THE NEW COINAGE
WRITTEN FOR A LITERARY SOCIETY
OPENED BY A BALL, JULY 14TH
Said Momus to Hebe—“together we’ll call
Our friends from Parnassus, and give them a Ball—
Since Juno ne’er lends her pavilion to Mirth,
We’ll borrow the rooms of a friend upon earth.
Let Hermes leave cards on the best modern plan;
We’ll learn etiquette and politeness from man!
Next Thursday at eight our acquaintance shall come;
They know the new road to our favourite home.”—
The handmaids of Helicon sat at their tea,
When Hebe’s bell rang—“They are waiting for me!
Apollo himself is engag’d to the dance—ye
Careless girls! where is my dress maker Fancy?”
Miss Fancy said, sobbing—“Dear ma’am, I confess
I went to the villa to help you to dress,
And there was a damsel so like you in air,
I gave her your ball-dress, I vow and declare!
The lace was a piece of the magical veil
Which Ariel stole when he rode on the gale;
I edg’d it with pearls found in Helicon’s rill—
The sattin was flow’r’d by the nymphs on the hill.”
Said good-humour’d Hebe—“Well, now ’tis too late
To trim a new boddice and slip for the Fête—
I’ll borrow a matron’s attire, and to-night
Two Hebes shall shine—one in black—one in white.”
From Brighton to London Queen Venus drove up,
With Momus and Mars at the Regent’s to sup;
But when on her toilette her cestus was laid,
No Graces were ready to offer their aid.
Surpris’d and indignant the goddess look’d round—
“What—do I keep three, and not one can be found!
If three lady’s-maids are sufficient no more,
I’ll send to a Register-office for four.”
“This moment I’ll fly there,” said Mars, “to oblige you,
But pray learn to call it the Therapolegia!
In compounds of Latin my boot-brushers speak,
And glorify black-balls in Hebrew or Greek.
But put on your pelerine, Venus,—’tis late—
Your pigeons are harness’d—the constables wait.”
“The constables!”—“Yes, all our parties require them,
And Cupid himself has determin’d to hire them.
But if the lost Graces grow heedless and vain,
Or Venus another would add to her train,
Next Thursday at eight, or whenever she chuses,
She’ll find a new Grace in the meeting of Muses.”
How gay was that night! from young Flora’s own bow’rs
Her bland cousin Hebe brought thousands of flow’rs;
So sweetly she wreath’d them around and above,
That Venus to borrow some sent her son Love.
Queen Venus herself was invited as due,
But came not where so many rivals she knew;
Tho’ Pallas accepted a card, and ’tis said
Was dancing when cynics suppos’d her in bed.
But Cupid disguis’d to be lamplighter came,
And sat on the brightest directing the flame;—
The conscious glass shrunk at the touch of his torch—
Let those who approach’d it beware lest it scorch!
Euphrosyne led in her gay sister train
From Jupiter’s palace the feast to sustain;
Erato’s soft fan was the grey turtle’s wing,
And Clio’s a leaf from the white rose of spring.
The three youngest Muses came each with a Grace,
But Momus sent Hermes to sit in his place—
His plum’d epaulettes from young Cupid he steals,
And robs Friendship’s dove to put wings to his heels!
Apollo was minstrel, and Cynthia look’d in
To hear the bright harp of her brother begin:
Aurora came next, with her dew-spangled feet
And pale azure scarf, the assembly to greet.
She thought all the nymphs of Olympus were there,
With her gems in their shoes and her flow’rs in their hair;
Old Time flew himself o’er the banqueting-room,
With Joy’s peacock-feathers spread over his plume.
Apollo then caught up his lyre, and exclaim’d,
“My chariot awaits—I must go, or be blam’d—
But tho’ I rise first, let no Hebe complain—
I’ll come to her revel next Thursday again.
When misers and mendicants tutor the nation,
Both bullion and wit want a new circulation—
And I from sage Wellesley taking a hint,
Here issue new coin from Parnassus’s mint.
Come all who have ore for our currency fit!
The pure standard silver of Nature and Wit—
No counterfeit dross or base metal we vamp,
Our coin is bright Fancy’s, and Taste gives the stamp.
Grown frugal and shrewd as a grave Financier,
I send honest Truth to preside as cashier;
Since Threadneedle-street can its bank-paper show,
Nine spinsters may furnish a paper depôt.
What churlish reformers would ask to retrench,
If fair ones and wits fill’d the treasury-bench?
Stern Cobbett or B—m might a sinecure seize,
If Mirth gave the patent and Beauty the fees.
Then haste to my coffer, ye gay and ye fair!
Your bills on Apollo’s exchequer prepare:
The brain’s ready coinage no critic shall clip—
We only ask loans of Wit’s consols or Scrip.
Tho’s cautious Committees all Auditors fear,
May Tellers and Auditors long flourish here!
Your coinage shall aid them, tho’ statesmen forget
To pay to the Muses their National Debt.”