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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 Einma 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.
This younger, fairer, pleads her rightful charms;
With present power compels me to her arms.
Now why should doubtful terms thy mind perplex? (If Beauty's force to constant love can bind.)
And much I fear, from my subjected mind,
Confess thy frailty, and avow the sex:
That years may roll, ere in her turn the maid
No longer loose desire for constant love
Mistake: but say, 'tis man with whom thou long'st And weeping follow me, as thou dost now,
the fury of my love decay'd;
With idle clamors of a broken vow.
Are there not poisons, racks, and flames, and
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?
Why shouldst thou weep? let Nature judge our
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.
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.
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.
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 wooas to
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 forsworn, 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.
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 armas,
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
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.
Nor happiness can I, nor misery feel,
From any turn of her fantastic wheel:
Friendship's great laws, and Love's superior powers,
Must mark the color of my future hours.
From the events which thy commands create,
I must my blessings or my sorrows date;
And Henry's will must dictate Emma's fate.
Yet, while with close delight and inward pride
(Which from the world my careful soul shall hide)
I see thee, lord and end of my desire,
Exalted high as virtue can require;
With power invested, and with pleasure cheer'd;
Sought by the good, by the oppressor fear'd;
Loaded and blest with all the affluent store,
Which human vows at smoking shrines implore;
Grateful and humble grant me to employ
My life subservient only to thy joy;
And at my death to bless thy kindness shown
To her, who of mankind could love but thee alone.
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
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. Return'd, the hostile spear and captive shield
Nor let thy conquests only be her choice:
But, when she sings great Edward from the field
In Concord's temple hung, and Gallia taught to
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;
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,
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 hoon,
And tries her pinions, fluttering to be gone;
Secure of mind, I'll obviate her intent,
And unconcern'd return the goods she lent.
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.
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.
"This system, Richard, we are told, The men of Oxford firmly hold. The Cambridge wits, you know, deny With ipse dixit to comply. 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:
The eyes might have conspir'd her ruin, And she not known what they were doing. Foolish it had been, and unkind,
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.
"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.
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.
What could the head perform alone,
If all their friendly aids were gone?
A foolish figure he must make;
Do nothing else but sleep and ache.
"Nor matters it, that you can show
How to the head the spirits go;
Those spirits started from some goal,
Before they through the veins could roll.
Now, we should hold them much to blame,
If they went back, before they came.
"If, therefore, as we must suppose,
They came from fingers, and from toes;
Or teeth, or fingers, in this case,
Of Numskull's self should take the place:
Disputing fair, you grant thus much,
That all sensation is but touch.
Dip but your toes into cold water,
Their correspondent teeth will chatter:
And, strike the bottom of your feet,
You set your head into a heat.
The bully beat, and happy lover,
Confess that feeling lies all over.
"Note here, Lucretius dares to teach (As all our youth may learn from Creech) That eyes were made, but could not view, Nor hands embrace, nor feet pursue : But heedless Nature did produce The members first, and then the use. What each must act was yet unknown, Till all is mov'd by Chance alone.
"A man first builds a country-seat, Then finds the walls not good to eat. Another plants, and wondering sees Nor books nor medals on his trees. Yet poet and philosopher Was he, who durst such whims aver. Blest, for his sake, be human reason, That came at all, though late in season. But no man, sure, e'er left his house,
And saddled Ball, with thoughts so wild, To bring a midwife to his spouse,
Before he knew she was with child. And no man ever reapt his corn,
Or from the oven drew his bread, Ere hinds and bakers yet were born,
That taught them both to sow and knead. Before they're ask'd, can maids refuse? Can"-" Pray," says Dick, "hold in your Muse. While you Pindaric truths rehearse, She hobbles in alternate verse."
"Verse," Mat replied; "is that my care?""Go on," quoth Richard, "soft and fair."
"This looks, friend Dick, as Nature had But exercis'd the salesman's trade; As if she haply had sat down, And cut out clothes for all the town; Then sent them out to Monmouth-street, To try what persons they would fit. But every free and licens'd tailor Would in this thesis find a failure. Should whims like these his head perplex, How could he work for either sex? His clothes, as atoms might prevail, Might fit a pismire, or a whale. No, no: he views with studious pleasure Your shape, before he takes your measure. For real Kate he made the bodice, And not for an ideal goddess. No error near his shop-board lurk'd; He knew the folks for whom he work'd:
Still to their size he aim'd his skill:
Else, pr'ythee, who would pay his bill?
"Next, Dick, if Chance herself should vary,
Observe, how matters would miscarry :
Across your eyes, friend, place your shoes;
Your spectacles upon your toes:
Then you and Memmius shall agree
How nicely men would walk, or see.
"But Wisdom, peevish and cross-grain'd,
Must be oppos'd, to be sustain'd;
And still your knowledge will increase,
As you make other people's less.
In arms and science 'tis the same;
Our rival's hurts create our fame.
At Faubert's, if disputes arise
Among the champions for the prize,
To prove who gave the fairer butt,
John shows the chalk on Robert's coat.
So, for the honor of your book,
It tells where other folks mistook :
And, as their notions you confound,
Those you invent get farther ground.
"The commentators on old Aristotle ('tis urg'd) in judgment vary: They to their own conceits have brought The image of his general thought; Just as the melancholic eye
Sees fleets and armies in the sky;
And to the poor apprentice' ear
The bells sound, Whittington, lord-mayor.'
The conjurer thus explains his scheme;
Thus spirits walk, and prophets dream;
North Britons thus have second-sight;
And Germans, free from gun-shot, fight.
"Theodoret and Origen,
And fifty other learned men,
Attest, that, if their comments find
The traces of their master's mind,
Alma can ne'er decay nor die:
This flatly t' other sect deny;
Simplicius, Theophrast, Durand,
Great names, but hard in verse to stand.
They wonder men should have mistook
The tenets of their master's book,
And hold, that Alma yields her breath,
O'ercome by age, and seiz'd by death.
Now which were wise? and which were fools?
Poor Alma sits between two stools:
The more she reads, the more perplext;
The comment ruining the text:
Now fears, now hopes, her doubtful fate:
But, Richard, let her look to that-
Whilst we our own affairs pursue.
"These different systems, old or new,
A man with half an eye may see,
Were only form'd to disagree.
Now, to bring things to fair conclusion,
And save much Christian ink's effusion,
Let me propose an healing scheme,
And sail along the middle stream;
For, Dick, if we could reconcile
Old Aristotle with Gassendus, How many would admire our toil!
And yet how few would comprehend us!
Here, Richard, let my scheme commence ; Oh! may my words be lost in sense! While pleas'd Thalia deigns to write The slips and bounds of Alma's flight.
"My simple system shall suppose That Alma enters at the toes;
That then she mounts by just degrees
Up to the ancles, legs, and knees;
Next, as the sap of life does rise,
She lends her vigor to the thighs;
And all these under-regions past,
She nestles somewhere near the waist;
Gives pain or pleasure, grief or laughter,
As we shall show at large hereafter.
Mature, if not improv'd by time,
Up to the heart she loves to climb;
From thence, compell'd by craft and age,
She makes the head her latest stage.
"From the feet upward to the head""Pithy and short," says Dick, "proceed." Dick, this is not an idle notion:
Observe the progress of the motion.
First, I demonstratively prove,
That feet were only made to move;
And legs desire to come and go,
For they have nothing else to do.
"Again; as she grows something stronger, And master's feet are swath'd no longer, If in the night too oft he kicks,
Or shows his locomotive tricks;
These first assaults fat Kate repays him;
When half asleep, she overlays him.
Now mark, dear Richard, from the age That children tread this worldly stage, Broom-staff or poker they bestride, And round the parlor love to ride; Till thoughtful father's pious care Provides his brood, next Smithfield Fair, With supplemental hobby-horses: And happy be their infant courses!
"Hence for some years they ne'er stand still: Their legs, you see, direct their will; From opening morn till setting sun, Around the fields and woods they run; They frisk, and dance, and leap, and play, Nor heed what Freind or Snape can say.
"To her next stage as Alma flies,
And likes, as I have said, the thighs,
With sympathetic power she warms
Their good allies and friends, the arms;
While Betty dances on the green,
And Susan is at stool-ball seen;
While John for nine-pins does declare,
And Roger loves to pitch the bar:
Both legs and arms spontaneous move;
Which was the thing I meant to prove.
"Another motion now she makes:
O, need I name the seat she takes?
His thought quite chang'd the stripling finds;
The sport and race no more he minds;
Neglected Tray and pointer lie,
And covies unmolested fly.
Sudden the jocund plain he leaves,
And for the nymph in secret grieves.
In dying accents he complains
Of cruel fires, and raging pains.
The nymph too longs to be alone,
Leaves all the swains, and sighs for one.
The nymph is warm'd with young desire,
And feels, and dies to quench his fire.
They meet each evening in the grove;
Their parley but augments their love:
So to the priest their case they tell :
He ties the knot; and all goes well.
But, O my Muse, just distance keep;
Thou art a maid, and must not peep.
In nine months' time, the bodice loose,
And petticoats too short, disclose
That at this age the active mind
About the waist lies most confin'd;
And that young life and quickening sense
Spring from his influence darted thence
So from the middle of the world
The Sun's prolific rays are hurl'd:
'Tis from that seat he darts those beams,
Which quicken Earth with genial flames."
Dick, who thus long had passive sat,
Here strok'd his chin, and cock'd his hat;
Then slapp'd his hand upon the board,
And thus the youth put in his word.
'Love's advocates, sweet sir, would find him
A higher place than you assign'd him."
"Love's advocates! Dick, who are those ?"—
"The poets, you may well suppose.
I'm sorry, sir, you have discarded
The men with whom till now you herded.
Prose-men alone, for private ends,
I thought, forsook their ancient friends.
In cor stillavit, cries Lucretius;
If he may be allow'd to teach us.
The self-same thing soft Ovid says,
(A proper judge in such a case,)
Horace's phrase is, torret jecur;
And happy was that curious speaker.
Here Virgil too has plac'd this passion.
What signifies too long quotation?
In ode and epic, plain the case is,
That Love holds one of these two places."
"Dick, without passion or reflection,
I'll straight demolish this objection.
"First, poets, all the world agrees,
Write half to profit, half to please.
Matter and figure they produce;
For garnish this, and that for use:
And in the structure of their feasts,
They seek to feed and please their guests:
But one may balk this good intent,
And take things otherwise than meant.
Thus, if you dine with my lord-mayor,
Roast-beef and venison is your fare;
Thence you proceed to swan and bustard,
And persevere in tart and custard :
But tulip-leaves and lemon-peel
Help only to adorn the meal;
And painted flags, superb and neat,
Proclaim you welcome to the treat.
The man of sense his meat devours,
But only smells the peel and flowers;
And he must be an idle dreamer,
Who leaves the pie, and gnaws the streamer. That Cupid goes with bow and arrows, And Venus keeps her coach and sparrows,
Is all but emblem, to acquaint one,
The son is sharp, the mother wanton.