Said Hymen to Cupid, “As fast as you’re able
Clerk, read the petitions which lie on the table;
We’re very few sinecures left to bestow,
Our leases & charters expir’d long ago —
But lest these sly candidates say we are fee’d,
In due alphabetical order proceed:
Why Cupid! you scarce know an X from a V,
Fie; open your primer & learn A, B, C.”
When love took a spelling book first in his hand,
“How few,” said he laughing, “can mine understand!
But since silly pedants my lessons regret,
Let’s see what it is which I make them forget.
My kind mother Venus oft whispers ’twere well
As I oft cast accounts, I should now learn to spell;
But I know my own alphabet writ in the eye
And spell many things in a smile or a sigh.
Ye frowing grammarians! ye frost-bitten elves!
Who sound, like noun-substantives, best by yourselves!
Till Cupid comes kindly to teach you a Q,
No cypher stands single so oddly as U.
But dire was the day when Minerva, in spite,
First taught busy women to read & to write!
Tis teasing enough when they venture to think,
But, Gods! how they vex us with paper & ink!
When Strephons and Chloes scarce knew how to read,
Three Ahs! & four Ohs! were enough to succeed;
But since surly sages to grammar have tied ’em
A lover, alas! must have Dilworth beside him.
Now belles of sixteen make a pedagogue pale
Like Sapphos they write, and read logic like Bayle,
Tonight, when their dimples to me should belong,
The rebels sit praising an ode or a song.
But when a fair maid my omnipotence mocks,
And flies from my throne to an old attic box,
The box, like Pandora’s, unbidden shall ope,
And Love shall be found in the corner with HOPE.