1777 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Chesterfield

J. F., "An Antidote to Poison" London Chronicle (6 May 1777) 429.



Read Chesterfield, and learn to be polite,
For who like Chesterfield can charm and write?
How glows the page with energy divine,
The Graces smooth each soft melodious line!
And Venus with her best attractions fraught
Embalms each sentence, and perfumes each thought.
The pink and quintessence of polished gout,
All that can please the eye, or charm the ear,
All that can win the heart, the man endear,
All that can urge the mind to great design,
In this high Ollio of Perfection join.
What pity 'tis that all is fraud and art,
The loose effusions of a misled heart.
'Tis dissipation to advantage dress'd,
'Tis prostitution decently express'd,
'Tis a rich cabinet of modish sin,
Without all angel, but all devil within.
A mere seraglio, where the unfetter'd fool
Turns Mussulman, and roves without controul,
Free, and unbounded, o'er wild nature's walk
The well bred stallion's taught with grace to stalk,
The morals of a whore, a fop's address,
A boundless lust of dazzling to excess,
The mien and person elegantly neat,
The body taught as well as soul to cheat.
With conscience ever gay, and heart at ease,
No dull religion to perplex and teaze,
Commodious honesty that ebbs and flows
Just as the partial gale of interest blows,
Compose the whole of this accomplish'd plan,
The education of the finish'd man.
Whoe'er thou art who read'st this work with glee,
A Lovelace, or Lothario shalt thou be,
Like Machiavel the men you will deceive,
And be the tempter with each beauteous Eve.
'Tis the best book to lead the mind astray,
The surest guide to make thee lose thy way
In life's uncertain maze; tho' flowers abound
A serpent lurks beneath, and sure to wound,
Tho' sweetest music charms the sense along,
A syren warbles in the dulcet song,
Tho' Circe flush with joy the smiling cup,
Rank poison dwells within, 'tis death to sup.
Oxon.