Nothing so true as what you once let fall,
"Most women have no characters at all".
Whether the charmer sinner it or saint it,
If folly grow romantic, I must paint it.
Choose a firm cloud before it fall, and in it
Catch, ere she change, the Cynthia of this minute.
Fine by defect, and delicately weak.
Line 43. Compare: "That air and harmony of shape express, Fine by degrees, and beautifully less", Matthew Prior, Henry and Emma.
Chaste to her husband, frank to all beside,
A teeming mistress, but a barren bride.
Wise wretch! with pleasures too refined to please;
With too much spirit to be e'er at ease;
With too much quickness ever to be taught;
With too much thinking to have common thought.
You purchase pain with all that joy can give,
And die of nothing but a rage to live.
Atossa, cursed with every granted prayer,
Childless with all her children, wants an heir;
To heirs unknown descends the unguarded store,
Or wanders heaven-directed to the poor.
"With ev'ry pleasing, ev'ry prudent part,
Say, what can Chloe want?" — She wants a heart.
Virtue she finds too painful an endeavour,
Content to dwell in decencies forever.
In men, we various ruling passions find;
In women, two almost divide the kind;
Those, only fixed, they first or last obey,
The love of pleasure, and the love of sway.
Men, some to business, some to pleasure take;
But every woman is at heart a rake.
See how the world its veterans rewards!
A youth of frolics, an old age of cards.
Oh, blest with temper whose unclouded ray
Can make to-morrow cheerful as to-day!
She who ne'er answers till a husband cools,
Or, if she rules him, never shows she rules;
Charms by accepting, by submitting, sways,
Yet has her humor most, when she obeys.
And mistress of herself though china fall.
And yet, believe me, good as well as ill,
Woman's at best a contradiction still.
Good sense, which only is the gift of Heaven,
And though no science, fairly worth the seven.
To rest, the cushion and soft dean invite,
Who never mentions hell to ears polite.
Line 149. Compare: "In the reign of Charles II, a certain worthy divine at Whitehall thus addressed himself to the auditory at the conclusion of his sermon: 'In short, if you don't live up to the precepts of the Gospel, but abandon yourselves to your irregular appetites, you must expect to receive your reward in a certain place which 'tis not good manners to mention here'", Tom Brown, Laconics.