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Of those who claim it more than half have none, And half of those who have it are undone.
Be still superior to your sex's arts,
Nor think dishonesty a proof of parts :
For you the plainest is the wisest rule:
A cunning woman is a knavish fool.
Be good yourself, nor think another's shame
Can raise your merit, or adorn your fame.
Prudes rail at whores, as statesmen in disgrace
At ministers, because they wish their place.
Virtue is amiable, mild, serene :
Without, all beauty, and all peace within;
The honour of a prude is rage and storm,
'Tis ugliness in its most frightful form;
Fiercely it stands, defying gods and men,
As fiery monsters guard a giant's den.
Seek to be good, but aim not to be great :
A woman's noblest station is retreat :
Her fairest virtues fly from public sight,
Domestick worth, that shuns too strong a light. ·
To rougher man Ambition's task resign :
'Tis ours in senates or in courts to shine ;
To labour for a sunk corrupted state,
Or dare the rage of envy, and be great.
One only care your gentle breasts shall move, The important business of your life is love ;' To this great point direct your constant aim, This makes your happiness, and this your fame.
Be never cool reserve with passion joind;
With caution choose : but then be fondly kind.
The selfish heart that but by halves is given,
Shall find no place in love's delightful heaven;
Here sweet extremes alone can truly bless :
The virtue of a lover is excess.
A maid unask'd may own a well-placed flame;
Not loving first, but loving wrong is shame.
Contemn the little pride of giving pain,
Nor think that conquest justifies disdain.
Short is the period of insulting power,
Offended Cupid finds his vengeful hour;
Soon will resume the empire which he gave,
And soon the tyrant shall become the slave.
Blest is the maid, and worthy to be blest,
Whose soul, entire by him she loves possest,
Feels every vanity in fondness lost,
And asks no power but that of pleasing most :
Hers is the bliss, in just return, to prove
The honest warmth of undissembled love;
For her, inconstant man might cease to range,
And gratitude forbid desire to change.
But, lest harsh care the lover's peace destroy,
And roughly blight the tender buds of joy,
Let reason teach what passion fain would hide,
That Hymen's bands by prudence should be tied,
Venus in vain the wedded pair would crown,
If angry Fortune on their union frown:
And cloy'd imagination cheat no more.
Then, waking to the sense of lasting pain,
With mutual tears the nuptial couch they stain;
And that fond love, which should afford relief,
Does but increase the anguish of their grief;
While both could easier their own sorrows bear,
Than the sad knowledge of each other's care,
Yet may you rather feel that virtuous p:in,
Than sell your violated charms for gain ;
Than wed the wretch whom you despise or hate,
For the vain glare of useless wealth or state.
The most abandoned prostitutes are they,
Who not to love but avarice fall a prey :
Nor aught avails the specious name of wife;
A maid so wedded is a whore for life.
Even in the happiest choice, where favouring
heaven Has equal love and easy fortune given, Think not, the husband gain’d, that all is done ; The prize of happiness must still be won: And oft, the careless find it to their cost, The lover in the husband may be lost; The graces might alone his heart allure, They, and the virtues meeting, must secure.
Let even your prudence wear the pleasing dress
Of care, for him, and anxious tenderness.
From kind concern about his weal or woe,
Let each domestic duty seem to flow.
The household sceptre if he bids you bear,
Make it your pride his servant to appear :
Endearing thus the common acts of life,
The mistress still shall charm him in the wife :
And wrinkled age shall unobserved come on,
Before his eye perceives one beauty gone:
Even o'er your cold, your ever-sacred urn,
His constant fame shall unextinguish'd burn.
Thus !, Belinda, would your charms improve,
And form your heart to all the arts of love.
The task were harder to secure iny own
Against the power of those already known:
For well you twist the secret chains that bind
With gentle force the captivated mind,
Skill'd every soft attraction to employ,
Each flattering hope, and each alluring joy.
I own your genius; and from you receive
The rules of pleasing, which to you I give.