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And set to work millions of spinning worms,
That in their green shops weave the smooth-haired silk
To deck her sons; and, that no corner might
Be vacant of her plenty, in her own loins
She hutched the all-worshipped ore, and precious gems,
To store her children with : if all the world
Should in a pet of temperance feed on pulse,
Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but frieze,
The All-giver would be unthanked, would be unpraised,
Not half his riches known, and yet despised ;
And we should serve him as a grudging master,
As a penurious niggard of his wealth,
And live like Nature's bastards, not her sons,
Who would be quite surcharged with her own weight,
And strangled with her waste fertility;
The earth cumbered, and the winged airdarked with plumes,35
The herds would over-multitude their lords,
The sea o'erfraught would swell, and the unsought diamond
Would so emblaze the forehead of the deep,
And so bestud with stars, that they below
Would grow inured to light, and come at last
To gaze upon the sun with shameless brows.
List, lady, be not coy, and be not cozened
With that same vaunted name, virginity.
Beauty is Nature's coin, must not be hoarded, But must be current ; and the good thereof Consists in mutual and partaken bliss, Unsavoury in the enjoyment of itself ;
If you let slip time, like a neglected rose
It withers on the stalk with languished head.36
Beauty is Nature's brag, and must be shown
In courts, at feasts, and high solemnities,
Where most may wonder at the workmanship;
It is for homely features to keep home,37
They had their name thence ; coarse complexions,
And cheeks of sorry grain, will serve to ply
The sampler, and to tease the housewife's wool.
What need a vermeil-tinctured lip for that,
Love-darting eyes, or tresses like the morn ?
There was another meaning in these gifts ;
Think what, and be advised : you are but young yet.
I had not thought to have unlocked my lips 38 In this unhallowed air, but that this juggler Would think to charm my judgment, as mine eyes, Obtruding false rules prankt 39 in Reason's garb. I hate when Vice can bolt 40 her arguments, And Virtue has no tongue to check her pride. Impostor, do not charge most innocent Nature, As if she would her children should be riotous
With her abundance; she, good cateress, Means her provision only to the good, That live according to her sober laws, And holy dictate of spare Temperance : If every just man, that now pines with want, Had but a moderate and beseeming share Of that which lewdly-pampered Luxury Now heaps upon some few with vast excess, Nature's full blessings would be well dispensed In unsuperfluous even proportion, And she no whit encumbered with her store ; And then the Giver would be better thanked, His praise due paid ; for swinish Gluttony Ne'er looks to Heaven amidst his gorgeous feast, But with besotted base Ingratitude Crams, and blasphemes his Feeder. Shall I go on? Or have I said enough? To him that dares Arm his profane tongue with contemptuous words Against the sun-clad power of chastity, Fain would I something say, yet to what end ? Thou hast nor ear, nor soul, to apprehend The sublime notion, and high mystery, That must be uttered to unfold the sage And serious doctrine of virginity ;
And thou art worthy that thou shouldst not know
More happiness than this thy present lot.
Enjoy your dear wit, and gay rhetoric,
That hath so well been taught her dazzling fence,
Thou art not fit to hear thyself convinced ;
Yet, should I try, the uncontrolled worth
Of this pure cause would kindle my rapt spirits
To such a flame of sacred vehemence,
That dumb things would be moved to sympathise,
And the brute Earth would lend her nerves, and shake,
Till all thy magic structures, reared so high,
Were shattered into heaps o’er thy false head.
She fables not: I feel that I do fear 41
Her words set off by some superior power ;
And though not mortal, yet a cold shuddering dew
Dips me all o'er, as when the wrath of Jove
Speaks thunder, and the chains of Erebus,
To some of Saturn's crew. I must dissemble,
And try her yet more strongly.—Come, no more ;
This is mere moral babble, and direct
Against the canon laws of our foundation.