Fashion And Night

The nymph Fashion assumed various manners until one day she got tired and Night came forth with a single shade to provide rest from Fashion’s activities.

It’s good to rest now and again.


JN Fable 002

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: C. Nesbit (1828)

Fashion, a motley nymph of yore,
The Cyprian queen to Proteus bore;
Various herself in various climes,
She moulds the manners of the
And turns in ev’ry age and nation,
The chequer’d wheel of variegation, times:
True female that ne’er knew her will,
Still changing, tho’ immortal still:
One day, as the inconstant maid
Was careless on her sofa laid,
Sick of the sun, and tired with light,
She thus invok’d the gloomy night:
‘Come, those malignant rays destroy,
‘Thou screen of shame, and rise of joy;
‘Come from thy western ambuscade,
‘Queen of the rout and masquerade!
‘Nymph, without thee no cards advance,
‘Without thee halts the loitering dance;
‘Till you approach, all is restraint,
‘Nor is it safe to game or paint;
‘The belles and beaux thy influence ask;
‘Put on the universal mask:
‘Let us invert in thy disguise,
‘That odious nature we despise.’
She ceas’d-The sable-mantled dame,
With slow approach, and awful, came;
And frowning with sarcastic sneer,
Reproved the female rioter:
‘That Nature you abuse, my fair,
‘Was I created to repair,
‘And contrast with a friendly shade,
‘The pictures heaven’s rich pencil made;
‘And with my sleep-alluring dose
‘To give laborious art repose;
‘To make both noise and action cease,
‘The queen of secrecy and peace.
‘But thou, a rebel, vile and vain,
‘Usurp’st my lawful old domain:
‘My sceptre thou affect’st to sway,
‘And all the various hours are day;
‘With clamours of unreal joy,
‘My sister silence you destroy;
‘The blazing lamp’s unnatural light
‘My eye-balls turn from with affright:
‘But if I am allowed one shade,
‘Which no intrusive eyes invade,
‘There all the atrocious imps of hell,
‘Theft, murder, and pollution dwell;
‘Think then how much, thou toy of chance,
‘Thy praise is like my worth t’inhance.
‘Blind thing, that runn’est without a guide,
‘Thou whirlpool in a rushing tide;
‘No more my fame with praise pollute,
‘But doom me into some repute!’

JN Fable 002a

Wood drawing: William Harvey (1828)