1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Robinson

A. B., "Perdita's Feast: or, the Powers of Love and Music" Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (1 October 1782).



I.
'Twas at a midnight Route in B—k—y square,
(The rooks and frail ones all were there)
Sopha'd in downy state,
The great Volpone he sate,
Pensive and severe.
Perdita by his side,
Bloom'd like a King's-place bride
In all the flower of Mareschal, and Rouge's pride.
Happy — happy — happy pair!
None but Volpone,
None but Volpone,
None but Volpone deserves so kind a fair.

II.
That day his hopes were crost,
(So pre-ordain'd his fate)
Fallen! Fallen! Fallen! Fallen!
From his too high estate,
Hence here he did repair,
To drown in love and wine his every anxious care.
Perdita saw those lovers
Peep thro' his bettle brows,
Then rais'd her vocal powers,
And play'd the wanton spouse,
Striving by leering looks, and melody's soft charms,
To win him from ill thoughts, and fold him in her arms.

III.
In praise of ORATORY first she sung,
The wond'rous force of a glib tongue,
How by its sounding mettle
All things it would unsettle,
Change black to white; and in a crack
Turn what before was white to black.
In short it could create
A profligate — a Minister of State.
Fir'd by the kindred sound
Volpone sprung to the ground,
His eyes all in a stare,
His hand high rais'd in air;
Then with a voice that crack'd the dome,
(His mouth all in a foam)
He acted o'er and o'er,
What erst he did upon St. Stephen's floor.

IV.
To GAMING next the sweet musician turn'd,
And in its pauses all the assembly burn'd;
Lo! the groom-porter is nigh
Now he waves his hand on high,
See the Bank-notes how they justle,
What a charming anxious bustle!
Now a frown — and now a smile—
Not a guinea — now a pile.
Trim the candles — shake the box,
"Open doors whoever knocks;"
Here's no distinction at the gambling-board,
All — all are welcome — Blacklegs, or my Lord.
Sooth'd with the sound Volpone grew vain,
Play'd Hazard o'er and o'er again,
And thrice he scream'd aloud, "SEVEN'S THE MAIN!"

V.
The Syren saw the madness rise,
His eager soul — his scowling eyes;
And whilst he heaven and earth defy'd,
Chang'd her tones, and check'd his pride,
She chose a mournful muse
Soft pity to infuse,
The heir of some estate,
Born to be good and great,
By hungry sharpers torn,
Left helpless and forlorn,
A pistol by his side,
The last resource of wretchedness and pride.
With self-inverted looks Volpone he sate,
Revolving in his alter'd soul,
The various turns of chance below;
And now and then a sigh he stole,
And tears began to flow—

VI.
The cunning gipsey smil'd to see
That love was in the next degree,
And while he felt this tale of woe,
(Sadly sighing out E O!)
She tun'd her voice to Lydian measures,
To prepare his soul for pleasures,
Fame, she says, was toil and trouble,
Character an empty bubble,
Neither worth the time in seeking,
Nor th' anxiety in keeping.
Love and gaming should employ
Those who look for real joy,
Take the goods which I'll provide ye,
Perdita she sits beside ye;
Perdita, who bore the bell
In the eyes of Florizel.
Let us then to-night be blest,
To-morrow Brooks shall give the rest;
Volpone recover'd by this artful strain,
Leer'd on the fair
Who sooth'd his care,
And smil'd and leer'd, smil'd and leer'd,
Leer'd and smil'd, and leer'd again.
At length, with love and wine at once oppress'd,
The vanquish'd Statesman sunk upon her breast.