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Helen, having received an epiftle from Paris, returns the following answer: wherein she seems at first to chide him for bis presumption in writing as he had done, which could only proceed from his low opinion of her virtue; then owns berself to be fenfible of the paffion, which he had expressed for ber, tho fhe much fufpected his conftancy; and at laft difcovers her inclination to be favourable to him: the whole letter fhewing the extreme artifice of womankind.
HEN loofe epiftles violate chafte eyes, She half consents, who filently denies. How dares a stranger, with defigns so vain, Marriage and hofpitable rights prophane? Was it for this, your fleet did shelter find From fwelling feas, and ev'ry faithlefs wind? (For tho a distant country brought you forth, Your ufage here was equal to your worth.)
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 barb'rous for my just disdain.
Ill-bred then let me be, but not unchafte,
Nor my clear fame with any spot defac'd.
Tho in my face there's no affected frown,
Nor in my carriage a feign'd niceness shown,
I keep my honor still without a stain,
Nor has my love made any coxcomb vain.
Your boldness I with admiration fee;
What hope had you to gain a queen like me?
Because a hero forc'd me once away,
Am I thought fit to be a fecond prey?
Had I been won, I had deferv'd your blame,
But fure my part was nothing but the shame.
Yet the base theft to him no fruit did bear,
I 'fcap'd unhurt by any thing but fear.
Rude force might fome unwilling kiffes gain;
But that was all he ever could obtain.
You on fuch terms would ne'er have let me go;
Were he like you, we had not parted fo.
Untouch'd the youth reftor'd me to my friends,
And modest usage made me fome amends.
'Tis virtue to repent a vicious deed.
Did he repent, that Paris might fucceed?
Sure 'tis fome fate that fets me above wrongs,
Yet ftill expofes me to bufy tongues.
I'll not complain; for who's difpleas'd with love,
If it fincere, difcreet, and conftant prove?
But that I fear; not that I think
Or doubt the blooming beauties of my face;
But all your fex is fubject to deceive,
And ours, alas, too willing to believe.
Yet others yield; and love o'ercomes the best:
But why should I not fhine above the reft?
Fair Leda's story seems at firft to be
A fit example ready form'd for me.
But fhe was cozen'd by a borrow'd shape,
And under harmlefs feathers felt a rape.
If I fhould yield, what reafon could I use?
By what mistake the loving crime excuse?
Her fault was in her powerful lover loft;
But of what Jupiter have I to boast ?
Tho you to heroes and to kings fucceed,
Our famous race does no addition need;
And great alliances but ufclefs prove
To one that comes herself from mighty Jove.
Go then, and boast in some lefs haughty place
Your Phrygian blood, and Priam's ancient race;
Which I would fhew I valu'd, if I durft;
You are the fifth from Jove, but I the first.
The crown of Troy is pow'rful, I confess;
But I have reason to think ours no lefs.
Your letter, fill'd with promifes. of all
That men can good, and women pleasant call,
Gives expectation such an ample field,
As would move Goddeffes themselves to yield.
But if I e'er offend great Juno's laws,
Yourself shall be the dear, the only caufe:
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
Such pains, and run fuch hazards for my fake.
I have perceiv'd (tho I diffembled too)
A thousand things that love has made you do.
Your eager eyes would almost dazzle mine,
In which (wild man) your wanton thoughts would
Sometimes you'd figh, fometimes diforder'd ftand,
And with unusual ardor prefs my hand;
Contrive juft after me to take the glass,
Nor would you let the leaft 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
Do any thing; I hope 'twas no mistake.
Oft have I read within this pleafing grove,
Under my name, those charming words, I love.
I, frowning, feem'd not to believe your flame;
But now, alas, am come to write the fame.
If I were capable to do amifs,
I could not but be fenfible of this.
For oh! your face has fuch peculiar charms,
That who can hold from flying to your arms!
But what I ne'er can have without offence,
May some bleft maid poffefs with innocence.
Pleasure may tempt, but virtue more fhould
O learn of me to want the thing you love.
What you defire is fought by all mankind:
As you have eyes, fo others are not blind.
Like you they fee, like you my charms adore;
They with not lefs, but you dare venture more.
Oh! had you then upon our coafts been brought,
My virgin-love when thousand rivals fought,
You had I feen, you fhould have had my voice;
Nor could my husband justly blame my choice,
For both our hopes, alas! you come too late;
Another now is mafter of my fate.