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CANACE TO MACAREUS,

EPIST. XI.

THE ARGUMENT.

Macareus and Canace, son and daughter to Æolus,

god of the IVinds, loved each other incestuously : Canace was delivered of a fon, and committed him to her nurse, to be secretly conveyed away. The infant crying out, by that means was discovered to Æolus, who, inraged at the wickedness of his children, commanded the babe to be exposed to wild beasts on the mountains : and withal, sent a sword to Canace, with this message, That her crimes would instruct her how to use it. IVith this sword she slew herself: but before she died, she writ the following letter to her brother Macareus, who had taken fanctuary in the temple of Apollo.

IF streaming blood my fatal letter stain, ,
Imagine, ere you read, the writer Nain ;
One hand the sword, and one the

pen employs,
And in my lap the ready paper lies. .
Think in this posture thou behold’st me write: 5
In this my cruel father would delight.

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O! were he present, that his eyes and hands Might see, and urge, the death which he com

mands! Than all the raging winds more dreadful, he, Unmov'd, without a tear, my wounds would

fee. Jove justly plac'd him on a stormy throne, His people's temper is so like his own. The North and South, and each contending

blast, Are underneath his wide dominion cast : Those he can rule ; but his tempestuous mind Is, like bis airy kingdom, unconfin’d. Ab! what avail my kindred gods above, That in their number I can reckon Jove ! What help will all my heav'nly friends afford, When to my breast I lift the pointed sword ? 20 That hour, which join'd us, came before its

time : In death we had been one without a crime. Why did thy flames beyond a brother's move ? Why lov'd I thee with more than fister's love ? For I lov'd too; and, knowing not my

wound, A secret pleasure in thy kiffes found: My cheeks no longer did their color boast, My food grew loathsome, and my firength I

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loft:

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Still ere I spoke, a sigh would stop my tongue ; Short were my numbers, and my nights were

long. I knew not from my love these griefs did grow, Yet was, alas, the thing I did not know. My wily nurse, by long experience, found, And first discoverd to my soul its wound. "Tis love, faid she; and then my down-cast

eyes, And guilty dumbness, witness’d my surprize. Forc'd at the last, my shameful pain I tell : And, oh, what follow'd we both know too well! " When half denying, more than half content, 6. Embraces warm’d me to a full consent, “ Then with tumultuous joys my heart did beat, “ And guilt, that made them anxious, made

them great." But now my swelling womb heav'd up my breast, And rising weight my linking limbs opprest. What herbs, what plants, did not my nurse

produce, To make abortion by their pow’rful juice ? What med'cines try'd we not, to thee unknown? Our first crime common ; this was mine alone. But the strong child, secure in his dark cell, With nature's vigor did our arts repel. And now the pale-fac'd empress of the night Nine times had fill'd her orb with borrow'd

light:

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Not knowing 'twas my labor, I complain
Of sudden shootings, and of grinding pain :
My throes came thicker, and my cries in-

creas'd, Which with her hand the conscious nurse fup

press’d. To that unhappy fortune was I come, Pain urg'd my clamors, but fear kept me dumb. With inward struggling I restrain'd my cries, And drunk the tears that trickled from my

eyes. Death was in fight, Lucina And even my dying had my guilt betray’d. Thou cam’st, and in thy count'nance fate de.

spair ; Rent were thy garments all, and torn thy

hair: Yet feigning comfort, which thou couldst not

give, (Prest in thy arms, and whisp’ring me to live :) For both our fakes, (faidst thou) preserve thy

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gave no aid ;

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life;

Live, my dear lifter, and

my

dearer wife. Rais'd by that name,

with
my
last

pangs I strove; Such pow'r have words, when spoke by those

70 The babe, as if he heard what thou hadft sworn, With hafty joy sprung forward to be born.

we love.

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What helps it to have weather'd out one storm?
Fear of our father does another form.
High in his hall, rock'd in a chair of state, 75
The king with his tempestuous council fate.
Through this large room our only paffage lay,
By which we could the new-born babe convey.
Swath'd in her lap, the bold nurse bore him out,
With olive branches cover'd round about;
And, muttering pray’rs, as holy rites she meant,
Through the divided croud unquestion'd went.
Just at the door, th' unhappy infant cry’d:
The grandfire heard him, and the theft he spy'd.
Swift as a whirlwind to the nurse he flies,
And deafs his stormy subjects with his cries.
With one fierce puff he blows the leaves away:
Expos’d the self-discover'd infant lay.
The noise reach'd me, and my presaging mind
Too foon its own approaching woes divin'd. 90
Not Thips at sea with winds are shaken more,
Nor seas themselves, when angry tempests roar,
Than I, when my loud father's voice I hear:
The bed beneath me trembled with

my

fear. He rulh'd upon me, and divulg’d my stain; 95 Scarce from my murder could his hands refrain. I only answer'd him with silent tears ; They flow'd: my tongue was frozen up

with fears. His little grand-child he commands away, To mountain wolves and ev'ry bird of prey. 100

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