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Your scene precariously subsists too long
On French translation and Italian song:
Dare to have sense yourselves; assert the stage,
Be justly warm'd with your own native rage:
Such plays alone should win a British ear,
As Cato's self had not disdain'd to hear.
TO MR. ROWE'S JANE SHORE.
Designed for Mrs. Oldfield.
PRODIGIOUS this! the frail-one of our play
From her own sex should mercy find to-day!
You might have held the pretty head aside,
Peep'd in your fans, been serious, thus, and cried,
'The play may pass-but that strange creature Shore
I can't-indeed now-I so hate a whore !'
Just as a blockhead rubs his thoughtless skull,
And thanks his stars he was not born a fool;
So from a sister sinner you shall hear,
'How strangely you expose yourself my dear!'
But let me die, all raillery apart,
Our sex are still forgiving at their heart;
And did not wicked custom so contrive,
We'd be the best, good-natured things alive.
There are, 'tis true, who tell another tale,
That virtuous ladies envy while they rail;
Such rage without betrays the fire within ;
in some close corner of the soul, they sin;
Still hoarding up, most scandalously nice,
Amidst their virtues a reserve of vice.
The godly dame, who fleshly failings damns,
Scolds with her maid, or with her chaplain crams:
Would you enjoy soft nights and solid dinners?
Faith, gallants, board with saints, and bed with sinners
Well, if our author in the wife offends,
He has a husband that will make amends:
He draws him gentle, tender, and forgiving,
And sure such kind good creatures may be living
In days of old they pardon'd breach of vows;
Stern Cato's self was no relentless spouse:
Plu-Plutarch, what's his name, that writes his life?
Tells us, that Cato dearly loved his wife :
Yet if a friend, a night or so, should need her,
He'd recommend her as a special breeder.
To lend a wife, few here would scruple make;
But, pray, which of you all would take her back?
Though with the stoic chief our stage may ring,
The stoic husband was the glorious thing.
The man had courage, was a sage, 'tis true,
And loved his country-but what's that to you?
Those strange examples ne'er were made to fit ye,
But the kind cuckold might instruct the city.
There many an honest man may copy Cato,
Who ne'er saw naked sword, or look'd in Plato.
If, after all, you think it a disgrace,
That Edward's miss thus perks it in your face;
To see a piece of failing flesh and blood,
In all the rest so impudently good;
Faith, let the modest matrons of the town
Come here in crowds, and stare the strumpet down
SAPPHO TO PHAON.
From the fifteenth of Ovid's Epistles.
Phaon, a youth of exquisite beauty, was deeply ena moured of Sappho, a lady of Lesbos, from whom he met with the tenderest returns of passion: but his affection afterwards decaying, he left her and sailed for Sicily. She, unable to bear the loss of her lover, hearkened to all the mad suggestions of despair; and seeing no other remedy for her present miseries, re solved to throw herself into the sea, from Leucate, a promontory of Epirus, which was thought a cure in
casts of obstinate love, and therefore had obtained the name of the Lover's Leap. But before she ventured upon this last step, entertaining still some fond hopes that she might reclaim her inconstant, she wrote him this epistle, in which she gives him a strong picture of her distress and misery, occasioned by his absence: and endeavours by all the artful insinuations and moving expressions she is mistress of, to sooth him to softness and mutual feeling. (ANON.)
SAY, lovely youth, that dost my heart command,
Can Phaon's eyes forget his Sappho's hand?
Must then her name the wretched writer prove,
To thy remembrance lost, as to thy love?
Ask not the cause that I new numbers choose,
The lute neglected, and the Lyric Muse.
Love taught my tears in sadder notes to flow,
And tuned my heart to elegies of woe.
I burn, I burn, as when through ripen'd corn
By driving winds the spreading flames are borne.
Phaon to Etna's scorching fields retires,
While I consume with more than Etna's fires!
No more my soul a charm in music finds,
Music has charms alone for peaceful minds:
Soft scenes of solitude no more can please,
Love enters there, and I'm my own disease.
No more the Lesbian dames my passion move,
Once the dear objects of my guilty love;
All other loves are lost in only thine,
Ah, youth ungrateful to a flame like mine!
Whom would not all those blooming charms surprise
Those heavenly looks, and dear deluding eyes?
The harp and bow would you like Phœbus bear,
A brighter Phoebus Phaon might appear;
Would you with ivy wreathe your flowing nair,
Not Bacchus' self with Phaon could compare:
Yet Phœbus loved, and Bacchus felt the flame,
One Daphne warm'd, and one the Cretan dame;
Nymphs that in verse no more could rival me,
Than e'en those gods contend in charms with thee
The muses teach me all their softest lays,
And the wide world resounds with Sappho's praise
Though great Alceus more sublimely sings,
And strikes with bolder rage the sounding strings,
No less renown attends the moving lyre,
Which Venus tunes, and all her loves inspire;
To me what nature has in charms denied,
Is well by wit's more lasting flames supplied.
Though short my stature, yet my name extends
To heaven itself, and earth's remotest ends.
Brown as I am, an Ethiopian dame
Inspired young Perseus with a generous flame;
Turtles and doves of different hues unite,
And glossy jet is pair'd with shining white.
If to no charms thou wilt thy heart resign,
But such as merit, such as equal thine,
By none, alas! by none thou canst be moved:
Phaon alone by Phaon must be loved!
Yet once thy Sappho could thy cares employ;
Once in her arms you centred all your joy:
No time the dear remembrance can remove,
For, oh! how vast a memory has love!
My music, then you could for ever hear,
And all my words were music to your ear
You stopp'd with kisses my enchanting tongue,
And found my kisses sweeter than my song.
In all I pleased, but most in what was best;
And the last joy was dearer than the rest.
Then with each word, each glance, each motion fired
You still enjoy'd, and yet you still desired,
Till all dissolving in the trance we lay,
And in tumultuous raptures died away.
The fair Sicilians now thy soul inflame:
Why was I born, ye gods! a Lesbian dame?
But ah, beware, Sicilian nymphs! nor boast
That wandering heart which I so lately lost;
Nor be with all those tempting words abused,
Those tempting words were all to Sappho used
And you that rule Sicilia's happy plains,
Have pity, Venus, on your poet's pains!
Shall fortune still in one sad tenor run,
And still increase the woes so soon begun ?
Inured to sorrow from my tender years,
My parent's ashes drank my early tears:
My brother next, neglecting wealth and fame,
Ignobly burn'd in a destructive flame;
An infant daughter late my griefs increased,
And all a mother's cares distract my breast.
Alas! what more could fate itself impose,
But thee, the last and greatest of my woes?
No more my robes in waving purple flow,
Nor on my hand the sparkling diamonds glow;
No more my locks, in ringlets curl'd, diffuse
The costly sweetness of Arabian dews;
Nor braids of gold the varied tresses bind,
That fly disorder'd with the wanton wind:
For whom should Sappho use such arts as these?
He's gone, whom only she desired to please!
Cupid's light darts my tender bosom move,
Still is there cause for Sappho still to love:
So from my birth the Sisters fix'd my doom,
And gave to Venus all my life to come;
Or, while my muse in melting notes complains,
My yielding heart keeps measure to my strains.
By charms like thine, which all my soul have won
Who might not-ah! who would not be undone ?
For those Aurora Cephalus might scorn,
And with fresh blushes paint the conscious morn:
For those might Cynthia lengthen Phaon's sleep,
And bid Endymion nightly tend his sheep:
Venus for those had rapt thee to the skies,
But Mars on thee might look with Venus' eyes.
O scarce a youth, yet scarce a tender boy!
O useful time for lovers to employ !
Pride of thy age and glory of thy race,
Come to these arms, and melt in this embrace!