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WILLIAM PULTENEY, Esq. 1717.
PULTENEY, methinks you blame my breach of
What! cannot Paris one poor page afford?
Yes, I can fagely, when the times are paft,
Laugh at thofe follies which I ftrove to tafte,
And each amusement, which we fhar'd, review,
Pleas'd with meer talking, fince I talk to you.
But how fhall I defcribe in humble profe
Their balls, affemblies, operas, and beaux?
In profe? you cry: oh no, the Mufe muft aid,
And leave Parnaffus for the Tuilleries' fhade:
Shall he (who late Britannia's city trod,
And led the draggled Mufe, with pattens fhod,
Through dirty lanes, and alleys' doubtful ways)
Refuse to write, when Paris asks his lays !
Well then, I'll try. Defcend, ye beauteous Nine, In all the colours of the rainbow fhine,
Let sparkling stars your neck and ear adorn,
Lay-on the blushes of the crimson morn;
So may ye
balls and gay affemblies grace,
And at the opera claim the foremost place.
Travellers fhould ever fit expreffion chufe,
Nor with low phrase the lofty theme abuse.
When they describe the state of eastern lords,
Pomp and magnificence should swell their words;
And, when they paint the ferpent's fcaly pride,
Their lines should hifs, their numbers fmoothly slide;
But they, unmindful of poetic rules,
Defcribe alike Mockaws and Great Moguls.
Dampier would thus, without ill-meaning fatire,
Drefs forth in fimple style the Petit-maitre :
"In Paris, there's a race of animals
"(I've seen them at their operas and balls):
"They stand erect, they dance whene'er they walk,
"Monkeys in action, perroquets in talk ;
"They're crown'd with feathers, like the cockatoo,
"And, like camelions, daily change their hue;
"From patches juftly plac'd they borrow graces,
"And with vermilion lacquer o'er their faces.
"This custom, as we vifibly discern,
"They, by frequenting ladies' toilettes, learn."
Thus might the traveller eafy truth impart.,
Into the fubject let me nobly start.
How happy lives the man, how fure to charm,
Whofe knot embroider'd flutters down his arm!
On him the ladies caft the yielding glance,
Sigh in his fongs, and languish in his dance :
While wretched is the wit, contemn'd, forlorn,
Whofe gummy hat no scarlet plumes adorn;
No broider'd flowers his worsted ankle grace,
Nor cane embofs'd with gold directs his pace;
No lady's favour on his fword is hung;
What though Apollo dictate from his tongue,
His wit is fpiritlefs and void of grace,
Who wants th' affurance of brocade and lace.
While the gay fop genteely talks of weather,
The fair in raptures doat upon his feather;
Like a court-lady though he write and spell,
His minuet-ftep was fashion'd by Marcell*;
He dreffes, fences. What avails to know?
For women chufe their men, like filks, for fhow.
Is this the thing, you cry, that Paris boasts?
Is this the thing renown'd among our toasts?
For fuch a fluttering fight we need not roam;
Our own affemblies fhine with thefe at home.
Let us into the field of beauty start;
Beauty's a theme that ever warm'd my heart.
Think not, ye fair, that I the sex accuse:
How fhall I fpare you, prompted by the Mufe?
(The Mufes all are prudes !) She rails, the frets,
Amidft this fprightly nation of coquettes ;
Yet let not us their loofe coquetry blame;
Women of every nation are the fame.
You afk me, if Parifian dames, like ours,
With rattling dice prophane the Sunday's hours;
If they the gamefter's pale-ey'd vigils keep,
And stake their honour while their husbands fleep?
Yes, Sir; like English toafts, the dames of France
Will rifque their income on a fingle chance.
Nannette last night a tricking pharaon play'd,
The cards the Taillier's fliding hand obey'd:
*A famous dancing-mafter.
To-day her neck no brilliant circle wears,
Nor the ray-darting pendant loads her ears.
Why does old Chloris an affembly hold?
Chloris each night divides the fharper's gold.
Corinna's cheek with frequent loffes burns,
And no bold Trente le va her fortune turns.
Ah, too rash virgin! where's thy virtue flown!
She pawns her person for the fharper's loan.
Yet who with juftice can the fair upbraid,
Whofe debts of honour are fo duly paid?
But let me not forget the toilette's cares,
Where art each morn the languid check repairs:
This red 's too pale, nor gives a distant grace;
Madame to-day puts on her opera face;
From this we fcarce extract the milk-maid's bloom:
Bring the deep dye that warms across the room :
Now flames her cheek, fo ftrong her charms prevail,
That on her gown the filken rofe looks pale!
Not but that France fome native beauty boasts,
Clermont and Charolois might grace our toafts.
When the fweet-breathing spring unfolds the buds,
Love flies the dusty town for shady woods.
Then Tottenham fields with roving beauty fwarm,
And Hampstead balls the city virgin warm;
Then Chelsea's meads o'erhear perficious vows,
And the preft grafs defrauds the grazing cows.
'Tis here the fame; but in a higher sphere,
For ev'n court-ladies fin in open air.
What cit with a gallant would truft his fpoufe
Beneath the tempting fhade of Greenwich boughs?
What peer of France would let his dutchefs rove,
Where Boulogne's closest woods invite to love?
But here no wife can blast her husband's fame,
Cuckold is grown an honourable name.
Stretch'd on the grafs, the shepherd fighs his pain;
And on the grafs, what fhepherd fighs in vain ?
On Chloe's lap here Damon laid along,
Melts with the languish of her amorous fong;
There Iris flies Palæmon through the glade,
Nor trips by chance-till in the thickest fhade;
Here Celimene defends her lips and breaft,
For kiffes are by ftruggling clofer preft:
Alexis there with eager flame grows bold,
Nor can the nymph his wanton fingers hold;
Be wife, Alexis; what, fo near the road!
Hark, a coach rolls, and hufbands are abroad!
Such were our pleasures in the days of yore,
When amorous Charles Britannia's fceptre bore;
The nightly scene of joy the Park was made,
And Love in couples peopled every fhade.
But, fince at court the rural tafte is loft,
What mighty fums have velvet-couches coft!
Sometimes the Tuilleries' gaudy walk I love,
Where I through crouds of rustling mantuas rove.
As here from fide to side my eyes I cast,
And gaz'd.on all the glittering train that past,
Sudden a fop fteps forth before the reft;
I knew the bold embroidery of his vest.
He thus accofts me with familiar air,
"Parbleu! on a fait cet habit en Angleterre !