The Art of Coquetry

Charlotte Lennox

First published in 1750 in Gentleman's Magazine.

This web edition published by eBooks@Adelaide.

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The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

The Art of Coquetry

Ye lovely maids! whose yet unpractis’d hearts

Ne’er felt the force of Love’s resistless darts;

Who justly set a value on your charms,

Pow’r all your wish, but beauty all your arms

Who o’er mankind wou’d fain exert your sway

And teach the lordly tyrant to obey;

Attend my rules, to you alone addrest

Deep let them sink in every female breast.

The queen of love herself my bosom fires,

Assists my numbers, and my thoughts in spires

Me she instructed in each secret art,

That first subdues and then enslaves the heart

The sigh that heaves by stealth, the starting tear

The melting languish, the obliging fear;

Half-utter’d wishes, broken, kind replies,

And all the silent eloquence of eyes;

To teach the fair by various wiles to move

The soften’d soul, and bend the heart to love

Proud of her charms, and conscious of her face,

The haughty Beauty calls forth ev’ry grace,

With fierce defiance throws the killing dart;

By force she wins, by force she keeps the heart;

The witty fair a nimbler game pursues

Aims at the head, but the rapt soul subdues,

The languid nymph enslaves with softer art,

With sweet neglect she steals into the heart;

Slowly she moves her swimming eyes around,

Conceals her shaft, but meditates the wound;

Her gentle languishments the gazers move,

Her voice is musick, and her looks are love.

To few tho’ nature may these gifts impart,

What she witholds, the wise can win from art

Then let your airs be suited to your face,

Nor to a languish tack a sprightly grace.

The short round face, brisk eyes, and auburn hair

Must smiling joy in every motion wear,

The quick unsettled glance must deal around,

Hide all design, and seem by chance to wound,

Dark rolling eyes a languish may assume,

These the soft looks and melting airs become

The pensive head upon the hand reclin’d,

As of some sweet disorder fill’d the mind;

Let the heav’d breast a struggling sign restrain

And seem to stop the falling tear with pain.

The youth, who all the soft distress believes,

Soon wants the kind compassion which he gives

But beauty, wit, and youth may sometimes fail,

Nor always o’er the stubborn soul prevail;

Then let the fair one have recourse to art,

Who cannot storm, may undermine the heart.

First form your artful looks with studious care,

From mile to grave, from tender to severe.

Oft on the careless youth your glances dart,

A tender meaning let each glance impart.

Whene’er he meets your looks, with modest price

And soft confusion turn your eyes aside,

Let a soft sigh steal out, as if by chance,

Then cautious turn, and steal another glance.

Caught by these arts, with pride and hope elate,

The destined victim rushes on his fate:

Pleased, his imagined victory pursues,

And the kind maid with soft attention views,

Contemplates now her shape, her air, her face,

And thinks each feature wears an added grace;

Till gratitude, which first his bosom proves,

By slow degrees sublimed, at length he loves.

’Tis harder still to fix than gain a heart;

What’s won by beauty must be kept by art.

Too kind a treatment the best lover cloys,

And oft despair the growing flame destroys:

Sometimes with smiles receive him, sometimes tears,

Perhaps he mourns his ill-requited pains

Condemns your sway, and strives to break his chains;

Behaves as if he now your scorn defied,

And thinks at least he shall alarm your pride:

But with indifference view the seeming chance,

And let your eyes to seek new conquests range;

While his torn breast with jealous fury burns,

He hopes, despairs, adores and hates by turns;

With anguish now repents the weak deceit,

And powerful passion bears him to your feet.

Strive not the jealous love to perplex,

Ill suits suspicion with that haughty sex;

Rashly they judge, and always think the worst,

And love if often banish’d by distrust.

To these an open free behaviour wear,

Avoid disguise, and seem at least sincere;

Whene’er you meet affect a glad surprize,

And give a melting softness to your eyes;

By some unguarded work your love reveal,

And anxiously the rising blush conceal.

By arts like these the jealous you deceive,

Then most deluded when they most believe.

But while in all you seek to raise desire,

Beware the fatal passion you inspire:

Each soft intruding wish in time reprove,

And guard against the sweet invader love.

Not for the tender were these rules design’d,

Who in their faces show their yielding mind:

Whose eyes a native languishment can wear,

Whose smiles are artless, and whose blush sincere;

But for the nymph who liberty can prize,

And vindicate the triumph of her eyes:

Who o’er mankind a haughty rule maintains,

Whose wit can manage what her beauty gains;

Such by these arts their empire may improve,

And unsubdu’d controul the world by love.

This web edition published by:

The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005