Rhapsody on Taste, on seeing the Duchess of Devonshire in Full Dress.

St. James's Chronicle or British Evening Post (24 August 1776).


A squib at the affectations of the Duchess of Devonshire, signed "Goblin, Lincoln's-Inn, New-Square." Goblin writes in the manner of Milton's L'Allegro: "Hither, various goddess, haste, | Boundless, inimitable Taste, | And save those charms from fashion's tawdry reign | Which nature gave to Devon, and gave in vain— | From her cumbrous forehead tear | The architecture of her hair." "Kien-Long" is glossed as "Sir W. Chambers," champion of the Chinese style.

Georgiana Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806) was a central figure in Whig circles, and consequently subject to criticism. Majorie Villiers writes, "this constant association with politicians was getting her talked about; worse still, written about. Her older friends were indignant. 'The scribblers weekly let fly their pop-guns at the Duchess of Devonshire's feathers. Her Grace is innocent, good humoured and beautiful; but these adders are blind and deaf and cannot be charmed.' Nor were her feathers the only source of criticism, for she was roundly upbraided for the custom of wearing 'figaries' in her dress; and even the hours she kept and customs of her life" The Grand Whiggery (1939) 23.

Come, thou Goddess fair and free,
Whom the meek Nymph, Simplicity,
To the Son of Maia bore,
And nursed upon th' Athenian shore,
Then to thy Sire her Charge resign'd;
Who to such Elegance of Mind
Added, whatever polished Ease
Could give, and all the Arts to please:
Whether on Reynolds (beauty's friend)
Thou biddest every Grace attend;
Or smiling dost in sportive Song
Hail the great guest of Kien-Long:
Hither various Goddess haste,
Boundless, inimitable, Taste,
And save those Charms from Fashion's tawdry Reign
Which Nature gave to Devon, and gave in vain—
From her cumbrous Forehead tear
The Architecture of her Hair,
But leave one snow-white Plume, to shew
It faintly mocks the Neck below—
Snatch from her Lips th' immodest Guile
Of Affectation's constant Smile,
And on her Cheek replace the Rose,
Which pale and wan, no longer glows,
With all that Beauty, Youth, and Love,
Could copy from some Saint above—
Would she promise real Bliss,
Bid her seem but what she is:
Or if lovelier still she'd be,
From Granby learn to worship thee.