Town Eclogues: Thursday; the Bassette-Table

Original Text: 
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Six Town Eclogues. With some other Poems (London: M. Cooper, 1747): 20-26. British Library 11631.g.10. ESTC reel 2908 no. 5
1CARDELIA. THE bassette-table spread, the tallier come,
2Why stays SMILINDA in the dressing-room ?
3Rise, pensive nymph ! the tallier stays for you.
4SMILINDA. Ah ! Madam, since my SHARPER is untrue,
5I joyless make my once ador'd alpieu.
6I saw him stand behind OMBRELIA's Chair,
7And whisper with that soft deluding air,
8And those feign'd sighs that cheat the list'ng fair --
9CARDELIA. Is this the cause of your romantic strains ?
10A mightier grief my heavy heart sustains.
11As you by love, so I by fortune cross'd,
12In one bad deal three Septleva's I lost.
13SMILINDA. Is that a grief which you compare with mine ?
14With ease the smiles of fortune I resign.
15Wou'd all my gold in one bad deal were gone,
16Were lovely SHARPFR mine, and mine alone.
17CARDELIA. A lover lost, is but a common care,
18And prudent nymphs against the change prepare.
19The queen of Clubs thrice lost ! Oh ! who cou'd guess
20This fatal stroke this unforeseen distress !
21SMILINDA. See ! BETTY LOVEIT very à propos !
22She all the pains of love and play does know,
23Deeply experienc'd many years ago.
24Dear BETTY shall th' important point decide,
25BETTY, who oft the pains of each has try'd :
26Impartial, she shall say who suffers most,
27By cards, ill-usage, or by lovers lost.
28LOVEIT. Tell, tell your griefs ; attentive will I stay,
29Tho' time is precious, and I want some tea.
30CARDELIA. Behold this equipage by MATHERS wrought
31With fifty guineas (a great pen'orth !) bought !
32See on the tooth-pick MARS and CUPID strive,
33And both the struggling figures seem to liue.
34Upon the bottom see the Queen's bright face ;
35A myrtle foliage round the thimble case ;
36JOVE, JOVE himself does on the scissars shine,
37The metal and the workmanship divine.
38SMILINDA. This snuff-box once the pledge of SHARPER's love,
39When rival beauties for the present strove,
40(At CORTICELLI's he the raffle won,
41There first his passion was in public shown ;
42HAZARDIA blush'd, and turn'd her head aside,
43A rival's envy all in vain to hide)
44This snuff-box -- on the hinge see diamonds shine ;
45This snuff-box will I stake, the prize is mine.
46CARDELIA. Alas ! far lesser losses than I bear,
47Have made a soldier sigh, a lover swear :
48But oh ! what makes the disappointment hard,
49'Twas my own Lord who drew the fatal card ! --
50In complaisance I took the Queen he gave,
51Tho' my own secret wish was for the Knave :
52The Knave won son ecart that I had chose,
53And the next pull my septleva I lose.
54SMILINDA. But ah ! what aggravates the killing smart,
55The cruel thought that stabs me to the heart,
56This curs'd OMBRELIA, this undoing fair,
57By whose vile arts this heavy grief I bear,
58She, at whose name I shed these spiteful tears,
59She owes to me, the very charms she wears :
60An aukward thing when first she came to town,
61Her shape unfinish'd and her face unknown ;
62She was my friend, I taught her first to spread
63Upon her sallow cheeks enlivening red,
64I introduc'd her to the park and plays,
65And by my Interest COSINS made her stays ;
66Ungrateful wretch ! with mimick airs grown pert,
67She dares to steal my favourite lover's heart.
68CARDELIA. Wretch that I was ! how often have I swore,
69When WINNALL tallied, I would punt no more !
70I know the bite, yet to my ruin run,
71And see the folly which I cannot shun.
72SMILINDA. How many maids have SHARPER's vows deceiv'd !
73How many curs'd the moment they believ'd !
74Yet, his known falshood could no warning prove :
75Ah ! what are warnings to a maid in love !
76CARDELIA. But of what marble must that breast be form'd,
77Can gaze on Bassette, and remain unwarm'd ?
78When kings, queens, knaves are set in decent rank,
79Expos'd in glorious heaps the tempting bank !
80Guineas, half-guineas, all the shining train,
81The Winner's pleasure and the Loser's pain ;
82In bright confusion open rouleaus lie,
83They strike the soul, and glitter in the eye ;
84Fir'd by the sight, all reason I disdain,
85My passions rise, and will not bear the rein :
86Look upon Bassette, you who Reason boast,
87And see if Reason may not there be lost !
88SMILINDA. What more than marble must that breast compose,
89That listens coldly to my SHARPER's vows !
90Then when he trembles, when his blushes rise,
91When awful Love seems melting in his eyes !
92With eager beats his Mechlin cravat moves :
93He loves, I whisper to myself, He loves !
94Such unfeign'd passion in his look appears,
95I lose all mem'ry of my former fears ;
96My panting heart confesses all his charms ;
97I yield at once, and sink into his arms.
98Think of that moment, you who Prudence boast !
99For such a moment, Prudence well were lost.
100CARDELIA. At the Groom-porter's, batter'd bullies play ;
101Some Dukes at Marybon bowl time away :
102But who the bowl or rattling dice compares
103To Bassette's heavenly joys and pleasing cares ?
104SMILINDA. Soft SIMPLICETTA doats upon a beau ;
105PRUDINA likes a man, and laughs at show :
106Their several graces in my SHARPER meet ;
107Strong as the footman, as the master sweet.
108LOVEIT. Cease your contention, which has been too long,
109I grow impatient, and the tea too strong :
110Attend, and yield to what I now decide ;
111The equipage shall grace SMILINDA's side ;
112The snuff-box to CARDELIA I decree ;
113So leave complaining, and begin your tea.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998-2000.