Page images

What meant he else? then let's be blythe and jolly,
And make the best use of your husband's folly.
What should we do? your husband is far gone,
And this cold night, (poor soul) you lie alone.
I want a bed-fellow, so do we either,
What lets us then, but that we lie together?
You slumb'ring think on me, on you I dream
Both our desires are fervent and extreme.
Sweet, then appoint the night, why do you stay?
O night! more clear than e'en the brightest day,
Then I dare freely speak, protest, and swear,
And of my vows the gods shall record bear.
Then will I seal the contract and the strife;
From that day forward we are man and wife :
Then questionless I shall so far persuade,
That you with me shall Troy's rich coast invade,
And with your Phrygian guest at last agree,
Our potent kingdom, and rich crown to see.
But if you (blushing) fear the vulgar bruit,
That says you follow me, to me make suit,
Fear it not, Helen; I'll so work with fame,
I will (alone) be guilty of all blame.

Duke Theseus was my instance, and so were
Your brothers, lady; can I come more near,
To ensample my attempts by? Theseus hal'd
Helen perforce your brothers they prevail'd
With the Lucippian sisters; now from these,
I'll count myself the fourth (if Helen please.)
Our Trojan navy rides upon the coast,

Rigg'd, arm'd, and mann'd, and I can proudly boast,
The banks are high, why do you longer stay ?
The winds and oars are ready to make way.
You shall be like a high majestic queen,
Led thro' the Dardan city, and be seen

By millions, who your state having commended,
Will (wond'ring) swear some goddess is descended.
Where'er you walk the priests shall incense burn;
No way you shall your eye or body turn,

But sacrificed beasts the ground shall beat,
And bright religious fires the welkin heat.
My father, mother, brother, sisters, all
Ilium and Troy in pomp majestical,
Shall with rich gifts present you, (but alas!)
Not the least part (so far they do surpass)

Can my epistle speak; you may behold
More than my words or writings can unfold.

Nor fear the bruit of war, or threatening steel,
When we are fled, to dog us at the heel;
Or that all Gracia will their powers unite:
Of many ravish'd, can you one recite

Whom war repurchas'd? These be idle fears:
Rough blustering boreas fair Orithea bears
Unto the land of Thrace, yet Thrace still free,
And Athens rais'd no rude hostility.

In winged Pegasus did Jason sail;

And from great Colchos he Medea steal:
Yet Thessaly you see can shew no scar
Of former wounds in the Thessalian war.
He that first ravish'd you, in such a fleet
As ours is, Ariadne brought from Crete.
Yet Minos and duke Theseus were agreed;
About that quarrel not a breast did bleed..
Les is the danger (trust me) than the fear,
Τ a these vain and idle doubts appear.
Bu ay, rude war should be proclaim'd at length,
Know I am valiant, and have sinewy strength.
The weapons that I use are apt to kill ;
Asia besides more spacious fields can fill

[ocr errors]

With armed men, than Greece. Among us are
More perfect soldiers, more beasts apt for war.
Nor can thy husband Menelaus be

Of any high spirit and magnanimity;

Or so well prov'd in arms: for, Helen, I,

Being but a lad, have made my enemies fly;
Regain'd the prey from out the hands of thieves,

Who had despoil'd our herds, and stol'n our beeves.
By such adventures I my name obtain'd:
(Being but a lad) the conquest I have gain'd
Of young men in their prime, who much could do;
Deiphobus, Ilioneus too

I have o'ercome in many sharp contentions;

Nor think these are my vain and forg'd inventions ; Or that I only hand to hand can fight;

My arrows when I please shall touch the white :
I am expert i' th' quarry and the bow;

You cannot boast your heartless husband so.
Had you the power in all things to supply me;

And should you nothing in the world deny me ;
To give me such a Hector to my brother,
Yet could not, the earth bears not such another.
By him alone all Asia is well mann'd;

He like an enemy 'gainst Greece shall stand;
Oppos'd to your best fortunes, wherefore strive you?
You do not know his valour that must wive you,
Or what hid worth is in me; but at length

You will confess when you have prov'd my strength.
Thus either war shall still our steps pursue,
Or Greece shall fall in Troy's all-conquering view.
Nor would I fear for such a royal wife,

To set the universal world at strife.

To gain rich prizes men will venture far;
The hope of purchase makes us bold in war.
If all the world about you should contend,
Your name should be eterniz'd without end;
Only be bold; and fearless may we sail
Into my country, with a prosperous gale!
If the gods grant me my expected day,
It to the full shall all these covenants pay.


No sooner came mine eye unto the sight
Of thy rude lines, but I must needs re-write.
Dar'st thou (O shameless) in such heinous wise,
The laws of hospitality despise?

And being a stranger from thy country's reach,
Solicit a chaste wife to wedlock's breach?
Was it for this our free Tænarian port
Receiv'd thee and thy train, in friendly sort ;
And when great Neptune nothing could appease,
Gave thee fair harbour from the stormy seas;
Was it for this our kingdom's arms spread wide
To entertain thee from the water-side?
Yet thou of foreign soil remote from hence,
A stranger, coming we scarce know from whence,
Is perjur'd wrong the recompence of right?
Is all our friendship guerdon'd with despite;
I doubt me then, whether in our court doth tarry
A friendly guest, or a fierce adversary,
Nor blame me, for if justly you consider,
And these presumptions well compare together,
So simple my complaint will not appear,

But you yourself must needs excuse my fear.
Well, hold me simple, much it matters not,
Whilst I preserve my chaste name far from spot ?
For when I seem touch'd with a bashful shame,
It shews how highly I regard my fame.

When I seem sad, my countenance is not feign'd;
And when I lour, my look is unconstrain'd.
But say my brow be cloudy, my name's clear,
And reverently you shall of Helen hear.
No man from me adulterate spoils can win;
For to this hour I've sported without sin;

Which makes me in my heart the more to wonder,
What hope you have in time to bring me under;
Or from mine eye what comfort thou canst gather,
To pity thee, and not despise thee rather.
Because once Theseus hurry'd me from hence,
And did to me a kind of violence;

Follows it therefore, I am of such price,
That ravish'd once, I should be ravish'd twice?
Was it my fault, because I striv'd in vain,
And wanted strength his fury to restrain?
He flatter'd, and spake fair, I struggled still;
And what he got, was much against my will.
Of all his toil, he reap'd no wished fruit,
For with my wrangling I withstood his suit.
At length I was restor'd, untouch'd, and clear;
In all my rape, I suffer'd nought but fear;
A few untoward kisses he (Got wot)
Dry, without relish by much striving got,
And them with much ado, and to his cost,
Of further favours he could never boast;
I doubt your purpose aims at greater blisses,
And hardly would alone be pleas'd with kisses.
Thou hast some further aim, and seek'st to do,
What, Jove defend, I should consent unto.
He bore not thy bad mind, but did restore me
Unblemish'd to the place from whence he bore me.
The youth was bashful, and thy boldness lack'd,
And, 'tis well known, repented his bold fact;
Theseus repented, so should Paris do,
Succeed in love, and in repentance too.

Nor am I angry; who can angry be

With him that loves her? If your heart agree

With your kind words, your suit I could applaud,

So were I sure your lines were void of fraud,
I cast not these strange doubts, or this dispense,
Like one that were bereft of confidence;
Not that I with myself am in disgrace,
Or do not know the beauty of my face;
But because too much trust hath damag'd such
As have believ'd men in their loves too much.
And now the general tongue of women saith,
Men's words are full of treason, void of faith.
Let others sin, and hours of pleasure waste,
'Tis rare to find the sober matron chaste.
Why? Say it be that sin prevails with fair ones,
May not my name be rank'd among the rare ones?
Because my mother Læda was beguil'd,
Must I stray too, that am her eldest child?
I must confess my mother made a rape,
But Jove beguil'd her in a borrow'd shape.
When she (poor soul) nor dreamt of god nor man,
He trod her like a milk-white feather'd swan,
She was deceiv'd by error; if I yield

To your unjust request, nothing can shield
Me from reproach; I cannot plead concealing;
'Twas in her, error; 'tis in me, plain dealing.
She happily err'd; he that her honour spilt,
Had in himself full power to salve the guilt.
Her error happy'd me too (I confess)
If to be Jove's child be a happiness.

T'omit high Jove, of whom I stand in awe,
As the great grand-sire to our father-in-law;
To pass the kin I claim from Tantalus,
From Pelops, and from noble Tindarus;
Læda by Jove, in shape of swan, beguil'd,
Herself so chang'd, and by him made with child,
Proves Jove my father. Then you idly strive,
Your name from gods and princes to derive.
What need you of old Priam make relation,
Laomedon, or your great Phrygian nation;
Say all be true; what then? He of whom most
To be of your alliance you so boast,
Jove (five degrees at least) from you remov'd,
To be the first from me, is plainly prov'd.
And tho' (as I believ'd well) Troy may stand
Powerful at sea, and full of strength by land;

« PreviousContinue »