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Like Hermes, feather'd were her feet,
And, like fore-running Fancy, fleet.
By search untaught, by toil untird,
To novelty she still aspir’d,
Tasteless of ev'ry good possessid,
And but in expectation bless'd.
With her, associate, Pleasure came,
Gay Pleasure, frolic-loving dame,
Her mien all swimming in delight,
Her beauties half reveal'd to sight;
Loose flow'd her garments from the ground,
And caught the kissing winds around.
As erst Medusa's looks were known
To turn bebolders into stone,
A dire reversion here they felt,
And in the eye of Pleasure melt.
Her glance with sweet persuasion charm’d,
Unnerv'd the strong, the steel'd disarm'd;
No safety e'en the flying find,
Who, vent'rous, look but once behind.
Thus was the much-adnjiring Maid, While distant, more than half betray'd. With smiles, and adulation bland, They join'd her side, and seiz'd her hand; Their touch envenon'd sweets instill'd, Her frame with new pulsations thrill'd; While half consenting, half denying, Repugnant now, and now complying,
Amidst a war of hopes and fears,
Of trembling wishes, smiling tears,
Still down and down the winning Pair,
Compell’d the struggling, yielding Fair.
As when some stately vessel bound
To blest Arabia's distant ground,
Borne from her courses, haply lights
Where Barea's flow'ry elime invites,
Conceal'd around whose treach'rous land
Larks the dire rock and dang’rous sand;
The pilot warns with sail and oar
To shun the much-suspected shore
In vain; the tide, too subtly strong,
Still bears the wrestling bark along,
'Till found'ring she resigns to fute,
And sinks o'erwhelm'd with all her freight.
So, baffing ev'ry bar to sin,
And Heavert's own pilot plac'd within,
Along the devious, smooth descent,
With pow’rs increasing as they went,
The Dames, accustom'd to subdue,
As with a rapid current drew,
And o'er the fatal bounds convey'd
The lost, the long reluctant Maid.
Here stop, ye fair ones, and beware,
Nor send your fond affections there;
Yet, yet your darling, now deplor'd,
May turn to you, and heav'n, restor’d;
Till then, with weeping Honour wait,
The servant of her betier fate,
With Honour left upou the shore,
Her friend, and handmaid, now no more;
Nor, with the guilty world, upbraid
The fortunes of a wretch betray'd,
But o'er her failing cast a veil,
Rememb’ring you yourselves are frail.
And now from all-enquiring light
Fast fied the conscious shades of night;
The Damsel, from a short repose,
Confounded at her plight, arose.
As when, with slumb'rous weight oppress'd, Some wealthy miser sinks to rest, Where felons eye the glittring prey, And steal bis hord of joys away; He, borne where golden Indus streams, Of pearl and quarry'd diamond dreams, Like Midas turns the glebe to ore, And stands all wrapt amidst his store, But wakens, naked, and despoil'd Of that, for which his years had toil'd.
So far’d the Nymph, her treasure flown, And turn'd, like Niobe, to stone; Within, without, obscure, and void, She felt all ravag'd, all destroy'd. And, “O thou curs'd, insidious coast! Are these the blessings thou canst boast?
These, Virtue! these the joys they find,
Who leave thy heav'n-topt hills behind ?
Shade me, ye pines, ye caverns, hide,
Ye inountains, cover me!” she cry'd.
Her trumpet slander rais'd on high,
And told the tidings to the sky;
Contempt discharg’d a living dart,
A side-long viper to her heart;
Reproach breath'd poisons o'er her face,
And soild and blasted ev'ry grace;
Officious Shame, her handmaid new,
Suill turn'd the mirror to her view;
While those, in crimes the deepest dy'd,
Approach'd, to whiten at her side,
And ev'ry lewd insulting dame
Upon her folly rose to fame.
What should she do? Attempt once more
To gain the late-deserted shore?
So trusting, back the Mourner flew,
As fast the train of fiends pursue.
Again the farther shore's attain'd,
Again the land of Virtue gain d;
But Echo gathers in the wind,
And shows her instant foes behind.
Amaz'd, with headlong speed she tends,
Where late she left a host of friends;
Alas! those shrinking friends decline,
Nor longer own that form divine,
With fear they mark the following cry,
And from the lonely Trembler fly,
Or backward drive her on the coast
Where peace was wreck'd, and honour lost.
From earth thus hoping aid in vain,
To heav'n not daring to complain,
No truce by hostile clamour given,
And from the face of friendship driven,
The Nymph sunk prostrate on the ground,
With all her weight of woes around.
Enthron'd within a circling sky, Upon a mount, o'er mountains high, All radiant sat, as in a shrine, Virtue, first effluence divine ! Far, far above the scenes of woe That shut this cloud-wrapt world below; Superior goddess, essence bright, Beauty of uncreated light, Whom should mortality survey, As doom'd upon a certain day, The breath of frailty must expire, The world dissolve in living fire, The gems of heav'n and solar flame Be quench'd by her eternal beam, And nature, quick’ning in her eye, To rise a new-born phonix, die.
Hence, unreveal'd to mortal view, A veil around her form she threw,