The Answer to the Foregoing Elegy

Too well these Lines that fatal Truth declare,
Which long I've known, yet now I blush to hear —
But say, What hopes thy fond, ill-fated Love?
What can it hope, tho' mutual it should prove?
This little Form is fair in vain for you;
In vain for me, thy honest Heart is true,
For would'st thou fix Dishonour on my Name,
And give me up to Penitence and Shame!
Or gild my Ruin with the Name of Wife,
And make me a poor Virtuous Wretch for Life?
Could'st thou submit to wear the Marriage-Chain,
(Too sure a Cure for all thy present Pain)
No Safron Robe for us the Godhead wears,
His Torch inverted, and his Face in Tears;
Tho' ev'ry softer Wish were amply crown'd,
Love soon would cease to smile, when Fortune frown'd.
Then would thy Soul my fond Consent deplore,
And blame what it sollicited before:
Thy own exhausted, would reproach my Truth,
And say, I had undone thy blinded Youth;
That I had damp'd Ambition 's nobler Flame,
Eclips'd thy Talents, and obscur'd thy Name:
To Madrigales and Odes that Wit confin'd,
That might in Senates or in Courts have shin'd;
Gloriously active in thy Country's Cause,
Asserting Freedom, and enacting Laws.
Or say at best, that negatively kind,
You inly mourn'd, and silently repin'd:
The jealous Demons in my own fond Breast,
Would all these Thoughts incessantly suggest,
And tell what Sense must feel, tho' Pity had supprest.
Yet added — Grief my Apprehension fills,
(If there can be Addition to those Ills:)
When they shall cry, whose harsh Reproof I dread,
'Twas thy own Deed; thy Folly on thy Head.
Age knows not to allow for thoughtless Youth,
Nor pities Tenderness, nor honours Truth:
Holds it romantick to confess a Heart;
And says, those Virgins act the wiser Part,
Who Hospitals and Bedlams would explore,
To find the Rich, and only dread the Poor;
Who legal Prostitutes for Interest's sake,
Clodios and Timons to their Bosom take;
And (if avenging Heav'n permit Increase)
People the World with Folly and Disease.
Those, Titles, Deeds , and Rent-Rolls only wed,
Whilst the best Bidder mounts their venal Bed;
And the grave Aunt and formal Sire approve
This Nuptial Sale, this Auction of their Love.
But if Regard to Worth or Sense is shewn,
That poor degenerate Child her Friends disown,
Who dares to deviate, by a virtuous Choice,
From her great Name's hereditary Vice.
These Scenes my Prudence ushers to my Mind,
Of all the Storms and Quicksands I must find,
If I imbark upon this Summer-Sea,
Where Flatt'ry smooths, and Pleasure gilds the Way.
Had our ill Fate ne'er blown thy dang'rous Flame
Beyond the Limits of a Friend's cold Name,
I might, upon that score, thy Heart receive,
And with that guiltless Name my own deceive.
That Commerce now in vain you recommend,
I dread the latent Lover in the Friend:
Of Ignorance I want the poor Excuse,
And know I both must take, or both refuse.
Hear then the safe, the firm Resolve I make,
Ne'er to encourage one I must forsake.
Whilst other Maids a shameless Path pursue,
Neither to Honour, nor to Int'rest true;
And proud to swell the Triumphs of their Eyes,
Exult in Love from Lovers they despise;
Their Maxims all revers'd, I mean to prove,
And tho' I like the Lover quit the Love.
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