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The Poetical Works of the late Christopher Anstey

With Some Account of the Life and Writings of the Author, By his son, John Anstey

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LETTER III. Miss Jenny W---d---r, to Lady Eliz. M---d---ss, at --- Castle, North.
  
  
  
  
  
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LETTER III. Miss Jenny W---d---r, to Lady Eliz. M---d---ss, at --- Castle, North.

The Birth of Fashion, a Specimen of a modern Ode.

Sure there are charms by Heaven assign'd
To modish life alone;
A grace, an air, a taste refin'd,
To vulgar souls unknown.
Nature, my friend, profuse in vain,
May every gift impart;
If unimprov'd, they ne'er can gain
An empire o'er the heart.
Dress be our care in this gay scene
Of Pleasure's best abode:
Enchanting Dress! if well I ween,
Meet subject for an Ode.

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Come then, nymph of various mien,
Votary true of Beauty's queen,
Whom the young and ag'd adore,
And thy different arts explore,
Fashion, come:—On me a-while
Deign, fantastic nymph, to smile.
Moria thee, in times of yore,
To the motley Proteus bore;
He, in bishop's robes array'd,
Went one night to masquerade,
Where thy simple mother stray'd:
She was clad like harmless quaker,
And was pleas'd my Lord should take her
By the waist, and kindly shake her;
And, with look demure, said she,
“Pray, my Lord,—do you know me?
He, with soothing, flattering arts,
Such as win all female hearts,
Much extoll'd her wit and beauty,
And declar'd it was his duty,

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As she was a maid of honour,
To confer his blessing on her.
There, 'mid dress of various hue,
Crimson, yellow, green and blue,
All on furbelows and laces,
Slipt into her chaste embraces;
Then, like sainted rogue, cry'd he,
“Little quaker—you know me.”
Fill'd with thee she went to France,
Land renown'd for complaisance,
Vers'd in science debonair,
Bowing, dancing, dressing hair;
There she chose her habitation,
Fix'd thy place of education.
Nymph, at thy auspicious birth,
Hebe strew'd with flow'rs the earth;
Thee to welcome, all the Graces
Deck'd in ruffles, deck'd in laces,
With the God of Love attended,
And the Cyprian queen descended.

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Now you trip it o'er the globe,
Clad in party-colour'd robe,
And, with all thy mother's sense,
Virtues of your sire dispense.
Goddess, if from hand like mine,
Aught be worthy of thy shrine,
Take the flow'ry wreath I twine.
Lead, oh! lead me by the hand,
Guide me with thy magic wand,
Whether deck'd in lace and ribbons,
Thou appear'st like Mrs. Gibbons,
Or the nymph of smiling look,
At Bath yclept Janetta Cook.
Bring, O bring thy essence-pot,
Amber, musk, and bergamot,
Eau de chipre, eau de luce,
Sans pareil and citron juice,
Nor thy band-box leave behind,
Fill'd with stores of every kind;
All th' enraptur'd bard supposes,
Who to Fancy odes composes;

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All that Fancy's self has feign'd,
In a band-box is contain'd:
Painted lawns, and chequer'd shades,
Crape, that's worn by love-lorn maids,
Water'd tabbies, flower'd brocades;
Vi'lets, pinks, Italian posies,
Myrtles, jessamins, and roses,
Aprons, caps, and 'kerchiefs clean,
Straw-built hats, and bonnets green,
Catguts, gauzes, tippets, ruffs,
Fans, and hoods, and feather'd muffs,
Stomachers, and paris-nets,
Ear-rings, necklaces, aigrets,
Fringes, blonds, and mignionets;
Fine vermilion for the cheek,
Velvet patches à la grecque.
Come, but don't forget the gloves,
Which, with all the smiling loves,
Venus caught young Cupid picking
From the tender breast of chicken;
Little chicken, worthier far,
Than the birds of Juno's car,

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Soft as Cytherea's dove,
Let thy skin my skin improve;
Thou by night shalt grace my arm,
And by day shalt teach to charm.
Then, O sweet goddess, bring with thee
Thy boon attendant Gaiety,
Laughter, Freedom, Mirth, and Ease,
And all the smiling deities;
Fancy, spreading painted sails,
Loves that fan with gentle gales.—
But hark!—methinks I hear a voice,
My organs all at once rejoice;
A voice that says, or seems to say,
“Sister, hasten, sister gay,
“Come to the pump-room—come away.”
J--- W---d---r.
Bath, 1766.
 

The Goddess of Folly.