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Could I believe that heav'n this beauty gave,
(Thy transient pleasure, and thy lasting Nave ;)
Indu'd with reason, only to fulfil
The harsh commands of thy capricious will ?
No, Usbeck, no, my soul disdain'd those laws;
And though I wanted pow'r t' affert my cause,
My right I knew; and still those pleasures fought,
Which Justice warranted, and Nature taught:
On Custom's senseless precepts I refin'd,
I weigh’d what heav'n, I knew what man design’d,
And form'd by her own rules my free-born mind.
Thus whilst this wretched body own'd thy pow'r,
Doom'd, unredress’d, its hardships to deplore ;
My soul subservient to herself alone,
And Reason independent on her throne,
Contemn'd thy dictates, and obey'd their own.
Yet thus far to my conduct thanks are due,
At least I condescended to seem true;
Endeavour'd still my sentiments to hide,
Indulg'd thy vanity, and sooth'd thy pride.
Though this submission to a tyrant paid,
Whom not my duty, but my fears obey'd,
If rightly weigh’d, would more deserve thy blame,
Who call it Virtue, but prophane her name:
For to the world I should have own'd that love,
Which all impartial judges must approve:
You urg'd a right to tyrannize my heart,
Which he folliciting, assaiļd by art,
Whilft I, impatient of the name of Nave,
To force refus'd, what I to merit gave. .
Oft, as thy Naves this wretched body led
To the detested pleasures of thy bed;
In those soft moments, consecrate to joy,
Which extacy and transport should employ ;
Clasp'd in your arms, you wonder'd still to find
So cold my kisses, so compos’d my mind :
But had thy cheated eyes discern’d aright,
You'd found aversion, where you fought delight.
Not that my soul incapable of love,
No charms could warm, no tenderness could move;
For him, whose love my every thought possess’d,
A fiercer passion fill'd this constant breast,
Than truth e'er felt, or fallhood e'er possess’d.
This stile unusual to thy pride appears,
For truth's a stranger to the tyrant's ears ;
But what have I to manage or to dread ?
Nor threats alarm, nor insults hurt the dead :
No wrongs they feel, no miseries they find;
Cares are the legacies we leave behind:
In the calm grave no Ufbecks we deplore,
No tyrant husband, no oppressive pow'r.
Alas! I faint — Death intercepts the rest.
The venom’d drug is busy in my
Each nerve's unstrung: a mist obscures the day :
My senses, strength, and ev'n my hate decay:
Though rage awhile the ebbing spirits stay'd,
'Tis past - they sink beneath the transient aid.
Take then, inhuman wretch! my last farewel;
Pain be thy portion here, hereafter, hell :
And when our prophet shall my fate decree,
Be any curse my punishment,' but thee.
EPILOGUE design'd for SOPHONIS BA,
And to have been spoken by Mrs. OLDFIELD.
EFORE you sign poor Sophonisba's doom,
In her behalf petitioner I come ;
Not but our author knows, whate'er I say,
That I could find objections to his play.
This double marriage for her country's good,
I told him never would be understood,
And that ye all would say, 'twas flesh and blood.
Had Carthage only been in madam's head,
Her champion never had been in her - bed:
For could the ideot think a husband's name
Would make him quit his interest, friends and fame;
That he would risque a kingdom for a wife,!
And act dependent in a place for life?
Yet what stern Cato shall condemn the fair,
Whilst public good she thunder'd in your ear,
If private interest had a little share ?
You know, she acted noť against the laws
Of those old-fashion'd times; that in her cause
Old Syphax could no longer make a stand,
And Maffinissa woo'd her sword in hand.
But did she take the way to whet that sword ?
Heroes fight coldly when wives give the word.
She should have kept him keen, employ’d her charms
Not as a bribe, but to reward his arms ;
Have told him when Rome yielded she would yield,
And sent him fresh, not yawning, to the field.
She talk'd it well to rouse him to the fight,
But like Penelope, when out of sight,
All she had done by day, 'undid by night,
Is this your wily Carthaginian kind?
No English woman had been half so kind.
What from a husband's hand could she expect
But ratsbane, or that common fate, neglect ?
Perhaps some languishing soft fair may say,
Poyson's so shocking—but consider pray,
She fear'd the Roman, he the marriage chain;
All other means to free them both were vain.
Let none then Massinissa's conduct blame,
He first his love consulted, then his fame.
And if the fair one with too little art,
Whilft seemingly she play'd a patriot-part,
Was secretly the dupe of her own heart;
Forgive a fault she strove so well to hide,
Nor be compassion to her fate deny'd,
Who liv'd unhappily, and greatly dy’d.