Page images
PDF
EPUB

Thy virgin softness hast thou e'er bewail'd,
As Reason yielded, and as Love prevail'd?
And wept the potent god's resistless dart,
His killing pleasure, his ecstatic smart,
And heavenly poison thrilling through thy heart?
If so, with pity view my wretched state;
At least deplore, and then forget my fate:
To some more happy knight reserve thy charms,
By Fortune favor'd, and successful arms;
And only, as the Sun's revolving ray
Brings back each year this melancholy day,
Permit one sigh, and set apart one tear,
To an abandon'd exile's endless care.
For me, alas! outcast of human race,
Love's anger only waits, and dire disgrace;
For, lo! these hands in murther are imbrued;
These trembling feet by Justice are pursued:
Fate calls aloud, and hastens me away;
A shameful death attends my longer stay;
And I this night must fly from thee and love,
Condemn'd in lonely woods, a banish'd man, to rove.

EMMA.

What is our bliss, that changeth with the Moon? And day of life, that darkens ere 'tis noon? What is true passion, if unblest it dies? And where is Emma's joy, if Henry flies? If love, alas! be pain; the pain I bear No thought can figure, and no tongue declare. Ne'er faithful woman felt, nor false one feign'd, The flames which long have in my bosom reign'd: The god of love himself inhabits there, With all his rage, and dread, and grief, and care, His complement of stores, and total war.

O! cease then coldly to suspect my love; And let my deed at least my faith approve. Alas! no youth shall my endearments share; Nor day nor night shall interrupt my care; No future story shall with truth upbraid The cold indifference of the Nut-brown Maid; Nor to hard banishment shall Henry run, While careless Emma sleeps on beds of down. View me resolv'd, where'er thou lead'st, to go, Friend to thy pain, and partner of thy woe; For I attest, fair Venus and her son, That I, of all mankind, will love but thee alone.

Fair Truth, at last, her radiant beams will raise,
And Malice vanquish'd heightens Virtue's praise.
Let then thy favor but indulge my flight;

O! let my presence make thy travels light;
And potent Venus shall exalt my name
Above the rumors of censorious Fame;
Nor from that busy demon's restless power
Will ever Emma other grace implore,
Than that this truth should to the world be known.
That I, of all mankind, have lov'd but thee alone.

EMMA.

Let Emma's hapless case be falsely told By the rash young, or the ill-natur'd old: Let every tongue its various censures choose; Absolve with coldness, or with spite accuse:

HENRY.

But canst thou wield the sword, and bend the bow? With active force repel the sturdy foe? When the loud tumult speaks the battle nigh, And winged deaths in whistling arrows fly; Wilt thou, though wounded, yet undaunted stay, Perform thy part, and share the dangerous day? Then, as thy strength decays, thy heart will fail, Thy limbs all trembling, and thy cheeks all pale; With fruitless sorrow, thou, inglorious maid, Wilt weep thy safety by thy love betray'd: Then to thy friend, by foes o'ercharg'd, deny Thy little useless aid, and coward fly: Then wilt thou curse the chance that made thee love A banish'd man, condemn'd in lonely woods to rove.

HENRY.

Let prudence yet obstruct thy venturous way; And take good heed, what men will think and say; That beauteous Emma vagrant courses took ; Her father's house and civil life forsook; That, full of youthful blood, and fond of man, She to the wood-land with an exile ran. Reflect, that lessen'd fame is ne'er regain'd, And virgin honor, once, is always stain'd: Timely advis'd, the coming evil shun: Better not do the deed, than weep it done. No penance can absolve our guilty fame; Nor tears, that wash out sin, can wash out shame. Then fly the sad effects of desperate love, And leave a banish'd man through lonely woods to

rove.

[blocks in formation]

To stop the wounds, my finest lawn I'd tear, Wash them with tears, and wipe them with my hair; Blest, when my dangers and my toils have shown That I, of all mankind, could love but thee alone.

HENRY.

But canst thou, tender maid, canst thou sustain Afflictive want, or hunger's pressing pain? Those limbs, in lawn and softest silk array'd, From sunbeams guarded, and of winds afraid, Can they bear angry Jove? can they resist The parching dog-star, and the bleak north-east ? When, chill'd by adverse snows and beating rain, We tread with weary steps the longsome plain; When with hard toil we seek our evening food, Berries and acorns from the neighboring wood; And find among the cliffs no other house But the thin covert of some gather'd boughs; Wilt thou not then reluctant send thine eye Around the dreary waste, and, weeping, try (Though then, alas! that trial be too late) To find thy father's hospitable gate, And seats, where ease and plenty brooding sate?

Those seats, whence long excluded, thou must "Tis long since Cynthia and her train were there,

mourn:

That gate, for ever barr'd to thy return:
Wilt thou not then bewail ill-fated love,

Or guardian gods made innocence their care.
Vagrants and outlaws shall offend thy view:
For such must be my friends, a hideous crew,

And hate a banish'd man, condemn'd in woods to By adverse fortune mix'd in social ill,

rove?

Train'd to assault, and disciplin'd to kill;
Their common loves, a lewd abandon'd pack,
The beadle's lash still flagrant on their back:
By sloth corrupted, by disorder fed,
Made bold by want, and prostitute for bread:
With such must Emma hunt the tedious day,
Assist their violence, and divide their prey:
With such she must return at setting light,
Though not partaker, witness of their night.
Thy ear, inur'd to charitable sounds
And pitying love, must feel the hateful wounds
Of jest obscene and vulgar ribaldry,
The ill-bred question, and the lewd reply;
Brought by long habitude from bad to worse,
Must hear the frequent oath, the direful curse,
That latest weapon of the wretches' war,
And blasphemy, sad comrade of despair.

Now, Emma, now the last reflection make,

EMMA.

Thy rise of fortune did I only wed,
From its decline determin'd to recede;
Did I but purpose to embark with thee
On the smooth surface of a summer's sea;
While gentle zephyrs play in prosperous gales,
And Fortune's favor fills the swelling sails;
But would forsake the ship, and make the shore,
When the winds whistle, and the tempests roar?
No, Henry, no: one sacred oath has tied
Our loves: one destiny our life shall guide;
Nor wild nor deep our common way divide.

When from the cave thou risest with the day,
To beat the woods, and rouse the bounding prey;
The cave with moss and branches I'll adorn,
And cheerful sit, to wait my lord's return:
And, when thou frequent bring'st the smitten deer, What thou wouldst follow, what thou must for-
(For seldom, archers say, thy arrows err)
I'll fetch quick fuel from the neighboring wood,
And strike the sparkling flint, and dress the food;
With humble duty, and officious haste,
I'll cull the furthest mead for thy repast;
The choicest herbs I to thy board will bring,
And draw thy water from the freshest spring:
And, when at night with weary toil opprest,
Soft slumbers thou enjoy'st, and wholesome rest,
Watchful I'll guard thee, and with midnight prayer
Weary the gods to keep thee in their care;
And joyous ask, at morn's returning ray,
If thou hast health, and I may bless the day.
My thoughts shall fix, my latest wish depend,
On thee, guide, guardian, kinsman, father, friend:
By all these sacred names be Henry known
To Emma's heart; and grateful let him own
That she, of all mankind, could love but him alone!

sake:

By our ill-omen'd stars, and adverse Heaven,
No middle object to thy choice is given.
Or yield thy virtue, to attain thy love;

Or leave a banish'd man, condemn'd in woods to

rove.

EMMA.

O grief of heart! that our unhappy fates
Force thee to suffer what thy honor hates:
Mix thee amongst the bad; or make thee run
Too near the paths which Virtue bids thee shun.
Yet with her Henry still let Emma go;
With him abhor the vice, but share the woe :
And sure my little heart can never err
Amidst the worst, if Henry still be there.

HENRY.

Vainly thou tell'st me, what the woman's care
Shall in the wildness of the wood prepare:
Thou, ere thou goest, unhappiest of thy kind,
Must leave the habit and the sex behind.
No longer shall thy comely tresses break
In flowing ringlets on thy snowy neck;
Or sit behind thy head, an ample round,
In graceful braids with various ribbon bound:
No longer shall the bodice aptly lac'd,
From thy full bosom to thy slender waist,
That air and harmony of shape express,
Fine by degrees, and beautifully less:
Nor shall thy lower garments' artful plait,
From thy fair side dependent to thy feet,
Arm their chaste beauties with a modest pride,
And double every charm they seek to hide.
Th' ambrosial plenty of thy shining hair,
Cropt off and lost, scarce lower than thy ear
Shall stand uncouth: a horseman's coat shall hide
Thy taper shape, and comeliness of side:

Our outward act is prompted from within;
And from the sinner's mind proceeds the sin:
By her own choice free Virtue is approv'd;
Nor by the force of outward objects mov'd.
Who has assay'd no danger, gains no praise.
In a small isle, amidst the wildest seas,
Triumphant Constancy has fix'd her seat:
In vain the Syrens sing, the tempests beat:
Their flattery she rejects, nor fears their threat.
For thee alone these little charms I drest:
Condemn'd them, or absolv'd them by thy test.
In comely figure rang'd my jewels shone,
Or negligently plac'd for thee alone :
For thee again they shall be laid aside;
The woman, Henry, shall put off her pride
For thee: my clothes, my sex, exchang'd for thee,
I'll mingle with the people's wretched lee:
O line extreme of human infamy!

Wanting the scissars, with these hands I'll tear
(If that obstructs my flight) this load of hair.
Black soot, or yellow walnut, shall disgrace
This little red and white of Emma's face.
These nails with scratches shall deform my breast,
Lest by my look or color be express'd

The short trunk-hose shall show thy foot and knee The mark of aught high-born, or ever better dress'd.
Licentious, and to common eye-sight free:
And, with a bolder stride and looser air,
Mingled with men, a man thou must appear.
Nor solitude, nor gentle peace of mind,
Mistaken maid, shalt thou in forests find:

Yet in this commerce, under this disguise,
Let me be grateful still to Henry's eyes;
Lost to the world, let me to him be known:
My fate I can absolve, if he shall own
That, leaving all mankind, I love but him alone.

EMMA.

HENRY.

O wildest thoughts of an abandon'd mind!
Name, habit, parents, woman, left behind,
Ev'n honor dubious, thou preferr'st to go
Wild to the woods with me: said Emma so?
Or did I dream what Emma never said?
O guilty error! and O wretched maid!
Whose roving fancy would resolve the same
With him, who next should tempt her easy fame;
And blow with empty words the susceptible flame.
Now why should doubtful terms thy mind perplex?
Confess thy frailty, and avow the sex:
No longer loose desire for constant love

I saw thee young and fair; pursued the chase
Of Youth and Beauty: I another saw
Fairer and younger: yielding to the law
Of our all-ruling mother, I pursued
More youth, more beauty: blest vicissitude!
My active heart still keeps its pristine flame;
The object alter'd, the desire the same.

This younger, fairer, pleads her rightful charms;
With present power compels me to her arms.
And much I fear, from my subjected mind,

(If Beauty's force to constant love can bind.)

That years may roll, ere in her turn the maid
Shall weep the fury of my love decay'd;

Mistake: but say, 'tis man with whom thou long'st And weeping follow me, as thou dost now,

to rove.

With idle clamors of a broken vow.

Are there not poisons, racks, and flames, and
swords,

That Emma thus must die by Henry's words?
Yet what could swords or poison, racks or flame,
But mangle and disjoint this brittle frame!
More fatal Henry's words; they murder Emma's fame.
And fall these sayings from that gentle tongue,
Where civil speech and soft persuasion hung;
Whose artful sweetness and harmonious strain,
Courting my grace, yet courting it in vain,
Call'd sighs, and tears, and wishes, to its aid;
And, whilst it Henry's glowing flame convey'd,
Still blam'd the coldness of the Nut-brown Maid?

Let envious Jealousy and canker'd Spite
Produce my actions to severest light,
And tax my open day, or secret night.
Did e'er my tongue speak my unguarded heart
The least inclin'd to play the wanton's part?
Did e'er my eye one inward thought reveal,
Which angels might not hear, and virgins tell?
And hast thou, Henry, in my conduct known
One fault, but that which I must never own,
That I, of all mankind, have lov'd but thee alone?

HENRY.

Vainly thou talk'st of loving me alone:
Each man is man; and all our sex is one.
False are our words, and fickle is our mind:
Nor in Love's ritual can we ever find
Vows made to last, or promises to bind.

Why shouldst thou weep? let Nature judge our

case;

By Nature prompted, and for empire made,
Alike by strength or cunning we invade:
When, arm'd with rage, we march against the foe,
We lift the battle-ax and draw the bow:
When, fir'd with passion, we attack the fair,
Delusive sighs and brittle vows we bear;
Our falsehood and our arms have equal use;
As they our conquest or delight produce.
The foolish heart thou gav'st, again receive,
The only boon departing love can give.
To be less wretched, be no longer true;
What strives to fly thee, why shouldst thou pursue?
Forget the present flame, indulge a new;
Single the loveliest of the amorous youth:
Ask for his vow; but hope not for his truth.
The next man (and the next thou shalt believe)
Will pawn his gods, intending to deceive;
Will kneel, implore, persist, o'ercome, and leave.
Hence let thy Cupid aim his arrows right;
Be wise and false, shun trouble, seek delight:
Change thou the first, nor wait thy lover's flight.

Nor can the wildness of thy wishes err
So wide, to hope that thou may'st live with her.
Love, well thou know'st, no partnership allows :
Cupid averse rejects divided vows:

Then, from thy foolish heart, vain maid, remove
An useless sorrow, and an ill-starr'd love
And leave me, with the fair, at large in woods te

rove.

EMMA.

Are we in life through one great error led?
Is each man perjur'd, and each nymph betray'd?
Of the superior sex art thou the worst?
Am I of mine the most completely curst?
Yet let me go with thee and going prove,
From what I will endure, how much I love.
This potent beauty, this triumphant fair
This happy object of our different care,
Her let me follow; her let me attend

A servant (she may scorn the name of friend).
What she demands, incessant I'll prepare:
I'll weave her garlands; and I'll plait her hair:
My busy diligence shall deck her board,
(For there at least I may approach my lord,)
And, when her Henry's softer hours advise
His servant's absence, with dejected eyes
Far I'll recede, and sighs forbid to rise.

Yet, when increasing grief brings slow disease,
And ebbing life, on terms severe as these,
Will have its little lamp no longer fed;
When Henry's mistress shows him Emma dead;
Rescue my poor remains from vile neglect,
With virgin honors let my hearse be deckt,
And decent emblem; and at least persuade
This happy nymph, that Emma may be laid
Where thou, dear author of my death, where she,
With frequent eye my sepulchre may see.
The nymph amidst her joys may haply breathe
One pious sigh, reflecting on my death,
And the sad fate which she may one day prove,
Who hopes from Henry's vows eternal love.
And thou fors worn, thou cruel, as thou art,
Thou sure must give one thought, and drop one tear
If Emma's image ever touch'd thy heart;
To her, whom love abandon'd to despair;
To her, who, dying, on the wounded stone
Bid it in lasting characters be known,
That, of mankind, she lov'd but thee alone.

HENRY.

Hear, solemn Jove; and conscious Venus, hear; | And thou, bright maid, believe me whilst I swear,

No time, no change, no future flame, shall move
The well-plac'd basis of my lasting love.
O powerful virtue! O victorious fair!
At least, excuse a trial too severe :
Receive the triumph, and forget the war.

No banish'd man, condemn'd in woods to rove,
Entreats thy pardon, and implores thy love:
No perjur'd knight desires to quit thy arms,
Fairest collection of thy sex's charms,
Crown of my love, and honor of my youth!
Henry, thy Henry, with eternal truth,
As thou may'st wish, shall all his life employ,
And found his glory in his Emma's joy.

In me behold the potent Edgar's heir,
Illustrious earl: him terrible in war
Let Loyre confess, for she has felt his sword,
And trembling fled before the British lord.
Him great in peace and wealth fair Deva knows;
For she amidst his spacious meadows flows;
Inclines her urn upon his fatten'd lands;
And sees his numerous herds imprint her sands.
And thou, my fair, my dove, shalt raise thy
thought

To greatness next to empire: shalt be brought
With solemn pomp to my paternal seat;
Where peace and plenty on thy word shall wait.
Music and song shall wake the marriage-day;
And, whilst the priests accuse the bride's delay,
Myrtles and roses shall obstruct her way.
Friendship shall still thy evening feasts adorn;
And blooming Peace shall ever bless thy morn.
Succeeding years their happy race shall run,
And Age, unheeded, by delight come on:
While yet superior Love shall mock his power:
And when old Time shall turn the fated hour,
Which only can our well-tied knot unfold,
What rests of both, one sepulchre shall hold.

Hence then for ever from my Emma's breast,
(That heaven of softness, and that seat of rest,)
Ye doubts and fears, and all that know to move
Tormenting grief, and all that trouble love,
Scatter'd by winds recede, and wild in forests rove.

But soft Belief, young Joy, and pleasing Care.

Hence let the tides of plenty ebb and flow,
And Fortune's various gale unheeded blow.
If at my feet the suppliant goddess stands,
And sheds her treasure with unwearied hands;
Her present favor cautious I'll embrace,
And not unthankful use the proffer'd grace:
If she reclaims the temporary boon,
And tries her pinions, fluttering to be gone;
Secure of mind, I'll obviate her intent,
And unconcern'd return the goods she lent.

[blocks in formation]

WHILE thus the constant pair alternate said,
Joyful above them and around them play'd
Angels and sportive Loves, a numerous crowd;
Smiling they clapt their wings, and low they bow'd.
They tumbled all their little quivers o'er,
To choose propitious shafts, a precious store;
That, when their god should take his future darts,
To strike (however rarely) constant hearts,
His happy skill might proper arms employ,
All tipt with pleasure, and all wing'd with joy :
And those, they vow'd, whose lives should imitate
These lovers' constancy, should share their fate.

The queen of beauty stopt her bridled doves;
Approv'd the little labor of the Loves;
Was proud and pleas'd the mutual vow to hear;
And to the triumph call'd the god of war:
Soon as she calls, the god is always near.

"Now, Mars," she said, "let Fame exalt her
voice:

Nor let thy conquests only be her choice:
But, when she sings great Edward from the field
Return'd, the hostile spear and captive shield
In Concord's temple hung, and Gallia taught to

EMMA.

O day, the fairest sure that ever rose!
Period and end of anxious Emma's woes!
Sire of her joy, and source of her delight;
O! wing'd with pleasure, take thy happy flight,
And give each future morn a tincture of thy white.
Yet tell thy votary, potent queen of love,
Henry, my Henry, will he never rove?
Will he be ever kind, and just, and good?
And is there yet no mistress in the wood?
None, none there is; the thought was rash and vain; And tell the nations, in no vulgar strain,
A false idea, and a fancied pain.

Doubt shall for ever quit my strengthen'd heart,
And anxious jealousy's corroding smart;
Nor other inmate shall inhabit there,

yield;

And when as prudent Saturn shall complete
The years design'd to perfect Britain's state,
The swift-wing'd power shall take her trump again,
To sing her favorite Anna's wondrous reign;
To recollect unwearied Marlborough's toils,
Old Rufus' hall unequal to his spoils;
The British soldier from his high command
Glorious, and Gaul thrice vanquish'd by his hand :
Let her, at least, perform what I desire;
With second breath the vocal brass inspire;

What wars I manage, and what wreaths I gain.
And, when thy tumults and thy fights are past;
And when thy laurels at my feet are cast;
Faithful may'st thou, like British Henry, prove:
And, Emma-like, let me return thy love.

44

Renown'd for truth, let all thy sons appear;
And constant beauty shall reward their care."
Mars smil'd, and bow'd: the Cyprian deity
Turn'd to the glorious ruler of the sky;

And thou," she smiling said, "great god of days
And verse, behold my deed, and sing my praise;
As on the British earth, my favorite isle,
Thy gentle rays and kindest influence smile,
Through all her laughing fields and verdant groves,
Proclaim with joy these memorable loves.

W

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

PRIOR.

In every sinew, nerve, and vein:

Runs here and there, like Hamlet's ghost; While everywhere she rules the roast.

64

* Himself.

This system, Richard, we are told,
The men of Oxford firmly hold.
The Cambridge wits, you know, deny
With ipse dixit to comply.

66

They say, (for in good truth they speak
With small respect of that old Greek,)
That, putting all his words together,
"Tis three blue beans in one blue bladder.
'Alma, they strenuously maintain,
Sits cock-horse on her throne, the brain;
And from that seat of thought dispenses
Her sovereign pleasure to the senses.
Two optic nerves, they say, she ties,
Like spectacles, across the eyes;
By which the spirits bring her word,
Whene'er the balls are fix'd or stirr'd,
How quick at park and play they strike;
The duke they court; the toast they like;
And at St. James's turn their grace
From former friends, now out of place.

"Without these aids, to be more serious, Her power, they hold, had been precarious:

[blocks in formation]

The eyes might have conspir'd her ruin, And she not known what they were doing. Foolish it had been, and unkind,

64

That they should see, and she be blind.
Wise Nature likewise, they suppose,
Has drawn two conduits down our nose:
Could Alma else with judgment tell
When cabbage stinks, or roses smell?
Or who would ask for her opinion
Between an oyster and an onion?
For from most bodies, Dick, you know,
Some little bits ask leave to flow;
And, as through these canals they roll,
Bring up a sample of the whole;
Like footmen running before coaches,
To tell the inn what lord approaches.
By nerves about our palate plac'd,
She likewise judges of the taste.
Else (dismal thought!) our warlike men
Might drink thick port for fine champagne ;
And our ill-judging wives and daughters
Mistake small-beer for citron-waters.

66

"Hence, too, that she might better hear,
She sets a drum at either ear:
And, loud or gentle, harsh or sweet,
Are but th' alarums which they beat.

"Last, to enjoy her sense of feeling,
(A thing she much delights to deal in,)
A thousand little nerves she sends
Quite to our toes and fingers' ends;
And these, in gratitude, again
Return their spirits to the brain;
In which their figure being printed,
(As just before, I think, I hinted,)
Alma, inform'd, can try the case,
As she had been upon the place.

Thus, while the judge gives different journeys

To country counsel and attorneys,

He on the bench in quiet sits,

Deciding, as they bring the writs.

[ocr errors]

The pope thus prays and sleeps at Rome,

And very seldom stirs from home:

Yet, sending forth his holy spies,
And having heard what they advise,
He rules the church's blest dominions,
And sets men's faith by his opinions.
"The scholars of the Stagyrite,
Who for the old opinion fight,
Would make their modern friends confess
The difference but from more to less.
The Mind, say they, while you sustain
To hold her station in the brain;
You grant, at least, she is extended:
Ergo the whole dispute is ended.
For, till to-morrow should you plead,
From form and structure to the head,
The Mind as visibly is seen
Extended through the whole machine.
Why should all honor then be ta'en
From lower parts to load the brain,
When other limbs, we plainly see,
Each in his way as brisk as he?
For music, grant the head receive it,
It is the artist's hand that gave it;
And, though the skull may wear the laurel,
The soldier's arm sustains the quarrel.
Besides, the nostrils, ears, and eyes,
Are not his parts, but his allies;
Ev'n what you hear the tongue proclaim
Comes ab origine from them.

« PreviousContinue »