ELEGY To Miss D—W—D.[ed.]
The addressee is Hammond's mistress Catherine Dashwood.
In the Manner of OVID.
1 O Say, thou dear possessor of my breast,
2 Where now's my boasted liberty and rest!
3 Where the gay moments which I once have known,
4 O where that heart I fondly thought my own!
5 From place to place I solitary roam,
6 Abroad uneasy, nor content at home.
7 I scorn the beauties common eyes adore,
8 The more I view them, feel thy worth the more;
9 Unmov'd I hear them speak, or see them fair,
10 And only think on thee — who art not there.
11 In vain would books their formal succour lend,
12 Nor wit, nor wisdom can relieve their friend;
13 Wit can't deceive the pain I now endure,
14 And wisdom shews the ill without the cure.[Page 74]
15 When from thy sight I waste the tedious day,
16 A thousand schemes I form, and things to say;
17 But when thy presence gives the time I seek,
18 My heart's so full, I wish, but cannot speak.
19 And cou'd I speak with eloquence and ease,
20 Till now not studious of the art to please,
21 Cou'd I, at woman who so oft exclaim,
22 Expose (nor blush) thy triumph and my shame,
23 Abjure those maxims I so lately priz'd,
24 And court that sex I foolishly despis'd,
25 Own thou hast soften'd my obdurate mind,
26 And thou reveng'd the wrongs of womankind:
27 Lost were my words, and fruitless all my pain,
28 In vain to tell thee all I write in vain;
29 My humble sighs shall only reach thy ears,
30 And all my eloquence shall be my tears.
31 And now (for more I never must pretend)
32 Hear me not as thy lover, but thy friend;
33 Thousands will fain thy little heart ensnare,
34 For without danger none like thee are fair;
35 But wisely chuse who best deserves thy flame,
36 So shall the choice itself become thy fame;
37 Nor yet despise, tho' void of winning art,
38 The plain and honest courtship of the heart:
39 The skilful tongue in love's persuasive lore,
40 Tho' less it feels, will please and flatter more,
41 And meanly learned in that guilty trade
42 Can long abuse a fond, unthinking maid.[Page 75]
43 And since their lips, so knowing to deceive,
44 Thy unexperienc'd youth might soon believe,
45 And since their tears in false submission drest
46 Might thaw the icy coldness of thy breast,
47 O! shut thine eyes to such deceitful woe;
48 Caught by the beauty of thy outward show,
49 Like me they do not love, whate'er they seem,
50 Like me — with passion founded on esteem.