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Full at thy face, th’avenging brands to bear,
And thake the serpents from their hiffling hair?
But thou in time th' increasing ill controul,
Nor first debauch the body by the soul;
Secure the sacred quiet of thy mind,
And keep the fanctions nature has design'd.
Suppose I shou'd attempt, th' attempt were vain ;
No thoughts like mine his finless foul profane :
Observant of the right; and O, that he
Cou'd cure my madness, or be mad like me!
Thus she; but Cinyras, who daily fees
A crowd of noble suitors at his knees,
Among so many, knew not whom to choose,
Irresolute to grant, or to refuse.
But having told their names, inquir'd of her,
Who pleas’d her best, and whom she would prefer?
The blushing maid ftood filent with surprise,
And on her father fix'd her ardent eyes,
And looking figh’d: and as she figh’d, began
Round tears to shed, that fcalded as they ran.
The tender fire, who saw her blush, and cry,
Ascrib'd it all to maiden-modesty ;
And dry'd the falling drops, and yet more kind,
He strok'd her cheeks, and holy kisses join'd :
She felt a secret venom fire her blood,
And found more pleasure than a daughter shou'd;
And, ask'd again, what lover of the crew
She lik’d the best ; she answer’d, One like you.
Miftaking what she meant, her pious will
He prais'd, and bade her so continue ftill:
The word of Pious heard, she blush'd with shame
Of secret guilt, and cou'd not bear the name.
'Twas now the mid of night when slumbers close
Our eyes, and sooth our cares with soft repose;
But no repose cou'd wretched Myrrha find,
Her body rolling, as she roll'd her mind :
MYRRHA. Mad with desire she ruminates her fin, And wishes all her wishes o'er again : Now the despairs, and now resolves to try ; Wou'd not, and wou'd again, me knows not why; Stops, and returns, makes and retracts the vow; Fain wou'd begin, but understands not how : As when a pine is hewn upon the plains, And the last mortal stroke alone remains, Lab’ring in pangs of death, and threatning all, This way and that she nods, considering where to fall : So Myrrha's mind, impellid on either fide, Takes ev'ry bent, but cannot long abide : Irresolute on which she should rely, At last unfix'd in all, is only fix'd to die: On that fad thought the rests; resolv'd on death, She rises, and prepares to choak her breath: Then while about the beam her zone fie ties, Dear Cinyras, farewel, she softly cries; For thee I die, and only wish to be Not hated, when thou know'st I die for thee: Pardon the crime, in pity to the cause ; This said, about her neck the noose the draws. The nurfe, who lay without, her faithful guard, Though not the words, the murmurs overheard, And lighs and hollow sounds : surpris’d with fright, She starts, and leaves her bed, and springs a light: Unlocks the door, and entring out of breath, The dying faw, and instruments of death; She shrieks, the cuts the zone with trembling hafte, And in her arms her fainting charge embrac'd: Next (for the now had leisure for her tears) She weeping ak’d, in these her blooming years, What unforeseen misfortune caus'd her care, To lothe her life, and languish in despair ! The maid, with down-caft eyes, and inute with grief, For death unfinish'd, and ill-tim'd relief,
Stood sulleh to her suit: the beldame press’d
The more to know, and bar'd her wither'd breast,
Adjur'd her, by the kindly food she drew
From those dry founts, her secret ill to Thew.
Sad Myrrha figh’d, and turn'd her eyes aside ;
The nurse still urg'd, and wou'd not be deny’d:
Nor only promis'd secrecy; but pray'd
She might have leave to give her offer'd aid.
Good will, she faid, my want of strength supplies,
And diligence shall give what age denies:
If strong desires thy mind to fury move,
With charms and med'cines I can cure thy love :
If envious eyes their hurtful rays have caft,
More pow'rful verse shall free thee from the blast :
If heaven offended sends thee this disease,
Offended heaven with prayers we can appease.
What then remains, that can these cares procure ?
Thy house is flourishing, thy fortune sure :
Thy careful mother yet in health survives,
And, to thy comfort, thy kind father lives.
The virgin started at her father's name,
And figh'd profoundly, conscious of the shame:
Nor yet the nurse her impious love divin’d :
yet surmis’d, that love disturb’d her mind :
Thus thinking, she pursu'd her point, and laid
And lull'd within her lap the mourning maid ;
Then softly footh'd her thus, I guess your grief:
You love, my child ; your love shall find relief.
My long experienc'd age shall be your guide ;
Rely on that, and lay distrust aside :
No breath of air shall on the secret blow,
Nor shall (what most you fear) your father know.
Struck once again, as with a thunder-clap,
The guilty virgin bounded from her lap,
And, threw her body prostrate on the bed,
And to conceal her blushes, hid her head :
There filent lay, and warn’d her with her hand
To go: but she receiv'd not the command ;
Remaining still importunate to know :
Then Myrrha thus; Or ask no more, or go :
I pr’ythee go, or staying spare my shame;
What thou wou'dft hear, is impious ev'n to name:
At this, on high the beldame holds her hands,
And trembling both with age, anu terror, stands ;
Adjures, and falling at her feet intreats,
Sooths her with blandishments, and frights with threats,
To tell the crime intended, or disclose
part of it she knew, if she no farther knows : And last, if conscious to her counsel made, Confirms anew the promise of her aid.
Now Myrrha rais’d her head; but soon oppress’d
With shame, reclin'd it on her nurse's breast
Bath'd it with tears, and strove to have confess’d :
Twice the began, and stopp'd ; again fhe try'd;
The fault'ring tongue its office still deny'd :
At last her veil before her face she spread,
And drew a long preluding figh, and said,
O happy mother, in thy marriage bed!
Then groan'd, and ceas'd; the good old woman Mook,
Stiff were her eyes, and ghaftly was her look :
Her hoary hair upright with horror stood,
Made (to her grief) more knowing than she wou'd.
Much the reproach'd, and many things she said,
To cure the madness of the unhappy maid :
In vain : for Myrrha stood convict of ill ;
Her reason vanquish'd, but unchang'd her will:
Perverse of mind, unable to reply,
She stood resolv'd or to poffefs, or die.
At length the fondness of a nurse prevail'd
Against her better sense, and virtue fail'd :
Enjoy, my child, since such is thy defire,
Thy love, she said ; Me durf not say, thy.fire.
Live, tho' unhappy, live on any terms :
Then with a second oath her faith confirms.
The folemn feast of Ceres now was near,
When long white linen stoles the matrons wear;
Rank'd in procession walk the pious train,
Off'ring first-fruits, and spikes of yellow grain :
For nine long nights the nuptial bed they shun,
And, fanctifying harvest, lie alone.
Mix'd with the crowd, the queen forsook her lord,
And Ceres' power with secret rites ador’d;
The royal couch now vacant for a time,
The crafty crone, officious in her crime,
The curst occasion took: the king she found
Easy with wine, and deep in pleasure drown'd,
Prepar’d for love : the beldame blew the flame,
Confess’d the passion, but conceal’d the name.
Her form the prais’d ; the monarch ask'd her years,
And she reply'd, the same that Myrrha bears.
Wine and commended beauty fir'd his thought;
Impatient, he commands her to be brought.
Pleas'd with her charge perform’d, she hies her home,
And gratulates the nymph, the task was overcome.
Myrrha was joy'd the welcome news to hear ;
But clogg’d with guilt, the joy was insincere :
So various, so discordant is the mind,
That in our will, a different will we find.
Ill she presag'd, and yet pursu'd her luft ;
For guilty pleasures give a double gust.
'Twas depth of night : Arctophylax had driv'n
His lazy wain half round the northern heav'n,
When Myrrha haften'd to the crime desir'd;
The moon beheld her first, and first retir'd;
The stars amaz'd ran backward from the fight,
And, shrunk within their sockets, lost their light.
Icarius first withdraws his holy flame :
The virgin-fign, in heaven the second name,