Love Given O'er

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Love Given O'er
by Robert Gould
Transcriber’s note: The text of the poem will be presented first, then the dedication to Dorset. Line numbers will be put in square brackets on the left margin. Triplets will be indicated by a curly brace in the right. Spelling has been modernized only when necessary for intelligibility.

          AT length from Love’s vile slav’ry I am free,
And have regain’d my ancient Liberty:
I’ve shook those Chains off which my Bondage wrought,
Am free as Air, and unconfin’d as thought:
For faithless ‘’Silvia’‘ I no more adore,
Kneel at her Feet, and pray in vain no more:
No more my Verse shall her fled worth proclaim,
And with soft Praises celebrate her name:
Her Frowns do now no awful Terrors bear;
Her Smiles, no more, can cure, or cause despair.
I’ve banish’t her for ever from my Breast,
Banish’t the proud Invader of my rest,
Banish’t the Tyrant-Author of my woe,
That rob’d my Soul of all its sweet repose:
Not all her treach’rous Arts, bewitching wiles,
Her sighs, her tears, nor her deluding smiles
Shall my eternal Resolution move,
Or make me talk, or think, or dream of ‘’love:’‘
The wining Curse I’ve banisht from my Mind,
And, with it, all the thoughts of Womankind.
Come then, my Muse, and since th’ occasion’s fair,
Against that Sex proclaim an endless War;
Which may renew as still my Verse is read,
And live when I am ming’d with the dead.

     Woman! by Heav’ns the very name’s a Crime,
Enough to blast and scandalize my Rhime!
Sure Heav’n it self (entranc’d) like Adam lay,
Or else some banish’t Fiend usurp’t the sway
When Eve was form’d, and with her user’d in
Plagues, Woes and Death, and a new World of Sin:
The fatal Rib was crooked and unev’n, }
From whence they’ve all their Crab-like Nature giv’n, }
Averse to all the Laws of Man and Heav’n. }

     O Lucifer! thy Regions had been thin,
Wer’t not for Woman’s propagating Sin:
And send such Throngs down to thy Courts below:
Nay there is hardly one among ‘em all,
But Envys Eve the Glory of the Fall:
Be cautious then and guard your Empire well; }
For shou’d they once get power to rebel, }
They’d surely raise a civil War in Hell, }
Add to the pains you feel, and make you know
W’are here above as curst as you below. --
But we may thank our selves: is there a Dog
Who, when he may have freedom, wears a Clog?
But slavish Man, the more imprudent Beast,
Drags the dull weight when he may be released:
May such (and ah! Too many such we see) }
While they live here just only live to be }
The marks of scorn, contempt and infamy. }
But if the Tyde of nature boist’rous grow,
And will rebelliously its Banks o’rflow,
Then choose a Wench, who, (full of lewd desires)
Can meet your Flames of Love with equal Fires;
She only damns the Soul; but an ill Wife
Damns that, and with it all the Joys of Life:
And what vain Blockhead is so dull, but knows
That of two ills the least is to be chose?

     But now since Woman’s Lust chance to name,
Woman’s unbounded Lust I’ll first proclaim:
And show that our lewd Age has brought to view,
What Sodom, when at worst, had blush’t to do.
True, I confess, that Rome’s Imperial Whore
(More fam’d for Vice than for the Crown she wore)
Into the public Stews, disguis’d, would thrust,
To quench the raging fury of her Lust;
And by such Actions bravely got her name
Born up for ever on the wings of Fame:
Yet this is poor to what our Modern Age
Has hatch’t, brought forth, and acted on the Stage:
Which, for the Sex’s Glory, I’ll rehearse,
And make that deathless as that makes my Verse.

     Who knew not (for to whom was she unknown?) }
Our late Illustrious Bewley? (true, she’s gone }
To answer for the num’rous ills she’s done; }
For if there is no Hell for such as she,
Heav’n is unjust, and that cannot be)
As Albion’s Isle, fast rooted in the Main,
Does the rough Billows raging force disdain,
Which, though they foam, and with loud terrors roar,
In vain attempt to reach beyond their shore;
So she, with Lusts enthusiastic rage,
Sustain’d all the salt Stallions of the Age:
Whole Legions did encounter, Legions tir’d,
Insatiate yet, still fresh supplies desir’d.
Prodigious Bawd! O may thy mem’ry be }
Abhor’d by all, as ‘tis abhor’d by me! }
Thou foremost in the Race of Infamy! }
But Bodies must decay, for ‘tis too sure,
There's nothing from the Jaws of time secure:
Yet when she found that she cou'd do no more, }
When all her Body was one putrid sore, }
Studded with Pox and Ulcers quite all o'er; }
Ev'n then, by her delusive, treach'rous wiles,
(For Woman 'tis that Woman best beguiles)
Sh' enroll'd more Females in the List of Whore
Than all the Arts of man e'r did before
Press’t with the pond’rous guilt, at length, she fell,
And through the solid Center sunk to Hell:
The murm’ring Fiends all hover’d round about,
And in hoarse howls did the great Bawd salute;
Amaz’d to see a sordid Lump of Clay
Stain’d with more various, bolder Crimes than they.
Nor were her Torments less; for the dire Train }
Soon sent her, howling, through the roiling Flame }
To the sad Seat of everlasting Pain! }
Creswell and Stratford the same footstps tread;
In Sin’s black Volume so profoundly read,
That, whensoere they die, we well may fear,
The very Tincture of the Crimes they bear,
With strange Infusion will inspire the dust,
And the Grave commit true acts of Lust.

     And now, if so much to the World’s reveal’d,
Reflect on the vast store that lies conceal’d.
How, oft, into their Closets they retire, }
Where flaming Dil– does inflame desire, }
And gentle Lap-d--s feed the am’rous fire. }
How curst is Man! when Brutes his Rivals prove,
Ev’n in the sacred business of his Love!
Unless Religion pious thoughts instil }
Shew me the Woman that would not be ill, }
If she, conveniently, cou’d have her will? }
And when the mind’s corrupt, we all well know
The actions that proceed from’t must be so:
Their guilt’s as great who any ill would do,
As theirs who, actually, that ill pursue;
That they would have it so their Crime assures;
Thus, if they durst, all Women would be Whores.
At least (and ‘tis what all Men will allow)
Most would be so that yet seem virtuous now.

     Forgive me, Modesty, if I have been,
In any thing I’ve mention’d here, obscene.
But ah! Why shou’d I ask that Boon of thee,
When ‘tis a doubt if such a thing there be?
For Woman, in whose Breast thou’rt said to reign, }
And show the glorious Conquest thou dost gain, }
Despises thee, and only courts thy name: }
(Sounds, though we can’t perceive ‘em, we may hear,
And wonder at their Echoing through the Air)
Thus, led by what delusive Fame imparts,
We think thy Thron’s erected in their ‘’hearts,’‘
But w’are deceiv’d, as, ‘Faith, we ever were,
For, if thou art, ’tis sure thou art not there.
Nothing in that black Mansion does reside,
But rank Ambition, Luxury and Pride:
Pride is the Deity they most adore;
Hardly their own dear selves they cherish more:
Survey their very looks you’ll find it there;
How can you miss it when ‘tis every where?
Some, through all hunted Nature’s secrets trace
To fill the furrows of a wrinkled Face,
And after all their toil (pray mark the Curse)
They’ve only made that which was bad much worse:
As some, in striving to make ill coin pass,
Have but the more discover’d that ‘twas brass.
Nay those that are reputed to be fair,
Who, one would think, God had form’d so compleat,
They had no need to make his Gifts a cheat;
Yet they, too, in Adulteration share,
And would, in spite of nature, be more fair.
Deluded Woman! Tell me, where’s the gain
In spending time upon a thing so vain?
Your precious time! (O to your selves unkind!)
When ‘tis uncertain y’ave an hour behind
That you can call your own: for though y’are fair,
Charming and kind as Guardian Agnels are,
Adorn’d by Nature, fitted out by Art
In all the glories that delude the heart;
Yet tell me, tell, have they the power to save?
Or can they privilege you from the Grave?
The Grave which favors not the rich, or fair;
Beauty with Beast lies undistinguish’d there.
     But hold – methinks I’m interrupted here
By some vain Fop I neither love, nor fear;
Who, in these words, his weakness does reveal,
And hurts that wound which he should strive to heal.

     Soft, Sir, methinks you too inveterate grow,
And more your Envy than Discretion show.
Who’d blame the Sun because he shines so bright,
That we can’t gaze on his refulgent light,
When, at the self-same time, he cheers the Earth,
And gives the various Plants and Blossoms Birth?
How does the Winter look, that naked thing,
Compar’d with the fresh glories of the Sping?
Rivers adorn the Earth, the Fish the Seas,
Flowers and Grass the Meadows, Fruit the Trees,
The Stars whose Fields of Air through which they ride;
And Woman all the works of God beside!
Yet base, detractive Envy won’t allow
They should adorn themselves: then pray, Sir, now
Produce some Reasons why y’are so severe;
For, Envious as you are, you know they’re Fair.

     And so were Sodom’s Apples, heretofore,
But they were still found rotten at the Core.
Nature, without dispute, made all things fair,
And drest ‘em in an unaffected Air:
Proclaim their Maker’s boundless Love and Power;
But they as they were made at first remain,
And all their ancient Lustre still retain.
Nothing but vain, Fantastick Woman’s chang’d,
And through all mischiefs various Mazes rang’d:
Yet, that they’re Beautiful is not deny’d;
But, tell me, are th’ unhandsome free from Pride?
No, no; the straight, the crooked, ugly, fair,
Have all, promiscuously, an equal share.
Thus, Sir, you see how they’re estrang’d and straid
From what, by Nature, they at first were made.

     Already many of their Crimes I’ve nam’d;
Yet that’s untold for which they most are fam’d:
A ‘’Sin,’‘ tall as the ‘’Pyramids’‘ of old,
From whose aspiring top we may behold
Enough to damn a World: - what should it be,
But (Curse upon the Name!) ‘’Inconstancy?’‘
O tell me, does the World those Men contain,
(For I have look’d for such, but look’d in vain)
Who ne’er were drawn into that fatal snare?
Fatal I call it, for he’s curst that’s there.
Inspir’d then by my Fellow-Surferers wrongs,
(And glad I am the task to me belongs)
I’ll bring the ‘’Fiend’‘ unmask’t to human sight,
Though hid in the black Womb of deepest night.
No more the Wind, the faithless Wind, shall be
A ‘’Simile’‘ for their ‘’Inconstancy’‘
For that sometimes is fix’t; but ‘’Woman’s’‘ mind
Is never fixt, or to one point inclin’d:
Less fixt than a Storm the Billows are,
Or trembling Leaves the ‘’Aspen’‘ Tree does bear,
Which ne’r stand still, but (every way inclin’d)
Turn twenty times with the least breath of wind.
Less fixt than wanton ‘’Swallows’‘ while they play
In the Sun-beams, to welcome in the Day;
Now yonder, now they're here, as quickly there,
In no place long, and yet are every where.
Like a toss’d ‘’Ship’‘ their Passions fall and rise; }
One while you’d think it touch’t the very Skies, }
When straight upon the Sand it grov’ling lies. }
Ev’n she her self, ‘’Silvia’‘ th’ lov’d and fair,
Whose one kind look could save me from ‘’Despair,’‘
She, she whose Smiles I valu’d at that rate,
To enjoy them I scron’d the Frowns of Fate;
Ev’n she her self (but ah! I’m loth to tell,
Or blame the Crimes of one I lov’d so well;
But it must out – ) ev’n she, swift as the Wind, }
Swift as the Airy Motions of the mind, }
At once prov’d false and perjur’d, and unkind! }
Here they, to day, invoke the Powers above
As Witnesses to their Immortal love;
When lo! Away the ‘’airy Phantom’‘ flies,
And e’r it can be said to live, it dies:
Thus, all Religious Vows and Oaths they break
With the same ease and freedom as they speak.
Nor is that sacred Idol, ‘’Marriage,’‘ free;
‘’Marriage,’‘ which musty Drones affirm to be
The Tie of Souls as well as Bodies! nay, }
The Spring that does, through unseen Pipes, convey }
Fresh sweets to life, and drives the bitter dregs away! }
The sacred ‘’Flame,’‘ the Guardian ‘’Pile of Fire’‘ }
That guides our steps to ‘’Peace!’‘ nor does expire, }
Till it has left us nothing to desire! }
Ev’n thus adorn’d, the ‘’Idol’‘ is not free
From the swift-turns of their ‘’Inconstancy:’‘
Witness th’ ‘’Ephesian Matron,’‘ - - - -
Who to the Grave with her dead Husband went,
And clos’d her self up at his ‘’Monument,’‘
Where on the cold Marble she lamenting lay; }
In sighs she spent the night, in tears the day, }
And seem’d to have no use of Life, but to mourn it all away: }
The wond’rignt World extoll’d her faithful mind,
Extoll’d her as the best of Womankind!
But see the World’s mistake, and, with it, see
The strange effects of wild ‘’Inconstancy!’‘
For she her self, e’n in that sacred room, }
With one brisk, vig’rous onset was o’ercome, }
And made a ‘’Brothel’‘ of her Husband’s ‘’Tomb!’‘ }
Whose pale Ghost trembl’d in its sacred shroud,
Wond’ring that Heav’n th’ impious act allow’d;
Horror in robes of darkness stalkt around,
And through the frighted Tomb did groans resound;
The very ‘’Marbles’‘ wept; the Furies howl’d,
And, in hoarse murmurs, their amazement told:
All this shook not the dictates of her mind,
But, with a boldness suited to her kind,
She made her Husband’s Ghost (in death a slave)
Her necessary ‘’Pimp’‘ ev’n in his Grave.
What need I fetch these Instances from ‘’old’‘?
There ‘’now’‘ live those that are as bad and bold,
Of ‘’Quality’‘; young, vig’rous, lustful, fair,
But for their Husband’s sakes their Names I spare.
Are these (ye Gods!) The Virtues of a ‘’Wife,’‘
The peace that crowns a matrimonial Life?
Is this the sacred Prize for which we fight, }
And hazard Life and Honour with delight? }
Bliss of the day, and Rapture of the night! }
The reins that guide us in our wild Careers?
And the Supporter of our feeble years?
No, no, ‘tis contradiction; rather far,
They are the cause of all our Bosom-War;
The very source and fountain of our Woe,
From whence Despaire and Doubt for ever flow;
The Gall that mingles with our best delight,
Rank to the taste and nauseous to the sight;
A days, the weight of ‘’care’‘ that clogs the Breast,
At night, the ‘’hag’‘ that does disturb our rest:
Our mortal Sickness in the midst of health,
Chains in our Freedom, Poverty in Wealth:
Th’ Eternal Pestilence and Plague of Life, }
Th’ original and Spring of all our strife: }
These, rather, are the Virtues of a clam’rous Wife! }

     O why, ye awful Powers, why was’t your will
To mix our solid good with so much ill?
But you foresaw our Crimes would soar too high,
And so made them your Vengeance to supply:
For, not the wild, destructive waste of ‘’War’‘,
Nor all the endless Lab’rinths of the ‘’Bar’‘,
Famine, Revenge, Perpetual loss of health;
No, nor that grinning Fiend despair it self,
When it insults with most Tyrannick sway,
Can plague, or torture man so much as they!
But hold; don’t let me blame the Power’s divine,
Or, at the wond’rous works they made, repine;
‘’All’‘ first was ‘’good,’‘ form’d by th’ eternal will,
Though much has since degenerated to ‘’ill:’‘
Ev’n Woman was, they say, made chaste and good,
But ah! Not long in that blest State she stood;
Swift as a ‘’Meteor’‘ glides through air she fell,
And show’d, to love that ‘’Sex’‘ too much, is one sure way to Hell.

     Beware then, dull, deluded Man, beware; }
And let not vicious Women be the snare, }
To make you the Companions of ‘em there: }
Scorn their vain smiles, their little arts despise,
And your content at that just value prize,
As not to let those rav’nous Thieves of Prey,
Rifle and bear the sacred Guest away:
‘Tis they, ‘tis they that rob us of that ‘’Gem,’‘
How could we lose it were it not for them?
Avoid ‘em, then, with all the gaudy Arts
They daily practice to amuse our hearts;
Avoid ‘em as you would avoide their Crimes,
Which, like a Torrent loose, o’erflow the Times.

     But now should some (for ‘tis too sure we may
Find many Coxcombs that will own their sway)
Should such revile the wholesome Rules I give,
And, in contempt of what is spoke, still live
Like base-soul’d Slaves, and Fetters chuse to wear, }
When they may be as unconfin’d as Air, }
Or the wing’d Racers that Inhabit there; }
May all the Plagues an ‘’ill Wife’‘ can invent
Pursue ‘em with eternal Punishment:
May they - - but stay, my Curses I forestall,
For in that ‘’one’‘ I’ve comprehended all. - -
But say, ‘’Sir’‘, if some ‘’Pilot’‘ on the Main,
Should be so mad, so resolutely vain,
To steer his Vessel on that fatal shore,
Where he has seen ten thousand wrack’d before;
Though he should perish there, say, would you not
Bestow a Curse on the notorious ‘’Sot?’‘
Trust me, the Man’s as much to blame as he, }
Who ventures his frail ‘’Bark’‘ out, wilfully, }
On the rough, rocky, ‘’Matrimonial Sea’‘; }
Selfish, his Breast is with vain hopes possest,
For why should he speed better than the rest?