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CANTO THE EIGHTH.
Birtha her first unpractis d love bewailes,
Bintua her griefs to her apartment brought,
Where all her maids to Heav'n were us’d to raise Their voices, whilst their busic fingers wrought
To deck the altar of the house of Praise.
But now she findes their musick turn'd to care,
Their looks allay'd, like beauty overworn; Silent and sad as with’ring fav’rites are,
Who for their sick indulgent monarch mourn.
Thula, (the eldest of this silenc'd quire)
When Birtha at this change astonish'd was, With hasty whisper begg'd her to retire,
And on her knees thus tells their sorrow's cause : Vol. V.
“ Forgive me such experience as, too soon,
Shew'd me unlucky Love, by which I guess
“Forgive such passion as to speech perswades,
And to my tongue my observation brought; And then forgive my tongue, which to your maids
Too rashly carry'd what experience taught.
“For since I saw this wounded stranger here,
Your inward musick still untun'd has been; You who could need no hope, have learnt to fear,
And practis'd grief, e're you did know to sin.
“ This being Love, to Agatha I told,
Did on her tongue, as on still death, rely; But winged Love she was too young to hold,
And, wanton-like, let it to others fly.
“ Love, who in whisper scap'd, did publick grow, Which makes them now their time in silence
waste; Makes their neglected needles move so slow,
And thro’their eies their hearts dissolve so faste.
“For oft, dire tales of Love has fill'd their heads;
And while they doubt you in that tyrant's pow'r, The spring (they think) may visit woods and meads,
But scarce shall hear a bird, or see a flow'r."
“ Ah! how" (said Birtha) “shall I dare confesse
My griefs to thee, Love's rash, impatient spy? Thou (Thula) who didst run to tell thy guesse,
With secrets known, wilt to confession flie.
“But if I love this prince, and have in Heav'n
Made any friends by vowes, you need not fear He will make good the feature Heav'n has giv'n,
And be as harmless as his looks appear.
“ Yet I have heard that men, whom maids think
kinde, Calm as forgiven saints at their last hour, Oft
prove like seas, inrag'd by ev'ry winde, And all to whom their bosoms trust, devour.
“Howe’re, Heav'n knows, (the witness of the
minde) My heart bears men no malice, nor esteems Young princes of the common 'cruel kinde,
Nor love so foul as it in story seems.
“ Yet if this prince brought love, what e’re it be,
I must suspect, though I accuse it not; For since he came, my medc'nal huswiffrie,
Confections, and my stills, are all forgot.
“ Blossoms in windes, berries in frosts, may fall!
And flowers sink down in rain! for I no more Sball maids to woods for early gath'rings call,
Nor haste to gardens to prevent a showre."
Then she retires; and now a lovely shame,
That she reveal'd so much, possess'd her cheeks ; In a dark lanthorn she would bear love's flame,
To hide her self, whilst she her lover seeks,
And to that lover let our song return:
Whose tale so well was to her father told,
As the philosopher did seem to mourn
Yet Birtha was so precious in his eies,
And her dead mother still so near his mind, That farther yet he thus his prudence tries,
Ere such a pledg he to his trust resign'd.
“Whoe're” (said he) “in thy first story looks,
Shall praise thy wise conversing with the dead; For with the dead he lives, who is with books,
And in the camp, (Death's moving palace) bred.
“ Wise youth, in books and batails, early findles
What thoughtless lazy men perceive too late ; Books show the utmost conquests of our minds,
Batails, the best of our lov'd bodys' fate.
“Yet this great breeding, joyn’d with kings' high
blood, (Whose blood ambition's feaver over-heats) May spoile digestion, which would else be good,
As stomachs are deprav'd with highest meats.
“For though books serve as diet of the minde,
If knowledge, early got, self value breeds, By false digestion it is turn'd to winde,
And what should nourish, on the eater feeds.
Though war's great shape best educates the sight,
And makes small soft'ning objects less our care; Yet war, when urg'd for glory, more than right.
Shews victors but authentick murd'rers are.