day to spend itself.
467 To cheat the tedious hours, whene'er
468 He sallied forth to take the air,[Page 31]
469 His sympathetic ponies knew
470 Which way their Lord's affections drew,
471 And, every time he went abroad,
472 Sought of themselves the London road;
473 He ask'd each mile of every clown,
474 How far they reckon'd it to town?
475 And still his nimble spirits rise,
476 Whilst thither he directs his eyes;
477 But when his coursers back he guides,
478 The sinking Mercury quick subsides.
479 A week he had resolv'd to stay,
480 But found a week in every day;
481 Yet if the gentle maid was by,
482 Faint pleasure glisten'd in his eye;
483 But when no more the room she grac'd,
484 The slight impression was effac'd.[Page 32]
485 Whene'er Sir GILBERT'S sporting guests
486 Retail'd old news, or older jests,
487 FLORIO, quite calm, and debonair,
488 Still humm'd a new Italian air;
489 He did not even feign to hear 'em,
490 But plainly shew'd he cou'd not bear 'em.
491 CELIA perceiv'd his secret thoughts,
492 But lik'd the youth with all his faults;
493 Yet 'twas unlike, she softly said,
494 The tales of love which she had read,
495 Where heroes vow'd, and sigh'd, and knelt;
496 Nay, 'twas unlike the love she felt;
497 Tho' to her Sire, with fault'ring tongue,
498 She oft remark'd, — he was but young;
499 Confess'd his manners wrong in part,
500 But then — he had so good a heart![Page 33]
501 His interest farther to secure,
502 She prais'd his bounty to the poor;
503 For, votary as he was of art,
504 He had a kind and melting heart;
505 Tho', with a smile, he us'd to own
506 He had not time to feel in town;
507 Not that he blush'd to shew compassion, —
508 It chanc'd that year to be the fashion.
509 At length, to wake Ambition's flame,
510 A letter from BELLARIO came;
511 Announcing the supreme delight,
512 Preparing for a certain night,
513 By FLAVIA fair, return'd from France,
514 Who took him captive at a glance:
515 The invitations all were given!
516 Five hundred cards! — a little, heaven! —[Page 34]
517 A dinner first — he wou'd present him,
518 And begg'd that nothing might prevent him.
519 Whoever wish'd a noble air,
520 Must gain it by an entrée there;
521 Of all the glories of the town,
522 'Twas the first passport to renown.
523 Then ridicul'd his rural schemes,
524 His pastoral shades, and purling streams;
525 Sneer'd at his present brilliant life,
526 His polish'd Sire, and high-bred Wife!
527 Thus, doubly to inflame, he tried
528 His curiosity, and pride.
529 The youth, with agitated heart,
530 Prepar'd directly to depart;
531 But, bound in honour to obey
532 His father, at no distant day,[Page 35]
533 He promis'd soon to hasten down,
534 But business call'd him now to town;
535 Then faintly hints a cold proposal,
536 But leaves it to the Knight's disposal;
537 Stammer'd half words of love and duty,
538 And mutter'd much of — worth and — beauty;
539 Something of passion then he dropt,
540 And hop'd his ardour — Here he stopt;
541 For some remains of native truth
542 Flush'd in his face, and check'd the youth;
543 Yet still the ambiguous suffusion
544 Might pass for artless love's confusion.
545 The doating father thought 'twas strange,
546 But fancied men with times might change;
547 Yet own'd, nor cou'd he check his tongue,
548 It was not so when he was young.[Page 36]
549 That was the reign of love he swore,
550 But now those halcyon days are o'er.
551 In that blest age, for honour fam'd,
552 Love paid the homage Beauty claim'd;
553 Not that insipid, daudling Cupid,
554 With heart so hard, and air so stupid,
555 Who coldly courts the charms which lie
556 In Affectation's half-clos'd eye.
557 Love then was honest, genuine passon,
558 And manly gallantry the fashion;
559 Yet pure as ardent was the flame
560 Excited by the beauteous dame;
561 Hope cou'd subsist on slender bounties,
562 And Courtiers gallop'd o'er two counties,
563 The Ball's fair partner to behold,
564 Or humbly hope — she caught no cold.
565 But mark how much Love's annals mend!
566 Shou'd Beauty's Goddess now descend;
567 On some adventure shou'd she come,
568 To grace a modish drawing-room,
569 With radiant eye, and heavenly air;
570 What Beau wou'd hand her to her chair?
571 Vain were that motion which betray'd,
572 The goddess was no earth-born maid;
573 If noxious FARO'S baleful spright,
574 With rites infernal rul'd the night,
575 The group so bent on play and pelf,
576 VENUS might call her doves herself.
577 As FLORIO pass'd the Castle-gate,
578 His spirits seem to lose their weight;
579 He feasts his lately vacant mind
580 With all the joys he hopes to find;[Page 38]
581 Yet on whate'er his fancies brood,
582 The form of CELIA wou'd intrude;
583 Howe'er his random thoughts might fly,
584 Her gentle graces fill'd his eye;
585 Nor was th' obtrusive vision o'er,
586 E'en when he reach'd BELLARIO'S door;
587 The friends embrac'd with warm delight,
588 And FLAVIA'S praises crown'd the night.
589 Soon dawn'd the day which was to shew
590 Glad FLORIO what was heaven below.
591 FLAVIA, admir'd wherever known,
592 Th' acknowledg'd Empress of bon-ton,
593 O'er FASHION'S wayward kingdom reigns,
594 And holds BELLARIO in her chains.
595 Various her powers; a wit by day,
596 By night unmatch'd for lucky play.[Page 39]
597 The flattering, fashionable tribe,
598 Each stray bon-mot to her ascribe;
599 And all her "little senate" own
600 She made the best charade in town;
601 Her midnight suppers always drew
602 Whate'er was fine, whate'er was new.
603 There oft the brightest fame you'd see
604 The victim of a repartee;
605 For Slander's Priestess still supplies
606 The spotless for the sacrifice.
607 Who at her polish'd table sit,
608 The summit reach of modish wit,
609 The persiflage, th' unfeeling jeer,
610 The civil, grave, ironic sneer;
611 The laugh, which, more than censure, wounds,
612 Which, more than argument, confounds.[Page 40]
613 Th' exalted deed, which wou'd engage
614 The wonder of a nobler age,
615 With unbelieving scorn is heard,
616 Or else to selfish ends referr'd;
617 To Vanity's light effervescence,
618 Ascribe they Virtue's purest essence.
619 When Malice longs to throw her dart,
620 But finds no vulnerable part,
621 Because the Virtues all defend,
622 At every pass, their guarded friend;
623 Yet, by one slight insinuation,
624 One scarce perceiv'd exaggeration,
625 Sly Ridicule, with half a word,
626 Can fix her stigma of — absurd;
627 Her cruel caustics deeply pain,
628 And scars indelible remain.
629 Supreme in wit, supreme in play,
630 Despotic FLAVIA all obey;
631 Small were her natural charms of face,
632 But heighten'd with each foreign grace;
633 But what subdued BELLARIO'S soul
634 Beyond Philosophy's controul,
635 Her daily table was as fine
636 As if ten Rajahs were to dine;
637 She every day produc'd such fish as
638 Wou'd gratify the nice APICIUS,
639 Or realize what we think fabulous
640 I'th' bill of fare of ELAGABALUS.
641 Yet still the natural taste was cheated;
642 'Twas delug'd in some sauce one hated.
643 All that can surfeit, or can cloy,
644 Soupes Santés, which the health destroy,[Page 42]
645 And, ever on her sumptuous board,
646 The savoury pye of PERIGORD.
647 All sauce! all sweetmeat! all confection!
648 All poignancy! and all perfection!
649 Rich Entremets, whose name none knows,
650 Ragouts, French Tourtes, and Fricandeaux,
651 Might picque the sensuality
652 O' th' hogs of EPICURUS' sty;
653 Yet all so foreign, and so fine,
654 'Twas easier to admire, than dine.
655 O! if the Muse had power to tell
656 Each dish, no Muse has power to spell!
657 Great Goddess of the French Cuisine!
658 Not with unhallow'd hands I mean
659 To violate thy secret shade,
660 Which eyes prophane shall ne'er invade:[Page 43]
661 No! of thy dignity supreme,
662 I, with "mysterious reverence," deem!
663 Or, shou'd I venture with rash hand,
664 The vulgar wou'd not understand;
665 Th' initiated only know
666 The raptures keen thy rites bestow.
667 Thus much to tell I lawful deem,
668 Thy works are never what they seem;
669 Thy will this general law has past,
670 That nothing of itself shall taste.
671 Thy word this high decree enacted,
672 "In all be NATURE, counteracted!"
673 Conceive, who can, the perfect bliss,
674 For 'tis not given to all to guess,
675 The rapturous joy BELLARIO found,
676 When thus his ev'ry wish was crown'd;[Page 44]
677 To FLORIO, as the best of friends,
678 One dish he secretly commends;
679 Then hinted, as a special favour,
680 What gave it that delicious flavour;
681 A mystery he so much reveres,
682 He never to unhallow'd ears
683 Wou'd trust it, but to him wou'd show
684 How far true Friendship's power cou'd go.
685 FLORIO at first with transport eat,
686 And marvell'd at the sumptuous fête.
687 But soon his pleasure was destroy'd,
688 Soon every craving sense was cloy'd.
689 A little warp his taste had gain'd,
690 Which, unperceiv'd, till now, remain'd;
691 For, from himself he wou'd conceal
692 The change he did not chuse to feel;[Page 45]
693 He almost wish'd he cou'd be picking
694 An unsophisticated chicken;
695 And when he cast his eyes around,
696 And not one simple morsel found,
697 O give me, was his secret wish,
698 My charming CELIA'S Standing Dish!
699 Now Nature, struggling for her rights,
700 Lets in some little, casual lights,
701 And Love combines to war with Fashion,
702 Tho' yet 'twas but an infant passion:
703 The practis'd FLAVIA tried each art
704 Of sly attack to steal his heart;
705 (Her forc'd civilities oppress,
706 Insulting thro' mere graciousness;)
707 While many a gay, intrepid dame,
708 By bold assault essay'd the same.[Page 46]
709 Fill'd with disgust, he strove to fly
710 The artful glance, and fearless eye;
711 Their jargon he but faintly praises,
712 Nor echoes back their flimsy phrases.
713 He felt not CELIA'S powers of face,
714 Till weigh'd against bon-ton grimace;
715 Nor half her genuine beauties tasted,
716 'Till with factitious charms contrasted.
717 No moment's liberty he found,
718 Th' industrious harpies hover'd round;
719 By force and flattery circumvented,
720 To play, reluctant, he consented;
721 Each Dame her power of pleasing tried,
722 To fix the novice by her side;
723 Of Pigeons, he the very best,
724 Who wealth, with ignorance, possest:[Page 47]
725 But FLAVIA'S rhetoric best perswades,
726 That Sybil leads him to the shades;
727 The fatal leaves around the room,
728 Prophetic, tell th' approaching doom!
729 Yet, different from the tale of old,
730 'Twas she who pluck'd the tempting gold;
731 Her arts the ponderous purse exhaust,
732 A borrow'd thousand, stak'd, and lost,
733 Wakes him to sense and shame again,
734 Nor force, nor fraud cou'd more obtain.
735 He rose, indignant, to attend
736 The summons of a ruin'd friend,
737 Whom keen BELLARIO'S arts betray
738 To all the depths of desperate play;
739 The youth, unconscious of deceit,
740 Was plunder'd of his whole estate;[Page 48]
741 Too late he look'd for friendship's aid,
742 A beggar in a moment made.
743 And now, with horror, FLORIO views
744 The wild confusion which ensues;
745 Marks where th' infernal furies hold
746 Their orgies foul o'er heaps of gold;
747 And demons dire appear to rise,
748 Guarding the horrid mysteries;
749 Marks how deforming passions tear
750 The bosoms of the losing fair;
751 How haggard looks, convulsive faces,
752 Banish the frighten'd loves, and graces!
753 Touch'd with disdain, with horror fir'd,
754 He thought of CELIA, and retir'd.
755 That night no sleep his eyelids prest,
756 He thought; and thought's a foe to rest:[Page 49]
757 Or if, by chance, he clos'd his eyes,
758 What hideous spectres round him rise!
759 Distemper'd Fancy wildly brings
760 The broken images of things;
761 His ruin'd friend, with eye-ball fixt,
762 Swallowing the draught Despair had mixt;
763 The frantic wife, beside him stands,
764 With bursting heart, and wringing hands;
765 And every horror dreams bestow,
766 Of pining Want, or raving Woe.
767 Next morn, to check, or cherish thought,
768 His Library's retreat he sought;
769 He view'd each book, with cold regard,
770 Of serious sage, or lighter bard;
771 At length, among the motley band,
772 The IDLER fell into his hand;[Page 50]
773 Th' alluring title caught his eye,
774 It promis'd cold inanity:
775 He read with pleasure and surprise,
776 And found 'twas charming, tho' 'twas wise;
777 His tea grew cold, whilst he, unheeding,
778 Pursu'd this new-discover'd reading.
779 He wonder'd at the change he found,
780 Th' elastic spirits nimbly bound;
781 Time slipt, without disgust, away,
782 While many a card unanswer'd lay;
783 Three papers reeking from the press,
784 Three Pamphlets thin, in azure dress,
785 Ephemeral literature well known,
786 The lie and scandal of the town;
787 Poison of letters, morals, time!
788 Assassin of our day's fresh prime![Page 51]
789 These, on his table, all that day,
790 Unthought of, and neglected lay.
791 FLORIO had now full three hours read,
792 Hours which he us'd to waste in bed;
793 His pulse beat Virtue's vigorous tone,
794 The reason to himself unknown;
795 And if he stopp'd to seek the cause,
796 Fair CELIA'S image fill'd the pause.
797 And now, announc'd, BELLARIO'S name
798 Had almost quench'd the new-born flame:
799 "Admit him," was the ready word
800 Which first escap'd him, not unheard;
801 When sudden, to his mental sight,
802 Uprose the horrors of last night;
803 His plunder'd friend before him stands,
804 And — "not at home," his firm commands.[Page 52]
805 He felt the conquest, as a joy,
806 The first temptation wou'd destroy.
807 He knew that next day Hymen's hand,
808 Shou'd tack the slight and slippery band,
809 Which, in loose bondage, wou'd ensnare
810 BELLARIO bright, and FLAVIA fair,
811 Oft had he promis'd to attend
812 The nuptials of his happy friend:
813 He longs to go — but yet he fears;
814 At length a bolder deed he dares;
815 To CELIA he resolves to fly,
816 And catch fresh virtue from her eye;
817 Tho' three full weeks did yet remain,
818 Ere he engag'd to come again.
819 This plan he tremblingly embrac'd,
820 With doubtful zeal, and fluttering haste;[Page 53]
821 Nor ventur'd he one card to read,
822 Which might his virtuous scheme impede;
823 Each note, he dreaded, might betray him,
824 And shudder'd lest each rap shou'd stay him.
825 Behold him seated in his chaise;
826 With face that self-distrust betrays;
827 He hazards not a single glance,
828 Nor thro' the glasses peeps by chance,
829 Lest some old friend, or haunt well known,
830 Shou'd melt his resolution down;
831 Fast as his foaming coursers fly,
832 Hyde Park attracts his half-rais'd eye;
833 He stole one fearful, conscious look,
834 Then dropt his eye upon his book.
835 Long as he view'd AUGUSTA'S tow'rs,
836 The sight relax'd his thinking pow'rs;[Page 54]
837 In vain he better plans revolves,
838 The softening sight his soul dissolves;
839 The tow'rs once lost, the smoke his eyes
840 Pursue, while yet its volumes rise:
841 Soon as he got entirely clear
842 From this enfeebling atmosphere,
843 His mind was brac'd, his spirits light,
844 His heart was gay, his humour bright;
845 Thus feeling, at his inmost soul,
846 The sweet reward of self-controul;
847 Impatient now, and all alive,
848 He thought he never shou'd arrive;
849 At length he enter'd with delight,
850 And, self-announc'd, embrac'd the knight:
851 The youth his joy unfeign'd exprest,
852 The knight with joy receiv'd his guest,[Page 55]
853 And own'd, with no unwilling tongue,
854 'Twas done like men when he was young.
855 For CELIA, not a word she said,
856 But blush'd, "celestial, rosy red!"
857 Her heighten'd charms transport the youth,
858 Who promis'd everlasting truth.
859 CELIA, in honour of the day,
860 Resolv'd her table to display;
861 Such was the charm her sweetness gave,
862 He thought her Wedgwood had been séve;
863 Her taste diffus'd a gracious air,
864 And neat Simplicity was there,
865 Whose secret power, tho' silent, great is,
866 The loveliest of the sweet Penates.
867 FLORIO had now forgot to wish
868 For aught besides the STANDING DISH.[Page 56]
869 Sir GILBERT'S port he warmly praises,
870 And carefully avoids French phrases;
871 With patience hears a dissertation.
872 On Land-tax, and a ruin'd nation;
873 Listens to many a tedious tale
874 Of poachers, who deserv'd a jail;
875 Heard all the business of the Quorum,
876 Of hapless damsels brought before 'em;
877 Nor ever humm'd a single air,
878 While good Sir GILBERT fill'd his chair.
879 Abroad, with joy and grateful pride,
880 He walks, with CELIA by his side:
881 A thousand cheerful thoughts arise,
882 Each rural scene enchants his eyes;
883 With transport he begins to look
884 On Nature's all-instructive book;[Page 57]
885 No objects now seem mean, or low,
886 Which point to HIM from whom they flow.
887 A berry or a bud excites
888 A chain of reasoning which delights,
889 And, spite of sceptic ebullitions,
890 Proves Atheists not the best Logicians.
891 A tree, a brook, a blade of grass,
892 Suggests reflections as they pass,
893 'Till FLORIO with a sigh, confest
894 The simplest pleasures are the best!
895 BELLARIO'S systems sink in air,
896 He feels the PERFECT, GOOD, and FAIR.
897 When call'd to dress, that Titus wore
898 A wig the alter'd FLORIO swore;
899 Or else, in estimating time,
900 He ne'er had mark'd it as a crime,[Page 58]
901 That he had lost but one day's blessing,
902 When we so many lose, by dressing.
903 The rest, suffice it now to say,
904 Was finish'd in the usual way.
905 Cupid, impatient for his hour,
906 Revil'd slow Themis' tedious power,
907 Whose parchment legends, signing, sealing,
908 Are cruel forms for Love to deal in.
909 At length, to FLORIO'S eager eyes,
910 Behold the day of bliss arise!
911 The flaming sun illumes the globe;
912 The burning torch, the saffron robe,
913 Just as of old, glad Hymen wears,
914 And Cupid, as of old, appears
915 In Hymen's train; so strange the case,
916 They hardly knew each other's face;[Page 59]
917 Yet both confess'd, with glowing heart,
918 They never were design'd to part.
919 This self-same sun, and where's the wonder?
920 Sees FLAVIA'S slight bands snapt asunder:
921 BELLARIO sues for a divorce,
922 And both pursue their separate course.
923 Reader! thy clemency to court,
924 Tho' long the Tale, the Moral's short;
925 Yet dare I, spite of Critic Satire,
926 Suppose the Standing Dish GOOD NATURE?
927 O! gentlest blessing man can find!
928 Sweet soother of the ruffled mind!
929 As the soft powers of oil asswage
930 Of Ocean's waves the furious rage;
931 Lull to repose the boiling tide,
932 Whose billows, charm'd to rest, subside;[Page 60]
933 Smooth the vext bosom of the deep,
934 'Till every trembling motion sleep! —
935 Thy soft enchantments thus controul
936 The tumult of the troubled soul!
937 By labour worn, by care opprest,
938 On THEE the weary mind shall rest;
939 From business, and distraction free,
940 Delighted, shall return to THEE;
941 To THEE the aching heart shall cling,
942 And find the peace it does not bring.
943 Ye candidates for Earth's best prize,
944 Domestic Life's sweet charities!
945 O! if your erring eye once strays
946 From smooth Good-nature's level ways;
947 If e'er, in evil hour betray'd,
948 You chuse some vain, fantastic maid,[Page 61]
949 On such for bliss if you depend,
950 Without the means you seek the end;
951 A pyramid you strive to place,
952 The point inverted for the base;
953 You hope, in spite of Reason's laws,
954 A consequence without a cause.
955 And you, bright nymphs, who bless our eyes
956 With all that skill, that Taste supplies;
957 Learn, that accomplishments at best,
958 Serve but for garnish in Life's feast;
959 Yet still with these the polish'd wife
960 Shou'd deck the feast of human life;
961 Wit a poor Standing Dish wou'd prove,
962 Tho' 'tis an excellent Remove;
963 Howe'er your transient guests may praise
964 Your gay parade on gala days,[Page 62]
965 Yet know, your husband still will wish,
966 Good-nature for his Standing Dish.
967 Still, in Life's Fasti, you presume
968 Eternal holidays will come;
969 But, in its highest, happiest lot,
970 O! let it never be forgot,
971 Life is not an Olympic game,
972 Where sports and plays must gain the same;
973 Each month is not the month of May,
974 Nor is each day a holiday.
975 Tho' wit may gild Life's atmosphere,
976 When all is lucid, calm, and clear,
977 In bleak Affliction's dreary hour,
978 The brightest flash must lose its power;
979 While Temper, in the darkest skies,
980 A kindly light and warmth supplies.
981 Divine GOOD-NATURE! 'tis decreed,
982 The happiest still thy charm shou'd need.
983 Sweet Architect! rais'd by thy hands,
984 Fair Concord's Temple firmly stands:
985 Tho' Sense, tho' Prudence rear the pile,
986 Tho' each approving Virtue smile,
987 Some sudden gust, nor rare the case,
988 May shake the building to its base,
989 Unless, to guard against surprises,
990 On thy firm arch the structure rises.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): FLORIO: A POETICAL TALE, FOR FINE GENTLEMEN AND FINE LADIES.
Author: Hannah More
Themes: relations between the sexes
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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.