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To a LADY before MARRIAGE.

1 OH! form'd by nature, and refin'd by art,
2 With charms to win, and sense to fix the heart!
3 By thousands sought, Clotilda, can'st thou free
4 Thy crowd of captives, and descend to me?
5 Content in shades obscure to waste thy life,
6 A hidden beauty, and a country-wife.
7 O! listen while thy summers are my theme,
8 Ah! sooth thy partner in his waking dream!
9 In some small hamlet on the lonely plain,
10 Where Thames, thro' meadows, rolls his mazy train;
11 Or where high Windsor, thick with greens array'd,
12 Waves his old oaks, and spreads his ample shade,
13 Fancy has figur'd out our calm retreat;
14 Already round the visionary seat
15 Our limes begin to shoot, our flow'rs to spring,
16 The brooks to murmur, and the birds to sing.
17 Where dost thou lie, thou thinly-peopled green?
18 Thou nameless lawn, and village yet unseen?
19 Where sons, contented with their native ground,
20 Ne'er travell'd further than ten furlongs round;
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21 And the tann'd peasant, and his ruddy bride,
22 Were born together, and together died.
23 Where early larks best tell tho morning-light,
24 And only Philomel disturbs the night,
25 'Midst gardens here my humble pile shall rise,
26 With sweets surrounded of ten thousand dies;
27 All savage where th' embroider'd gardens end,
28 The haunt of echoes shall my woods ascend;
29 And oh! if heav'n th' ambitious thought approve,
30 A rill shall warble cross the gloomy grove,
31 A little rill, o'er pebbly beds convey'd,
32 Gush down the steep, and glitter thro' the glade.
33 What cheering scents those bord'ring banks exhale!
34 How loud that heifer lows from yonder vale!
35 That thrush, how shrill! his note so clear, so high,
36 He drowns each feather'd minstrel of the sky.
37 Here let me trace, beneath the purpled morn,
38 The deep-mouth'd beagle, and the sprightly horn;
39 Or lure the trout with well-dissembled flies,
40 Or fetch the flutt'ring partridge from the skies,
41 Nor shall thy hand disdain to crop the vine,
42 The downy peach, or flavour'd nectarine;
43 Or rob the bee-hive of its golden hoard,
44 And bear th' unbought luxuriance to thy board.
45 Sometimes my books by day shall kill the hours,
46 While from thy needle rise the silken flow'rs,
47 And, thou by turns to ease my feeble sight,
48 Resume the volume, and deceive the night.
49 Oh! when I mark thy twinkling eyes opprest,
50 Soft whisp'ring, let me warn my love to rest;
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51 Then watch thee, charm'd, while sleep locks every sense,
52 And to sweet heav'n commend thy innocence.
53 Thus reign'd our fathers o'er the rural fold,
54 Wise, hale, and honest, in the days of old;
55 Till courts arose, where substance pays for show,
56 And specious joys are bought with real wo.
57 See Flavia's pendants, large, well spread, and right,
58 The ear that wears them hears a fool each night:
59 Mark how th' embroider'd col'nel sneaks away,
60 To shun the with'ring dame that made him gay;
61 That knave, to gain a title, lost his fame;
62 That rais'd his credit by a daughter's shame;
63 This coxcomb's riband cost him half his land,
64 And oaks, unnumber'd, bought that fool a wand.
65 Fond man, as all his sorrows were too few,
66 Acquires strange wants that nature never knew.
67 By midnight-lamps he emulates the day,
68 And sleeps perverse, the chearful suns away;
69 From goblets, high emboss'd, his wine must glide,
70 Round his clos'd sight the gorgeous curtain slide;
71 Fruits, ere their time, to grace his pomp must rise,
72 And three untasted courses glut his eyes.
73 For this are nature's gentle calls withstood,
74 The voice of conscience, and the bonds of blood;
75 This wisdom thy reward for ev'ry pain,
76 And this gay glory all thy mighty gain.
77 Fair phantoms woo'd and scorn'd from age to age,
78 Since bards began to laugh, or priests to rage.
79 And yet, just curse on man's aspiring kind,
80 Prone to ambition, to example blind,
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81 Our children's children shall our steps pursue,
82 And the same errors be for ever new.
83 Mean while, in hope a guiltless country swain,
84 My reed with warblings chears th' imagin'd plain.
85 Hail humble shades, where truth and silence dwell!
86 Thou noisy town, and faithless court farewel!
87 Farewel ambition, once my darling flame!
88 The thirst of lucre, and the charm of fame!
89 In life's by-road, that winds thro' paths unknown,
90 My days, tho' number'd, shall be all my own.
91 Here shall they end, (O might they twice begin),
92 And all be white the fates intend to spin.

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): To a LADY before MARRIAGE.
Themes: marriage; city; nature
Genres: heroic couplet
References: DMI 27595

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Source edition

A collection of the most esteemed pieces of poetry: that have appeared for several years. With variety of originals, by the late Moses Mendez, Esq; and other contributors to Dodsley's collection. To which this is intended as a supplement. London: printed for Richardson and Urquhart, 1767, pp. 118-121. [8],320p. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T124631; DMI 1073)

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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.