[Page 253]

FELIX and CONSTANCE.

A POEM, taken from BOCCACE.

To the Right Honourable the Countess of POMFRET.

1 BLOWN on the rolling Surface of the Deep,
2 The mourning Maid at length reclines to Sleep;
3 While conscious Visions labour in her Breast,
4 And airy Spectres discompose her Rest.
5 Sometimes she seems upon her native Shore,
6 Bless'd with the beauteous Youth, as heretofore;
7 Hears him converse, while from his tuneful Tongue
8 Melodious Sense, in melting Music, rung:
[Page 254]
9 Sometimes she finds, or seems at least to find,
10 His shatter'd Vessel forc'd before the Wind,
11 With foaming Waves, and furious Tempests tost,
12 The Mast, and broken Sails, and Sailers lost:
13 Sometimes her Dream, in frightful Forms, display'd
14 A Crowd of Martyrs, cruel Love had made;
15 Lamenting THISBE's Shade before her stands,
16 Shews her capacious Wound, and purple Hands;
17 Now Lyric SAPPHO in the Tide expires,
18 Now faithful PORCIA eats the living Fires.
19 At length, awaking from her Dream, she hears
20 A Latian Voice, which thus salutes her Ears:
21 UNHAPPY Christian Maid! (for such, at least,
22 You, by your decent Habit, seem exprest)
23 Say whence you came, and hither how convey'd,
24 Expos'd to Sea, without the Seaman's Aid?
[Page 255]
25 SOON as the Nymph her native Language hears,
26 Her frighted Soul was fill'd with Doubts and Fears:
27 She thought, the adverse Wind, or refluent Main,
28 Had forc'd her back to Liparis again;
29 Till, starting up, a spacious Land she spies;
30 Barbarian Caves and Cots her Sight surprize:
31 She sees a Matron on the neighb'ring Strand;
32 Nor knows the Matron, nor the neighb'ring Land.
33 O! whither, whither am I blown? she cries;
34 What Dens and Caves appear before my Eyes?
35 And who inhabit 'em? or Beasts of Prey,
36 Or Men, less kind, and crueller than they?
37 To whom the Matron: Fly, nor dare to trust.
38 The faithless People of this hated Coast:
39 Here Sailers oft their hapless Fate deplore;
40 Who scape the Seas, are wreck'd upon the Shore:
[Page 256]
41 For, when the forceful Wind, and foaming Deep,
42 To this inhuman Coast impel the Ship;
43 Around the Beach the rude Barbarians stray,
44 Destroy the Mariners, and seize their Prey;
45 By others Death, they keep themselves alive,
46 Subsist by Rapine, and by Ruin thrive.
47 UNHAPPY Fate! the mourning Nymph reply'd;
48 O! had I perish'd in the safer Tide!
49 For much I fear, the Land I now survey,
50 Dooms me to greater Evils, than the Sea:
51 And yet what greater Ills can Fate provide,
52 Than thus to seek for Death, and be deny'd?
53 Not so my FELIX scap'd the raging Waves;
54 Him NEPTUNE sunk, and me unkindly saves;
55 Saves, only to increase my former Woes;
56 To fall, perhaps, by more ungen'rous Foes;
[Page 257]
57 Or to indulge some lustful Tyrant's Will:
58 But, O ye Heav'ns! avert the fatal Ill;
59 Protect my Honour in this foreign Coast,
60 The only Blessing which I have not lost!
61 THE list'ning Matron wonders with Surprize;
62 Nor hears, unmov'd, the weeping Damsel's Cries:
63 But leads her to her neighb'ring Cottage, where
64 She chears her fainting Soul with homely Fare;
65 Condoles her Grief, and begs her to disclose
66 Her Country, Cares, and Cause of all her Woes.
67 Excited by her Words, the pensive Maid
68 Preludes with Sighs, and thus, reluctant, said:
69 O hospitable Dame! why would you move
70 A Wretch to tell a Tale of hapless Love?
71 Which, in relating, must renew my Grief;
72 Nor can I hope, nor you bestow, Relief:
[Page 258]
73 Yet, since you seem a Partner of my Care,
74 'Tis just a Partner know the Weight I bear.
75 NOT far from Aetna's flaming Mount I came,
76 From Liparis, and CONSTANCE is my Name:
77 Great Honours and Estates my Sire possess'd,
78 And, O! too much to make his Daughter bless'd.
79 I once with Fame and Fortune was supply'd,
80 Nor envy'd Empresses their Pomp and Pride;
81 Now, like a Meteor, fallen from its Height,
82 My Glory's vanish'd, and extinct my Light
83 Full twenty Years in Happiness I pass'd,
84 And ev'ry Year was happier than the last.
85 Young FELIX then his Love began to show;
86 (Young FELIX was the Cause of all my Woe)
87 A beauteous Youth, endow'd with manly Grace;
88 But far his noble Soul excell'd his Face:
[Page 259]
89 And, tho' his niggard Fate had Wealth deny'd,
90 The Want of Wealth by Virtue was supply'd.
91 Two Years to win my doubtful Heart he strove,
92 Two Years my doubtful Heart declin'd his Love:
93 Yet still he press'd me with his am'rous Tale,
94 Nor found at length, 'twas fruitless to assail:
95 For, by degrees, insensibly I came
96 To first approve, and then indulge, his Flame;
97 Nor could his Suit, nor would his Vows reprove;
98 I heard with Joy, nor thought it Sin to love;
99 Till in my Breast imperious CUPID reign'd:
100 Alas! how easy Love a Conquest gain'd!
101 And now my Reason check'd my Will no more;
102 But fed the Flame, it strove to quench before:
103 Yet durst not an immodest Thought approve;
104 Love rul'd my Heart, but Honour rul'd my Love:
105 I scorn'd to stain my Virtue with a King;
106 As much my Lover scorn'd so mean a thing.
[Page 260]
107 What could we do? What cannot Love inspire?
108 The Youth reveals his Passion to my Sire;
109 And in such melting Accents made it known,
110 As might have mov'd all Fathers, but my own:
111 But proudly he my Lover's Suit repell'd;
112 And, frowning, thus our mutual Ruin seal'd:
113 No more, presumptuous Youth! thy Passion name;
114 Suppress the Sparks, before they rise to Flame.
115 How dar'st thou, vulgar Wretch, ignobly born,
116 My Daughter's Scandal, and her Father's Scorn!
117 Aspire to wed so far above thy Fate?
118 He sternly said, and forc'd him from his Gate.
119 O Avarice! what Evils dost thou cause,
120 Breaking the Bands of Love, and Nature's Laws?
121 Go, hungry God! and rule the Narrow-soul'd;
122 Collect, and guard their curst, bewitching Gold;
[Page 261]
123 Fit Province for thy Reign! too mean to prove
124 The Charms of Nuptial Life, and Joys of Love!
125 Ah! what avails to gain a pompous Name,
126 With boasted Titles of paternal Fame,
127 Deriv'd from Ancestors of noble Blood?
128 Things common to the Vicious, and the Proud!
129 Refulgent Equipage, and gaudy Shows,
130 Fictitious Ornaments of real Woes!
131 If Love be absent, Pomp and worldly Gain
132 But gild our Cares, and varnish o'er our Pain.
133 O! had my cruel Father thought like me,
134 I ne'er had prov'd the Dangers of the Sea,
135 Nor ever wander'd here a banish'd Maid;
136 And, O dear FELIX! thou hadst not been dead!
137 So speaks the trembling Nymph; and, while she speaks,
138 The pearly Torrents stream adown her Cheeks;
[Page 262]
139 Cold clammy Sweats, and throbbing Sighs arise,
140 Slow moves the Blood, and dizzy roll her Eyes;
141 So much affected with her Lover's Fate,
142 She struggled, groan'd, and fainted from her Seat.
143 Her Hostess straight a grateful Cordial sought,
144 And to her Lips applies the chearful Draught,
145 Washing her Temples with reviving Oil;
146 The vital Spirits answer to her Toil;
147 The purple Tide begins to roll again,
148 Again diffuses Life thro' ev'ry Vein:
149 And now she sighing, rais'd her drooping Head;
150 And, Is my Death, she cries, again delay'd?
151 Why did you check me on the Brink of Fate?
152 Better the Soul had fled her loathsome Seat.
153 Death is the only Good I wish to know,
154 End of my Pain, and Period of my Woe.
[Page 263]
155 To whom replies the Dame: Unhappy Fair!
156 Rely on Heav'n, nor let your Soul despair:
157 Teach me to give your troubled Heart Relief;
158 Or teach me how, at least, to share your Grief:
159 Your mournful Story much affects my Mind;
160 Yet something seems remaining still behind.
161 O! much, CONSTANTIA says, remains to come,
162 The fatal Part, that finishes my Doom:
163 For, when my FELIX, (FELIX now no more!)
164 Was banish'd from my haughty Father's Door,
165 Not able to obtain me for his Bride,
166 Nor willing to resign me, tho' deny'd;
167 Hope, from Despair, his daring Soul conceives;
168 A Bark he builds, to plough the briny Waves:
169 Then call'd a few Domestics to his Aid,
170 Embrac'd me in his Arms, and sighing, said:
[Page 264]
171 O Thou, for ever dear, for ever blest,
172 At once the Joy, and Trouble of my Breast!
173 Since Poverty expels me from thy Arms,
174 Since Wealth alone is worthy of thy Charms;
175 I swear by all the mighty Pow'rs above,
176 (Sad Fate, that drives me from the Nymph I love!)
177 To try my Fortune on remoter Shores,
178 And seek the Gold, thy Sire so much adores.
179 Perhaps the Planets, unpropitious here,
180 In other Climes may kinder Aspects wear;
181 May lead me where the rocky Di'monds lie,
182 Or where the golden Mines may Wealth supply;
183 If not, the last sad Pleasure is to die.
184 SUCH was the fatal Vow he rashly made;
185 O fatal Vow, and fatally obey'd!
[Page 265]
186 Struck dumb, my Tears the want of Words supply'd;
187 His, mixt with mine, increas'd the pearly Tide:
188 Yet, lest I should his Resolution shake,
189 He rush'd away, and mounted on the Deck:
190 His hasty Crew expand the swelling Sails,
191 Strong rolls the Sea before impulsive Gales;
192 The crooked Keel the frothy Flood divides,
193 Swift flies the Ship, and rushes thro' the Tides.
194 MY Lover long my gazing Eyes pursue;
195 As long my Lover kept me in his View:
196 Reluctant so, departing Souls prepare
197 To wing their doubtful Flight, they know not where;
198 Reluctant so, expiring Bodies lie,
199 Nor willing these to stay, nor those to fly.
200 TWICE twenty Days I spent in fruitless Tears,
201 Before the fatal Tidings reach'd my Ears;
[Page 266]
202 How FELIX, sailing o'er the watry Way,
203 Was wreck'd on Rocks, and perish'd in the Sea.
204 O! then what Trouble, Grief, and anxious Care,
205 Confus'd my Soul, and bent it to Despair!
206 I curs'd the Cause, that forc'd him to expire;
207 O Heav'n! forgive me, if I curs'd my Sire:
208 I fled his House, and sought the lonely Grove,
209 (The gloomy Witness of my former Love!)
210 Where, once resolv'd to seek the Shades below,
211 I drew the Knife, to strike the mortal Blow;
212 Till Piety the cruel Thought supprest,
213 And check'd the Roman Courage of my Breast:
214 I trembling saw two doubtful Paths; nor knew,
215 Which Path was best to shun, or which pursue;
216 Opposing Passions in my Bosom strove,
217 And Conscience now prevail'd, and now my Love.
[Page 267]
218 As when the Wind and Tide a Contest make,
219 The Sailer, trembling, sees his Vessel shake;
220 This way, and that, and both, by turns reclin'd,
221 As swells the Surge, or blows the furious Wind:
222 So was my Soul with diff'rent Notions sway'd,
223 Of this, of that, of both, and all, afraid.
224 Ah! why should Mortals of their Reason boast,
225 Which most deserts 'em, when they want it most?
226 For, when the troubled Mind's confus'd with Pain,
227 'Tis but an Ignis-fatuus of the Brain;
228 Which, if our wand'ring Souls from Virtue stray,
229 But leads us more and more from Virtue's Way:
230 So led it me to stem the devious Tide,
231 And seek for Death, where wretched FELIX dy'd.
232 NOT distant far, a fishing Vessel stood,
233 Nor wholly on the Land, nor in the Flood:
[Page 268]
234 Arriv'd to this, I row'd it from the Shore;
235 And, bent on Death, the Tide I now explore;
236 Expecting, soon, the friendly-furious Wave
237 Would give my Troubles and myself a Grave.
238 But, when I saw the Billows round me flow,
239 The boundless Skies above, and Seas below;
240 Scar'd with the Terrors of the watry Space,
241 I wrapt my Mantle round my tim'rous Face:
242 Then lay me down, to all the Dangers blind;
243 Chance was my Compass, and my Pilot, Wind.
244 Blown here and there, I floated on the Deep,
245 Which rock'd my Eyes, but not my Fears, asleep:
246 For now my dreaming Soul, in Fancy's Maze,
247 A thousand tragic airy Ghosts surveys;
248 Which flutter'd round me, and reproaching, said;
249 Die, Coward! follow FELIX to the Shade:
250 Why wouldst thou wish to live, now he is dead?
[Page 269]
251 But when, at length, your friendly Voice I heard,
252 My Vision ceas'd, the Spectres disappear'd.
253 Thus have I told, but can't dispel my Care;
254 For who can conquer Love, or cure Despair?
255 THUS she; and thus CAPRESA spake again:
256 (So was she call'd, who wak'd her on the Main)
257 Unhappy Nymph! compose your troubled Mind,
258 Nor doubt the gracious Guide of human Kind:
259 That GOD, who sav'd you from the foamy Wave,
260 Will doubtless guard the Life, he deign'd to save.
261 Vouchsafe to take the Counsel I can lend:
262 At Susa Heav'n has blest me with a Friend,
263 Much fam'd for Wealth, for pious Actions more;
264 No Husband, and no Children, but the Poor:
265 Let me conduct you to her friendly Gate;
266 (Too small my Cottage for a Guest so great)
[Page 270]
267 She will protect you from Barbarian Foes,
268 With prudent Counsel mitigate your Woes,
269 And charm your ruffled Soul to soft Repose.
270 BLEST Partner of my Grief! the Damsel said,
271 Some Angel surely sent you to my Aid;
272 For now some dawning Rays of Hope appear,
273 That chase away the Clouds of dark Despair.
274 This Pause of Pain, and Interval of Grace,
275 Shall be employ'd in Search of future Peace.
276 Then guide, and guard me to your noble Friend;
277 So may you never want this Aid you lend!
278 And, as we travel, deign to let me know,
279 To whom so many Thanks I justly owe;
280 What hapless Fortune cast you on this Land,
281 What Occupation here employs your Hand.
282 Sweet Conversation may suspend my Care,
283 Dispel my Grief, or make it less severe:
[Page 271]
284 So shall I easier reach the neighb'ring Town;
285 And, list'ning to your Fate, forget my own.
286 THUS she; and thus the pensive Dame replies:
287 (With briny Drops distilling from her Eyes)
288 Fain would I, lovely Nymph! suspend your Care,
289 Dispel your Grief, or make it less severe:
290 But, were I all my Fortune to explain,
291 'Twould not alleviate, but increase your Pain;
292 For in your Soul such Sparks of Nature glow,
293 As make you share your Neighbour's Joy or Woe.
294 The Christian Faith I secretly embrace,
295 Tho' doom'd to dwell among a Pagan Race:
296 Trepanum wasted all my Bloom of Life,
297 Where long I liv'd, a Farmer's happy Wife:
298 My careful, loving Husband till'd the Soil,
299 Nor was the Field ungrateful to his Toil:
[Page 272]
300 For, ev'ry Summer, CERES crown'd the Plain;
301 Each Autumn, fill'd the Barn with golden Grain:
302 So thick the verdant Harvest yearly stood,
303 The Meadows seem'd to groan beneath their Load.
304 Our fleecy Flocks were fruitful of their Young,
305 Hail were our Oxen, and our Horses strong;
306 Nor did our Kine of milky Produce fail,
307 But with distended Udders fill'd the Pail.
308 'Twas then, alas! how often have I cry'd,
309 I would not wish to be a Monarch's Bride!
310 When all around my little Infants came,
311 Hung on my Knees, and lisp'd their Mama's Name;
312 Or met their Father with the Ev'ning Ray,
313 Embrac'd his Neck, and kiss'd his Cares away.
314 Soon as their riper Age could Labour bear,
315 We sent 'em forth to feed the fleecy Care;
316 Where often have we spent the Summer's Day,
317 Charm'd to behold the wanton Cattle's Play.
[Page 273]
318 What Pleasure 'twas to see the skipping Lambs?
319 What Music, when they bleated for their Dams?
320 We thought our Joys could never be increas'd;
321 Love, Peace, and Plenty join'd to make us bless'd.
322 But see how Fortune holds her fickle Reign!
323 She raises up, to tumble down again:
324 For now our Thread of Happiness was spun;
325 The Gains of twenty Years were lost in one.
326 'Twas in the Season, when the verdant Mead
327 Begins to ask the Mower's crooked Blade;
328 Before the Wheat receives the yellow Stain,
329 Or milky Juice is harden'd into Grain;
330 A Gale of Poison baleful EURUS cast;
331 The vernal Product sicken'd with the Blast;
332 Our Meadows straight a saffron Scene disclose,
333 Our infant Apples quit the blighted Boughs;
334 Pease, Wheat, and Barley, wither'd in the Fields,
335 And Nature one abortive Harvest yields:
[Page 274]
336 Nor stopt it here; the flying Plague began
337 To spread the Bane in Beasts, and thence to Man:
338 First dy'd our Sheep upon the russet Plain,
339 Next swell'd our Oxen with a fatal Blain;
340 Here tumbles, o'er her Meat, the moping Cow;
341 There drops the panting Horse before the Plough:
342 At length the dire Contagion spread so wide,
343 My Virgin Children made the Tomb their Bride.
344 This Nature bore But when our Landlord sent
345 His Officers, to seize my Lord for Rent;
346 And he, to shun the Prison, flies the Shore;
347 Lists on the Sea, to tug the lab'ring Oar;
348 I wept, I rav'd, I curs'd the baleful Air;
349 And fled my native Land, but not my Care.
350 Thus, banish'd here, a Widow, and a Wife,
351 Condemn'd to suffer, not enjoy a Life,
352 I toil for those, who catch the finny Prey;
353 The Toils are great, but very small the Pay!
[Page 275]
354 Their scaly Fry to Market oft I bear,
355 Oft in the Ocean wash their thready Snare;
356 And then was washing, when, with great Surprize,
357 You, and your floating Vessel, met my Eyes.
358 NOW Heav'n defend us both! the Nymph reply'd;
359 And can such Rage in Christian Minds reside?
360 What, could the curst, inhuman Tyrant wrest
361 Thy tender Husband from thy loving Breast,
362 When all thy Wealth was lost, thy Children dead?
363 O Virtue! Virtue! whither art thou fled?
364 Why must such Evils on the Guiltless flow?
365 Ye Heav'ns! is Innocence rewarded so?
366 SO spake the Nymph; her Friend no more replies;
367 For now PRISCILLA's Dome attracts their Eyes:
368 Approaching to her friendly Gate, they found
369 The gen'rous Lady dealing Alms around
[Page 276]
370 To needy Souls, a hapless, helpless Crowd,
371 Who daily bless'd her Hand for daily Food!
372 When thus CAPRESA: Hail, for ever bless'd!
373 'Tis Godlike thus to succour the Distress'd:
374 Yet none of these, who claim your Christian Aid,
375 Deserves it more than this unhappy Maid;
376 Who once was bless'd with Fame and Riches too,
377 Tho' fickle Fortune now is turn'd her Foe;
378 Unlike the Mendicants, who daily share
379 Your friendly Bounty, and maternal Care.
380 TO whom the Lady, with a gracious Look,
381 That seem'd to breathe Compassion, while she spoke:
382 Sure Decency forbids, a Guest so great
383 Should, undistinguish'd, with the Vulgar eat.
384 No; deck my Table with the choicest Fare;
385 The Nymph, with me, a kind Repast shall share;
[Page 277]
386 For, by her Looks if Truth may be divin'd,
387 That lovely Body cloaths a lovely Mind.
388 SHE said, and CONSTANCE low Obeisance made;
389 Then gladly follow'd, where PRISCILLA led.
390 Within the Gate a spacious Room she found,
391 Whose Walls were beautify'd with Tap'stry round;
392 Where pious Tales appear'd, so lively wrought,
393 The Work seem'd vital, and the Figures Thought:
394 Here, in the Shade, the Jewish Patriarch stood,
395 Feasting the Sons of Heav'n with earthly Food;
396 While, there, the good Samaritan confest
397 His Kindness, and reproach'd the cruel Priest;
398 With many more, a charitable Band,
399 The skilful Labour of PRISCILLA's Hand.
400 HITHER the Dame convey'd a sweet Repast;
401 Rich Meats, and rosy Wines the Table grac'd:
[Page 278]
402 They eat, they drank, in pleasing Converse join'd;
403 And chear'd at once the Body and the Mind.
404 The Call of Nature being soon supprest,
405 Thus spake the Lady to her youthful Guest:
406 SAY, lovely Stranger! (for I long to know;
407 So may propitious Heav'n remove thy Woe!)
408 Whence thus reduc'd? By Famine, Sword, or Fire?
409 What Sire thy Beauty boasts, what Land thy Sire?
410 Perhaps some Princess, banish'd from her Home,
411 Thus condescends to grace my rustic Dome:
412 If so, I greatly fear, my homely Feast
413 Has been unworthy of my Royal Guest.
414 SHE said, the Nymph unfolds her Tale again;
415 The prudent Dame attempts to sooth her Pain,
416 And thus reply'd: Tho' weighty are your Woes,
417 The weightiest Ill, with Patience, lighter grows:
[Page 279]
418 Then bear with Patience all that Heav'n design'd,
419 Whose Ways are just, tho' difficult to find,
420 Plann'd for the gen'ral Good of Human Kind.
421 God's Paths in winding Mazes often lie,
422 Too intricate for feeble Reason's Eye;
423 Most regular, when in Confusion lost;
424 Most constant, when they seem to vary most.
425 Perhaps his Mercy forc'd you thus to roam,
426 To shun a more unhappy Fate at home;
427 For with one Evil he removes a worse,
428 And blesses oft with what we think a Curse.
429 Then let your Soul at Fortune not repine;
430 But trust in Heav'n's Protection, next, in mine:
431 In me you still shall find a faithful Friend,
432 With whom, in time, your Troubles all may end:
433 But, since you now are harass'd out with Woes,
434 Refresh your weary Soul with sweet Repose;
[Page 280]
435 And when you wake, at Morning, may you find
436 Heav'n's balmy Comfort heal your wounded Mind!
437 THUS chear'd, the Nymph obsequiously withdrew,
438 And bath'd her Cares in Sleep's refreshing Dew;
439 Till PHOEBUS, rising from the Shades of Night,
440 With rosy Keys unlock'd the Gates of Light:
441 Bright as his Beams, arose the beauteous Maid;
442 And, to her Patroness returning, said:
443 WHAT Thanks, propitious Lady! shall I give
444 For all the Godlike Bounties I receive?
445 O! let my Silence thank you; for I know,
446 Words can't express the Gratitude I owe.
447 To whom replies the venerable Dame:
448 No other Thanks, but Gratitude, I claim:
[Page 281]
449 The Terms of Charity are never hard,
450 Love and Compassion are their own Reward:
451 A Soul, that succours Virtue, when distrest,
452 Can with Reflection make a noble Feast;
453 Which nourishes the Mind, and overpays
454 A gen'rous Deed with self-approving Praise.
455 SUCH was their Converse, till domestic Care
456 Invites PRISCILLA from the youthful Fair;
457 Who sat in pensive Solitude, and strove
458 To soften, or suspend the Pains of Love.
459 At length the Linen on her Knee she spread,
460 And with her Needle work'd the docile Thread.
461 Young THISBE's Fate she first began to frame;
462 But soon commits her Labour to the Flame:
463 Next drew she HERO sinking in the Main;
464 Then raz'd the finish'd Image out again:
[Page 282]
465 Both these displeas'd her, tho' judicious Art,
466 And Rays of Nature shone in ev'ry Part.
467 At length her own unhappy Tale she chose,
468 And lively paints the Scene of all her Woes:
469 Her charming FELIX first the Linen grac'd;
470 By whom her Father, frowning stern, she plac'd:
471 Her Lover's Parting next to these appears;
472 (But, weeping here, she soil'd her Work with Tears)
473 Next, on the Seas, she drew her floating Ship;
474 Next, her own Boat, slow-wand'ring o'er the Deep:
475 By these she fix'd CAPRESA on the Strand,
476 Who wak'd her first, and welcom'd her to Land:
477 The good PRISCILLA last employ'd her Art,
478 Whose Aspect spoke the Bounty of her Heart;
479 Her friendly Roof, a Refuge for the Poor,
480 The Horn of Plenty, pendent o'er the Door,
481 Diffusing Blessings still, and still increasing more.
[Page 283]
482 All these confest such Beauty, Skill, and Care,
483 Not HELEN better wove the Trojan War,
484 While HECTOR, PARIS, and their Martial Train,
485 With Grecian Heroes battled on the Plain.
486 HERE let us leave the lovely Nymph a-while,
487 To pass her tedious Hours in pleasing Toil:
488 Her absent Lover now my Song pursues,
489 Whose valiant Deeds require a nobler Muse.
490 SWIFT-PINION'D FAME, which often babbling flies,
491 To bear unwelcome Truths, and oft'ner Lyes,
492 Had spread the ductile Error far and wide,
493 How wand'ring FELIX perish'd in the Tide.
494 But FELIX safely reach'd the Thunic Port,
495 And soon arriv'd to Honours in the Court:
496 His Wisdom there the wisest Peers excell'd;
497 His Valour more surpass'd 'em in the Field.
[Page 284]
498 When first he to the Royal Palace came,
499 An Accident occurr'd to raise his Fame:
500 A noble Lord there was, of great Renown,
501 Rebell'd against the King, and claim'd his Crown:
502 Great Preparations made he for the Fight;
503 Nor less the Monarch, to defend his Right;
504 But summon'd all, to meet the daring Foe,
505 Whose Strength could wield a Sword, or bend a Bow;
506 And promis'd to reward their Martial Care,
507 With Honours equal to their Deeds in War.
508 Now rings the Region with the Foe's Alarms,
509 Terrific shines the Field with burnish'd Arms;
510 The Martial Trumpet, sounding from afar,
511 With dreadful Notes, proclaims approaching War.
512 The Royal Army valiant FELIX join'd;
513 Intrepid Courage animates his Mind:
[Page 285]
514 Fix'd in the Front, the Foe he bravely dares,
515 Like PALLAS prudent, and as bold as MARS.
516 Say, Muse, What Goddess, that tremendous Hour,
517 Aided the Youth with such unusual Pow'r?
518 Bright VENUS, conscious of the Lover's Smart,
519 Sharpen'd his Sword, and pointed ev'ry Dart:
520 Fierce, as a Lion, thro' the Lines he sprung;
521 And forc'd his Foes, like trembling Stags, along.
522 As when resistless Winds rush o'er the Deep,
523 And from its Anchor force the driving Ship,
524 Or furiously against the Woodland roar;
525 The leafy Harvest, tumbling, flies before:
526 So rush'd the Hero on the adverse Band,
527 So fled the Legions from his pow'rful Hand;
528 Till soon the rebel Lord he Pris'ner made,
529 And to the King his captive Prize convey'd
[Page 286]
530 Now reaps the Youth the Glory of his Toil;
531 To him the Monarch gives the Martial Spoil,
532 Rewards his Valour with a noble Post,
533 And makes him First Commander of his Host.
534 Thus, quickly FELIX gain'd a deathless Name;
535 Thus, was his Labour crown'd with Wealth and Fame:
536 But Wealth and Fame insipid Things appear;
537 To give them Taste, he wants the lovely Fair;
538 The lovely Fair, opprest with equal Grief,
539 To make her happy, wants the glorious Chief.
540 HIS Fame, which soon at Susa was reveal'd,
541 (Heroic Actions seldom lie conceal'd)
542 With pleasing Wonder struck CONSTANTIA's Ears,
543 And fill'd her doubtful Soul with Hopes and Fears:
544 For, tho' the wise PRISCILLA often strove
545 With prudent Counsel to suppress her Love;
[Page 287]
546 Her Love was only lessen'd, not supprest;
547 But glows again, again distracts her Breast.
548 AS when, in rural Cots, the Flames aspire,
549 And lab'ring Peasants quench the mounting Fire:
550 If chance a latent Spark remain behind,
551 In heapy Ashes, fann'd with ambient Wind;
552 The Fires again, with former Fury, rise,
553 Flame thro' the Roof, and flash into the Skies:
554 So in her Bosom glows the am'rous Fire,
555 And fills her tender Soul with soft Desire.
556 And is my FELIX yet alive? she says;
557 And is he crown'd with Wealth, and deathless Praise?
558 No, no; I fear the flatt'ring Tale deceives;
559 Methinks I see him plunging in the Waves.
560 Ah! why, ye Heav'ns, are feeble Mortals curst,
561 In Things uncertain, to believe the worst?
[Page 288]
562 No; rather let me seek the Thunic Court;
563 There, with my Eyes, confirm the blest Report:
564 Hope flies before, and points the pleasing Way;
565 Love urges on, and Love I must obey.
566 SO saying, to PRISCILLA straight she came,
567 And with her Thoughts acquaints the pious Dame;
568 The pious Dame, with tender Pity sway'd,
569 Approves the Passion of the loving Maid;
570 And, with CAPRESA, guards her to the Place,
571 Resolv'd herself to view the Hero's Face.
572 The Hero meets 'em at the Regal Gate,
573 Array'd in Armour, formidably great;
574 For on that Morning, by the King's Command,
575 The Chief was to review the Martial Band:
576 His studded Chariot darted Splendor round,
577 His stately Coursers, neighing, paw'd the Ground;
[Page 289]
578 The nodding Plumes around his Temples wave,
579 With awful Grace, and beautifully brave.
580 He knew th'approaching Nymph; but, in Surprize,
581 The joyous Stream descended from his Eyes:
582 The Nymph beheld the weeping Chief; nor knew,
583 For what he wept, nor whom she came to view:
584 His Martial Dress, bespangled o'er with Gold,
585 The dreadful Warrior, not the Lover, told:
586 But, when he cast the Helmet from his Head,
587 And thro' the Gates the blushing Damsel led;
588 She knew her Lover, clasp'd him to her Breast,
589 While silent Eloquence her Joy confest:
590 The conscious Pains an absent Lover bears,
591 Despair, fallacious Hope, and anxious Fears,
592 For want of Words, were painted with their Tears.
593 And when, at length, their crystal Sluices ceas'd,
594 The joyful Hero thus the Nymph address'd:
[Page 290]
595 YE Gods! and have I then my Charmer found?
596 And are my Labours thus completely crown'd!
597 Yes! let me clasp thee to my longing Arms,
598 Drink in thy Breath, and feed upon thy Charms.
599 As widow'd Turtles, roving round the Fields,
600 Thro' all the fruitful Stores, which Nature yields,
601 Curst in the midst of Plenty, cannot eat;
602 But starve, lamenting for their absent Mate:
603 Thus have I been with Fame and Riches grac'd;
604 Yet wanted thee, to give my Riches Taste.
605 But say, how came this Wealth I wanted most?
606 What brought my Love to this Barbarian Coast?
607 HE said; and now the joyful Damsel spake
608 The Dangers which she suffer'd for his sake;
609 Shews him the Dame, who found her on the Tide;
610 PRISCILLA too, who all her Wants supply'd:
[Page 291]
611 Then, prostrate, on her Knees before him bends,
612 And begs him to reward her faithful Friends.
613 The grateful Chief, by native Goodness sway'd,
614 Embrac'd 'em both, and soon the Nymph obey'd;
615 But first before his Royal Master came,
616 And begs he may resign his Post of Fame:
617 At which the Monarch frowns with awful Eyes,
618 Till FELIX straight, who saw his Passion rise,
619 Falls on the Ground, and to his Master shows
620 The various Scene of all his am'rous Woes.
621 This heard, the King resumes his former Grace;
622 Love tun'd his Soul, and smooth'd his ruffled Face:
623 He rais'd the Hero, bids the Nymph appear;
624 The Nymph approach'd him with a modest Fear;
625 Before his awful Throne, submiss, she fell,
626 And to him straight unfolds th'amazing Tale.
627 Mute, on the Ground a-while he fix'd his Eyes;
628 Then, Is the Force of Love so great? he cries:
[Page 292]
629 We falsely Man the World's Commander call;
630 Thou, mightier Monarch, Love! commandest All:
631 Young AMMON's Self could not thy Pow'r confine;
632 The World his Subject was, but He was thine.
633 THEN, smiling, thus he chear'd the trembling Fair:
634 Henceforward, lovely Nymph, dismiss thy Care;
635 For, since thy Love has conquer'd Wind and Sea,
636 Curst be the King, that's crueller than they!
637 Let HYMEN straight confirm the Marriage Ties;
638 Thou justly hast deserv'd the Nuptial Prize.
639 THUS said, he crown'd the Hero's Martial Care,
640 With Riches far superior to the Fair:
641 Due Thanks return'd, they to PRISCILLA came,
642 Bestowing Gifts and Honours on the Dame:
643 CAPRESA next, with Age and Labour worn,
644 In comely Robes the grateful Pair adorn;
[Page 293]
645 With ample Wealth her former Bliss restor'd,
646 And from the Seas redeem'd her Nuptial Lord;
647 Her Nuptial Lord again enjoys his Wife,
648 Again delightful Freedom crowns his Life;
649 Till Nature calls him to resign his Breath,
650 In honourable Age, and peaceful Death.
651 THIS done, the loving Couple quit the Shore,
652 And joyfully the destin'd Port explore;
653 While sportive NEREIDS round their Vessel play,
654 And wanton CUPIDS hail 'em on their Way;
655 Rough THETIS' Self assumes a pleasing Smile,
656 Glad to return 'em to their native Soil;
657 Where sacred HYMEN join'd their mutual Hands,
658 And Heav'n, indulgent, bless'd their Nuptial Bands.

Text

  • TEI/XML [chunk] (XML - 1.5M / ZIP - 147K) / ECPA schema (RNC - 357K / ZIP - 73K)
  • Plain text [excluding paratexts] (TXT - 29K / ZIP - 13K)

About this text

Title (in Source Edition): FELIX and CONSTANCE. A POEM, taken from BOCCACE.
Author: Stephen Duck
Themes: love
Genres: heroic couplet; imitation

Text view / Document view

Source edition

Poems on several occasions: By Stephen Duck. London: printed for the author, 1736, pp. 253-293. xl,334,[2]p. ; 4⁰. (ESTC T90234; OTA K073280.000)

Editorial principles

The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

Other works by Stephen Duck