The Amyntas of Tasso/Act 2

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3998930The Amyntas of Tasso — Act II.Percival StockdaleTorquato Tasso


The SATYR alone.

SMALL is the bee, yet sorely doth it wound;
It shoots a cruel, agonizing sting.
Yet Love is less; 'tis imperceptible.
In charming, though diminutive retreats,
The little tyrant takes his deadly aim.
Oft does he lurk beneath an eye-brow's arch,
And there he kills us with the visual ray,
That animated passage of the soul:
Couched in a flowing lock of golden hair,
From that soft ambush oft the subtle urchin
Peeps out, and deals an unexpected death.
Oft doth he ply his arrows from a dimple;
And from that covert, seemingly the seat
Of smiles, and innocence he slyly plays
Destruction on the unwary, fond admirer.
I burn with love; it tingles through my frame;
The unrelenting deity hath emptied
His quiver on me, from fair Sylvia's eyes.
Oh cruel Love! yet still more cruel Sylvia!
A tongue oracular gave thee thy name;
For thou art truly sylvan: nay, the woods
Harbour not such a fell, remorseless brood
As thy inhuman bosom nourisheth.
The woods afford, under their verdant foliage,
Shelter to snakes, to lions, and to bears:
Thy snowy breast, whose mild, luxurious view
Invites to rapturous joy, and balmy peace,
Perfidiously conceals disdain, and hatred,
And hard inflexibility; those monsters,
More savage far than snakes, or bears, or lions.
These may be tamed by art, and blandishment;
But those we cannot win by gift, or prayer.
When I for thee, my amorous soul absorbed
In thy idea, cull the choicest flowers;
And offer them with love's humility,
Thou haughtily rejectest them; perhaps
Because thy cheeks excel their glowing hue.
When thy assiduous lover offers thee
Pomona's boon, the mellow, fragrant apple,
The mellow, fragrant apple thou refusest;
Perhaps because thy bosom swells with fruit
More tempting, and more exquisitely poignant.
Alas! from me no tribute wilt thou take;
When to propitiate thee I climb the rock,
And of it's golden treasure rob the bee,
The golden treasure thou wilt not accept,
Disdainful nymph! perhaps because thy lip
Is moistened with a more ambrosial dew.
But if I'm poor, and can not give thee aught,
But what thou hast thyself in more perfection,
I offer thee my person:—Scornful maid.
By what pretext refuseft thou this tender?
I am not so unseemly, if aright
I viewed myself of late in Neptune's mirror,
When Æther was serene, and not a breeze
Curled the smooth bosom of the glassy deep.
My sanguine, hale complexion; my broad shoulders,
My brawny arms with sinews prominent,
My shaggy breast, and thighs thick-cloathed with hair,
Give me not to thee for a mortal stripling,
But prove the matchless vigour of a god.
What dost thou hope from languid, beardless boys,
Who having nothing that deserves thy favour,
Nothing substantial, nothing efficacious,
Endeavour to promote their suit by trifles:
Their dress, and hair composed with childish foppery:
Mere females in appearance, and in strength.
Suppose now such a tricked out paramour
Should o'er the mount, or through the wood attend thee,
And meet a hungry wolf, or grisly boar;
Say, for thy sake durst he oppose the savage?
No; soon he would be seized with pallid fear,
And soon the coward would desert his mistress;
Hurried away by ignominious flight.
I know I am not ugly; nor dost thou
Despise me for my person and my face.—
No; 'tis because I'm poor—dire lust of gold!
The tyrant reigns with universal sway,
Is not confined to the rapacious city,
It reaches stiller life, it haunts the village,
It chases slumber from the peaceful cottage,
And spreads it's influence o'er the whole creation.
This would be justly named the age of gold;
For nought but gold avails; and without gold
Life stagnates; friendless, and deserted man
Dies of the frozen gripe of penury.
Even I, a god, feel poverty's effects.
Accursed be he who first set love to sale!
Cursed be his ashes! ne'er may nymph or swain
In passing, pray the gods for his quietus,
Or say—"Light lie the flowery turf on thee!"
But may the beating rains, and the rough winds,
And all the jarring elements of heaven,
With vengeful storm unherse the bones, and tear them
From earth's asylum; may the stranger's foot,
Flocks, and unwieldly herds, trample the rubbish.
Thou, base venality, the ugliest monster
Of all that land, or ocean e'er produced,
Didst first degrade the dignity of love;
That noble passion, which can only flourish
Enlivened by the smile of liberty.
It cannot bear the supercilious brow
Of stern restraint; whene'er the tyrant enters,
It flies indignant from the grim intruder.
But why these empty words?—befits it me
Thus to lament my unsuccessful passion?
Each being for it's use exerts the arms
Which nature gave; the stag avails himself
Of his swift feet; the lion with his paw,
Terror and death unsheathing, gripes his prey,
And scruples not to crush it; the fierce boar
With whetted tusk destroys; nay even weak woman,
So fearful in appearance, and so gentle,
Kills with a look, or with a graceful motion,
Whene'er she would extend her amorous empire.
These rightly act as nature hath impressed them.
And should I foolishly reject her bounty,
And let her providence lie dead in me?
No:—Since with strength resistless I'm endowed,
I will employ that strength; I will extort
The bliss which a capricious nymph denies me,
As the just recompence of ardent love.
A trusty goat-herd who for me observes
The secret haunts and practices of Sylvia,
Hath told me that it is her frequent custom,
Tired with the chace, to seek a silver fountain,
And there, unnoticed as she thinks, to bathe
Her snowy limbs in the translucent stream.
I know the place; my vassal showed it me:
Thither will I repair, and midst the shrubs
And bushes lie concealed, and wait her coming.
First will I feast upon her naked charms;
Then, stung with love, and rage, rush out upon her.
How shall a tender maid my fierce attack
Baffle by opposition, or by flight?
What will they prove against my strength, and swiftness?
Her tears, her eloquence, inforced by beauty,
Shall nought avail; I'll rifle all her charms;
And after I will take more deep revenge.
This vengeful hand I'll fasten in her locks;
And with her blood I will distain the ground:
Her pride shall pay the forfeit of her life;
Her life the victim which my honour calls for:
A puny mortal hath despised a god.
For slighted tenderness is sure to find
Just vindication from a generous mind;
The bosom feels a new, destructive fire,
Which deadens pity, but inflames desire.


Thyrsis, I've long perceived Amyntas' flame
For Sylvia; and heaven knows how oft
I've warmly pleaded for the hapless swain.
And I am ready with more earnestness
To urge his interest now, since you espouse it.
But trust me, I would rather undertake
To tame the playful steer, the bear, the tiger,
Than this same simple, foolish, beauteous girl,
Who will not know the charms she is endowed with,
The power, the bliss that heaven has lodged with woman;
Yet kills, with all her childish heedlessness;
Kills, though she hath not learned to take an aim.

Strange is her constitution—for thy sex
Are busied from their infancy to know
What dress, and manner best become their person,
And all the arts that steal away the soul,
Elaborate, and yet displayed with ease:
To know to give a meditated death,
Under the snare of trivial, airy pleasure;
To know the whole machinery of love——
To know what engines kill, what only wound;
What lenitives asswage the lover's pain;
What are the potent charms that bring him back
From Pluto's confines to the golden day;
From drooping nature to the bloom of health,
And all the sweets of fancy's paradise.

You paint a curious art; say who bestows it?

Daphne, thy question is a female wile;
Thou feignest ignorance to discover mine.
Who taught the birds their musick, and their flight?
Who taught the fish to swim, the ram to butt,
The peacock to unfurl his glistening train?

What is the name of this surprizing teacher?

Daphne, the name.

False, ridiculing tongue!

Reject not quite my strong hyperbole:
Thou an adept sufficient art in love,
In all its mystery, to erect a school,
And teach a thousand girls the pleasing system.
Indeed the school by Nature is precluded;
They have the science from her inspiration;
Yet nature owes a part to education;
The mother, and the nurse, improve her dictates;
Open, and throw them into ready practice.

Come; you're a phlegmatick, a gloomy reasoner.
I like not speculation; I will make
A female, but a pertinent transition,
And pass to woman's easy narrative.
To tell thee truth, I question much that Sylvia
Is in the tender art so unenlightened,
As from her words, and conduct she appears.
Her yesterday's behaviour caused my doubts.
I chanced to find her near the spacious meadow,
Adjacent to the city; in that meadow
Thou knowest there is a small peninsula,
Cloathed with a verdant turf, and gay with flowers;
'Tis almost by the large transparent lake
Surrounded. By this lake was Sylvia seated;
She stooped intently o'er the limpid mirror,
Admiring, as I thought, her image there.
She seemed consulting, too, the faithful water;
How with most grace she might collect her hair,
How best adorn it with the gifts of Flora,
Which on her lap in rich profusion lay.
She took by turns the lily, pink, and rose,
And to her cheeks and neck by turns applied them,
With vain comparison: a laugh succeeded
Of self-complacency, of female triumph,
Which might be thus translated into language,
"Ye vanquished flowers, where is your boasted hue?
Me nature hath suffused with brighter glow.
I have no need of you; but I will wear you,
Not for my ornament, but for your shame;
Not that your active aid may push my conquests,
Attract more notice from the swains, and pour
A fuller lustre on the wondering eye;
But that your beauties, drawing force no more,
From the soft verdure of your mother-earth,
Faded and sunk, may give relief to mine."
But while she thus was busied in admiring
Her charms, and meditating future triumphs;
She accidentally turned round, and saw me.
She rose confused, let fall the flowers, and blushed.
I laughed at her confusion; and my laugh
Fluttered her more, and raised her deeper blushes.
But as her art already had disposed
Part of her hair, and part remained dishevelled;
I could observe her sometimes steal a look
To the clear water of sweet information,
And smile to see her half-embellished figure:
For charms in negligence ne'er fail to please,
Admit an infinite variety; nay, seem
More free, and more expanded by disorder.
I heedfully remarked these circumstances;
Though at the time I seemed not to observe them.

By your account of Sylvia, my suspicions
Are verified; did I not shrewdly guess?

You did—but can it be that human kind
Had all this early craft in former days?
No—when I was myself of Sylvia's age,
I was a stranger quite to dark design;
Simply I thought, and simply spoke, and acted.
The world grows old; and growing old, grows worse:
The world collectively, like individuals,
Is chilled, and hardened by the hand of time;
Loses the genial mellowness of nature,
The vigorous flow of large philanthropy,
Contracted, shrivelled, and locked up in self.

Perhaps in earlier times the human form
Had not so much, within, the hungry wild beast;
Went not so much abroad in quest of prey.
Inhabitants of noisy capitals
Sought not so oft our rural shades to breathe in,
Cloyed with a multiplicity of pleasure,
Smiting the healthy minds of cottagers
With the contagion of distempered fancy.
Nor did our country-girls so often seek
The baleful atmosphere of publick life.
Different the practice of our modern times:
Man mixes universally with man;
Hence man is universally corrupted.
Life is disfigured; we but see the ruins
Of our original unblemished nature.—
Enough of this; say, canst thou not procure
An interview with Sylvia, for Amyntas,
Without a witness, or, at most with thee.

I know not; never did a simple girl
Affect a shyness so reserved as Sylvia's.

And never girl so shy as Sylvia found
A lover so respectful as Amyntas.

A lover too respectful, is a fool.
Tell him to quit the hardy trade of love,
Or lay aside that distant, timid homage.
He that would practise the true art of love,
Must quicken his respect with well timed courage.
Let him be bold; and if he wants a favour,
Sollicit, importune; and if he finds
Sollicitation, importunity,
Are feeble, ineffectual mediators;
Let him embrace a gay, unguarded moment,
To steal with dexterous theft the wished-for bliss.
And if his circumspection cannot steal it;
Let him risk all to win the golden prize,
And seize it with a gallant violence.
Women well know to wield their proper weapons;
Or women would be blanks in the creation:
It is not in their province to procure
Protection and respect from selfish man
By their strong influence in society.
They have no hold of the proud, lordly being,
Except the tender, silken bands of pleasure;
And if their tension is not nice, they break.
This tension is the politicks of love.
We must not give, the moment you demand,
Or we should nothing have worthy of giving.
Would you enjoy? the way to your enjoyment
Must not be plain; but you must climb, and struggle
To reach the arduous pinnacle of bliss.
Great part of happiness precedes fruition,
And mingles with the labour of acquiring.
The trifling part the sensual organs give us,
Is gross, and animal, and soon grows vapid;
The finer part, which rises from the mind,
Is lasting, active, spirit all, and Æther,
Worthy a being raised above the brutes.
In every nerve it beats, through every pore
It breathes, it's ardour buoys our mortal frame;
It purifies, it subtilizes matter,
And gives to man the pleasures of a god.
It cheers existence in whatever state;
Warms us on Caucasus, and on the line
It fans us with a cool Italian breeze.
We must not give the moment you demand,
Or we would dwindle in your estimation
From goddesses to despicable slaves.
No, we must grant with coyness, and reserve,
Not seemingly to gratify ourselves;
But as a stately empress would vouchsafe
Some signal favour to a trusty vassal.
Thus do we keep our gentle majesty.
Hence all the necessary tricks of love;
We fly, and wish our swain may overtake us:
When we refuse, we wish the thing requested,
By art, or force, may be extorted from us;
And when we struggle with a mock resistance,
We wish that our resistance may be baffled.
Thyrsis, to you I show, without reserve,
The whole œconomy of female love.
But have a care; repeat not what I've told you;
And above all let not your wanton satire
Lash, in keen verse, the government of women:
You know I can in verse return the charge;
Man for my fatire is an ample field,
And I am too a favourite of the Muses.

How canst thou think that I would let a word
Escape this tongue, that would offend my friend?
But I conjure thee, by that time when love
Spoke his first language in those radiant eyes,
That thou wouldst plead Amyntas' cause, and try
To reconcile to life the dying swain.

Oh! what an adjuration thou hast thought of!
How couldst thou make me thus approximate
My past, for ever past, and present days!
My gay, my blooming spring, and withering autumn!
But say how would you have me interpose?

I will not plan for you; be but resolved
To serve my friend, and you will find the means.

There let the matter rest: Sylvia, and I,
Such our agreement was, are soon to go
To Cynthia's fountain; where the plane-tree forms
O'er the clear element a quivering shade.
There the tired huntresses are often seated,
To catch the grateful coolness of the place.
Sylvia to-day in that retreat will bathe
Her snowy limbs in the translucent water.

What does this lead to?

What does it lead to, sayst thou?
Is not a word a lecture to the wise?.

I understand you; but I fear he has not
Courage enough for amorous enterprize.

Then he should better brook his disappointments,
And wait with patience till his mistress woos him.

Such is the merit of my friend Amyntas,
That he almost deserves that condescension.

But let us wave Amyntas for the present;
Let me awhile speak to the heart of Thyrsis.
Hast thou with purpose stern, and unnatural
Determined ne'er to taste the joys of love?
Thou hast not passed as yet the prime of life.
Sure thirty summers have not flushed that face;
And shouldst thou make thy fleeting, precious youth
An indolent, an unenjoying period?
For all life's other scenes, compared with love,
Are trifling, and unsatisfactory;
They're only children's unideal play;
Like it they actuate not, and feed the heart,
And spring it's vigour with a bolder tone:
Nothing but love deserves the name of pleasure.

He who on love rushes not prematurely,
Is not, for that, deserted by the God;
He is not galled with love's asperities;
And when it comes, it smoothly flows upon him.
He lounges not, but waits for an occasion;
Haply at last his prudence finds a maid
Whose heart, susceptible, and sympathetick,
In concord sweet revibrates to his own.
Thus does the wary connoisseur in love,
Taste all it's joys, and all it's pains elude;
He scapes the prickles of the flower; he crops
Nought but the sweets of that Arabian rose.

Man loves activity, and enterprize:
The sweet unseasoned with a dash of bitter
Is soon succeeded by satiety.

I rather would be satiate than oft stung
With an inordinate and painful craving.

Not surely if you have a high regale:
And if that high regale, when 'tis enjoyed,
Impresses an Elysium on the memory,
Raising the joy of every repetition.

But who possesses that celestial object,
With whom he still is pleased, who still is pleasing,
Who watches ever o'er her lover's bliss;
Conspires with all his sentiments of joy,
Jealous to send away none unfulfilled?

And pray what man can look for such a mate,
Unless he diligently tries to find her?

The acquisition is worth seeking for:
But oh! the search is dangerous; oft it brings us
Nought but the keenest anguish in return.
Thyrsis again will never be a lover,
Till he finds love an easier situation,
Exempted more from sighs, complaints, and tears:
Enough I've sighed; enough I have complained;
And therefore I have made a truce with love:
Rashly to plunge into the fatal passion,
I leave to confident, unpractised minds,
To minds just entering on a world of woe.

Why would you prematurely cease to love,
Before you've had your share of it's enjoyment?

Daphne, the large remainder of enjoyment,
Which yet the prime of manhood promises,
I rather would forego than pay it's price,
It's usual price, inestimable quiet.

Involuntary love may mock your plan;
May rise, and when he rises in the breast,
He will not easily be argued down.

I keep aloof, at distance from the tyrant.

Unthinking mortal! who is far from love?
All space he actuates, like almighty Jove;
Pervades each atom of the universe.

Who fears, and flies him, certainly escapes him.

Would you pretend to fly a winged god?

At first, by Providence's kind decree,
Leaving it in our power to fly from ruin,
He meditates attack with feeble wing.
Short are the flights he takes, and near the ground.
He beats, and flutters, like a captive sparrow,
Which strives in vain to mount with shortened pinions,
The cruel pastime of some idle boy.
But if with love we trifle, and admit him
To hazardous familiarity,
Neglecting to repel his childish onset,
He soon gains strength, he soon becomes our master.
He haunts us waking, haunts us in our dreams;
With vigorous flight bursts through the cottage window:
If we seek shelter from his persecution
In the remotest corner of a forest,
We there elude not his persuit; for there
With eagle-wing he overtakes his prey.

But commonly too late we see our danger;
We see it when in vain we would escape it;
When Cupid hath ensured his victory.

You speak of unexperienced, easy victims.

Well Thyrsis, much I would rejoice to see
Thy philosophick discipline subdued.
And I protest, since thou dost arrogate
The stag's velocity, and lynxis sight,
If love should take thee, unprepared, and wound thee,
I mean inflict a deep, tormenting wound,
And thou shouldst come to Daphne for assistance,
I would not stir my tongue, not stir a finger,
To mitigate thy cruel destiny.
No, could a magick movement of my eye-brow,
Thy nymph propitiate to thy tender suit,
The magick eye-brow should not move to save thee.

What, Daphne, could you see me then expiring,
And not stretch out a friendly hand to help me?
But since you seem determined I shall love,
Deign you to be the object of my love.
Give me your hand; we from this day will vow
Only to live to make each other happy.

I know your proffer is but irony.
Yet much I question whether you deserve
So good a mistress as you'd find in me.
In general men are superficial fools;
Admiring but the surface of our worth.
An easy shape, fine face, and sparkling eye,
Are all that strike their gross imagination,
Impassive to superiour mental beauty.

I was not jesting Daphne, but as you
Are mistress of the theory of woman,
You will, by rule, decline the first proposal.
But if you seriously reject my tender,
I will resolve to bid adieu to love.

Why shouldst thou, Thyrsis, bid adieu to love?
Thy happy circumstances love invites:
Love is of delicate and tender growth,
By life's inclemencies 'tis nipt and blighted.
To flourish in perfection, it demands
The fostering ray of warm prosperity.
You have been fortunate, you're blessed with affluence,
And affluence is the soil for love to spring on.

Daphne, a [1]god bestowed this affluence on me;
For he shall ever be a god to me.
By all our swains he should be deemed a god.
'Tis he whose lowing herds, and bleating flocks,
Are spread through Italy to either sea;
They're pampered on our most luxuriant plains,
And live more hardly on our Apennines.
When first my patron to his service took me,
He thus addressed his swain in words benign:
"Thyrsis, let others guard from wolves, and robbers
"My well-fenced folds; let others to my servants
"Justly dispense rewards and punishments;
"Let others feed my flocks, and have the charge
"Of milk, and wool, and all the rural stores:
"Let finer objects fill thy tuneful mind,
"And vacant be it's powers to sacred song."
Whence it is meet I should employ my genius
On themes sublimer than terrestrial love;
And strive to celebrate in sounding strains
The ancestors of my divinity;
Whether my Phœbus, or my Jove to deem him,
I know not, for his attributes resemble
Both deities; a mighty master he,
A guardian of celestial poesy;
A friend, a benefactor of mankind.
Hence to our woods I oft commit the deeds
Of Cœlus, and of Saturn; and he deigns
With ear propitious to receive my verse;
Whether in simple Doric mode I chant it,
Or with the nobler powers of harmony.
Not that himself I e'er presume to sing;
The fittest homage he can have from me,
Is mute admiring reverence; yet his altar,
Shall oft be strewed with my devoted flowers;
And often there shall my religious incense
Exhale in fragrant odour to the skies.
And when this holy gratitude forsakes me,
All nature shall renounce its present course:
The stag shall quit the lawns, and seek the sky;
Rivers shall backwards to their fountains flow,
Shall be transported from their native channels;
The Persian drink the Soane, the Gaul the Tigris.

Thyrsis, you mount; you grow enthusiastick;
You wander from the theme of your discourse.

This is our point; when to Diana's spring
You go with Sylvia, try to mollify her,
Try to subdue her stubborn soul to love.
Mean while it shall be mine to school Amyntas,
And fit him for a gallant enterprize.
My task is no less difficult than yours.
Daphne, the time is precious; prithee, go.

I go; yet once again I must remind thee,
The theme of our discourse thou hast neglected.

If by the distance I am not deceived,
I see Amyntas come this way; 'tis he.
Venus, and Cupid animate my friend
To use the means conducive to his end;
To action rouze his timorous, plaintive heart,
For passion is not all the lover's part.


Thyrsis, I come to know my destiny.
And if thy kind endeavours nought avail
To soothe the fate of thy unhappy friend,
I am resolved to bleed in Sylvia's presence,
The cruel cause of all my tender woes;
She, who rejoices thus to see me wither,
Soul-smitten by the lightning of her eye;
My irremediable death will sure enjoy,
Will sure enjoy the last, decisive blow.

Amyntas, drop these idle lamentations;
They never gain a step: put on the man.
I bring thee tidings that should comfort thee.

What are the tidings? Speak; I'm on the rack!
Art thou a messenger of life, or death?

A messenger of life, and happiness;
Provided thou hast firmness to procure them.
In short, to gain the blessings I announce,
Thou must assume a dauntless resolution.
Reflect on providence's ways to man.
The goods best worth our acquisition are
The fruits of courage, toil, and perseverance.
These rugged avenues to life's first treasures,
Enhance our value of the great possessors,
Making their well-earned glory venerable.
If sacrilegiously they could be snatched
With hand profane, and yield to mere volition,
Then would the soul supine, by lavish nature
Stored with the seeds of flowery sentiment,
Wanton in vigorous, and immortal strains,
Without the necessary, happy labour;
And knaves exchanging vice for easy virtue,
Rise in a moment to divine perfection.
Love likewise must be brave, and persevering.

Thy eloquence ill-timed bespeaks the danger
Extreme that I must undergo to win
My cruel fair; but out with it at once;
I'll meet it with a violence as great
As all it's horror can affront me with.

Suppose thy mistress in a lonely wood;
That lonely wood on every side hemmed in
With precipices, and mishapen rocks;
Those rocks resounding to the lion's roar,
Those rocks the dreadful haunts of prowling tigers;
Say, to redeem her thence couldst thou defy
The rock mishapen, and the prowling savage?

Thyrsis, I'd thither go, bold and secure,
With foot as fearless as when I betake me
To rural pastime on a festal day.

Suppose thy Sylvia was a prey to robbers,
To robbers armed, and desperate; wouldst thou dare
The ruffians to attack for her deliverance?

Would I attack them? Yes, with that assurance,
Yes, with that eagerness, with which the stag
His thirst appeases at the purling fountain.

Expect some greater proof; you must display
In warmer terms your amorous heroism.

Thyrsis, I'd for my Sylvia cross the river,
When the relenting snow gorges its torrent,
In cataracts descending from the Alps;—
Thyrsis, l'd for my Sylvia tread the flame;
I'd go to Pluto's realms in quest of Sylvia.
Indeed no trial that; for Sylvia's presence
Would make grim Pluto and his kingdom smile;
Her eye would dissipate the gloom of hell,
It's anguish heal, and change it to Elysium.
Oh tell me quickly all I am to know!

Hear then—

—But trifle not; tell it me briefly.

Sylvia awaits thee at Diana's fountain,
Alone, and naked; will the timorous lover,
Let slip the golden opportunity?

What are the words that strike my ravished ear?
Does Sylvia wait for me alone, and naked?

Perhaps too Daphne may be there; but she
You know, with all her art assists your love.

Does she await me naked, says my Thyrsis?

Naked, I say, she doth await thee—but—

That cruel but, and hesitation kill me.

She knows not that you are to find her there.

Oh! galling end of a delusive tale!
It turns all the preceding sweets to bitter!
Inhuman Thyrsis, how dost thou torment me!
Thou shouldst pour balm into my bleeding wound;
Instead of that thou woundest me afresh,
Causing my former wound to smart, and fester.
Art thou my friend, or hast thou human nature?
Thou seest me overwhelmed with misery;
My load of misery seems to be thy sport;
Instead of striving to alleviate it,
With barbarous hand thou pressest down the burden.

If thou art ruled by me thou wilt be happy.

What is the counsel thou wouldst give me?

Be bold; avail thyself of this occasion.

Kind heaven forbid that I should e'er commit
Deliberate act that would offend my Sylvia!
I ne'er offended her but by my passion;
I could not blame myself for that; it was
Involuntary, irresistible:
Blame we the trembling, and obedient string,
That speaks, in musick, to the lyrist's finger?
Kind heaven forbid that I should e'er offend her,
By any action on myself depending.

Amyntas, answer me ingenuously:
Supposing thou couldst quit thy passion for her;
Tell me, that passion wouldst thou quit to please her?

No, though I could, I would not cease to love her;
Love will not let me harbour such an image;
Oh! 'tis a cold, and bleak one! to my mind
It makes the universe a dreary waste.

Then you confess in spight of her you'd love her;
Though in your power it were to cease your passion?

No—not in spight of her—yet I would love her—

But as the case is put, you own you'd love her
Against her will?

Why—yes—against her will.

Why will you then refuse, against her will,
To show a hardiness, which though, at first,
It may displease her virgin-modesty,
In time may be thy powerful advocate,
Soften her breast with tender imagery,
And give thee love's complete reciprocation!

I cannot answer thee; yet I'm inspired;
Even now I feel love speaking to my heart,
In torrents of tumultuous eloquence.
My struggling tongue more forcibly describes
The strong, and varied feelings of my soul
Than the most copious orator could paint them.
But thou art versed in all love's intricacies,
And use hath made the theme familiar to thee.

And will you then not go?

Yes, I will go;
But whither thou wouldst have me go, I will not.

Whither, Amyntas, wilt thou go?

To death;
If this is all thy friendship can effect,
To make my life wear a more chearful aspect.

And dost thou think that I effect so little?
Dost thou despise this opportunity?
Thou art a simple, poor, despairing lover.
Would Daphne have suggested this adventure,
Had the not seen a glimpse of Sylvia's heart,
Seen that it was disposed to favour thee?
'Tis probable she knows thy mistress loves thee,
But by her plighted word perhaps is bound
Not to reveal the secret of her friend.
Were it not for thy stature, I'd suppose
Thou just hadst left the cradle: dost thou wish
She would in terms express declare her passion?
But surely thou must know the declaration
Would ill agree with Sylvia's bashful nature.
What circumstance would more offend her pride,
Than if she knew you harboured such desire;
And yet you'd rather perish than offend her?
If she would rather that you should be happy
By artful theft, or bolder violence,
To you what difference is there how you win
Your happiness, provided you are happy?

Who can assure me that my Sylvia wishes
I'd undertake this love's knight-errantry?

Thou inconsistent man!—Bewitching passion!
Thy fascination dwindles manly reason
To the low, captious fancy of a child!
Again I tell thee, love is kept alive
By dangers, and by difficulties;
Without their necessary animation,
It loses all it's spirit, it grows dead.
Sylvia in thought thou dreadest to offend;
And yet, thou torpid lover, thou wouldst have
Certain anticipation of success;
Which, if she knew thou hadst, it would, most justly,
Against thee raise her keenest indignation.
Consider, though futurity is doubtful,
Yet thou mayst prosper in thy enterprize:
If then thou mayst, go boldly, and atchieve it.
For thy success is hazarded as much
By dull inaction as by brave attempt.
And if, all thy endeavours nought availing
To soften Sylvia's heart, thou needs must die;
Adorn thy death by some adventurous deed;
So shall the swains revere thy memory:
Timorous, or brave in love, thou canst but die;
Die bravely then; if thou embracest death
(And voluntary death bespeaks a mind
Of vigorous tone, and fit for great resolves)
Let it not, following tears, and puny whining,
Throw ridicule upon thy tragic-story.
Thy silence tells me reason hath prevailed;
Her power thou feelest; own, and be convinced
That thou at length art foiled in argument;
A surer victory wilt thou gain in love.
Go fearless to thy nymph.

Yet stay awhile.—

Why stay awhile? the rapid wing of time
Stays not a moment.

Let us yet consider
If I should execute this bold design,
And how I should conduct it.

As we go
We'll frame the measures for it's execution.
Since life's most eligible scenes contain,
With certain pleasure, their contingent pain;
The prudent man a steddy course will steer,
'Twixt rash presumption, and desponding fear:
Nothing is certain in our earthly state;
A seeming trifle may be big with fate.
But if we always are afraid to stir,
Left from our aim by moving we should err,
If all our projects die of cold delay,
Like a fixed, withering plant, we pine away;
No solid satisfaction can we share,
Our life a series of inactive care.


Say, love, what master shows thy art,
That sweet improver of mankind,
Which warms with sentiment the heart,
With information stores the mind?

Whence does the soul, disdaining earth,
To Æther wing it's ardent way;
Who gives the bold expressions birth,
That all it's images convey?

'Tis not to Greece's learned soil
The world this happy culture owes;
Which not from Aristotle's toil,
Nor yet from Plato's fancy flows.

Apollo, and the tuneful Nine,
Attempt the envied song in vain;
Their numbers are not so divine,
As is the lover's tender strain.

Scholastick art, the Muse's lyre,
In vain their privileges boast;
The lover breathes a purer fire;
He sings the best who feels the most.

No power above, and none below,
But thou, O love! can thee express;
To thee thy sentiments we owe;
To thee we owe their glowing dress.

Thou canst refine the simple breast,
And to a poet raise a swain;
His humble soul, by thee impressed,
Assumes a warm, exalted strain.

His manners take a nobler turn;
His inspiration we descry;
Upon his cheek we see it burn,
And speak, in lightning, from his eye.

With such a new, ideal store
Thy dictates fill the rustick mind;
Such oratory shepherds pour,
They leave a Cicero far behind.

Nay, such nice heights thy powers can reach,
With thee such varied rhetorick dwells,
That even the struggling, broken speech
The modelled period far excells.

Thy silence oft, in striking pause,
The lover's great ideas paints;
Sublime conception is it's cause;
The mind expands, but language faints.

Free, uncompressed, the thought appears,
Which words would aukwardly controul;
And nature holds our eyes, and ears;
We seem to hear, and see the soul.

The lettered youth let Plato's page
With generous sentiment inspire;
I'm better taught than by a sage,
And catch a more ethereal fire.

A nobler, and a speedier aid
My virtue hath from Cælia's eyes;
By them more happy I am made;
And as I'm happy, am I wise.

Let the mistaken world suppose
That nature in old Homer reigns;
Or, still more blindly think she flows
In Virgil's cold, and laboured strains.

I carve my love upon a tree;
Scholars consult it's faithful rind:
Throw books away, for there you'll see
A livelier copy of the mind.

End of the Second Act.

  1. Alphonso II. duke of Ferrara: Tasso had reason afterwards to think him a devil. Virgil made a god of a Roman emperour, upon a similar occasion. The Italians still look upon their dukes to be gods, Nobility stands not quite so high in the estimation of Englishmen.