THE STATUES: OR, THE TRIAL of CONSTANCY
1 IN a fair island, in the southern main,
2 Blest with indulgent skys, and kindly rain,
3 A Princess liv'd, of origin divine,
4 Of bloom coelestial, and imperial line.
5 IN that sweet season when the mounting Sun
6 Prepares, with joy, his radiant course to run,[Page 6]
7 Led by the Graces, and the dancing Hours,
8 And wakes to life the various race of flow'rs;
9 The lovely Queen forsook her shining court,
10 For rural scenes, and healthful Sylvan sport,
11 IT so befel, that, as in chearful talk,
12 Her Nymphs and She pursu'd their ev'ning walk,
13 On the green margin of the oozy deep,
14 They found a graceful Youth dissolv'd in sleep,
15 His charms the Queen survey'd with fond delight,
16 And hung enamour'd o'er the pleasing sight;
17 By her command the youth was strait convey'd,
18 And (sleeping) softly in her palace laid.
19 NOW ruddy morning purpled o'er the skies,
20 And beamy light unseal'd the stranger's eyes,
21 Who cry'd aloud, Ye Gods unfold this Scene!
22 Where am I? what can all these wonders mean?
23 SCARCE had he spoke, when, with officious care,
24 Attendant nymphs a fragrant bath prepare;
25 He rose, he bath'd, and on his lovely head,
26 Ambrosial sweets, and precious oyl they shed;
27 To deck his polish'd limbs, a robe they brought,
28 In all the various dies of beauty wrought;
29 Then led him to the Queen, who, on a throne
30 Of burnish'd gold, and beamy diamonds shone:
31 But O what wonder seiz'd her beauteous guest!
32 What love, what extasy his soul possest!
33 Entranc'd he stood, and on his falt'ring tongue,
34 Imperfect words, and half form'd accents hung;
35 Nor less the Queen the blooming youth admir'd,
36 Nor less delight, and love, her soul inspir'd.
37 O Stranger! said the Queen, if hither driv'n,
38 By adverse winds, or sent a guest from Heav'n;
39 To me the wretched never sue in vain,
40 This fruitful isle with joy approves my reign;[Page 8]
41 Then speak thy wishes, and thy wants declare,
42 And no denial shall attend thy pray'r:
43 She paus'd, and blush'd; the youth his silence broke,
44 And kneeling, thus the charming Queen bespoke:
45 O GODDESS! for a form so bright as thine,
46 Speaks thee descended of coelestial line;
47 Low at your feet a prostrate King behold,
48 Whose faithless subjects sold his life for gold;
49 I fly a cruel tyrant's lawless hand,
50 And storms have drove my vessel on your strand:
51 But why do I complain of Fortune's frowns?
52 Or what are titles! honours! sceptres! crowns!
53 To this sweet moment? whilst in fond amaze,
54 On such transporting excellence I gaze!
55 Such symetry of shape! so fair a face!
56 Such finish'd elegance! such perfect grace!
57 Hear then my only wish, and O approve
58 The ardent pray'r, which supplicates thy love. [Page 9]
59 From Neptune, know, O Prince, my birth I claim,
60 Replies the Queen, and Lucida's my name;
61 This island, these attendant nymphs he gave
62 The fair-hair'd daughters of the azure wave:
63 But he whose fortune gains me for a bride,
64 Must have his constancy severely try'd;
65 One day each moon am I compell'd to go
66 To my Great Father's wat'ry realms below,
67 Where coral groves coelestial red display,
68 And blazing di'monds emulate the day;
69 In this short absence if your love endures,
70 My heart and empire are for ever your's;
71 And hoary Neptune, to reward your truth,
72 Shall crown you with immortal bloom and youth;
73 But instant death will on your falshood wait,
74 Nor can my tenderness prevent your fate:
75 Twice twenty times in wedlock's sacred band,
76 My Royal Father join'd my plighted hand;[Page 10]
77 Twice twenty noble youths, alas! are dead,
78 Who in my absence stain'd the nuptial bed;
79 Your virtues, Prince, may claim a nobler throne;
80 But mine is yielded on these terms alone.
81 Delightful terms! reply'd the raptur'd youth,
82 Accept my constancy, my endless truth:
83 Perfidious, faithless men, enrag'd he cry'd!
84 They merited the fate by which they dy'd:
85 Accept a heart incapable of change;
86 Thy beauty shall forbid desire to range.
87 No other form shall to my eye seem fair;
88 No other voice attract my list'ning ear;
89 No charms but thine, shall e'er my soul approve;
90 So aid thy vot'ry, potent God of love.
91 NOW loud applauses thro' the palace ring;
92 The duteous subjects hail their God-like King;
93 To feastful mirth they dedicate the day,
94 Whilst tuneful voices chant the nuptial lay:[Page 11]
95 Love-dittied-airs, hymn'd by the vocal quire,
96 Sweetly attemper'd to the warbling wire.
97 But when the Sun descending sought the main,
98 And low-brow'd night assum'd her silent reign,
99 They to the marriage-bed convey'd the Bride,
100 And laid the raptur'd Bridegroom by her side.
101 Now rose the morn, and with auspicious ray,
102 Dispell'd the dewy mists, and gave the day;
103 When Lucida, with anxious cares opprest,
104 Thus wak'd her sleeping lord from downy rest,
105 Soul of my soul, and monarch of my heart,
106 This day, she cry'd, this fatal day, we part;
107 Yet, if your love uninjur'd you retain,
108 We soon shall meet in happiness again,
109 To part no more, but rolling years employ,
110 In circling bliss, and never-fading joy:
111 Alas! my boding soul is lost in woe!
112 And from my eyes the tears unbidden flow.
113 JOY of my life, dismiss those needless fears,
114 Reply'd the King, and stay those precious tears;
115 Shou'd lovely Venus leave her native sky,
116 And at my feet, imploring fondness, lie,
117 Ev'n she, the radiant Queen of soft desires,
118 Shou'd, disappointed, burn with hopeless fires.
119 THE heart of Man, the Queen's experience knew
120 Perjur'd, and false, yet wish'd to find him true:
121 She sigh'd, retiring; and, in regal state,
122 The King conducts her to the palace gate,
123 Where sacred Neptune's chrystal chariot stands,
124 The wond'rous work of his coelestial hands;
125 Six harness'd swans the bright machine convey,
126 Swift thro' the air, or pathless wat'ry way;
127 The birds with eagle-speed the air divide,
128 And plunge the goddess in the sounding tide.
129 SLOW to the court the pensive King returns,
130 And sighs in secret, and in silence mourns;
131 So in the grove sad Philomel complains,
132 In mournful accents, and melodious strains;
133 Her plaintive woes fill the resounding lawn,
134 From starry-vesper, to the rosy dawn.
135 THE King, to mitigate his tender pain,
136 Seeks the apartment of the virgin train,
137 With sportive mirth sad absence to beguile,
138 And bid the melancholly moments smile;
139 But there deserted, lonely rooms he found;
140 And solitary silence reign'd around:
141 He call'd aloud, when, lo! a hag appears,
142 Bending beneath deformity and years;
143 Who said, My Liege, explain your sacred will,
144 With joy your sovereign purpose I fulfil. [Page 14]
145 My will! detested wretch! avoid my sight,
146 And hide that hideous shape in endless night.
147 What? does thy Queen, o'er-run with rude distrust,
148 Resolve by force to keep a husband just?
149 YOU wrong, reply'd the hag, your royal wife,
150 Whose care is love, and love to guard your life;
151 The race of mortals are by nature frail,
152 And strong temptations with the best prevail.
153 Be that my care, he said; be thine, to send
154 The virgin train, let them my will attend.
155 THE Beldam fled, the chearful Nymphs advance,
156 And tread to measur'd airs, the mazy dance;
157 The raptur'd Prince, with greedy eye surveys
158 The bloomy maids, and covets still to gaze;
159 No more recals the image of his spouse,
160 (How false is Man!) nor recollects his vows;[Page 15]
161 With wild inconstancy for all he burns,
162 And ev'ry Nymph subdues his soul by turns.
163 At length a maid superior to the rest,
164 Array'd in smiles, in virgin beauty drest,
165 Receiv'd his passion, and return'd his love,
166 And softly woo'd him to the silent grove.
167 ENCLOS'D in deepest shade of full-grown wood,
168 Within the grove a spacious grotto stood,
169 Where forty youths in marble seem'd to mourn,
170 Each youth reclining on a fun'ral urn;
171 Thither the Nymph directs the Monarch's way;
172 He treads her footsteps, joyful to obey;
173 There, fir'd with passion, clasp'd her to his breast,
174 And thus the transport of his soul exprest:
175 DELIGHTFUL beauty! deck'd with ev'ry charm
176 High fancy paints, or glowing love can form,[Page 16]
177 I sigh, I gaze, I tremble, I adore,
178 Such lovely looks ne'er blest my eyes before!
179 Here, under covert of th' embow'ring shade,
180 For Love's delights, and tender transports made,
181 No busy eye our raptures to detect,
182 No envious tongue to censure or direct,
183 Here yield to Love, and tenderly employ
184 The silent season in extatick joy.
185 WITH arms enclasp'd, his treasure to retain,
186 He sigh'd and strove, but strove and sigh'd in vain;
187 She rush'd indignant from his fond embrace,
188 Whilst rage, with blushes, paints her virgin face;
189 Yet still he sues, with suppliant hands and eyes;
190 Whilst she to magick charms for vengeance flies.
191 A LIMPID fountain murmur'd thro' the cave;
192 She fill'd her palm with the translucent wave,[Page 17]
193 And, sprinkling, cry'd, Receive, false man, in time,
194 The just reward of thy detested crime.
195 THY changeful sex in perfidy delight,
196 Despise perfection, and fair virtue slight;
197 False, fickle, base, tyrannick, and unkind,
198 Whose hearts nor vows can chain, nor honour bind,
199 Mad to possess, by passion blindly led,
200 And then as mad, to stain the nuptial bed;
201 Whose roving souls no excellence, no age,
202 No form, no rank, no beauty, can engage:
203 Slaves to the bad, to the deserving worst,
204 Sick of your twentieth love, as of your first.
205 These STATUES, which this hallow'd grot adorn,
206 Like thee were Lovers, and like thee forsworn;
207 Whose faithless hearts no kindness cou'd secure,
208 Nor for a day preserve their passion pure;
209 Whom neither love, nor beauty, cou'd restrain,
210 Nor fear of endless infamy and pain. [Page 18]
211 Now feel the force of heav'ns avenging hand,
212 And here inanimate for ever stand!
213 SHE spoke — amaz'd the list'ning monarch stood;
214 And icy horror froze his ebbing blood!
215 Thick shades of death upon his eyelids creep,
216 And clos'd them fast in everlasting sleep;
217 No sense of life, no motion he retains,
218 But fix'd, a dreadful monument remains!
219 A STATUE now! and if reviv'd once more,
220 Wou'd prove, no doubt, as CONSTANT as before.