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What is an Album ? 'Tis a book,
Where every one may take a look,
And find themselves reflected there,
The gay, the grave, the beau, the fair;
It is a motley mass of scribbles,
Of witlings, scholars, belles, and fribbles,
All compass’d in a fine red cover,
With lines and letters gilded over;
Its better part perchance!—but hold
We will not cavil—though we're old!
Let the young ladies have their whims,
Wisdom will come no doubt betimes.
Yet, since you ask a matron's mite,
(It will, she knows, be poor and trite)
Receive with smiles, though you and she
May not at present, quite agree.
Let not this pretty book contain
Th' effusions of the pert and vain :
Who write, their fancied skill to show,
Wits, whom the Muses never knew.
Their verses freely they dispense,
And Albums tell their want of sense.
But Mary—let your Album be,
Of taste, and truth, a treasury.
Here Fancy in her dancing hours
May strew a page with glowing flowers.
But, let the moral lesson give
The worth that bids the Album live;
Then, after many, many Springs,
Have fled in time's all-bearing wings,
these memorials of love
You still may read, and still approve.
Though passing time has reckless shed,
Some snowy flakes upon my head,
And clipt imagination's wing,
Amongst the young I too would sing.
But Fancy flies the vain desire,
Nor leaves one particle of fire!
Long since, she left the airy seat
Where she and I were wont to meet.
The scenes where Hope had drest her bowers,
The frolic days—the golden hours
Are gone—and haggard, wrinkled care,
Dull thoughts, and earth-born schemes are there!
What then-shall I ignobly shrink
From pencil, paper, pen and ink ?
No, wisdom with experience lics,
Old women then, may still advise.
But what will blooming belles receive?
What sober truth will they receive ?
What gilded subject will allure ?
Why-Love and Marriage, to be sure.
This theme congenial, then let's try
And lay some wholesome precepts by.
Dear girl-leave not the single state,
To mourn a heedless choice too late!
Think well—think long, what bitter things
Dark cankering Disappointment brings;
Ask your own heart what it demands,
And mark just where the index stands.
Yet there are grand essentials-three,
And without these no choice must be.
Good temper, principle and sense,-
With none, no, not even one, dispense;
Good nature smooths the rugged way,
Which all must travel day by day;
Good sense holds up the mirror true
Which gives to circumstance its due;
Directs her thoughts by reason's laws,
And thence her rule of action draws-
Whilst principle, unbending stands,
Nor moves for passions fierce commands.
These points obtained, each first, each best,
It matters little for the rest:
Let fortune change her devious way,
The wife will love,-esteem-obey.
But after these a dainty dame,
Named Taste, will urge a lawful claim;
Must have a person tall—or fair,
Or black, or brown, must be his hair!
He must be apt to write, or read,
And through the paths of fancy lead;
He must of science have a store,
Of modern wit, or ancient lore!
Or he must cheer the winter-hearth
song or laughter-loving mirth,
Or wake the sprightly violin,
Or paint with living glow the scene!
Tasty, if not overmuch she ask,
Or puts on vice a specious mask,
Indulge—for souls, if different quite,
Like oil and wine, will not unite.
Let her point out that loveliness
Which she requires, in virtue's dress.
This is a garb of various hue,
Scarce seen alike by any two.
Still —after you have pleas'd your taste,
Think long—know well—nor fix in haste.