To Lady Hardinge; On Taste

Dear Mary , tell me, if you think
(Whatever be its waste of ink)
That sense of right, and fear of wrong,
Have reconcil'd the weak and strong?
Or is it not, by all embrac'd,
A sense of pleasure, and of Taste ,
That either makes the social heart
Its own Elysian dream impart,
Or bids the vicious, uncontroul'd,
The banner of their crimes unfold?
The Husband beats and kicks his wife —
'Tis want of Taste for wedded life.
Another, obstinately just,
Clings to the partner of his trust,
And thinks her, grey or in a wig,
Superior to the best Intrigue .
The man that cheats me in a horse
Delights in feeling no remorse:
But he whose honour is complete,
Had rather starve than be a cheat;
Because no interest or treasure,
That's not his due, can give him pleasure .
The girl, with dreams to mischief urging,
Has a dislike to be a virgin;
The vestal aunt, with stockings blue,
To Love prefers — her dram, and pew.
Nor thine , sweet Mary , is a merit ,
That your politeness you inherit
From Absalom , that passing well
Could steal the hearts of Israil .
Nor thine , to mount on Virtue's throne
For some perfections of your own.
The native charm that stamp'd your beauty
Has made your pleasure of your duty;
The whim , that your affections chuse
Their own bright sun-beams to diffuse;
And, though pre-eminently good,
You cannot help it if you would;
As playful as the careless mind,
But still correct, and still refin'd,
In all the courteous boons you give,
A second life you seem to live:
Your friend in blessing you deceive,
And more than you bestow receive.
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