EPISTLES in the Manner of OVID.
MONIMIA to PHILOCLES.
1 SINCE language never can describe my pain,
2 How can I hope to move when I complain?
3 But such is woman's frenzy in distress,
4 We love to plead, tho' hopeless of redress.
5 Perhaps, affecting ignorance, 'thou'lt say,
6 From whence these lines? whose message to convey?
7 Mock not my grief with that feign'd cold demand,
8 Too well you know the hapless writer's hand:
9 But if you force me to avow my shame,
10 Behold it prefac'd with Monimia's name.
11 Lost to the world, abandon'd and forlorn,
12 Expos'd to infamy, reproach, and scorn,[Page 79]
13 To mirth and comfort lost, and all for you,
14 Yet lost, perhaps, to your remembrance too,
15 How hard my lot! what refuge can I try,
16 Weary of life, and yet afraid to die!
17 Of hope, the wretch's last resort, bereft,
18 By friends, by kindred, by my lover, left.
19 Oh! frail dependence of confiding fools!
20 On lovers oaths, or friendship's sacred rules,
21 How weak in modern heats, too late I find,
22 Monimia's faln, and Philocles unkind!
23 To these reflections, each slow wearing day,
24 And each revolving night a constant prey,
25 Think what I suffer, nor ungentle hear
26 What madness dictates in my fond despair;
27 Grudge not this short relief, (too fast it flies)
28 Nor chide that weakness I myself despise.
29 One moment sure may be at least her due,
30 Who sacrific'd her all of life for you.
31 Without a frown this farewel then receive,
32 For, 'tis the last my hapless love shall give;
33 Nor this I wou'd, if reason cou'd command,
34 But what restriction reins a lover's hand?
35 Nor prudence, shame, nor pride, nor int'rest sways,
36 The hand implicitly the heart obeys:
37 Too well this maxim has my conduct shewn,
38 Too well that conduct to the world is known.
39 Oft have I writ, and often to the flame
40 Condemn'd this after-witness of my shame;[Page 80]
41 Oft in my cooler recollected thought,
42 Thy beauties, and my fondness half forgot,
43 (How short those intervals for reason's aid!)
44 Thus to myself in anguish have I said.
45 Thy vain remonstrance, foolish maid, give o'er,
46 Who act the wrong, can ne'er that wrong deplore.
47 Then sanguine hopes again delusive reign,
48 I form'd thee melting, as I tell my pain.
49 If not of rock thy flinty heart is made,
50 Nor tygers nurs'd thee in the desart shade,
51 Let me at least thy cold compassion prove,
52 That slender sustenance of greedy love:
53 Tho' no return my warmer wishes find,
54 Be to the wretch, tho' not the mistress, kind;
55 Nor whilst I court my melancholy state,
56 Forget 'twas love, and thee, that wrought my fate.
57 Without restraint habituate to range,
58 The paths of pleasure; can I bear this change?
59 Doom'd from the world unwilling to retire,
60 In bloom of life, and warm with young desire,
61 In lieu of roofs with regal splendor gay,
62 Condemn'd in distant wilds to drag the day;
63 Where beasts of prey maintain their savage court,
64 Or human brutes (the worst of brutes) resort.
65 Yes, yes, the change I cou'd unsighing see,
66 For none I mourn, but what I find in thee,
67 There center all my woes, thy heart estrang'd,
68 I weep my lover, not my fortune, chang'd;[Page 81]
69 Bless'd with thy presence, I could all forget,
70 Nor gilded palaces in huts regret,
71 But exil'd thence, superfluous is the rest,
72 Each place the same, my hell is in my breast;
73 To pleasure dead, and living but to pain,
74 My only sense to suffer, and complain.
75 As all my wrongs distressful I repeat,
76 Say, can thy pulse with equal cadence beat?
77 Can'st thou know peace? is conscience mute within?
78 That upright delegate for secret sin;
79 Is nature so extinguish'd in thy heart,
80 That not one spark remains to take my part?
81 Not one repentant throb, one grateful sigh?
82 Thy breast unruffled, and unwet thy eye?
83 Thou cool betrayer, temperate in ill!
84 Thou nor remorse, nor thought humane can'st feel:
85 Nature has form'd thee of the rougher kind,
86 And education more debas'd thy mind,
87 Born in an age when guilt and fraud prevail,
88 When Justice sleeps, and Int'rest holds the scale;
89 Thy loose companions a licentious crew,
90 Most to each other, all to us untrue,
91 Whom chance, or habit mix, but rarely choice,
92 Nor leagu'd in friendship, but in social vice,
93 Who indigent of honour, or of shame,
94 Glory in crimes which others blush to name;
95 By right or wrong disdaining to be mov'd,
96 Unprincipled, unloving, and unlov'd.[Page 82]
97 The fair who trusts their prostituted vows,
98 If not their falshood, still their boasts expose;
99 Nor knows the wisest to elude the harm,
100 Ev'n she whose prudence shuns the tinsel charm
101 They know to slander, though they fail to warm:
102 They make her languish in fictitious flame,
103 Affix some specious slander on her name,
104 And baffled by her virtue, triumph o'er her fame.
105 These are the leaders of thy blinded youth,
106 These vile seducers laugh'd thee out of truth;
107 Whose scurril jests all solemn ties profane,
108 Or Friendship's band, or Hymen's sacred chain;
109 Morality as weakness they upbraid,
110 Nor e'en revere Religion's hallow'd head;
111 Alike they spurn divine and human laws,
112 And treat the honest like the christian cause.
113 Curse on that tongue whose vile pernicious art
114 Delights the ear but to corrupt the heart,
115 That takes advantage of the chearful hour,
116 When weaken'd Virtue bends to Nature's pow'r,
117 And would the goodness of the soul efface,
118 To substitute dishonour in her place.
119 With such you lose the day in false delights,
120 In lewd debauch you revel out the nights,
121 (O fatal commerce to Monimia's peace!)
122 Their arguments convince because they please;
123 Whilst sophistry for reason they admit,
124 And wander dazzled by the glare of wit,[Page 83]
125 Wit that on ill a specious lustre throws,
126 And in false colours ev'ry object shows,
127 That gilds the wrong, depreciating the right,
128 And hurts the judgment, while it feasts the sight;
129 So in the prism to the deluded eye
130 Each pictur'd trifle takes a rainbow dye,
131 With borrow'd charms the shining prospect glows,
132 And truth revers'd the faithless mirror shows,
133 Inverted scenes in bright confusion lie,
134 The lawns impending o'er the nether sky;
135 No just, no real images we meet,
136 But all the gaudy vision is deceit.
137 Oft I revolve in this distracted mind
138 Each word, each look, that spoke my charmer kind;
139 But oh! how dear their memory I pay!
140 What pleasures past can present cares allay?
141 Of all I love for ever dispossess'd:
142 Ah! what avails to think I once was bless'd?
143 Hard disposition of unequal fate!
144 Mix'd are our joys, and transient are their date;
145 Nor can reflection bring them back again,
146 Yet brings an after-sting to ev'ry pain.
147 Thy fatal letters, oh immoral youth,
148 Those perjur'd pledges of fictitious truth,
149 Dear as they were no second joy afford,
150 My cred'lous heart once leap'd at ev'ry word,
151 My glowing bosom throbb'd with thick-heav'd sighs,
152 And floods of rapture gush'd into my eyes:[Page 84]
153 When now repeated (for thy theft was vain,
154 Each treasur'd syllable my thoughts retain)
155 Far other passions rule, and diff'rent care,
156 My joys and grief, my transports and despair.
157 Why dost thou mock the ties of constant love?
158 But half its joys the faithless ever prove,
159 They only taste the pleasures they receive,
160 When sure the noblest is in those we give.
161 Acceptance is the heav'n which mortals know,
162 But 'tis the bliss of angels to bestow.
163 Oh! emulate, my love, that task divine,
164 Be thou that angel, and that heav'n be mine.
165 Yes, yet relent, yet intercept my fate:
166 Alas! I rave, and sue for new deceit.
167 As soon the dead shall from the grave return,
168 As love extinguish'd with new ardor burn.
169 Oh! that I dar'd to act a Roman part,
170 And stab thy image in this faithful heart,
171 Where riveted for life secure you reign,
172 A cruel inmate, author of my pain:
173 But coward-like irresolute I wait
174 Time's tardy aid, nor dare to rush on fate;
175 Perhaps may linger on life's latest stage,
176 Survey thy cruelties, and fall by age:
177 No — grief shall swell my sails, and speed me o'er
178 (Despair my pilot) to that quiet shore
179 Where I can trust, and thou betray no more.[Page 85]
180 Might I but once again behold thy charms,
181 Might I but breathe my last in those dear arms,
182 On that lov'd face but fix my closing eye,
183 Permitted where I might not live to die,
184 My soften'd fate I wou'd accuse no more;
185 But fate has no such happiness in store.
186 'Tis past, 'tis done — what gleam of hope behind,
187 When I can ne'er be false, nor thou be kind?
188 Why then this care? — 'tis weak — 'tis vain — farewel —
189 At that last word what agonies I feel!
190 I faint — I die — remember I was true —
191 'Tis all I ask — eternally — adieu! —