The Dissolution

Miss Porden

The enclosed versification of part of the Records of Tabby Hall is respectfully offered to the Editor and Editress of the A.C.

“Omnia vincit Amor” Virg. Buc. 10 v.69

When Cupid heard in Britain’s land
A modern nunnery was plann’d,
He wept, he stamp’d, his hands he wrung,
As when by sly Melissa stung.
“And shall,” the god in anger cried,
“The Nymphs of Britain, nature’s pride,
In whose pure hearts, to guile unknown,
I ever built my sweetest throne;
Whose piercing eyes forever prove
The best artillery of love;
Who charmed by beauty, but retain’d
By sense, the hearts that beauty gain’d;
Shall proud Diana vaunting tell
That they against my pow’r rebel?
No! I will ev’ry heart transfix
In Tabby Hall — I swear by Styx.”

The with a keen vindictive look
His painted bow and darts he took,
For flight prepar’d — but first he pray’d
The greater gods his plan to aid.
The darts were lovely to behold,
Of myrtle framed, and tipt with gold.
First Hermes smoothes their points with art,
To glide unnoticed to the heart;
Phoebus, that surer they may sting,
Next dips them in Castalia’s spring,
And gives them pow’r the breast to move
With all the sweet romance of love,
Poetic thoughts, Elysian gleams,
And love-sick fancy’s golden dreams.
His mother last then speed improves,
With plumage from her fav’rite doves.

Already eased of half his sorrows,
His Psyche’s form sly Cupid borrows.
Perched on Miss Quickset’s tallest yew,
His eyes the motley garden view,
And with no small amusement scann’d
The taste of ev’ry age and land.

Right o’er the Tea Urn’s lengthen’d spout,
Now in a verdant stream shot out,
The Quickset Avenue beyond,
The willows shade Sophia’s Pond;
And o’er the Urn of Friendship wave
That marks her fav’rite lapdog’s grave.

Next, glitt’ring bright with red and gold,
A bridge in taste Chinese behold,
O’er which two cats abreast might ride,
Rais’d o’er a fosse just four feet wide.
This bridge, to guard the further land,
A fort’s embattled tow’rs command.
Beyond, from prying steps secure,
Sly Renard guards a wigwam’s door.
Last, where Pomona holds her reign
Appears the Muses’ sacred fane.
The god exclaim’d “When me they shun.”

Quickset and Nettletop in talk
Now came to take their ev’ning walk.
The first in confidence apart
Spoke of a coldness at her heart;
And Nettletop (a cure most fine)
Proposed a glass of ginger wine.

The god who feigned this coldness thought
The holly on her bosom sought,
At first he feared, her heart so small,
 So fenced with many a strong redoubt,
Like insects, she had none at all — 
 But found at last the engine out,
And felt when almost in despair
A latent warmth still glowing there.
(Thus deep beneath the Alpine snows
The germ of vegetation grows)
But Nettletop’s, of size complete,
 And well supplied with brisker juices,
He found, would at th’ approach of heat
 Melt like the sugar which she uses.

The wily god his darts prepares,
But found these damsels’ wasteful cares
Had from their sisterhood remov’d
Whate’er was likely to be lov’d.
And well he knew his keenest fire
Without an object must expire.
Tho’ often thro’ his glass, we view
The fancied portrait for the true.

While musing thus; his eyes explore
A little spot unmark’d before;
The hermitage, from whence his aid,
A swain in trembling accents pray’d.
 “O Cupid! now propitious hear,
Thy faithful votary’s earnest prayer.
Whether thou roam’st in Cyprian groves,
Or toyest with thy mother’s doves.
Once thou wert kind, and I was blest,
When Agnes’ heart thy sway confessed.
But now she shuns thy genial fire
The foundress of this virgin choir.
Yet ah! if now thy votary bring
(For thee the worthiest offering)
Slave of thy will, a heart sincere;
My pray’r, dread’d pow’r, propitious hear!
Oh! warm again her bosom’s shrine
With half the fire that glows in mine.
Phoebus Apollo! thou whose sway
Claros and Tenedos obey;
Oh by that name most dear to thee,
The god of mice or poesy!
To my loved Agnes’ dark’ned sight
Restore again thy sacred light.”

More had he spoke, but trembling view’d
Where Cupid’s self before him stood.
His accents cheer th’ astonish’d youth — 
“Fear not — I know thy worth and truth,
And if my dart its pow’r retain,
Thy Agnes shall be thine again;
And Phoebus shall his aid afford
Till by thy hand her sight restor’d.
But we thy help in turn demand
Swift to dissolve this virgin band.
As a physician thou shalt come
By name of Comfrey Cardamom:
To play thy arduous part, prepare — 
The rest is mine and Phoebus’ care.”

The gods their votary haste to rig
In Esculapius’ cast-off wig,
A suit of black by Phoebus worn
When fair Coronis’ thread was shorn;
The cane that makes physicians wise
A rod of myrtle well supplies;
For pens, a heap of darts he takes,
His ink the great Apollo makes,
His paper, once paphyrus true
On Nilus’ sacred margin grew.

Now Phoebus ev’ry maiden fills
With nervous fits and nameless ills,
And sends, to dance their midnight revels,
A legion of cerulean devils.

First Saccharissa’s tender frame
Shrunk from the sun’s meridian flame,
Or by her shadowy lake reclined
As much she fear’d the damp and wind.

A passage in the morning papers
Had giv’n the gentle Squib the vapours,
While with a sympathetic eye
Emilia echoed sigh for sigh.

Poor Barbara’s spirits, happless lass,
Sank low as those within the glass.
Lost was her eye’s electric glow;
Her veins’ mercurial tide moved slow.
Some demon eke (unblest design)
Soured Nettletop’s best raisin wine;
And every gazer’s eye might trace
A kindred acid in her face.
No more her marmozet is seen

To cure the Lady Bella’s spleen,
Vain are his thousand antic tricks
Her eyes of sparkling jet to fix;
Those eyes, alas! now shine in vain — 
No trembling slaves attest her reign.

Cassandra now, each awful night,
Sees thousand spectres clothed in white,
(For Phoebus, the affair to push,
Had hung some linen on a bush)
The salt was split — the lights burnt blue — 
And owls and bats around her flew,
And ravens croak’d from Quickset’s yew.
The cricket and death-watch were heard,
And the dire screech-owl, boding bird.
A swallow in her room, all night
Had fluttered and increased her fright.

Still Quickset scorned their joint petition
Of sending for some wise physician,
“To dwell there too” (her blushes rise)
“All men were devils in disguise,
But if a female could be had
The thing were not so very bad,
The coldness at her heart, ’twas true
Had made her fearful of the rheu-
-matism — she saw ’twas vain to strive,
The wise are scorn’d where asses drive — 
In these degenerate days, she saw
Decorum was no longer law.”

The ladies smiled — without delay
The messenger was sent away.

The toilette long disus’d and spurn’d
Again in wonted splendor burn’d.
All on the mirror turn their eyes,
And see with joy new beauties rise,
For Venus kindly o’er their faces
Diffus’d anew their youthful graces.
But gentle Agnes, fairest maid,
Alone disdain’d the toilette’s aid.
She did not wish her charms improv’d
For any but the eye she lov’d.
And vainly dress or art would strive
More grace to that fine form to give.
What tho’ no morning from her sight
Dispell’d the settled gloom of night,
How sweet her placid look serene,
Her heavenly smile forever seen,
Save when a sigh her breast would move
At memory of her early love.
Her words like liquid honey stole
And ever charmed the hearer’s soul.
There wit with sense superior shines
And kindness smooths, and taste refines.

And now the ladies fill the room,
Already half dissolved their gloom;
With glowing cheeks, and hearts elate,
The doctor’s entrance anxious wait.
Each hopes, tho’ she his aid demand,
He more may need her helping hand.
And, doubtless, each believes her skill
Quite equals his — to cure or kill.

To be concluded in the next