ZEPHIR: or, the STRATAGEM.
Egregiam vero laudem et spolia ampla refertis,
Una dolo Divûm si Foemina victa duorum est.
A certain young lady was surprized, on horse-back, by a violent storm of wind and rain from the SOUTH-WEST; which made her dismount, somewhat precipitately.
1 THE God, in whose gay train appear
2 Those gales that wake the purple year;
3 Who lights up health and bloom and grace
4 In NATURE's, and in MIRA's face;[Page 85]
5 To speak more plain, the western wind,
6 Had seen this brightest of her kind:
7 Had seen her oft with fresh surprize!
8 And ever with desiring eyes!
9 Much, by her shape, her look, her air,
10 Distinguish'd from the vulgar fair;
11 More, by the meaning soul that shines
12 Thro' all her charms, and all refines.
13 Born to command, yet turn'd to please,
14 Her form is dignity, with ease:
15 Then — such a hand, and such an arm,
16 As age or impotence might warm!
17 Just such a leg too, ZEPHIR knows,
18 The Medicéan VENUS shows!
19 So far he sees; so far admires.
20 Each charm is fewel to his fires:
21 But other charms, and those of price,
22 That form the bounds of PARADISE,
23 Can those an equal praise command;
24 All turn'd by Nature's finest hand?
25 Is all the consecrated ground
26 With plumpness, firm, with smoothness, round?
27 The world, but once, one ZEUXIS saw,
28 A faultless form who dar'd to draw:
29 And then, that all might perfect be,
30 All rounded off in due degree,
31 To furnish out the matchless piece,
32 Were rifled half the toasts of GREECE.
33 'Twas PITT's white neck, 'twas DELIA's thigh;
34 'Twas WALDEGRAVE's sweetly-brilliant eye;[Page 86]
35 'Twas gentle PEMBROKE's ease and grace,
36 And HERVEY lent her maiden-face.
37 But dares he hope, on BRITISH ground,
38 That these may all, in one, be found?
39 These chiefly that still shun his eye?
40 He knows not; but he means to try.
41 AURORA rising, fresh and gay,
42 Gave promise of a golden day,
43 Up, with her sister, MIRA rose,
44 Four hours before our London beaus;
45 For these are still asleep and dead,
46 Save ARTHUR's sons — not yet in bed.
47 A rose, impearl'd with orient dew,
48 Had caught the passing fair one's view;
49 To pluck the bud he saw her stoop,
50 And try'd, behind, to heave her hoop:
51 Then, while across the daisy'd lawn
52 She turn'd, to feed her milk-white fawn,
53 Due westward as her steps she bore,
54 Would swell her petticoat, before;
55 Would subtley steal his face between,
56 To see — what never yet was seen!
57 "And sure, to fan it with his wing,
58 No nine-month symptom e'er can bring:
59 His aim is but the nymph to please,
60 Who daily courts his cooling breeze."
61 But listen, fond believing maid:
62 When Love, soft traitor, would persuade,
63 With all the moving skill and grace
64 Of practic'd passion in his face,[Page 87]
65 Dread his approach, distrust your power —
66 For oh! there is one shepherd's hour:
67 And tho' he long, his aim to cover,
68 May, with the friend, disguise the lover,
69 The sense, or nonsense, of his wooing
70 Will but adore you into ruin.
71 But, for those butterflies, the beaus,
72 Who buzz around in tinsel-rows,
73 Shake, shake them off, with quick disdain:
74 Where insects settle, they will stain.
75 Thus, ZEPHIR oft the nymph assail'd,
76 As oft his little arts had fail'd:
77 The folds of silk, the ribs of whale,
78 Resisted still his feeble gale.
79 With these repulses vex'd at heart,
80 Poor ZEPHIR has recourse to art:
81 And his own weakness to supply,
82 Calls in a brother of the sky,
83 The rude South-West; whose mildest play
84 Is war, mere war, the Russian way:
85 A tempest-maker by his trade,
86 Who knows to ravish, not persuade.
87 The terms of their aëreal league,
88 How first to harrass and fatigue,
89 Then, found on some remoter plain,
90 To ply her close with wind and rain;
91 These terms, writ fair and seal'd and sign'd
92 Should WEB or STUKELY wish to find,
93 Wise antiquaries, who explore
94 All that has ever pass'd — and more;[Page 88]
95 Tho' here too tedious to be told,
96 Are yonder in some cloud enroll'd,
97 Those floating registers in air:
98 So let them mount, and read 'em there.
99 The grand alliance thus agreed,
100 To instant action they proceed;
101 For 'tis in war a maxim known,
102 As PRUSSIA's monarch well has shown,
103 To break, at once, upon your foe,
104 And strike the first preventive blow.
105 With TORO's lungs, in TORO's form,
106 Whose very how-d'ye is a storm,
107 The dread South-West his part begun.
108 Thick clouds, extinguishing the sun,
109 At his command, from pole to pole
110 Dark-spreading, o'er the fair one roll;
111 Who, pressing now her favourite steed,
112 Adorn'd the pomp she deigns to lead.
113 O MIRA! to the future blind,
114 Th' insidious foe is close behind:
115 Guard, guard your treasure, while you can;
116 Unless this God should be the man.
117 For lo! the clouds, at his known call,
118 Are closing round — they burst! they fall!
119 While at the charmer, all-aghast,
120 He pours whole winter in a blast:
121 Nor cares, in his impetuous mood,
122 If navies founder on the flood;[Page 89]
123 If BRITAIN's coast be left as bare*
* The very day on which the fleet under admiral HAWKE was blown into TORBAY.
124 As he resolves to leave the fair.
125 Here, Gods resemble human breed;
126 The world be damn'd — so they succeed.
127 Pale, trembling, from her steed she fled,
128 With silk, lawn, linen, round her head;
129 And, to the fawns who fed above,
130 Unveil'd the last recess of love.
131 Each wondering fawn was seen to bound†
† Immemor herbarum quos est mirata Juvenca. VIRG.,
132 Each branchy deer o'erleap'd his mound,
133 At sight of that sequester'd glade,
134 In all its light, in all its shade,
135 Which rises there for wisest ends,
136 To deck the temple it defends.
137 Lo! gentle tenants of the grove,
138 For what a thousand heroes strove,
139 When EUROPE, ASIA, both in arms,
140 Disputed one fair lady's charms.
141 The war pretended HELEN's eyes‡
‡ Et suit ante HELENAM, &c. HOR.;
142 But this, believe it, was the prize.
143 This rous'd ACHILLES' mortal ire,
144 This strung his HOMER's epic lyre;
145 Gave to the world LA MANCHA's knight,
146 And still makes bulls and heroes fight.
147 Yet, tho' the distant conscious muse
148 This airy rape delighted views;[Page 90]
149 Yet she, for honour guides her lays,
150 Enjoying it, disdains to praise,
151 If Frenchmen always fight with odds,
152 Are they a pattern for the gods?
153 Can Russia, can th' Hungarian vampire*
* A certain mischievous demon that delights much in human blood; of whom there are many stories told in Hungary.,
154 With whom cast in the SWEDES and empire,
155 Can four such powers, who one assail,
156 Deserve our praise, should they prevail?
157 O mighty triumph! high renown!
158 Two gods have brought one mortal down;
159 Have club'd their forces in a storm,
160 To strip one helpless female form!
161 Strip her stark naked; yet confess,
162 Such charms are Beauty's fairest dress!
163 But, all-insensible to blame,
164 The sky-born ravishers on flame
165 Enchanted at the prospect stood,
166 And kiss'd with rapture what they view'd.
167 Sleek S**R too had done no less?
168 Would parsons here the truth confess:
169 Nay, one brisk PEER, yet all-alive,
170 Would do the same, at eighty-five†
† We believe there is a mistake in this reading; for the person best informed and most concerned assures, that it should be only seventy-five. .
171 But how, in colours softly-bright,
172 Where strength and harmony unite,
173 To paint the limbs, that fairer show
174 Than MESSALINA's borrow'd snow;[Page 91]
175 To paint the rose, that, thro' its shade,
176 With theirs, one human eye survey'd;
177 Would gracious PHOEBUS tell me how,
178 Would he the genuine draught avow,
179 The muse, a second TITIAN then,
180 To fame might consecrate her pen!
181 That TITIAN, Nature gave of old
182 The queen of beauty to behold,
183 Like MIRA unadorn'd by dress,
184 But all-complete in nakedness:
185 Then bade his emulating art
186 Those wonders to the world impart.
187 Around the ready graces stand,
188 His tints to blend, to guide his hand.
189 Each heightening stroke, each happy line,
190 Awakes to life the form divine;
191 Till rais'd and rounded every charm,
192 And all with youth immortal warm,
193 He sees, scarce crediting his eyes,
194 He sees a brighter VENUS rise!
195 But, to the gentle reader's cost,
196 His pencil with his life, was lost:
197 And MIRA must contented be,
198 To live by RAMSAY, and by ME.