The Poetical Works of the Right Hon. George Granville, Lord Lansdowne/28

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BEAUTY AND LAW.
A POETICAL PLEADING.[1]

The princes ſat. Beauty and Law contend:
The queen of Love will her own cauſe defend.
Secure ſhe looks, as certain none can ſee
Such Beauty plead and not her captive be.
What need of words with ſuch commanding eyes?5
“Muſt I then ſpeak? O Heav’ns!” the charmer cries:

“O barbarous clime! where Beauty borrows aid
From eloquence to charm or to perſuade!
Will Diſcord never leave, with envious Care,
To raiſe debate? But Diſcord governs here.10
To Juno Pallas wiſdom, fame, and pow’r,
Long ſince preferr’d, what trial needs there more?
Confeſs’d to fight, three goddeſſes deſcend
On Ida’s hill, and for a prize contend;
Nobly they bid, and laviſhly purſue15
A gift that only could be Beauty’s due.
Honours and wealth the gen’rous judge denies,
And gives the triumph to the brighteſt eyes.
Such precedents are numberleſs: we draw
Our right from cuſtom; cuſtom is a law:20
As high as heav’n, as wide as ſeas or land,
As ancient as the world, is our command.
Mars and Alcides would this plea allow;
Beauty was ever abſolute till now.
It is enough that I pronounce it mine,25
And, right or wrong, he ſhould his claim reſign.
Not bears nor tigers ſure ſo ſavage are
As theſe ill-manner’d monſters of the bar.
“Loud Rumour has proclaim’d a nymph divine,[2]
Whoſe matchleſs form, to counterbalance mine,30

By dint of beauty ſhall extort your grace:
Let her appear, this rival, face to face;
Let eyes to eyes oppos’d this ſtrife decide:
Now when I lighten let her beams be try’d.
Was ’t a vain promiſe and a gownman’s lie?35
Or ſtands ſhe here unmark’d when I am by?
So Heav’n was mock’d, and once all Elis round
Another Jupiter was ſaid to ſound;
On brazen floors the royal actor tries
To ape the thunder rattling in the ſkies;40
A brandiſh’d torch, with emulating blaze,
Affects the forky lightning’s pointed rays:
Thus borne aloft, triumphantly he rode
Thro’ crowds of worſhippers, and acts the god.
The ſire Omnipotent prepares the brand45
By Vulcan wrought, and arms his potent hand,
Then flaming hurls it hiſſing from above,
And in the vaſt abyſs confounds the mimic Jove.
Preſumptuous Wretch! with mortal art to dare
Immortal pow’r, and brave the Thunderer.50
“Caſſiope preferring, with diſdain,
Her daughter to the Nereids, they complain:
The daughter, for the mother’s guilty ſcorn,
Is doom’d to be devour’d: the mother’s borne
Above the clouds, where, by immortal light55
Revers’d, ſhe ſhines, expos’d to human ſight,
And to a ſhameful poſture is confin’d,
As an eternal terror to mankind.

Did thus the gods ſuch private nymphs reſpect;
What vengeance might the queen of Love expect!60
“But grant ſuch arbitrary pleas are vain,
Wav’d let them be; mere juſtice ſhall obtain.
Who to a huſband juſtlier can ſucceed
Than the ſoft partner of his nuptial bed?
Or to a father’s right lay ſtronger claim65
Than the dear youth in whom ſurvives his name?
Behold that youth, conſider whence he ſprings,
And in his royal veins reſpect your kings;
Immortal Jove upon a mortal ſhe
Begat his ſire; ſecond from Jove is he.70
“Well did the father blindly fight your cauſe,
Following the cry—of Liberty and Laws,
Is by thoſe laws, for which he loſt his life,[3]
You ſpoil ungratefully the ſon and wiſe.
“What need I more? ’t is treaſon to diſpute:75
The grant was royal; that decides the ſuit.
Shall vulgar laws imperial pow’r conſtrain?
Kings and the gods can never act in vain.”
She finiſh’d here, the queen of ev’ry grace!
Diſdain vermilioning her heav’nly face:80
Our hearts take fire, and all in tumult riſe,
And one wish ſparkles in a thouſand eyes.
O might ſome champion finiſh theſe debates,
My ſword ſhould end what now my pen relates!

Up roſe the Judge, on each ſide bending low,85
A crafty ſmile accompanies his bow;
Ulyſſes-like, a gentle pauſe he makes,
Then, raiſing by degrees his voice, he ſpeaks.
“In you, my Lords, who judge, and all who hear,
Methinks I read your wiſhes for the fair:90
Nor can I wonder; even I contend
With inward pain, unwilling to offend;
Unhappy, thus oblig’d to a defence
That may diſpleaſe such heav’nly excellence.
Might we the laws on any terms abuſe,95
So bright an influence were the beſt excuſe.
Let Niobe’s[4] juſt fate, the vile diſgrace
O the Propœtides’[5] polluted race,
Let death, or ſhame, or lunacy, ſurpriſe
Who dare to match the luſtre of thoſe eyes.100
Aloud the faireſt of the ſex complain
Of captives loſt, and loves invok’d in vain;
At her appearance all their glory ends,
And not a ſtar but ſets when ſhe aſcends.
“Where Love preſides ſtill may ſhe bear the prize,105
But rigid Law has neither ears nor eyes:

Charms to which Mars and Hercules would bow,
Minos and Rhadamanthus[6] diſavow:
Juſtice, by nothing biaſs’d or inclin’d,
Deaf to perſuaſion, to temptation blind,110
Determines without favour, and the laws
O’erlook the parties to decide the cauſe.
What then avails it that a beardleſs boy
Took a raſh fancy for a female toy?
Th’ inſulted Argives, with a num’rous hoſt,115
Purſue revenge, and seek the Dardan coaſt.
Tho’ the gods built, and tho’ the gods defend,
Thoſe lofty towers, the hoſtile Greeks aſcend,
Nor leave they till the town in aſhes lies,
And all the race of royal Priam dies.120
The queen of Paphos,[7] mixing in the fray,
Rallies the troops, and urges on the day;
In perſon in the foremoſt ranks ſhe ſtands,
Provokes the charge, directs, aſſiſts, commands:
Stern Diomed, advancing high in air125
His lofty jav’lin, ſtrikes the heav’nly fair;
The vaulted ſkies with her loud ſhrieks reſound,
And high Olympus trembles at the wound.
In cauſes juſt would all the gods oppoſe,
’Twere honeſt to diſpute; ſo Cato choſe.130

Diſmiſs that plea, and what ſhall blood avail?
If Beauty is deny’d, ſhall Birth prevail?
Blood and high deeds in diſtant ages done
Are our forefathers’ merit, not our own.
Might none a juſt poſſeſſion be allow’d135
But who could bring deſert, or boaſt of blood,
What numbers, ev’n here, might be condemn’d,
Stripp’d and deſpoil’d of all, revil’d, contemn’d!
Take a juſt view, how many may remark
Who now ’s a peer his grandſire was a clerk.140
Some few remain ennobled by the ſword
In Gothic times; but now, to be My Lord,
Study the law, nor do theſe robes deſpiſe;
Honour the gown, from whence your honours riſe.
Those fam’d Dictators who ſubdu’d the globe145
Gave the precedence to the peaceful robe.
The mighty Julius pleading at the bar
Was greater than when, thund’ring in the war,
He conquer’d nations. ’Tis of more renown
To ſave a client than to ſtorm a town.150
“How dear to Britain are her darling laws!
What blood has ſhe not laviſh’d in their cauſe!
Kings are like common ſlaves to ſlaughter led,
Or wander thro’ the world to beg their bread.
When regal pow’r aſpires above the laws,155
A private wrong becomes a public cauſe.”
He ſpoke. The nobles differ, and divide;
Some join with Law, and ſome with Beauty ſide.

Mordaunt, th’ once her ſlave, inſults the fair
Whoſe fetters ’t was his pride in youth to wear.160
So Lucifer revolted brav’d the Power
Whom he was wont to worſhip and implore:
Like impious is their rage who have in chaſe
A new omnipotence in Grafton’s face.
But Rocheſter, undaunted, juſt, and wiſe,165
Aſſerts the goddeſs with the charming eyes:
And, O! may Beauty never want reward
For thee, her noble champion, and her guard.
Beauty triumphs, and Law ſubmitting lies;170
The tyrant tam’d, aloud for mercy cries:
Conqueſt can never fail in radiant Grafton’s eyes.172

  1. King Charles II. having made a grant of the reverſion of an office in the Court of King’s Bench to his ſon the Duke of Grafton, the Lord Chief Juſtice laying claim to it, as a perquiſite legally belonging to his office, the cauſe came to be heard before the Houſe of Lords between the Ducheſs, relict of the ſaid Duke, and the Chief Justice.
  2. A report ſpread of a beantisul young lady, niece to the Lord Chief Juſtice, who would appear at the bar of the Houſe of Lords, and eclipſe the charms of the Ducheſs of Grafton. No ſuch lady was ſeen there, nor perhaps ever in any part of the world.
  3. The Duke of Grafton, ſlain at the ſiege of Corke in Ireland about the beginning of the Revolution.
  4. Niobe, turned into a ſtone for preſuming to compare herſelf with Diana.
  5. Propœtides, certain virgins, who, for affronting Venus, were condemned to open proſtitution, and afterwards turned into ſtone.
  6. Minos and Rhadamanthus, famous legiſlators, who, for their ſtrict adminiſtration of juſtice, were, after their deaths, made chief judges in the infernal regions.
  7. Venus.