To the Fair Advertiser

Miss Porden

Tho’ numbers have tried your affection to gain
Let me hope that a poet will sue not in vain
For what lovely maid the soft pleadings refuses,
Of him who is backed by the smiles of the Muses.

And who are my rivals, and what are their charms,
That either, or all, should excite my alarms,
Say what can they boast that is pleasing to thee,
That I do not possess in an equal degree.

One, unwieldy and large — his true portrait to give,
Seems rather to vegetate, madam, than live,
From him, say what sympathy could you expect,
Your charms would not move him, your virtues affect.

The second, at least if his words we admit,
Seems endowed both with talents and learning and wit.
But a lady whose judgement and taste are so pure,
His matchless effrontery could never endure.

The third, whatso’er on his side he may say,
His poverty bars to your favour the way.
For poverty, modern examples will prove,
Is the surest of antidotes, lady, to love.

The fourth, my most dangerous rival appears,
His wealth has with justice excited my fears,
This spell he declares shall life’s pleasures unfold,
While he varnishes o’er all its evils with gold.

But trust not their glitter, tho’ hid they are there,
They shine but more surely to tempt to the snare,
For affliction’s stern grasp will most deeply annoy
When she comes unawares, and she tramples on joys.

Thus having, like other great men of the day,
At starting o’erturned all that came in my way,
And the glory of all my precursors o’erthrown,
On the wrecks of their fame let me build up my own.

Of wealth, dearest maid, I’ve a moderate store,
For poets (thank Fortune) have ceased to be poor.
Bright Wit now deserts her bleak Attic on high,
And Fancy will sometimes descend from the sky.

And no wonder she should, when the Graces confessed,
Allure her swift flight to their favourite Chest,
And she brings in her hand the sweet garland of love
Which to deck the FAIR TRIO, the Sylphids have wove.1

But where do I wander, like Fancy I stray,
And lose in her mazes Elysian my way,
Like her, from the heaven of my wishes I’ve flown,
But where can a heaven more delightful be shown.

My person is slender and tall — in a crowd,
My face without notice to pass is allowed,
My manners are elegant, charming, polite,
And the ladies all dub me their favourite knight.

Ad the lyre of the Antients no longer is seen,
I wake its resemblance, the brisk violin,
To Bacchus, and all his allurements a foe,
For me the pure waters of Helicon flow.

In reading I’m always allowed to excel
My wit and my talents these verses shall tell,
To them then I trust — and my love shall be shown,
When to you dearest maid, I their writer make known.

With such my pretensions, allow me to hope,
That with all his dread rivals, your Damon may cope
Who will think, if successful, he never was wiser,
Than in paying his court to THE FAIR ADVERTISER.

  1. Query, are not the three heroines of the Restoration, the Attic Graces