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HE fame of this, perhaps thro' Crete had flown;
But Crete had newer wonders of her own,
In Iphis chang'd; for near the Gnoffian bounds,
(As loud report the miracle refounds)
At Phæftus dwelt a man of honest blood,
But meanly born, and not fo rich as good;
Efteem'd and lov'd by all the neighbourhood:
Who to his wife, before the time affign'd
For child-birth came, thus bluntly spoke his mind.
If heaven, faid Lygdus, will vouchsafe to hear,
I have but two petitions to prefer;
Short pains for thee, for me a fon and heir.
Girls coft as many throes in bringing forth;
Befide, when born, the tits are little worth;
Weak puling things, unable to fuftain
Their fhare of labour, and their bread to gain.
If, therefore, thou a creature shalt produce,
Of fo great charges, and fo little ufe,
(Bear witness, heaven, with what reluctancy)
Her hapless innocence I doom to die.
He said, and tears the common grief display,
Of him who bad, and her who must obey.
Yet Telethufa ftill perfifts, to find
Fit arguments to move a father's mind;
T'extend his wishes to a larger scope,
And in one veffel not confine his hope.
Lygdus continues hard: her time drew near,
And the her heavy load could fcarcely bear;
When flumbring, in the latter fhades of night,
Before th' approaches of returning light,
She faw, or thought fhe faw, before her bed,
A glorious train, and Ifis at their head:
horns were on her forehead plac'd,
And yellow fheaves her fhining temples grac'd:
A mitre, for a crown, she wore on high;
The dog, and dappled bull were waiting by;
Ofiris, fought along the banks of Nile;
The filert God; the facred Crocodile ;
And, laft, a long proceffion moving on,
With timbrels, that affift the lab'ring moon.
Her flumbers feem'd difpell'd, and, broad awake,
She heard a voice, that thus diftinctly spake.
My votary, thy babe from death defend,
Nor fear to fave whate'er the Gods will fend.
Delude with at thy husband's dire decree:
When danger calls, repose thy trust on me;
And know thou haft not ferv'd a thankless Deity.
This promise made, with night the Goddess fled:
With joy the woman wakes, and leaves her bed;
Devoutly lifts her spotlefs hands on high,
And prays the powers their gift to ratify.
Now grinding pains proceed to bearing throes,
Till its own weight the burden did disclose.
"I was of the beauteous kind, and brought to light
With fecrecy, to fhun the father's fight.
Th' indulgent mother did her care employ,
And pafs'd it on her husband for a boy.
The nurfe was confcious of the fact alone;
The father paid his vows as for a son;
And call'd him Iphis, by a common name,
Which either fex with equal right may claim.
Iphis his grandfire was; the wife was pleas'd,
Of half the fraud by Fortune's favour eas'd :
The doubtful name was us'd without deceit,
And truth was cover'd with a pious cheat.
The habit fhew'd a boy, the beauteous face
With manly fiercenefs mingled female grace.
Now thirteen years of age were swiftly run,
When the fond father thought the time drew on
Of fettling in the world his only fon.
Ianthe was his choice; fo wondrous fair,
Her form alone with Iphis cou'd compare;
A neighbour's daughter of his own degree,
And not more blefs'd with Fortune's goods than he.
They foon efpous'd: for they with eafe were join'd,
Who were before contracted in the mind.
the fame, their inclinations too;
And bred together in one fchool they grew.
Thus, fatally difpos'd to mutual fires,
They felt, before they knew, the fame defires.
Equal their flame, unequal was their care;
One lov'd with hope, one languifh'd in despair.
The maid accus'd the ling'ring days alone:
For whom the thought a man, fhe thought her own.
But Iphis bends beneath a greater grief;
As fiercely burns, but hopes for no relief.
E'en her defpair adds fuel to her fire;
A maid with madness does a maid defire.
And, fcarce refraining tears, Alas, faid fhe,
What iffue of my love remains for me!
How wild a paffion works within my breast!
With what prodigious flames am I poffeft!
Could I the care of Providence deferve,
Heaven must destroy me, if it would preferve.
And that's my fate, or fure it would have fent
Some ufual evil for my punishment:
Not this unkindly curfe; to rage and burn,
Where Nature fhews no profpect of return.
Nor cows for cows confume with fruitless fire;
Nor mares, when hot, their fellow-mares defire :
The father of the fold fupplies his ewes ;
The ftag through fecret woods his hind pursues ; And birds for mates the males of their own fpecies choose.
Her females nature guards from female flame,
And joins two fexes to preserve the game:
Wou'd I were nothing, or not what I am!
Crete, fam'd for monfters, wanted of her flore,
Till my new love produc'd one monster more.
The daughter of the fun a bull defir'd,
And yet e'en then a male a female fir'd:
Her paffion was extravagantly new :
But mine is much the madder of the two.
To things impoffible fhe was not bent,
But found the means to compass her intent.
To cheat his eyes fhe took a diff'rent shape;
Yet ftill fhe gain'd a lover, and a leap.
Shou'd all the wit of all the world confpire,
Should Dædalus affift my wild defire,
What art can make me able to enjoy,
Or what can change Ianthe to a boy?
Extinguish then thy paffion, hopeless maid,
And recollect thy reafon for thy aid.
Know what thou art, and love as maidens ought,
And drive these golden wishes from thy thought.
Thou canst not hope thy fond defires to gain;
Where hope is wanting, wifhes are in vain.
And yet no guards againft our joys confpire;
No jealous husband hinders our defire
My parents are propitious to my wifh,
And the herfelf confenting to the blifs.