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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 wo:
And sure my little heart can never err
Amidst the worst, if Henry still be there.
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 essay'd no danger, gains no praise ;
In a small isle, amidst. the widest seas,
Triumphant Constancy has fix'd her seat;
In vain the sirens sing, the tempest beat :
Their flattery she rejects, nor fears their threat.
For thee alone these little charms I dress'd,
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 obstruct 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 colour be express'd
The mark of aught high-born, or ever better
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.
Hen. O wildest thought of an abandon'd mind!
Name, habit, parents, woman, left behind,
Even honour 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 thy sex:
No longer loose desire for constant love
Mistake, but say, 'tis man with whom thou long'st
EMMA. Are there not poisons, racks, and flames,
and swords, That Emma thus must die by Henry's words? Yet what could swords or poisons, racks or flame, But mangle and disjoint this brittle frame! More fatal Henry's words, they murder Emma's
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,
Callid sighs and tears, and wishes, to its aid,
And, whilst it Henry's glowing flame convey'd,
Still blame 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 ever own,
That I, of all mankind, have lov'd but thee alone?
Hen. Vainly thou talk'st of loving me alone;
Each' nian 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-axe 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 purForget 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.
Why shouldst thou weep? Let Nature judge our
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. Bless'd vicissitude !
My active heart still keeps its pristine faine ;
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,
And weeping follow me, as thou dost now,
With idle clamours of a broken vow.
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 beart, vain maid, remove A useless sorrow and an ill-starr'd love, [rove. And leave me, with the fair, at large in woods to 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 curs'd ? 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 honours let my hearse be deck'd,
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,
If Emma's image ever touch'd thy heart,
Thou sure must give one thought, and drop one tear
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.
Hen. Hear, solemn Jove, and, conscious Venus
hear; And thou, bright maid, believe me whilst I swear;