Answer to the foregoing Lines.
1 TOO well these lines that fatal truth declare,
2 Which long I've known, yet now I blush to hear.
3 But say, what hopes thy fond ill-fated love,
4 What can it hope, tho' mutual it shou'd prove?
5 This little form is fair in vain for you,
6 In vain for me thy honest heart is true;
7 For wou'd'st thou fix dishonour on my name,
8 And give me up to penitence and shame;
9 Or gild my ruin with the name of wife,
10 And make me a poor virtuous wretch for life:
11 Cou'd'st thou submit to wear the marriage chain,
12 (Too sure a cure for all thy present pain)[Page 76]
13 No saffron robe for us the godhead wears,
14 His torch inverted, and his face in tears.
15 Tho' ev'ry softer wish were amply crown'd,
16 Love soon wou'd cease to smile where Fortune frown'd;
17 Then wou'd thy soul my fond consent deplore,
18 And blame what it sollicited before;
19 Thy own exhausted would reproach my truth,
20 And say I had undone thy blinded youth;
21 That I had damp'd Ambition's nobler flame,
22 Eclips'd thy talents, and obscur'd thy fame;
23 To madrigals and odes that wit confin'd,
24 That wou'd in senates or in courts have shin'd.
25 Gloriously active in thy country's cause,
26 Asserting freedom, and enacting laws.
27 Or say, at best, that negatively kind
28 You only mourn'd, and silently repin'd;
29 The jealous daemons in my own fond breast
30 Wou'd all these thoughts incessantly suggest,
31 And all that sense must feel, tho' pity had supprest.
32 Yet added grief my apprehension fills
33 (If there can be addition to those ills)
34 When they shall cry, whose harsh reproof I dread,
35 "'Twas thy own deed, thy folly on thy head!"
36 Age knows not to allow for thoughtless youth,
37 Nor pities tenderness, nor honours truth;
38 Holds it romantic to confess a heart,
39 And say those virgins act a wiser a wiser part[Page 77]
40 Who hospitals and bedlams wou'd explore
41 To find the rich, and only dread the poor;
42 Who legal prostitutes, for int'rest sake,
43 Clodios and Timons to their bosoms take,
44 And, if avenging heav'n permit increase,
45 People the world with folly and disease.
46 Those, titles, deeds, and rent-rolls only wed,
47 Whilst the best bidder mounts the venal bed,
48 And the grave aunt and formal sire approve
49 This nuptial sale, this auction of their love.
50 But if regard to worth or sense be shown,
51 That poor degenerate child her friends disown,
52 Who dares to deviate by a virtuous choice
53 From her great name's hereditary vice.
54 These scenes my prudence ushers to my mind,
55 Of all the storms and quicksands I must find,
56 If I embark upon this summer sea,
57 Where Flatt'ry smooths, and Pleasure gilds the way.
58 Had our ill fate ne'er blown thy dang'rous flame
59 Beyond the limits of a friend's cold name,
60 I might upon that score thy heart receive,
61 And with that guiltless name my own deceive;
62 That commerce now in vain you recommend,
63 I dread the latent lover in the friend;
64 Of ignorance I want the poor excuse,
65 And know, I both must take, or both refuse.
66 Hear then the safe, the firm resolve I make,
67 Ne'er to encourage one I must forsake.[Page 78]
68 Whilst other maids a shameless path pursue,
69 Neither to int'rest, nor to honour true,
70 And proud to swell the triumph of their eyes,
71 Exult in love from lovers they despise;
72 Their maxims all revers'd I mean to prove,
73 And tho' I like the lover, quit the love.