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And Emma and the Nut-brown Maid were one. As with her stature, still her charms increas'd; Through all the isle her beauty was confess'd. Oh! what perfection must that virgin share, Who fairest is esteem’d, where all are fair From distant shires repair the noble youth, And find report for once had lessen'd truth. By wonder first, and then by passion mov’d, They came; they saw ; they marvell'd; and they lov’d. By public praises, and by secret sighs, Each own'd the general power of Emma's eyes. In tilts and tournaments the valiant strove, By glorious deeds to purchase Emma's love. In gentle verse the witty told their flame, And grac'd their choicest songs with Emma's name. In vain they combated, in vain they writ: Useless their strength, and impotent their wit. Great Venus only must direct the dart, Which else will never reach the fair one's heart, Spite of th’ attempts of force, and soft effects of art. Great Venus must prefer the happy one: In Henry's cause her favour must be shown: 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: WOL. I. 18
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:
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 shews 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.
Upon his wrist the towering merlin stands,
Practis'd to rise, and stoop at her commands.
And when superior now the bird has flown,
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.
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.
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 beguild;
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;
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)
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, l 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 2 Emma with smiles receives his present flame; But smiling, will she ever be the same * Beautiful looks are ruled by sickle 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 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. 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 merit, 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,
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 widn'd with the bark,
Venus had heard the virgin's soft address,
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 ;
The gift still prais'd, the giver still unknown.
His secret note the troubled Henry writes;
To the known tree the lovely maid invites: