A Pastoral Dialogue (Melibæus, Alcippe, Asteria, Licida, Alcimedon, and Amira. ) by Anne Killigrew
Melibæus. WElcome fair Nymphs, most welcome to this shade, Distemp'ring Heats do now the Plains invade: But you may sit, from Sun securely here, If you an old mans company not fear. Alcippe. Most Reverend Swaine, far from us ever be The imputation of such Vanity. From Hill to Holt w'ave thee unweary'd sought, And bless the Chance that us hath hither brought. Asteria. Fam'd Melibæus for thy Virtuous Lays, If thou dost not disdain our Female Praise, We come to sue thou would'st to us recite One of thy Songs, which gives such high delight To ev'ry Eare, wherein thou dost dispense Sage Precepts cloath'd in flowing Eloquence.
Licida. Fresh Garlands we will make for thee each morne, Thy reverend Head to shade, and to adorne; To cooling Springs thy fainting Flock we'll guide, All thou command'st, to do shall be our Pride. Meli. Cease, gentle Nymphs, the Willing to entreat, To have your Wish, each needs but take a Seat. With joy I shall my ancient Art revive, With which, when Young, I did for Glory strive. Nor for my Verse will I accept a Hire, Your bare Attentions all I shall require. Alci. Lo, from the Plain I see draw near a Pair That I could wish in our Converse might share. Amira 'tis and young Alcimedon. Lici. Serious Discourse industriously they shun. Alci. It being yet their luck to come this way, The Fond Ones to our Lecture we'll betray: And though they only sought a private shade, Perhaps they may depart more Vertuous made. I will accost them. Gentle Nymph and Swaine, Good Melibæus us doth entertain With Lays Divine: if you'll his Hearers be, Take streight your Seats without Apology.
Alci. Paying short thanks, at fair Amiras feet, I'le lay me down: let her choose where 'tis meet. Al. Shepherd, behold, we all attentive sit. Meli. What shall I sing ? what shall my Muse reherse ? Love is a Theme well sutes a Past'ral Verse, That gen'ral Error, Universal Ill, That Darling of our Weakness and our Will; By which though many fall, few hold it shame; Smile at the Fault, which they would seem to blame. What wonder then, if those with Mischief play, It to destruction them doth oft betray ? But by experience it is daily found, That Love the softer Sex does sorest wound; In Mind, as well as Body, far more weak Than Men: therefore to them my Song shall speak, Advising well, however it succeed: But unto All I say, Of Love take heed. So hazardous, because so hard to know On whom they are we do our Hearts bestow; How they will use them, or with what regard Our Faith and high Esteem they will reward:
For few are found, that truly acted be By Principles of Generosity. That when they know a Virgins Heart they've gain'd, (And though by many Vows and Arts obtain'd) Will think themselves oblig'd their Faith to hold Tempted by Friends, by Interest, or by Gold. Expect it not: most, Love their Pastime make, Lightly they Like, and lightly they forsake; Their Roving Humour wants but a pretence With Oaths and what's most Sacred to dispence. When unto such a Maid has given her Heart, And said, Alone my Happiness thou art, In thee and in thy Truth I place my Rest. Her sad Surprize how can it be exprest, When all on which she built her Joy she finds, Vanish, like Clouds, disperst before the Winds; Her self, who th'adored Idol wont to be, A poor despis'd Idolater to see ? Regardless Tears she may profusely spend, Unpitty'd sighs her tender Breast may rend: But the false Image she will ne're erace, Though far unworthy still to hold its place:
So hard it is, even Wiser grown, to take Th'Impression out, which Fancy once did make. Believe me Nymphs, believe my hoary hairs, Truth and Experience waits on many years. Before the Eldest of you Light beheld, A Nymph we had, in Beauty all excell'd, Rodanthe call'd, in whom each Grace did shine, Could make a Mortal Maid appear Divine. And none could say, where most her Charms did lye, In her inchanting Tongue, or conquering Eye. Her Vertue yet her Beauties so out-shon, As Beauty did the Garments she put on ! Among the Swains, which here there Flocks then fed, Alcander with the highest held his head; The most Accomplish't was esteem'd to be, Of comely Forme, well-grac't Activity; The Muses too, like him, did none inspire, None so did stop the Pipe, or touch the Lyre; Sweet was his Voice, and Eloquent his Tongue; Alike admired when he Spoke, or Sung ! But these so much Excelling parts the Swain, With Imperfections no less Great, did stain:
For proud he was, of an Ungovern'd Will, With Love Familiar, but a Stranger still To Faith and Constancy; and did his Heart, Retaining none, expose to ev'ry Dart. Hapless Rodanthe, the Fond Rover, caught, To whom, for Love, with usual Arts he sought; Which she, ah too unwary, did bestow: 'Cause True her self, believ'd that he was so. But he, alas, more wav'ring than the Wind, Streight broke the Chain, she thought so fast did bind; For he no sooner saw her Heart was gain'd, But he as soon the Victory disdain'd; Mad Love else-where, as 'twere like Renown, Hearts to subdue, as to take in a Town: But in the One as Manhood does prevail, Both Truth and Manhood in the other fail. And now the Nymph (of late so gay and bright, The Glory of the Plains and the Delight, Who still in Wit and Mirth all Pastimes led) Hung like a wither'd Flow'r her drooping Head. I need not tell the Grief Rodanthe found, How all that should asswage, enrag'd her Wound;
Her Form, her Fame, her Vertue, Riches, Wit, Like Deaths sad Weights upon her Soul did sit: Or else like Furies stood before her Face, Still urging and Upbraiding her Disgrace, In that the World could yield her no Content, But what alone the False Alcander sent. 'Twas said, through just Disdain, at last she broke The Disingenious and Unworthy Yoke: But this I know, her Passion held long time, Constancy, though Unhappy, is no Crime. Remember when you Love, from that same hour Your Peace you put into your Lovers Power: From that same hour from him you Laws receive, And as he shall ordain, you Joy, or Grieve, Hope, Fear, Laugh, Weep; Reason aloof does stand, Disabl'd both to Act, and to Command. Oh Cruel Fetters ! rather wish to feel, On your soft Limbs, the Gauling Weight of Steel; Rather to bloody Wounds oppose your Breast No Ill, by which the Body can be prest; You will so sensible a Torment find, As Shackles on your captivated Mind.
The Mind from Heaven its high Descent did draw, And brooks uneasily any other Law, Than what from Reason dictated shall be, Reason, a kind of In-mate Deity. Which only can adapt to ev'ry Soul A Yoke so fit and light, that the Controle All Liberty excels; so sweet a Sway, The same 'tis to be Happy, and Obey; Commands so Wise and with Rewards so drest That the according Soul replys, I'm Blest. This teaches rightly how to Love and Hate, To fear and hope by Measure and just Weight; What Tears in Grief ought from our Eyes to flow, What Transport in Felicity to show; In ev'ry Passion how to steer the Will, Tho rude the Shock, to keep it steady still. Oh happy Mind! what words, can speak thy Bliss, When in a Harmony thou mov'st like this ? Your Hearts fair Virgins keep smooth as your Brow, Not the least Am'rous Passion there allow; Hold not a Parly with what may betray Your inward Freedom to a Forraign Sway;
And while thus ore your selves you Queens remain, Unenvy'd, ore the World, let others reign: The highest Joy which from Dominion flows, Is short of what a Mind well-govern'd knows. Whither my Muse, would'st uncontrouled run ? Contend in Motion with the restless Sun ? Immortal thou, but I a mortal Sire Exhaust my strength, and Hearers also tire. Al. O Heaven-taught Bard ! to Ages couldst prolong Thy Soul-instructing, Health-infusing Song, I with unweary'd Appetite could hear, And wish my Senses were turn'd all to Ear. Alcim. Old Man, thy frosty Precepts well betray Thy Blood is cold, and that thy Head is grey: Who past the Pleasure Love and Youth can give, To spoyl't in others, now dost only live. Wouldst thou, indeed, if so thou couldst perswade, The Fair, whose Charms have many Lovers made, Should feel Compassion for no one they wound, But be to all Inexorable found ? Me. Young man, if my advice thou well hadst weigh'd, Thou would'st have found, for either Sex 'twas made;
And would from Womens Beauty thee no less Preserve, than them secure from thy Address. But let thy Youth thy rash Reproach excuse. Alci. Fairest Amira let him not abuse Thy gentle Heart, by his imprinting there His doting Maxims------But I will not fear: For when 'gainst Love he fiercest did inveigh, Methoughts I saw thee turn with Scorn away. Ami. Alcimedon according to his Will Does all my Words and Looks interpret still: But I shall learn at length how to Disdain, Or at the least more cunningly to feign. Alci. No wonder thou Alcimedon art rude, When with no Gen'rous Quality endu'd: But hop'st by railing Words Vice to defend, Which Foulers made, by having such a Friend. Amira, thou art warn'd, wisely beware, Leap not with Open-Eyes into the Snare: The Faith that's given to thee, was given before To Nais, Amoret, and many more; The Perjur'd did the Gods to Witness call, That unto each he was the only Thrall.
Aste. Y'ave made his Cheeks with Conscious blushes glow. Alci. 'Tis the best Colour a False Heart can show; And well it is with Guilt some shame remains. Meli. Hast, Shepherd, hast to cleanse away thy stains, Let not thy Youth, of Time the goodly spring, Neglected pass, that nothing forth it bring But noxious Weeds: which cultivated might Produce such Crops, as now would thee delight, And give thee after Fame: For Vertues Fruit Believe it, not alone with Age does sute, Nought adorns Youth like to a Noble Mind, In thee this Union let Amira find. Lici. O fear her not ! she'l serve him in his kind. Meli. See how Discourse upon the Time does prey, Those hours pass swiftest, that we talk away. Declining Sol forsaken hath the Fields, And Mountains highest Summits only gildes: Which warns us home-wards with our Flocks to make. Alci. Along with thee our Thanks and Praises take. Aste. In which our Hearts do all in One unite, What e're the Gods as their Best Gifts bestow. Meli. Kind Nymphs on you may Equal Blessings flow.