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HELEN TO PARIS.

EPIST. XVII.

THE ARGUMENT.

Helen, having received an epistle from Paris, returns

the following answer : wherein she seems at first to chide him for his presumption in writing as he had done, which could only proceed from his low opinion of her virtue : then owns herself to be sensible of the passion, which he had expressed for her, though she much suspected his constancy; and at last discovers her inclination to be favourable to him: the whole letter shewing the extreme artifice of womankind.

WHEN loose epistles violate chaste eyes,
She half consents, who silently denies.
How dares a stranger, with designs so vain,
Marriage and hospitable rights prophane !
Was it for this, your fleet did shelter find
From swelling feas, and ev'ry faithless wind ?
(For though a distant country brought you forth,
Your usage here was equal to your worth.)

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Does this deserve to be rewarded fo ?
Did

you come here a stranger or a foe?
Your partial judgment may perhaps complain,
And think me barbarous for my just disdain.
Ill-bred then let me be, but not unchaste,
Nor my clear fame with any spot defac’d.
Though in my face there's no affected frown, 15
Nor in my carriage a feign'd niceness shown,
I keep my honour still without a ftain,
Nor has

my love made any coxcomb vain. Your boldness I with admiration fee; What hope had you to gain a queen

like me? 20 Because a hero forc'd me once away, Am I thought fit to be a second

prey

? Had I been won, I had deserv'd your blame, But fure my part was nothing but the shame. Yet the base theft to him no fruit did bear, I 'scap'd unhurt by any thing but fear. Rude force might some unwilling kiffes gain But that was all he ever could obtain. You on such terms would ne'er have let me go; Were he like you, we had not parted fo. Untouch'd the youth restor'd me to my friends, And modest usage made me some amends. 'Tis virtue to repent a vicious deed, Did he repent, that Paris might succeed? Sure 'tis fome fate that sets me above wrongs, s5 Yet still exposes me to busy tongues.

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you base,

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I'll not complain; for who's difpleas’d with love,
If it sincere, discreet, and constant prove ?
But that I fear; not that I think
Or doubt the blooming beauties of my

face ; 40 But all

your sex is subject to deceive, And ours, alas, too willing to believe. Yet others yield ; and love o'ercomes the best : But why should I not shine above the rest ? Fair Leda's story seems at first to be A fit example ready form’d for me. But she was cozen'd by a borrow'd shape, And under harmless feathers felt a rape. If I should yield, what reason could I use? By what mistake the loving crime excuse ? Her fault was in her powerful lover lost; But of what Jupiter have I to boast ? Though you to heroes and to kings succeed, Our famous race does no addition need ; And great alliances but useless

prove To one that comes herself from mighty Jove. Go then, and boast in some less haughty place Your Phrygian blood, and Priam's ancient race; Which I would shew I valu’d, if I durft; You are the fifth from Jove, but I the first. 60 The crown of Troy is powerful, I confefs ; But I have reason to think ours no less. Your letter, fill’d with promises of all That men can good, and women pleasant call,

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YOL. IV,

H Η

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Gives expectation such an ample field,
As would move goddesses themselves to yield.
But if I e'er offend great Juno's laws,
Yourself shall be the dear, the only cause :
Either

my honor I'll to death maintain,
Or follow you, without mean thoughts of gain.
Not that fo fair a present I despise ;
We like the gift, when we the giver prize.
But 'tis your love moves me, which made you

take Such pains, and run fuch hazards for my fake. I have perceiv'd (though I diffembled too) 75 A thousand things that love has made you

do. Your eager eyes would almost dazzle mine, In which, wild man, your wanton thoughts

would shine. Sometimes you'd figh, sometimes disorder'd

stand,
And with unusual ardour press my hand ;
Contrive just after me to take the glass,
Nor would you let the least occafion pass :
When oft I fear'd, I did not mind alone,
And blushing fate for things which you

have done : Then murmur'd to myself, He'll for

my

fake Do any thing; I hope 'twas no mistake. Oft have I read within this pleasing grove, Under my name, those charming words, I love.

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As you

I, frowning, seem'd not to believe your

Aame; But now, alas, am come to write the fame.

90 If I were capable to do amiss, I could not but be fenfible of this. For oh! your face has such peculiar charms, That who can hold from flying to your arms ! But what I ne'er can have without offence, 95 May fome bleft maid poffefs with innocence. Pleasure may tempt, but virtue more should

move; O learn of me to want the thing you love. What you desire is fought by all mankind : have eyes,

fo others are not blind. 100 Like you they fee, like you my charms adore ; They wish not less, but you

dare venture more. Oh! bad

you

then upon our coasts been brought, My virgin-love when thousand rivals fought, You had I seen, you should have had my

voice; Nor could my husband juftly blame my choice, For both our hopes, alas ! you come too late ; Another now is master of my fate. . More to my wish I could have liv'd with

you, And yet my present lot can undergo. Ceafe to folicit a weak woman's will, And urge not her you love to so much ill. But let me live contented as I

may, And make not my unspotted fame your prey.

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