Dr B- - - - to Ellen with his Kaleidoscope
The mighty tube that shares its fame
With good old Galileo’s name
Compar’d with this was but a whim
For cloister’d schools and sages grim.
The Seer of Florence only car’d
To certify a comet’s beard
But Art devises this to shew man
The mind of Fashionable Woman!
Has it a gilt exterior? — Well,
It closer makes the parallel:
At safe and modest distance seen,
It seems an exquisite machine,
For Genius or for Science fit
To draw things near like Truth and Wit;
But look within! — what motley heaps
Of brittle things the covert keeps!
Odd bead, mock jewels, shreds of lace,
All find a temporary place;
What seems a diamond, if you look
Is but a pin’s head or a hook —
A meteor or a star examin’d
Is some poor bauble women cram in’t.
See, thro’ how many thousand changes
Their love or their ambition ranges!
Now in a lover’s knot ’tis set,
Now ’tis a ducal coronet!
Now ribbons of all hues are streaming
And now a knightly star is gleaming —
Next, the shawl-pattern of a Hindu —
And then — a church’s painted window!
Yet seen by love’s light and afar,
This motley mass seems regular;
Sages to buy the toy desire
And tho’ they laugh, they still admire.
But, Ladies! can no other thing
A parallel with Brewster bring?
Yes, one thing more — our little life
Changes as swiftly as a wife —
When first the gay optician Hope
Presents us her KALEIDOSCOPE,
How bright before our dazzled eyes
The ever-moving pageants rise!
As in this toy’s refracting glass
Chang’d ere they fix, the colours pass,
Modes, friendships, pleasures, schemes and cares
Fine forms, fine systems, and fine airs
All in the gaudy wheel revolve
Shine, mingle, waver, and dissolve.
Thus Time and Fortune’s turns confuse
All Heraldry’s unnumbered hues
All the gay baubles Mortals prize,
Crowns, garlands, stars, and radiant eyes
Scarce gaz’d on ere they fade and fall —
A breath — a step reverses all!
Brief scene, yet beautiful and gay!
Why snatch the secret spell away?
Ah! rather worship the illusion
That beautifies this rich confusion —
Let Memory the fair circle fill,
And keep her lovely prism still.
Fair mistress of a gayer pow’r
To wing away the frolic hour,
Transform, by virtue of a Trope,
The Chest to a Kaleidoscope
Where ever-changing Fancy shews
Here rarest shapes and richest hues :
There, by the magic of thy twirl
This mite of mine may seem a pearl,
And thy own soul’s bright eye shall be
The best KALEIDOSCOPE for thee!