"Alas the sex you little know, / Their ruling passion is a Beau."

— Blacklock, Thomas (1721-1791)

Place of Publication
Printed by Alexander Chapman and Company; Sold by W. Creech ... and T. Cadell [etc.]
"Alas the sex you little know, / Their ruling passion is a Beau."
Metaphor in Context
Dear Doctor, as it is most fit,
Your accusation I admit
In all its force, nor rack my brain,
By quirks and subterfuges vain,
To throw my conduct into shade,
And thus your just rebuke evade.
But, since convicted now I stand,
And wait correction from your hand,
Be merciful as thou art strong,
And recognise the power of song.
For, while in accents deep and hoarse,
She breathes contrition and remorse,
The Muse's penitential strain,
For pardon cannot sue in vain.
But, let me, with profound respect,
A sad mistake of your's correct.
When once th' Aonian maids discover
Some favour for a youthful lover,
You think their passion still as keen
For him at sixty as sixteen.
Alas the sex you little know,
Their ruling passion is a Beau.

The wrinkl'd brow, th' extinguish'd eye,
From female hearts ne'er gain a sigh.
The brilliant glance, the cheek vermil,
Th' elastic nerve, th' enchanting smile,
These, only these, can hearts confine
Of ladies human, or divine.
No mind, immortal tho' it be,
From life's vicissitudes is free.
The man who labours to acquit
Of imperfection human wit,
Will find he undertakes a task
That proves what his opponents ask;
And feel, to his eternal cost,
His own attempts refute his boast.
Forc'd, by experience and sensation,
I make this humble declaration:
For, should my pride my words restrain,
These lays would shew the fact too plain.
Cloth'd in a lion's skin, the ass
At first might for a lion pass;
But when the stupid creature bray'd,
His real self he soon betray'd,
And every stick and every stone
Were us'd, to shew him he was known.
Thus, batter'd by sarcastic sneers,
I shut my mouth and hide my ears;
Bless'd, if unhurt I may elude
The observation of the crowd.
Yet spite of all the ills that prey
On ebbing life, from day to day,
It warm'd my veins with youthful fire,
And rais'd my heart a cubit higher,
To hear your own kind words express
Your competition and success.
So, when portentous symptoms threat
Your patients with impending fate,
At your approach may they recede,
And sickness lift its drooping head;
While health and joy your nod obey,
And fly where'er you point their way.
One great atchievement still remains,
One triumph, worthy of your pains;
Could you the thefts of Time restore,
And make me what I was of yore,
In spite of fortune's utmost spleen,
Which bards oft feel to intervene,
I might, perhaps, as friend with friend,
At Shrewsbury some evenings spend;
There, in abuse that meant no harm,
Assert the soul of humour warm;
And laugh at those whose lives provoke
The satire we effuse in joke.
And, now, perhaps, you wish to know,
With your old friends, how matters go;
What state of health they still enjoy
And how their various hours employ?
But this detail more glibly flows
In easy stile and humble prose;
And, with more patience, will be heard,
To my Melissa when transferr'd.
If faults acknowledg'd be forgiven,
And all our former odds made even,
Pray write me soon, to let me see
How much superior you can be
To doctors in divinity.
Meanwhile, believe me still sincere,
Whatever guise my conduct wear,
And still with friendship, no less fervent,
Your most obedient, humble servant.

This by-past time, as fame reports,
The author's Muse was out of sorts,
And in some freak, perhaps in dorts,
        Or ablins spleen:
She paid her visists at the shorts,
        An' lang between.
Searching "ruling passion" in HDIS (Restoration and C18)
At least 2 entries in ESTC (1793).

Text from Poems by the Late Reverend Dr. Thomas Blacklock; Together With an Essay on the Education of the Blind. To Which Is Prefixed a New Account of the Life and Writings of the Author. (Edinburgh: Printed by Alexander Chapman and Company; sold by W. Creech, Edinburgh, and T. Cadell, London, 1793). <Link to ESTC>
Ruling Passion
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.