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When from thy sight I waste the tedious day,
A thousand schemes I form, and things to say;
But when thy presence gives the time I seek,
My heart's so full, I wish, but cannot speak. ·
And could I speak with elegance and ease, Till now not tedious of the art to please ; Could I, at woman who so oft exclaim, Expose (nor blush) thy triumph and my shame; Abjure those maxims I so lately priz'd, And court that sex I foolishly despis’d; Own thou hast soften’d my obdurate mind, And thou reveng’d the wrongs of womankind : Lost were my words, and fruitless all my pain, In vain to tell thee, all I write in vain : My humble sighs shall only reach thy ears, And all my eloquence shall be my tears.
And now (for more I never must pretend)
Hear me not as thy lover, but thy friend:
Thousands will fain thy little heart ensnare
(For without danger none like thee are fair);
But wisely choose who best deserves thy flame,
So shall the choice itself become thy fame:
Nor yet despise, though void of winning art,
The plain and honest courtship of the heart;
The skilful tongue in love's persuasive lore,
Though less it feels, will please and flatter more,
And, meanly learned in that guilty trade,
Can long abuse a fond unthinking maid.
And since their lips, so knowing to deceive,
Thy unexperienc'd youth might soon believe,
And since their tears, in false submission drest,
Might thaw the icy coldness of thy breast;
O! shut thine eyes to such deceitful woe:
Caught by the beauty of thy outward show,
Like me they do not love, whate'er they seem,
Like me—with passion founded on esteem.
Too well these lines that fatal truth declare, Which long I've known, yet now I blush to hear. But say, what hopes thy fond ill-fated love? What can it hope, though mutual it should prove? This little form is fair in vain for you, In vain for me thy honest heart is true; For would'st thou fix dishonour on my name, And give me up to penitence and shame? Or gild my ruin with the name of wife, And make me a poor virtuous wretch for life? Could'st thou submit to wear the marriage chain, (Too sure a cure for all thy present pain), No saffron robe for us the godhead wears, His torch inverted, and his face in tears.
Though every softer wish were amply crown'd, Love soon would cease to smile, where Fortune
frown'd: Then would thy soul my fond consent deplore, And blame what it solicited before; Thy own exhausted would reproach my truth, . And say I had undone thy blinded youth ; That I had damp'd Ambition's nobler flame, Eclips'd thy talents, and obscur'd thy fame; To madrigals and odes that wit confin’d, That would in senates or in courts have shin’d, Gloriously active in thy country's cause, Asserting freedom, and enacting laws.
Or say, at best, that negatively kind
You only mourn’d, and silently repin'd;
The jealous dæmons in my own fond breast
Would all these thoughts incessantly suggest,
And all that sense must feel, though pity had
Yet added grief my apprehension fills
(If there can be addition to those ills),
106 ANSWER TO THE FOREGOING LINES.
When they shall cry, whose harsh reproof I dread,
“ ”T was thy own deed, thy folly on thy head!"
Age knows not to allow for thoughtless youth,
Nor pities tenderness, nor honours truth ;
Ilolds it romantic to confess a heart,
And says those virgins act a wiser part,
Who hospitals and bedlams would explore
To find the rich, and only dread the poor;
Who, legal prostitutes, for int'rest sake,
CLOdios and Timons to their bosoms take,
And, if avenging Heav'n permit increase,
People the world with folly and disease.
Those titles, deeds, and rent-rolls only wed,
Whilst the best bidder mounts the venal bed,
And the grave aunt and formal sire approve
This nuptial sale, this auction of their love.
But if regard to worth or sense be shown,
This poor degenerate child her friends disown,
Who dares to deviate, by a virtuous choice,
From her great name's hereditary vice.