The Complaint

Mrs Flaxman

Saddle Dame Margory! for I would fain mount,
She’s feeding with her son, by yonder fount,
I like the old mare best, she’s slow and sure,
Young Peg curvets, and that I can’t endure.
So said Mnemosyne, the Muse’s Mother;
For when she rode — or wrote — she always made a pother,
The mare was lame — the ink, pens, paper, bad;
She little thought poor soul the fault was in her hand. We’ll let that pass; for surely she’s not single
In making great to-do about a jingle.
Margory comes forth and Madam Mne is seated,
With what she saw, or heard, you shall be treated,
But if too dull the rhymes, too old the names,
The author begs you’ll throw them in the flames;
He’ll not offended be, for should this fail,
His vanity may prompt another tale,
More suited to your mind, thou not so rare,
It cannot be of damsels more supremely fair!
As Mne passes on with solemn ambling pace,
She met a maiden with a hectic face
Who saunters to and fro, and oft look’d back

Good morrow, ma’am, at length the maiden cried,
Good morn to you my dear, the Dame replied,
Whence come you, fair one, that you look so heated?
Oh Madam! she returned, I’ve been so treated,
Robb’d of my sweetheart, but I’m not alone
The men are all gone mad — for one in Town!
I only wish she’d stayed at home, and quiet,
Not coming here and breeding this strange riot!
The maid herself is comely fair and tall
She’s tender, modest, and is young withal,
And I believe her innocent and good — 
To say more in her praises I’m not in mood — 
Suffice it, all with her are gone astray,
Each from his own true love has run away — 
There’s young Endyminion, with the sleepy eye
Neglects his lovely fair his little Di —  — 
For what forsooth — her beauties to descry!
Lysander, once so constant, now he leaves
His pretty Hermia — cares not tho she greives Cymon, who erst no better than a clown
Till woman metamorphos’d him — he’s flown,
Left his dear Sylvia —  for this fair unknown!
The young Narciss — for her, forsakes his streams
And stead of self, admires her azure beams,
Better he’d drown’d himself and rose a flower
A milk-white star — to deck fair Lady’s bower! Of those and twenty more I could rehearse
All subject fit for elegant verse
To old or young, they all are gone astray
Each from his own true love — has run away!
How to decoy them back, I fain would know
At least my own, till dearest Madam do,
You are the mother of Nine Daughters fair
With whom fame says, no other girls compare,
They must perforce have lovers, good, and true,
How do they keep them so? Tell me dear Lady do — 
Poor luckless maid, you know not what you ask,
To get them back is an Herculean task,
Nay Hercules himself would not be able,
He’d sooner under take once more the Augean Stable;
The poet says, when women go astray
Their adverse stars are more in fault than they,
But when man’s heart is bad there is no hope!
So don’t you longer fret, or pine, or mope,
Hear my advice — and I’ll a lesson give
If you consent, you may in comfort live,
Such treachery you cannot sure forgive,
But first ’tis proper that I here relate
What seems unknown to you, each Muse’s fate;
What each befell, (I mean in early life)
When each like you, wish’d to become a wife. They all had lovers — but it chanc’d one day
As those of the fair Nine went to pluck May
And other shrubs, wherewith to form a bower
For their retreat form sun or vernal shower,
They spied one of their swains with village lass
In close converse — and then it came to pass
As they walked on, another they discovered
With young Dorinda walking side by side
Then came a third, with Emma to be sure
This cried Melpomene, I can’t endure,
And ’gan to weep, and ever since she’s been
Poor soul at times, subject to fits of spleen.
Of this aid Clio I avenged will be!
Oh that my sister would smile with me!
They sure should rue their falsehood, for I guess
They are all alike — tho’ only more or less,
The young and sprightly Tha, laugh’d all the while,
Saying we’ll meet a fourth e’er yet we have walked a mile
I’ll join my sisters plot whate’er it be
Nor break my heart not I — for any he — 
Arrived at home, they huddled all together
And buzzed & buzzed — I thought about the weather
But no forsooth — it was to form a plan
How to avenge themselves upon the monster man.
When they had talked their fill with one another
They held it best to advise with me their mother;
Break off all intercourse with man, I said
Each keep her liberty, and live a maid.
They swore by Styx, virgins to live and die
And to the world tell man’s inconstancy — 
Since, which — with me retired from noise & strife
They live a pleasant, quiet, happy life,
They’re always scribbling — each in her own way,
Mel sighs at times indeed —  not so Miss Tha
For she is ever laughing, ever gay
And Clio, serious Cli, will have her say;
They’re all resolved should mankind live forever
Inconstancy and man shall still be classed together.
In history, play, or rhyme, you’ll still discover
The flattering servile swain & the false hearted lover — 
But now my girl, I’ll give you my advice
How you revenged may be, & in a trice,
Go back with me and join the sister train
You’ll many a maiden find who’s loved in vain
For all young virgins who’ve been cross’d in love
If wise, will soon unite our court above,
And being once received i’the Muses throng
Soon join them in festivity and song They help them string a verse, or find a jingle,
And never once repine because they’re single Apollo visits them and plays his fiddle
Gives them conundrums, rebuses or riddle,
Their little sprightly cousin brings them news
Tells all his love accounts — which cannot choose
To give them all delight — for every Muse
Her own vexation past! — still finds a charm
In the recital of a heart that’s warm
Be it in court, or city, cot or farm
And tho’ sometimes in mischief they delight
They honour and respect the constant knight,
He is the favorite theme of Clio’s pen,
For why? he’s a rara avis among men — 
They laugh outright at every wily trick
He plays the hero — how he makes him sick
For love — how the fair maid retreats
Is coy, reserved, yet tender when she meets
The youth she loves — this in her eyes is seen
Whene’er they hap to meet upon the green.
How after much sweet converse — hand in hand
She gives her sweet consent to Hymen’s band,
Then by their mutual constancy and love
Show an example great to those who rove.
What happiness & joy can impart
To him who knows to prize a virtuous heart.
But be it here a solemn truth related,
And where not known, by you it may be stated,
Cupid himself, ne’er condescends to shoot
The sacred arrow where it won’t take root.
Where inconstant men or maids are found
Be sure his little brother has gone round,
He takes delight with Cupid’s bow and arrows
To shoot haphazard, women, men, or sparrows!
’Tis to this careless urchin, women owe
(And their own thoughtlessness) a life of woe,
Their flatter’d senses tell them all is right,
She’s brown — he swears she’s fair — with all his might
Persuades there’s none so lovely fair as she!
The girl grows blind, nor sees the treachery,
But thinks poor fool no judgment like to his
And seals her doom taking the Judas kiss;
’Tis Judas kiss — is it not given for gains?
For be she poor she is not worth the pains
To lose a simple honest heart the wretch disdains — 
But I’ve been tedious, nay perhaps [???] So now will dismiss you in a trice,
Only one moment list to my advice;
And if you love your young companions all
Repeat to them what may prevent their fall,
Flattery, base flattery! is the vile man’s bait
Wherewith he lures the thoughtless to their fate,
The good man praises nor her hair nor eyes,
He scorns to take her weakness by surprise,
Her best of virtue should he chance to scan
Praise her for acting well  — this is the man,
T’obey his will, her pleasure still should be,
His great delight, to give her liberty.
This is the joy all other joys above
This only is the holy wedded love.

Now my good girl we part, well may you speed,
And may each lass like you, find a good friend at need;
Should you hereafter join the sister band
You’ll find your friend Mnemosyne at hand — 
The damsel curtsying thanks, pursued her way,
Nor could the Muses Mother longer stay,
Towards home she turned and to her girls related
What ere had passed, and has above been stated.
They listened to their mother’s conversation
And were much grieved at the you maid’s vexation
They all agreed, man was a very ----
And thanked their stars they had escaped the evil. All but Urania, she in silence stood
Her eyes towards heaven still turned in pensive mood,
She wished, and pray’d, mankind might still be good;
For well she knew of blessings from above
The first, the greatest, still, is Holy Wedded Love.

A Novitiate