The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/Cadenus and Vanessa

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Written at Windsor, 1713.

THE shepherds and the nymphs were seen
Pleading before the Cyprian queen.
The counsel for the fair began,
Accusing the false creature Man.
The brief with weighty crimes was charg'd,5
On which the pleader much enlarg'd;
That Cupid now has lost his art,
Or blunts the point of every dart; —
His altar now no longer smokes,
His mother's aid no youth invokes:10
This tempts freethinkers to refine,
And bring in doubt their powers divine;
Now love is dwindled to intrigue,
And marriage grown a money league;
Which crimes aforesaid (with her leave)15
Were (as he humbly did conceive)
Against our sovereign lady's peace,
Against the statute in that case,
Against her dignity and crown:
Then pray'd an answer, and sat down.20
The nymphs with scorn beheld their foes:
When the defendant's counsel rose,
And, what no lawyer ever lack'd,
With impudence own'd all the fact;
But, what the gentlest heart would vex,25
Laid all the fault on t'other sex.
That modern love is no such thing
As what those ancient poets sing;
A fire celestial, chaste, refin'd,
Conceiv'd and kindled in the mind;30
Which, having found an equal flame,
Unites, and both become the same,
In different breasts together burn,
Together both to ashes turn.
But women now feel no such fire,35
And only know the gross desire.
Their passions move in lower spheres,
Where'er caprice or folly steers.
A dog, a parrot, or an ape,
Or some worse brute in human shape,40
Engross the fancies of the fair,
The few soft moments they can spare,
From visits to receive and pay;
From scandal, politicks, and play;
From fans, and flounces, and brocades,45
From equipage and park parades,
From all the thousand female toys,
From every trifle that employs
The out or inside of their heads,
Between their toilets and their beds.50
In a dull stream, which moving slow,
You hardly see the current flow;
If a small breeze obstruct the course,
It whirls about, for want of force,
And in its, narrow circle gathers55
Nothing but chaff, and straws, and feathers.
The current of a female mind
Stops thus, and turns with every wind;
Thus whirling round together draws
Fools, fops, and rakes, for chaff and straws.60
Hence we conclude, no women's hearts
Are won by virtue, wit, and parts:
Nor are the men of sense to blame,
For breasts incapable of flame;
The fault must on the nymphs be plac'd,65
Grown so corrupted in their taste.
The pleader, having spoke his best,
Had witness ready to attest,
Who fairly could on oath depose,
When questions on the fact arose,70
That every article was true;
Nor farther those deponents knew: —
Therefore he humbly would insist,
The bill might be with costs dismiss'd.
The cause appear'd of so much weight,75
That Venus, from her judgment seat,
Desir'd them not to talk so loud,
Else she must interpose a cloud:
For, if the heavenly folk should know
These pleadings in the courts below,80
That mortals here disdain to love,
She ne'er could show her face above;
For gods, their betters, are too wise
To value that which men despise.
And then, said she, my son and I85
Must stroll in air, 'twixt land and sky;
Or else, shut out from Heaven and earth,
Fly to the sea, my place of birth;
There live, with daggled mermaids pent,
And keep on fish perpetual Lent.90
But, since the case appear'd so nice,
She thought it best to take advice.
The Muses, by the king's permission,
Though foes to love, attend the session,
And on the right hand took their places95
In order; on the left, the Graces:
To whom she might her doubts propose
On all emergencies that rose.
The Muses oft were seen to frown;
The Graces half asham'd look down;100

And 'twas observed, there were but few
Of either sex among the crew,
Whom she or her assessors knew.
The goddess soon began to see,

Things were not ripe for a decree;105
And said, she must consult her books,
The lovers' Fletas, Bractons, Cokes.
First to a dapper clerk she beckon'd
To turn to Ovid, book the second;
She then referr'd them to a place110
In Virgil, vide Dido's case:
As for Tibullus's reports,
They never pass'd for law in courts:
For Cowley's briefs, and pleas of Waller,
Still their authority was smaller.115
There was on both sides much to say:
She'd hear the cause another day.
And so she did; and then a third
She heard it — there she kept her word:
But, with rejoinders or replies,120
Long bills, and answers stuff'd with lies,
Demur, imparlance, and essoign,
The parties ne'er could issue join:
For sixteen years the cause was spun,
And then stood where it first begun.125
Now, gentle Clio, sing or say,
What Venus meant by this delay.
The goddess much perplex'd in mind
To see her empire thus declin'd;
Wlien first this grand debate arose,130
Above her wisdom to compose,
Conceiv'd a project in her head
To work her ends; which, if it sped,
Would show the merits of the cause
Far better than consulting laws.135
In a glad hour Lucina's aid
Produc'd on earth a wondrous maid,
On whom the Queen of Love was bent
To try a new experiment.
She threw her law books on the shelf,140
And thus debated with herself.
Since men allege, they ne'er can find
Those beauties in a female mind,
Which raise a flame that will endure
For ever uncorrupt and pure;145
If 'tis with reason they complain,
This infant shall restore my reign.
I'll search where every virtue dwells,
From courts inclusive down to cells:
What preachers talk, or sages write;150
These I will gather and unite,
And represent them to mankind
Collected in that infant's mind.
This said, she plucks in Heaven's high bowers
A sprig of amaranthine flowers.155
In nectar thrice infuses bays,
Three times refin'd in Titan's rays;
Then calls the Graces to her aid,
And sprinkles thrice the newborn maid:
From whence the tender skin assumes160
A sweetness above all perfumes:
From whence a cleanliness remains,
Incapable of outward stains:
From whence that decency of mind,
So lovely in the female kind,165
Where not one careless thought intrudes,
Less modest than the speech of prudes;
Where never blush was call'd in aid,
That spurious virtue in a maid,
A virtue but at second hand;170
They blush, because they understand.
The Graces next would act their part,
And show'd but little of their art;
Their work was half already done,
The child with native beauty shone;175
The outward form no help requir'd:
Each, breathing on her thrice, inspir'd
That gentle, soft, engaging air,
Which in old times adorn'd the fair:
And said, "Vanessa be the name180
By which thou shalt be known to fame:
Vanessa, by the gods enroll'd:
Her name on earth shall not be told."
But still the work was not complete;
When Venus thought on a deceit.185
Drawn by her doves, away she flies,
And finds out Pallas in the skies.
Dear Pallas, I have been this morn
To see a lovely infant born;
A boy in yonder isle below,190
So like my own without his bow,
By beauty could your heart be won,
You'd swear it is Apollo's son:
But it shall ne'er be said, a child
So hopeful has by me been spoil'd;195
I have enough beside to spare,
And give him wholly to your care.
Wisdom's above suspecting wiles:
The Queen of Learning gravely smiles.
Down from Olympus comes with joy,200
Mistakes Vanessa for a boy;
Then sows within her tender mind
Seeds long unknown to womankind;
For manly bosoms chiefly fit,
The seeds of knowledge, judgment, wit.205
Her soul was suddenly endued
With justice, truth, and fortitude;
With honour, which no breath can stain,
Which malice must attack in vain;
With open heart and bounteous hand,210
But Pallas here was at a stand;
She knew, in our degenerate days,
Bare virtue could not live on praise;
That meat must be with money bought:
She therefore, upon second thought,215
Infus'd, yet as it were by stealth,
Some small regard for state and wealth;
Or which, as she grew up, there staid
A tincture in the prudent maid:
She manag'd her estate with care,220
Yet lik'd three footmen to her chair.
But, lest he should neglect his studies
Like a young heir, the thrifty goddess
(For fear young master should be spoil'd)
Would use him like a younger child;225
And, after long computing, found
'Twould come to just five thousand pound.
The Queen of Love was pleas'd, and proud,
To see Vanessa thus endow'd:
She doubted not but such a dame230
Through every breast would dart a flame;
That every rich and lordly swain
With pride would drag about her chain;
That scholars would forsake their books,
To study bright Vanessa's looks;235
As she advanc'd, that womankind
Would by her model form their mind,
And all their conduct would be try'd
By her, as an unerring guide;
Offending daughters oft would hear240
Vanessa's praise rung in their ear:
Miss Betty, when she does a fault,
Lets fall her knife, or spills the salt,
Will thus be by her mother chid,
"'Tis what Vanessa never did!"245
Thus by the nymphs and swains ador'd,
My power shall be again restor'd,
And happy lovers bless my reign —
So Venus hop'd, but hop'd in vain.
For when in time the Martial Maid250
Found out the trick that Venus play'd,
She shakes her helm, she knits her brows,
And fir'd with indignation, vows,
To morrow, ere the setting sun,
She'd all undo that she had done.255
But in the poets we may find
A wholesome law, time out of mind,
Had been confirm'd by Fate's decree,
That gods, of whatsoe'er degree,
Resume not what themselves have given,260
Or any brother god in Heaven;
Which keeps the peace among the gods,
Or they must always be at odds:
And Pallas, if she broke the laws,
Must yield her foe the stronger cause;265
A shame to one so much ador'd
For wisdom at Jove's council board.
Besides, she fear'd the Queen of Love
Would meet with better friends above.
And though she must with grief reflect,270
To see a mortal virgin deck'd
With graces hitherto unknown
To female breasts, except her own:
Yet she would act as best became
A goddess of unspotted fame.275
She knew, by augury divine,
Venus would fail in her design:
She study'd well the point, and found
Her foe's conclusions were not sound,
From premisses erroneous brought,280
And therefore the deduction's naught,
And must have contrary effects,
To what her treacherous foe expects.
In proper season Pallas meets
The Queen of Love, whom thus she greets,285
(For gods, we are by Homer told,
Can in celestial language scold)
Perfidious goddess! but in vain
You form'd this project in your brain;
A project for thy talents fit,290
With much deceit and little wit.
Thou hast, as thou shalt quickly see,
Deceiv'd thyself, instead of me:
For how can heavenly wisdom prove
An instrument to earthly love?295
Know'st thou not yet, that men commence
Thy votaries, for want of sense?
Nor shall Vanessa be the theme
To manage thy abortive scheme:
She'll prove the greatest of thy foes;300
And yet I scorn to interpose,
But, using neither skill nor force,
Leave all things to their natural course.
The goddess thus pronounc'd her doom:
When lo! Vanessa in her bloom305
Advanc'd, like Atalanta's star,
But rarely seen, and seen from far:
In a new world with caution stept,
Watch'd all the company she kept,
Well knowing, from the books she read,310
What dangerous paths young virgins tread:
Would seldom at the Park appear,
Nor saw the playhouse twice a year;
Yet, not incurious, was inclin'd
To know the converse of mankind.315
First issued from perfumer's shops,
A crowd of fashionable fops:
They ask'd her, how she lik'd the play;
Then told the tattle of the day;
A duel fought last night at two,320
About a lady — you know who;
Mention'd a new Italian, come
Either from Muscovy or Rome;
Gave hints of who and who's together;
Then fell to talking of the weather;325
Last night was so extremely fine,
The ladies walk'd till after nine;
Then, in soft voice and speech absurd,
With nonsense every second word,
With fustian from exploded plays,330
They celebrate her beauty's praise;
Run o'er their cant of stupid lies,
And tell the murders of her eyes.
With silent scorn Vanessa sat,
Scarce listening to their idle chat;335
Farther than sometimes by a frown,
When they grew pert, to pull them down.
At last she spitefully was bent
To try their wisdom's full extent;
And said, she valu'd nothing less340
Than titles, figure, shape, and dress;
That merit should be chiefly plac'd
In judgment, knowledge, wit, and taste;
And these, she offer'd to dispute,
Alone distinguish'd man from brute:345
That present times have no pretence
To virtue, in the noble sense
By Greeks and Romans understood,
To perish for our country's good.
She nam'd the ancient heroes round,350
Explain'd for what they were renown'd;
Then spoke with censure or applause
Of foreign customs, rites, and laws;
Through nature and through art she rang'd,
And gracefully her subject chang'd;355
In vain! her hearers had no share
In all she spake, except to stare.
Their judgment was, upon the whole,
— That lady is the dullest soul! —
Then tipt their forehead in a jeer,360
As who should say — She wants it here!
She may be handsome, young, and rich,
But none will burn her for a witch!
A party next of glittering dames,
From round the purlieus of St. James,365
Came early, out of pure good will,
To see the girl in dishabille.
Their clamour, 'lighting from their chairs,
Grew louder all the way up stairs;
At entrance loudest, where they found370
The room with volumes litter'd round.
Vanessa held Montaigne, and read,
While Mrs. Susan comb'd her head.
They call'd for tea and chocolate,
And fell into their usual chat,375
Discoursing with important face,
On ribands, fans, and gloves, and lace;
Show'd patterns just from India brought,
And gravely ask'd her what she thought,
Whether the red or green were best,380
And what they cost! Vanessa guess'd,
As came into her fancy first;
Nam'd half the rates, and lik'd the worst.
To scandal next — What awkward thing
Was that last Sunday in the ring!385
I'm sorry Mopsa breaks so fast:
I said, her face would never last.
Corinna, with that youthful air,
Is thirty, and a bit to spare:
Her fondness for a certain earl390
Began when I was but a girl!
Phillis, who but a month ago
Was marry'd to the Tunbridge beau,
I saw coquetting t'other night
In publick with that odious knight!395
They rally'd next Vanessa's dress:
That gown was made for old queen Bess,
Dear madam, let me see your head:
Don't you intend to put on red?
A petticoat without a hoop!400
Sure, you are not asham'd to stoop!
With handsome garters at your knees,
No matter what a fellow sees.
Fill'd with disdain, with rage inflam'd,
Both of herself and sex asham'd,405
The nymph stood silent out of spite,
Nor would vouchsafe to set them right.
Away the fair detractors went,
And gave by turns their censures vent.
She's not so handsome in my eyes:410
For wit, I wonder where it lies!
She's fair and clean, and that's the most:
But why proclaim her for a toast?
A baby face; no life, no airs,
But what she learn'd at country fairs;415
Scarce knows what difference is between
Rich Flanders lace and Colberteen.
I'll undertake, my little Nancy
In flounces has a better fancy!
With all her wit, I would not ask420
Her judgment how to buy a mask.
We begg'd her but to patch her face,
She never hit one proper place;
Which every girl at five years old
Can do as soon as she is told.425
I own, that out of fashion stuff
Becomes the creature well enough.
The girl might pass, if we could get her
To know the world a little better.
(To know the world! a modern phrase430
For visits, ombre, balls, and plays.)
Thus, to the world's perpetual shame,
The Queen of Beauty lost her aim;
Too late with grief she understood,
Pallas had done more harm than good;435
For great examples are but vain,
Where ignorance begets disdain.
Both sexes, arm'd with guilt and spite,
Against Vanessa's power unite:
To copy her few nymphs aspir'd;440
Her virtues fewer swains admir'd.
So stars, beyond a certain height,
Give mortals neither heat nor light.
Yet some of either sex, endow'd
With gifts superiour to the crowd,445
With virtue, knowledge, taste, and wit,
She condescended to admit:
With pleasing arts she could reduce
Men's talents to their proper use;
And with address each genius held450
To that wherein it most excell'd;
Thus, making others' wisdom known,
Could please them, and improve her own.
A modest youth said something new;
She plac'd it in the strongest view.455
All humble worth she strove to raise;
Would not be prais'd, yet lov'd to praise.
The learned met with free approach,
Although they came not in a coach:
Some clergy too she would allow,460
Nor quarrel'd at their awkward bow;
But this was for Cadenus' sake,
A gownman of a different make;
Whom Pallas, once Vanessa's tutor,
Had fix'd on for her coadjutor.465
But Cupid, full of mischief, longs
To vindicate his mother's wrongs.
On Pallas all attempts are vain:
One way he knows to give her pain;
Vows on Vanessa's heart to take470
Due vengeance, for her patron's sake;
Those early seeds by Venus sown,
In spite of Pallas, now were grown;
And Cupid hop'd, they would improve
By time, and ripen into love.475
The boy made use of all his craft,
In vain discharging many a shaft,
Pointed at colonels, lords, and beaux:
Cadenus warded off the blows;
For, placing still some book betwixt,480
The darts were in the cover fix'd,
Or, often blunted and recoil'd,
On Plutarch's Morals struck, were spoil'd.
The Queen of Wisdom could foresee,
But not prevent, the Fates' decree:485
And human caution tries in vain
To break that adamantine chain.
Vanessa, though by Pallas taught,
By Love invulnerable thought,
Searching in books for wisdom's aid,490
Was, in the very search, betray'd.
Cupid, though all his darts were lost,
Yet still resolv'd to spare no cost:
He could not answer to his fame
The triumphs of that stubborn dame,495
A nymph so hard to be subdued,
Who neither was coquette nor prude.
I find, said he, she wants a doctor,
Both to adore her, and instruct her:
I'll give her what she most admires,500
Among those venerable sires.
Cadenus is a subject fit,
Grown old in politicks and wit,
Caress'd by ministers of state,
Of half mankind the dread and hate.505
Whate'er vexations love attend,
She need no rivals apprehend.
Her sex, with universal voice,
Must laugh at her capricious choice.
Cadenus many things had writ:510
Vanessa much esteem'd his wit,
And call'd for his poetick works:
Mean time the boy in secret lurks;
And, while the book was in her hand.
The urchin from his private stand515
Took aim, and shot with all his strength
A dart of such prodigious length,
It pierc'd the feeble volume through,
And deep transfix'd her bosom too.
Some lines, more moving than the rest,520
Stuck to the point that pierc'd her breast,
And, born directly to the heart,
With pains unknown, increas'd her smart.
Vanessa, not in years a score,
Dreams of a gown of forty-four;525
Imaginary charms can find
In eyes with reading almost blind:
Cadenus now no more appears
Declin'd in health, advanc'd in years.
She fancies musick in his tongue;530
Nor farther looks, but thinks him young.
What mariner is not afraid
To venture in a ship decay'd?
What planter will attempt to yoke
A sapling with a falling oak?535
As years increase, she brighter shines;
Cadenus with each day declines:
And he must fall a prey to time,
While she continues in her prime.
Cadenus, common forms apart,540
In every scene had kept his heart;
Had sigh'd and languish'd, vow'd and writ,
For pastime, or to show his wit.
But books, and time, and state affairs,
Had spoil'd his fashionable airs:545
He now could praise, esteem, approve,
But understood not what was love.
His conduct might have made him styl'd
A father, and the nymph his child.
That innocent delight he took550
To see the virgin mind her book,
Was but the master's secret joy
In school to hear the finest boy.
Her knowledge with her fancy grew;
She hourly press'd for something new;555
Ideas came into her mind
So fast, his lessons lagg'd behind;
She reason'd, without plodding long,
Nor ever gave her judgment wrong.
But now a sudden change was wrought:560
She minds no longer what he taught.
Cadenus was amaz'd, to find
Such marks of a distracted mind:
For, though she seem'd to listen more
To all he spoke, than e'er before,565
He found her thoughts would absent range,
Yet guess'd not whence could spring the change.
And first he modestly conjectures
His pupil might be tir'd with lectures;
Which help'd to mortify his pride,570
Yet gave him not the heart to chide:
But, in a mild dejected strain,
At last he ventur'd to complain;
Said, she should be no longer teaz'd,
Might have her freedom when she pleas'd:575
Was now convinc'd he acted wrong
To hide her from the world so long,
And in dull studies to engage
One of her tender sex and age:
That every nymph with envy own'd,580
How she might shine in the grande monde;
And every shepherd was undone
To see her cloister'd like a nun.
This was a visionary scheme:
He wak'd, and found it but a dream;585
A project far above his skill;
For nature must be nature still.
If he were bolder than became
A scholar to a courtly dame,
She might excuse a man of letters:590
Thus tutors often treat their betters:
And, since his talk offensive grew,
He came to take his last adieu.
Vanessa, fill'd with just disdain,
Would still her dignity maintain,595
Instructed from her early years
To scorn the art of female tears.
Had he employ'd his time so long
To teach her what was right and wrong;
Yet could such notions entertain600
That all his lectures were in vain?
She own'd the wandering of her thoughts;
But he must answer for her faults.
She well remember'd, to her cost,
That all his lessons were not lost.605
Two maxims she could still produce,
And sad experience taught their use;
That virtue, pleased by being shown,
Knows nothing which it dares not own;
Can make us without fear disclose610
Our inmost secrets to our foes:
That common forms were not design'd
Directors to a noble mind.
Now, said the nymph, to let you see
My actions with your rules agree;615
That I can vulgar forms despise,
And have no secrets to disguise:
I knew, by what you said and writ,
How dangerous things were men of wit;
You cautioned me against their charms,620
Bat never gave me equal arms;
Your lessons found the weakest part,
Aim'd at the head, but reach'd the heart.
Cadenus felt within him rise
Shame, disappointment, guilt, surprise.625
He knew not how to reconcile
Such language with her usual style:
And yet her words were so exprest,
He could not hope she spoke in jest.
His thought had wholly been confin'd630
To form and cultivate her mind.
He hardly knew, till he was told,
Whether the nymph were young or old;
Had met her in a publick place,
Without distinguishing her face:635
Much less could his declining age
Vanessa's earliest thoughts engage;
And, if her youth indifference met,
His person must contempt beget:
Or, grant her passion be sincere,640
How shall his innocence be clear?
Appearances were all so strong,
The world must think him in the wrong:
Would say, he made a treacherous use
Of wit, to flatter and seduce:645
The town would swear, he had betray'd
By magick spells the harmless maid:
And every beau would have his jokes,
That scholars were like other folks;
And, when Platonick flights were over,650
The tutor turn'd a mortal lover!
So tender of the young and fair!
It show'd a true paternal care —
Five thousand guineas in her purse!
The doctor might have fancy'd worse.—655
Hardly at length he silence broke,
And falter'd every word he spoke;
Interpreting her complaisance,
Just as a man sans consequence,
She rallied well, he always knew:660
Her manner now was something new;
And what she spoke was in an air
As serious as a tragick player.
Bat those who aim at ridicule
Should fix upon some certain rule,665
Which fairly hints they are in jest,
Else he must enter his protest:
For, let a man be ne'er so wise,
He may be caught with sober lies;
A science which he never taught,670
And, to be free, was dearly bought;
For, take it in its proper light,
'Tis just what coxcombs call a bite.
But, not to dwell on things minute,
Vanessa finish'd the dispute;675
Brought weighty arguments to prove
That reason was her guide in love.
She thought he had himself describ'd,
His doctrines when she first imbib'd:
What he had planted, now was grown;680
His virtues she might call her own;
As he approves, as he dislikes,
Love or contempt her fancy strikes.
Self-love, in nature rooted fast.
Attends us first, and leaves us last:685
Why she likes him, admire not at her;
She loves herself, and that's the matter.
How was her tutor wont to praise
The geniuses of ancient days!
(Those authors he so oft had nam'd,690
For learning, wit, and wisdom, fam'd)
Was struck with love, esteem, and awe,
For persons whom he never saw.
Suppose Cadenus flourish'd then,
He must adore such godlike men.695
If one short volume could comprise
All that was witty, learn'd, and wise,
How would it be esteem'd and read,
Although the writer long were dead!
If such an author were alive,700
How all would for his friendship strive,
And come in crowds to see his face!
And this she takes to be her case.
Cadenus answers every end,
The book, the author, and the friend;705
The utmost her desires will reach,
Is but to learn what he can teach:
His converse is a system fit
Alone to fill up all her wit;
While every passion of her mind710
In him is centred and confin'd.
Love can with speech inspire a mute,
And taught Vanessa to dispute.
This topick, never touch'd before,
Displayed her eloquence the more:715
Her knowledge, with such pains acquir'd,
By this new passion grew inspir'd;
Through this she made all objects pass
Which gave a tincture o'er the mass;
As rivers, though they bend and twine,720
Still to the sea their course incline;
Or, as philosophers, who find
Some favourite system to their mind,
In every point to make it fit,
Will force all nature to submit.725
Cadenus, who could ne'er suspect
His lessons would have such effect,
Or be so artfully apply'd,
Insensibly came on her side.
It was an unforeseen event;730
Things took a turn he never meant.
Whoe'er excels in what we prize,
Appears a hero in our eyes:
Each girl, when pleased with what is taught,
Will have the teacher in her thought.735
When miss delights in her spinet,
A fidler may a fortune get;
A blockhead, with melodious voice,
In boarding-schools may have his choice;
And oft the dancingmaster's art740
Climbs from the toe to touch the heart.
In learning let a nymph delight,
The pedant gets a mistress by't.
Cadenus, to his grief and shame,
Could scarce oppose Vanessa's flame;745
And, though her arguments were strong,
At least could hardly wish them wrong.
Howe'er it came, he could not tell,
But sure she never talk'd so well.
His pride began to interpose;750
Preferr'd before a crowd of beaux!
So bright a nymph to come unsought!
Such wonder by his merit wrought!
'Tis merit must with her prevail!
He never knew her judgment fail!755
She noted all she ever read!
And had a most discerning head!
'Tis an old maxim in the schools,
That flattery's the food of fools;
Yet now and then your men of wit760
Will condescend to take a bit.
So, when Cadenus could not hide,
He chose to justify his pride;
Construing the passion he had shown,
Much to her praise, more to his own.765
Nature in him had merit plac'd,
In her a most judicious taste.
Love, hitherto a transient guest,
Ne'er held possession of his breast;
So long attending at the gate,770
Disdain'd to enter in so late.
Love why do we one passion call,
When 'tis a compound of them all?
Where hot and cold, where sharp and sweet,
In all their equipages meet;775
Where pleasures mix'd with pains appear,
Sorrow with joy, and hope with fear;
Wherein his dignity and age
Forbid Cadenus to engage.
But friendship, in its greatest height,780
A constant, rational delight,
On virtue's basis fix'd to last,
When love allurements long are past,
Which gently warms, but cannot burn,
He gladly offers in return;785
His want of passion will redeem
With gratitude, respect, esteem;
With that devotion we bestow,
When goddesses appear below.
While thus Cadenus entertains790
Vanessa in exalted strains,
The nymph in sober words entreats
A truce with all sublime conceits:
For why such raptures, flights, and fancies,
To her who durst not read romances?795
In lofty style to make replies,
Which he had taught her to despise?
But when her tutor will affect
Devotion, duty, and respect.
He fairly abdicates the throne;800
The government is now her own;
He has a forfeiture incurr'd;
She vows to take him at his word,
And hopes he will not think it strange,
If both should now their stations change;805
The nymph will have her turn to be
The tutor; and the pupil, he:
Though she already can discern
Her scholar is not apt to learn;
Or wants capacity to reach810
The science she designs to teach:
Wherein his genius was below
The skill of every common beau,
Who, though he cannot spell, is wise
Enough to read a lady's eyes,815
And will each accidental glance
Interpret for a kind advance.
But what success Vanessa met
Is to the world a secret yet.
Whether the nymph, to please her swain,820
Talks in a high romantick strain;
Or whether he at last descends
To act with less seraphick ends;
Or, to compound the business, whether
They temper love and books together;825
Must never to mankind be told,
Nor shall the conscious Muse unfold.
Meantime the mournful Queen of Love
Led but a weary life above.
She ventures now to leave the skies,830
Grown by Vanessa's conduct wise:
For, though by one perverse event
Pallas had cross'd her first intent;
Though her design was not obtain'd;
Yet had she much experience gain'd,835
And, by the project vainly try'd,
Could better now the cause decide.
She gave due notice, that both parties,
Coram Regina, prox' die Martis,
Should at their peril, without fail,840
Come and appear, and save their bail.
All met; and, silence thrice proclaim'd,
One lawyer to each side was nam'd.
The judge discover'd in her face
Resentments for her late disgrace;845
And, full of anger, shame, and grief,
Directed them to mind their brief;
Nor spend their time to show their reading;
She'd have a summary proceeding.
She gathered under every head850
The sum of what each lawyer said,
Gave her own reasons last, and then
Decreed the cause against the men.
But, in a weighty case like this,
To show she did not judge amiss,855
Which evil tongues might else report,
She made a speech in open court;
Wherein she grievously complains,
"How she was cheated by the swains;
On whose petition (humbly shewing,860
That women were not worth the wooing,
And that, unless the sex would mend,
The race of lovers soon must end) —
She was at Lord knows what expense
To form a nymph of wit and sense,865
A model for her sex design'd,
Who never could one lover find.
She saw her favour was misplac'd;
The fellows had a wretched taste;
She needs must tell them to their face,870
They were a stupid, senseless race;
And, were she to begin again,
She'd study to reform the men;
Or add some grains of folly more
To women, than they had before,875
To put them on an equal foot;
And this, or nothing else, would do't.
This might their mutual fancy strike;
Since every being loves its like.
"But now, repenting what was done,880
She left all business to her son;
She put the world in his possession,
And let him use it at discretion."
The crier was order'd to dismiss
The court, so made his last "O yes!"885
The goddess would no longer wait;
But, rising from her chair of state,
Left all below at six and seven,
Harness'd her doves, and flew to Heaven.

  1. This is thought to be one of Dr. Swift's correctest pieces. Its chief merit, indeed, is the elegant ease with which a story, but ill conceived in itself, is told. Goldsmith.