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In vain the gibbet or the pillory claim
The wretch who blasts a helpless virgin's fame.
But I detain you with these tedious lays, Which few perhaps would read, and fewer praise. No matter: could I please the polish'd few Who taste the serious or the gay like you, The squeamish mob may find my verses bare Of every grace-but curse me if I care. Besides, I little court Parnassian fame; There's yet a better than a poet's name. 'Twould more indulge my pride to hear it said That I with you the paths of honour tread, Than that amongst the proud poetic train No modern boasted a more classic vein, Or that in numbers I let loose my song, Smooth as the Thames, and as the Severn strong.
WIFE AND THE NURSE:
A NEW BALLAD.
VICE once with Virtue did engage,
So, for th' Alcides of our age,
His wife and ancient nurse between,
The froward Hag, his heart to win,
His wife, an island-nymph most fair, Bore plenty in her hand;
A crown adorns her regal hair,
With modest dignity she stood;
A stream of swelling sorrow flow'd,
Mud was her dwelling, lean her plight,
Yet thus the Caitiff, proud and poor,
Our hero-judge address'd
Thy fondness all to me assure,
"To me, who loves thee best.
"I am thy aged nurse, so kind, "Who ne'er did cross thy will;
Thy wife to all thy charms is blind, "Perverse and thwarting still.
"Give me her clothes," (continued she), "With thy assistance soon
"Her costly robe may shine on me, "On her my rags be thrown.
"Seize on her store of boasted gold, "Which she with jealous fear "From thee still grudging would with-hold, "And trust it to my care."
This caught the judge's partial ear.
Spake next: "Thyself at least revere,
"With thine my int'rest is the same,
"For thee my sailors toil;
They for thy safety, pow'r, and fame,
"Enrich my spacious isle.
"Think too upon thy solemn vow,
"When thou didst plight thy love, "Thou cam'st to save me; wilt thou now
"Thy self my ruin prove?
"How was I courted, how ador'd! "More happy as thy bride;
"For thee, my safeguard, love and lord, "I slighted all beside.
"Do thou still act a guardian's part, "Nor be thy love estrang'd;
"Treat me but kindly, and my heart "Shall e'er remain unchang'd.