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ANSWER TO THE FOREGOING LINES.
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
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;
Holds 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
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.
These scenes my prudence ushers to my mind, Of all the storms and quicksands I must find, If I embark upon this summer sea, [way. Where Flatt'ry smooths, and Pleasure gilds the Had our ill fate ne'er blown thy dang’rous flame Beyond the limits of a friend's cold name, I might upon that score thy heart receive, And with that guiltless name my own deceive: That commerce now in vain you recommend, I dread the latent lover in the friend; Of ignorance I want the poor excuse, And know, I both must take, or both refuse.
Hear then the safe, the firm resolve I make, Ne'er to encourage one I must forsake. Whilst other maids a shameless path pursue, Neither to int’rest nor to honour true, And, proud to swell the triumph of their eyes, Exult in love from lovers they despise : Their maxims all revers’d I mean to prove, And though I like the lover, quit the love.
In fancy, the riv'let appears
To wander lamenting along;
And the dews of the valley the tears,
For the loss of her smile and her song.
Sweet ZEPHYRS that wanton'd around,
And eagerly sought for her strains, Now robb’d of the musical sound, Waft only the sigh of the swains.
O swains, &c.