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This for my fame, and for the public voice :
Yet more, his merits justify'd my choice :
Which had they not, the first election thine,
That bond dissolv'd, the next is freely mine;
Or grant I err’d, (which yet I must deny)
Had parents power ev'n second vows to tie,
Thy litile care to mend my widow'd nights,
Has forc'd me to recourse of marriage rites,
To fill an empty side, and follow known delights.
What have I done in this, deserving blame?
State-laws may alter : nature's are the same;
Those are usurp'd on helpless woman-kind,
Made without our consent, and wanting power to bind.
Thou, Tancred, better shouldst have understood,
That as thy father gave thee flesh and blood,
So gav'st thou me: not from the quarry hew'd,
But of a softer mould, with sense endued ;
Ev'n softer than thy own, of suppler kind,
More exquisite of taste, and more than man refin'd.
Nor need'it thou by thy daughter to be told,
Though now thy spritely blood with age be cold,
Thou has been young: and canst remember still,
That when thou hadst the power, thou hadst the will;
And from the past experience of thy fires,
Canst tell with what a tide our strong desires
Come rushing on in youth, and what their rage re-
quires. And grant thy youth was exercis'd in arms, When love no leisure found for fofter charms,
My tender age in luxury was train’d,
With idle ease and pageants entertain'd;
My hours my own, my pleasures unrestrainod.
So bre:l, no wonder if I took the bent
That seem'd ev’n warranted by thy consent ;
For, when the father is too fondly kind,
Such recd he fows, such harvelt shall he find.
Blame then thyself, as reason's law requires,
(Since nature gave, and thou foment'st, my fires) ;
If still those appetites continue strong,
Thou may'st consider I am yet but young :
Consider too that, having been a wife,
I must have tasted of a better life;
And am not to be blam'd, if I renew
By lawful means the joys which then I knew.
Where was the crime, if pleasure I procur'd,
Young, and a woman, and to bliss inur'd !
That was my case, and this is my defence :
I pleas’d myself, I fhunn'd incontinence,
And, urg'd by strong desires, indulg’d my sense.
Left to myself, I must avow, I strove
From public shune, to 'creen my secret love,
And, well acquainted with thy native pride,
Endezvour'd what I could not help, to hide ;
For which a woman's wit an easy way fupply'd.
How this, so well contriv’d, so closely laid,
Was known to thee, or by what chance betray'd,
Is not my care ; to please thy pride alone,
I could have with'd it had been still unknown.
Nor took I Guiscard by blind fancy led, Or hasty choice, as many women wed ; But with deliberate care, and ripen'd thought, At leisure first design'd, before I wrought : On him I rested, after long debate, And, not without considering, fix’d fate : His fame was equal, though by mine inspir’d (For so the difference of our birth requir’d); Had he been born like me, like me his love Had first begun, what mine was forc’d to move : But thus beginning, thus we persevere ; Our passions yet continue what they were, Nor length of trial makes our joys the less fincere. At this my choice, though not by thine allow’d (Thy judgment herding with the common crowd), Thou tak'st unjust offence; and, led by them, Dost less the merit, than the man esteem. Too sharply, Tancred, by thy pride betray'd, Halt thou against the laws of kind inveigh'd : For all th' offence is in opinion plac'd, Which deems high birth by lowly choice debas'd. This thought alone with fury fires thy breast (For holy marriage justifies the rest), That I have funk the glories of the state, And mix'd my blood with a plebeian mate ; In which I wonder thou should'ft oversee Superior causes, or impute to me The fault of fortune, or the fates' decree. Or call it heaven's imperial power alone, Which moves on springs of justice, though unknown). Q 4
Yet this we fee, though order'd for the best,
The bad exalted, and the good oppress'd ;
Permitted laurels grace the lawless brow,
Th’unworthy rais'd, the worthy cast below.
But leaving that : search we the secret springs,
And backward trace the principles of things ;
There shall we find, that when the world began,
One common mass compos’d the mould of man;
One paste of flesh on all degrees bestow'd,
And kneaded up alike with moistening blood.
The same almighty power inspir’d the frame
With kindled life, and form'd the souls the fame :
The faculties of intellect and will
Dispens'd with equal hand, dispos’d with equal skill,
Like liberty indulg'd with choice of good or ill :
Thus born alike, from virtue first began
The difference that distinguish'd man from man :
He claim'd no title from descent of blood,
But that which made him noble made him good :
Warm’d with more particles of heavenly flame,
He wing'd his upright flight, and soar'd to fame;
The rest remain'd below, a tribe without a name.
This law, though custom now diverts the course,
As nature's institute, is yet in force ;
Uncancel'd, though disus’d; and he, whose mind
Is virtuous, is alone of noble kind;
Though poor in fortune, of celestial race;
And he commits the crime who calls him base.
Now lay the line ; and measure all thy court,
By inward virtue, not external port ;
And find whom justly to prefer above
The man on whoin my judgment plac'd my love :
So thalt thou see his parts and person shine ;
And, thus compar'd, the rest a base degenerate line.
Nor took I, when I first survey'd thy court,
His valour, or his virtues, on report;
But trusted what I ought to trust alone,
Relying on thy eyes, and not my own ;
Thy praise (and thine was then the public voice)
First recommended Guiscard to my choice :
Directed thus by thee, I look’d, and found
A man I thought deserving to be crown'd;
First by my father pointed to my sight,
Nor less conspicuous by his native light;
His mind, his mien, the features of his face,
Excelling all the rest of human race :
These were thy thoughts, and thou could'st judge aright;
Till interest made a jaundice in thy fight;
Or should I grant thou didst not rightly see ;
Then thou wert first deceiv’d, and I deceiv’d by thee.
But if thou shalt alledge through pride of mind,
Thy blood with one of base condition join'd,
"Tis falle ; for 'tis not baseness to be poor ;
His poverty augments thy crime the more ;
Uphraids thy justice with the icant regard
Of worth ; whom princes praise, they should reward.
Are these the kings entrusted by the crowd
With wealth, to be dispens’d for common good ?
The people sweat not for their king's delight,
T'enrich a pimp, or raise a parasite;