And, first, we treat of dress. The well-dress'd vine
Produces plumpest grapes, and richest wine;
And plenteous crops of golden grain are found,
Alone, to grace uncultivated ground.
Beauty's the gift of gods, the sex's pride!
Yet to how many is that gift deny'd?
Art helps a face; a face, tho' heav'nly fair,
May quickly fade for want of needful care.
In ancient days, if women slighted dress,
Then men were ruder too, and lik'd it less.
If Hector's spouse was clad in stubborn stuff,
A soldier's wife became it well enough.
Ajax, to shield his ample breast, provides
Seven lusty bulls, and tans their sturdy hides;
And might not he, d'ye think, be well caress'd,
And yet his wife not elegantly dress'd?
With rude simplicity Rome first was built,
Which now we see adorned, and gilt.
This capitol with that of old compare;1
Some other Jove you'd think was worship'd there.
That lofty pile where senates dictate law,2
When Tatius reign'd, was poorly thatch'd with straw;
And where Apollo's fane refulgent stands,
Was heretofore a tract of pasture lands.
Let ancient manners other men delight;
But me the modern please, as more polite.
Not that materials now in gold are wrought,
And distant shores for orient pearls are sought;
Not for, that hills exhaust their marble veins,
And structures rise whose bulks the sea retains;
But that the world is civilis'd of late,
And polish'd from the rust of former date.
Let not the nymph with pendants load her ear,
Nor in embroid'ry, or brocade, appear;
Too rich a dress may sometimes check desire,
And cleanliness more animate love's fire,
The hair dispos'd, may gain or lose a grace,
And much become or misbecome the face.
What suits your features of your glass enquire;
For no one rule is fixed for head attire,
A face too long should part and flat the hair.
Lest upward comb'd, the length too much appear:
So Laodamia dress'd. A face too round
Should show the ears, and with a tour be crown'd.
On either shoulder, one, her locks displays;
Adorn'd like Phoebus, when he sings his lays;
Another, all her tresses tie behind;
So dressed, Diana hunts the fearful hind.
Dishevelled locks most graceful are to some;
Others, the binding fillets more become:
Some plait, like spiral shells, their braided hair,
Others, the loose and waving curl prefer.
But to recount the several dresses worn,3
Which artfully each several face adorn,
Were endless as to tell the leaves on trees,
The beasts on Alpine hills, or Hybla bees.
Many there are who seem to slight all care,
And with a pleasing negligence ensnare:
Whole mornings, oft in such a dress are spent,
And all is art, that looks like accident.
With such disorder Iole was grac'd,
When great Alcides first the nymph embrac'd.
So Ariadne came to Bacchus' bed,
When with the conqueror from Crete she fled.