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Which else will never reach the fair one's heart,
Spite of th’ attempts of force, and soft effects of art.,
Great Wenus must prefer the happy one:
In Henry's cause her favour must be shown: 90
And Emma, of mankind, must love but him alone.
While these in public to the castle came,
And by their grandeur justified their flame;
More secret ways the careful Henry takes;
His squires, his arms, and equipage forsakes:
In borrow'd name and false attire array'd,
Oft he finds means to see the beauteous maid.
When Emma hunts, in huntsman's habit drest,
Henry on foot pursues the bounding beast.
In his right hand his beechen pole he bears: 100
And graceful at his side his horn he wears.
Still to the glade, where she has bent her way,
With knowing skill he drives the future prey;
Bids her decline the hill, and shun the brake;
And shows the path her steed may safest take;
Directs her spear to fix the glorious wound;
Pleas'd in his toils to have her triumph crown'd ;
And blows her praises in no common sound.
A falconer Henry is, when Emma hawks:
With her of tarsels and of lures he talks. 110
Upon his wrist the towering merlin stands,
Practis'd to rise, and stoop, at her commands.
And when superior now the bird has flown, 2
And headlong brought the tumbling quarry down;
With humble reverence he accosts the fair,
And with the honour'd feather decks her hair.
Yet still, as from the sportive field she goes,
His downcast eye reveals his inward woes;
And by his look and sorrow is express'd,
A nobler game pursued than bird or beast. 120
A shepherd now along the plain he roves;
And, with his jolly pipe, delights the groves.
The neighbouring swains around the stranger
Or to admire, or emulate his song:
While with soft sorrow he renews his lays,
Nor heedful of their envy, nor their praise.
But, soon as Emma's eyes adorn the plain,
His notes he raises to a nobler strain,
With dutiful respect, and studious fear;
Lest any careless sound offend her ear. 130
A frantic gipsy now, the house he haunts,
And in wild phrases speaks dissembled wants.
With the fond maids in palmistry he deals:
They tell the secret first, which he reveals;
Says who shall wed, and who shall be beguil'd;
What groom shall get, and 'squire maintain the .
But, when bright Emma would her fortune know,
A softer look unbends his opening brow;
With trembling awe he gazes on her eye,
And in soft accents forms the kind reply; 140
That she shall prove as fortunate as fair;
And Hymen's choicest gifts are all reserv'd for her.
Now oft had Henry chang'd his sly disguise,
Unmark'd by all but beauteous Emma's eyes;
Oft had found means alone to see the dame,
And at her feet to breathe his amorous flame;
And oft the pangs of absence to remove
By letters, soft interpreters of love:
Till Time and Industry (the mighty two
That bring our wishes nearer to our view) 150
Made him perceive, that the inclining fair
Receiv'd his vows with no reluctant ear;
That Venus had confirm'd her equal reign,
And dealt to Emma's heart a share of Henry's pain.
While Cupid smil'd, by kind occasion bless'd,
And, with the secret kept, the love increas'd;
The amorous youth frequents the silent groves;
And much he meditates, for much he loves.
He loves: 'tis true; and is beloved again:
Great are his joys: but will they long remain?
Emma with smiles receives his present flame; 161
But smiling, will she ever be the same?
Beautiful looks are ruled by fickle minds;
And summer seas are turn’d by sudden winds.
Another love may gain her easy youth:
Time changes thought; and flattery conquers truth.
O impotent estate of human life!
Where hope and fear maintain eternal strife
Where fleeting joy does lasting doubt inspire;
And most we question what we most desire : 110
Amongst thy various gifts, great Heaven, bestow
Our cup of love unmix'd; forbear to throw
Bitter ingredients in; nor pall the draught
With nauseous grief: for our ill-judging thought
Hardly enjoys the pleasurable taste;
Or deems it not sincere; or fears it cannot last.
With wishes rais'd, with jealousies opprest,
(Alternate tyrants of the human breast)
By one great trial he resolves to prove
The faith of woman, and the force of love. 180
If scanning Emma's virtues he may find
That beauteous frame enclose a steady mind,
He'll fix his hope, of future joy secure;
And live a slave to Hymen's happy power.
But if the fair one, as he fears, is frail;
If, pois'd aright in reason's equal scale,
Light fly her merits, and her faults prevail;
His mind he vows to free from amorous care,
The latent mischief from his heart to tear,
Resume his azure arms, and shine again in war.
South of the castle, in a verdant glade, 191
A spreading beech extends her friendly shade:
Here oft the nymph his breathing vows had heard;
Here oft her silence had her heart declar'd.
As active spring awak'd her infant buds,
And genial life inform'd the verdant woods;
Henry, in knots involving Emma's name,
Had half express'd and half conceal’d his flame,
Upon this tree: and, as the tender mark
Grew with the year, and widen'd with the bark,
Venus had heard the virgin's soft address, 201
That, as the wound, the passion might increase.
As potent Nature shed her kindly showers,
And deck'd the various mead with opening flowers;
Upon this tree the nymph’s obliging care
Had left a frequent wreath for Henry's hair;
Which as with gay delight the lover found,
Pleas'd with his conquest, with her present crown'd,
Glorious through all the plains he oft had gone,
And to each swain the mystic honour shown; 210
The gift still prais'd, the giver still unknown.
His secret note the troubled Henry writes;
To the known tree the lovely maid invites:
Imperfect words and dubious terms express,
That unforeseen mischance disturb’d his peace;
That he must something to her ear commend,
On which her conduct and his life depend.
Soon as the fair one had the note receiv'd,
The remnant of the day alone she griev'd:
For different this from every former note, 220
Which Venus dictated, and Henry wrote;
Which told her all his future hopes were laid
On the dear bosom of his Nut-brown Maid;
Which always bless'd hereyes, and own'd her power;
And bid her of adieu, yet added more.
Now nightadvanced. The housein sleep were laid:
The nurse experienc'd, and the prying maid;
And last that sprite, which does incessant haunt
The lover's steps, the ancient malden aunt.
To her dear Henry Emma wings her way, 2.30
With quicken'd pace repairing forc’d delay;
For love, fantastic power, that is afraid
To stir abroad till watchfulness be laid,
Undaunted then o'er cliffs and valleys strays,
And leads his votaries safe through pathless ways.
Not Argus with his hundred eyes shall find
WhereCupid goes: though he, poor guide l is blind.
The maiden first arriving, sent her eye
To ask, if yet its chief delight were nigh:
With fear and with desire, with joy and pain, 240
She sees, and runs to meet him on the plain.
But oh! his steps proclaim no lover's haste:
On the low ground his fix’d regards are cast;
His artful bosom heaves dissembled sighs;
And tears suborn’d fall copious from his eyes.
With ease, alas! we credit what we love:
His painted grief does real sorrow move
In the afflicted fair; adown her cheek
Trickling the genuine tears their current break: