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Upon the Model of the Nut-Brown Maid.
Thou, to whose eyes I bend, at whose command
(Though low my voice, though artless be my hand),
I take the sprightly reed, and sing, and play,
Careless of what the censuring world may say:
Bright Cloe, object of my constant vow,
Wilt thou awhile unbend thy serious brow?
Wilt thou with pleasure hear thy lover's strains,
And with one heavenly smile o’erpay his pains ?
No longer shall the Nut-brown Maid be old;
Though since her youth three hundred years have
roll's : At thy desire, she shall again be rais’d; And her reviving charms in lasting verse be prais’d.
No longer man of woman shall complain,
That he may love, and not be lov'd again :
That we in vain the fickle sex pursue,
Who change the constant lover for the new.
Whatever has been writ, whatever said,
Of female passion feign’d, or faith decay'd,
Henceforth shall in my verse refuted stand,
Be said to winds, or writ upon the sand.
And, while my notes to future times proclaim
Unconquer'd love, and ever-during flame,
O fairest of the sex! be thou my Muse:
Deign on my work thy influence to diffuse.
Let me partake the blessings I rehearse,
And grant me, love, the just reward of verse !
As beauty's potent queen, with every grace,
That once was Emma's, has adorn'd thy face;
And, as her son has to my bosom dealt
That constant flame, which faithful Henry felt :
O let the story with thy life agree:
Let men once more the bright example see ;
What Emma was to him, be thou to me.
Nor send me by thy frown from her I love,
Distant and sad, a banish'd man to rove.
But, oh! with pity, long-entreated, crown
My pains and hopes; and, when thou say'st that one
Of all mankind thou lov'st, oh! think on me alone.
WHERE beauteous Isis and her husband Tame,
With mingled waves, for ever flow the same,
In times of yore an ancient baron liv'd;
Great gifts bestow'd, and great respect receiv'd.
When dreadful Edward, with successful care,
Led his free Britons to the Gallic war;
This lord had headed his appointed bands,
In firm allegiance to his king's commands;
And (all due honours faithfully discharg'd)
Had brought back his paternal coat, enlarg'd
With a new mark, the witness of his toil,
And no inglorious part of foreign spoil.
From the loud camp retir'd, and noisy court,
In honourable ease and rural sport,
The remnant of his days he safely past ;
Nor found they lagg'd too slow, nor dew too fast.
He made his wish with his estate comply,
Joyful to live, yet not afraid to die.
One child he had, a daughter chaste and fair,
His age's comfort, and his fortune's heir.
They call'd her Emma; for the beauteous dame,
Who gave the virgin birth, had borne the name :
The name th’ indulgent father doubly lov'd :
For in the child the mother's charms improv'd.
Yet as, when little, round his knees she play'd,
He call’d her oft, in sport, his Nut-brown Maid,
The friends and tenants took the fondling word,
(As still they please, who imitate their lord):
Usage confirm'd what fancy had begun;
The mutual terms around the land were known :
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 perfections 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
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 :
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 beecben 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 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. Upon his wrist the towering merlin stands, Practis'd to rise, and stoop at ber 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 down-cast eye reveals his inward woes;
And by his look and sorrow is exprest,
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 throng,
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 beguil'd;
What groom shall get, and squire maintain the child,
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)