Tag Archives: beauty

Richard Gough, “To Mrs. S— on presenting the Author with a Lock of her Hair”


 “To Mrs. S— on presenting the Author with a Lock of her Hair”

The Poets, Madam, all aver,
That once the ruthless god of war,
Who, bred amid the din of arms,
Defy’d the pow’r of beauty’s charms;
And long had proudly scorn’d to wear,                                     5
The pleasing fetters of the fair.
Struck with the graceful air and mein,
And roseat bloom of Cyprus’ queen;
His savage fierceness all forbore,
Subdued by Venus, magic lore;                                                10
And soon became her pow’r to prove,
A convert to the force of love.
The wily Goddess, then, ‘tis said,
All with an heavenly tempered brede;
Of net-work circled him around,                                              15
And to her snowy bosom bound:
Secur’d the conquest of her eyes,
And by the rulers of the skies;
From the fierce God of war so tamed,
Thence forth was beauties goddess named.                        20
Thus say the poets, who in fiction,
In figure and in contradiction,
To all the laws of modest nature,
Trick out a strange romantic creature;
Which, after all, they queintly feign,                                       25
No where exists but in the brain.
Might I the genuine truth reveal,
And would you listen to the tale;
Would you, more kindly still supply,
Whate’er I pass in silence by?                                                 30
Whose was the dull, insensate breast,
Which beauty’s pow’r at length confess’d;
Who soon became that power to prove,
A convert to the force of love:
Wou’d you conceive who ‘tis I mean,                                    35
Then would I thus the rest explain:
The heavenly net-work, Venus snare,
Was this — a ringlet of her hair;
And she, to give her all her due,
Some faint resemblance was of–you.                                  40


Title Mrs. S— Unable to identify.

2 god of war In Roman mythology, Mars.

7 mein “Physical strength, force or power” (OED).

8 roseat “Resembling or suggestive of a rose, esp.in colour” (OED); Cyprus’ queen Probably Cleopatra of Egypt, renowned for her beauty, who was given control of the island through her alliance with Marc Antony (Encyclopedia Britannica).

10 Venus In Roman mythology, the goddess of love.

14 brede “Anything plaited, entwined, or interwoven” (OED).

25 queintly An older spelling of quaintly (OED).

31 insensate “Destitute of physical sense or feeling” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (April 1770), p. 183.

Edited by Matthew Bragg

Anonymous, “All in Vanity!”


All is Vanity!”

Whilst happy youths lead up the merry dance,
And musick’s charms invade the silent air,
Whilst sprightly nymphs spontaneously advance,
Lo! Here I sit, sad victim to despair.

But why should I complain? My day is o’er:                                            5
I’ve bid adieu to pleasure’s flow’ry stream;
My steady heart shall be enslav’d no more;
Such transient joys are like an empty dream.

Forgive, ye fair, this rude, unpolish’d verse,
Dread destiny has deeply pierc’d my heart;                                  10
Too certain truths unwilling I rehearse,
Ye, lovely maids, shall feel the vengeful dart.

Beauty and youth in which ye now delight,
Shall leave precipitate life’s giddy stage;
There charms shall sink in everlasting night,                                        15
And leave behind vexation and old age.

To day ye triumph with despotic power,
But Oh! to-morrow all your power is lost;
Like you to day appears the blushing flower,
Like you to-morrow nipt by death’s cold frost.                                20

O say, can dancing stop the hand of death,
Or musick’s charms extend life’s narrow page?
Can courtly balls recall the fleeting breath,
Or sooth the burning fever’s glowing rage?

If not, ye fair ones, listen to a friend,                                                        25
Exalt each thought to pure and endless joys;
With caution due to Damon’s muse attend,
None can be happy, but the good and wise.


3 nymphs A mythological spirit imagined as a beautiful maiden (Oxford Classical Dictionary).

23 courtly balls Political and social events attended by European nobility in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Later evolves into ballroom dancing. (DeMello, Feet and Footwear: A Cultural Encyclopedia, p. 89).

27 Damon Earliest reference to this name was found in a Greek story of Damon and Pythias. The myth exhibited the idea of a perfect friendship (Osborn, What’s in a Name?, p. 174).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 33 (London, 1763), p. 40.

Edited by Lok Yi Lo