University of Virginia Library

Search this document 
Amores Britannici

Epistles Historical and Gallant, In English Heroic Verse: From several of The Most Illustrious Personages of their Times. In Imitation of the Heroidum Epistolae of Ovid. With Notes explaining the Most Material Passages in every History [by John Oldmixon]

collapse sectionI. 
expand sectionII. 



The Earl of Salisbury being absent in France, the Scots attack his Castle in the North, where his Lady was Beseig'd: The Black Prince marches to relieve her, sees her from the Battlements of the Castle, falls in love with her; and the Earl dying sometime after, Marries her. His Passion for this Lady, and her Answer; are the Subject of the following Epistles

Edward the Black Prince, to the Countess Salisbury.

Tho' this Address is in a hateful Strain,
I suffer, and 'tis just I shou'd Complain.
Pitty the Pain my honest Heart endures,
Nor use it ill, because so soon 'twas yours.
With Smiles the profer of my Love receive,
The richest Present that a Prince can give.


No Frown thus distant, and unseen I fear,
And best this Paper will your Fury bear.
On this insensible, you'll wast your scorn,
'Twill nothing, use it as you please, return?
Shou'd you Condemn the writer to Despair,
This still entreats you, still it speaks you fair.
If you've a Soul to judge of good and ill,
And Justice, as it ought, directs your Will.
Consult this Guide, and in your Mind survey,
Or what shou'd further, or oppose my way?
Obey her Precepts, ev'ry Doubt remove,
Or tell me why you will or shoud'n Love.
Since things inanimate, so well agree,
They teach you how you ought to look on me?
As Eccho listens to the Shepherds sighs,
The sound she catches, and as fast Replies.
Two strings in Harmony, if tun'd alike
You move the Second, when the First you strike.
In those no Discord, as in you we find,
Whose Reason better, shou'd Inform your Mind.


Nature that made you so Divinely Fair,
Has giv'n you Sense to judge of what you are?
Too just to your Perfections, since you see,
No want in them or you, nor worth in me?
When your fair Hands, their wondrous softness feel,
That nothing, they believe, their touch excell.
When in your Glass, your Eyes, their Lustre view
The day they fancy 's not so bright as you.
And ev'ry grace, believes its self Divine
Not more, because 'tis good, than that 'tis thine.
Your Beauties like Narcissus are destroy'd,
By being by themselves too much enjoy'd:
Why shou'd you Languish with your own Desire,
'Tis needless, Beauty shou'd itself admire.
The Sun whose Beams diffusive or'e Mandkind,
Gives Light to all, yet to himself is blind.
Once I believ'd I cou'd thy Charms endure,
I gaz'd with Joy, yet hop'd I was secure?


But when their Graces to my Ruin joyn'd,
My Eyes convey'd the Poison to my Mind.
With safety I beheld their pow'r apart,
Whose force united triumph'd o'er my Heart.
In every glance some new delight I found,
And every future look encreas'd my Wound.
Till every Charm with equal rapture pleas'd,
And I no more distingusht which was best.
Till perfect to my Soul thy Beauties came,
And perfect as thy Beauty was my flame.
If, and 'tis strange, you hate to be belov'd,
Your Care is quickly with the Cause remov'd.
Say to your Eyes, thus far you shall extend
Your awful sway, and here desire shall end;
Or blunt the Darts that give the fatal Wounds,
Let Love prescrib'd, no more transgress his bounds.
This done—But oh! thou sooner mayst command
The restless Waves to sleep upon the Strand.


Despair may sooner think complaint in vain,
Pleasure be sooner reconcil'd to Pain.
Pride may grow humble, Envy gen'rous prove,
Than all that see thee wou'd forbear to love.
Our warlike Ancestors such Forts devis'd,
That by your Foes you might not be surpriz'd.
That your weak Sex might there securely rest,
Since Fear soon settles in a Womans Breast.
Tho' thine is of another temper far,
And fitter than thy Castle for the War.
This kindly dos thy Friends at least inclose,
But that resists alike both Friends and Foes.
Thy cruel Heart's invincible to all,
And more obdurate than the Marble Wall.
When Jove to wanton on a Virgins Breast,
Has chang'd the God, and in his wish been blest.
Of all the various shapes which he has try'd,
To cheat his Mistress, and his Godhead hide.
That suits me best, when in a golden show'r,
He rain'd on Danae in her brazen Tow'r.


I ne'er did envy his supream command,
Nor that he bears the Thunder in his hand;
But in so bright a storm I feign wou'd be,
As he to her that I might come to thee.
With Foes no longer you're begirt about,
But less besieg'd within than they without.
The Captive safer in your Bonds remains,
Than under brazen Bolts or iron Chains.
Such Thraldom I ere Liberty would choose,
And for such Chains Imperial Crowns refuse.
Were India's Treasures in thy Fort secur'd,
And with her Wealth thy lovely self immur'd.
Soon as your Foes this richer Treasure see,
They'll leave the worthless heap to follow thee.
What Arms your Towr's impregnible can win,
If to defend 'em you remain within?
Shou'd you your Eyes resistless force employ,
With every glance they wound, with every wound destroy.


Deeper their Arrows will transfix their hearts,
Than theirs can pierce you with a thousand Darts.
For there entrencht the Wariour Cupid lies,
And thence he proudly all the World defies.
No Want, no Famine have you need to fear,
There never can be Want where you are there.
Thy sight alone renews the vital Flood,
And comforts Life without the help of Food.
As at their post thy Soldiers keep their Ward,
So thy chaste wishes all thy actions guard.
Thy pulse with never ceasing motion beats,
Prepar'd to give th' alarm when danger threats.
Thy virtuous thoughts when all thy senses rest,
Like careful Scouts flie up and down thy Breast,
With honest Watch around their charge they keep,
From wrong defend thee, and protect thy sleep.
But tell me, may we not with reason fear,
You will not guiltless to the World appear?


So many by your Thefts have been undone,
Say, may they not at last demand their own?
Safe with your prize you in your Fort remain,
And hear the helpless Crowd without complain.
Nor Heaven, nor Earth, nor Nature have you spar'd,
But rob'd 'em all and well may want a Guard.
Your Eyes that wage with mine continual Wars,
Their sparkling brightness borrow from the Stars.
Your fragrant Lips which all your words adorn,
Stole their fresh beauties from the Orient Morn.
Your Cheeks to whom the water'd Lilly yields,
Have rob'd their graces from the flowry fields.
Your Breath has ravisht from Arabian Gums,
Their richest odours and their best perfumes.
Oh mighty Love exert thy utmost pow'r,
To force this fair Enchantress from her Tow'r.


Thus fenc'd if ere her Beauty wants supplies,
She'll pillage Nature and exhaust the Skies.
O'er thee she will in time usurp command,
And wrest the Scepter from thy Infant hand.
When to relieve you with my warlike pow'rs
I first arriv'd, and saw you from your Towr's,
You seem'd to my transported Soul so fair,
The Place I thought was Heaven, and you an Angel there.
But when by reason I those thoughts o'ercame,
And view'd this wonder as a mortal frame.
I cou'd no more the Scots attempt accuse,
For who to gain thee wou'd the War refuse?
In such a Treasure had his Realm been blest.
The barren Region had excell'd the East.
I march'd from his insult to set thee free,
I vanquish'd him, but am enslav'd by thee.
Thy danger's past, yet mine alas! remains,
And I amid my triumphs drag thy Chains.


Love in extreams unlawful methods tries,
And what his Fortune wants, his Wit supplies.
Jove by a mortal Nimph to be carest,
Has oft assum'd the Man, and oft the Beast.
By mighty Styx the Heav'nly Monarchs swears,
And false himself with Lovers falshoods bears.
Love matters not his Oaths to gain his Cause,
His pleasure is his Rule, his will his Laws.
When he's most true he most himself belies,
And in his want of Wisdom's only wise.
By lawless means he lawful bliss obtains,
And then is most sincere when most he feigns.
Forgive my fault to chastity and thee,
Since who can see thee and from fault be free?
'Tis then it ere the Gods themselves excell,
When they forgive their Creatures who rebel.
When all thy Tryals are enroll'd by Fame,
And all thy Sex made glorious by thy Name.
I shall be offer'd at thy virtue's shrine,
Mine the dishonour, and the glory thine.


I'll burn no longer with a guilty flame,
But change the Lovers for a Husbands name.
Thy House by thy descent is made divine,
Else I might boast my blood as good as thine.
'Tis England's Heir who woos thee to his Arms,
And sure a Crown, if not my Love has Charms.
Yet what I am I call my own no more,
Take what thou wilt, and what thou wilt restore.
For my past wishes let my future plead,
Forgive the bad, and let the good succeed.
May Heav'n the surest Guardian of the fair,
From wrong defend what best deserves his care.
Against thy Virtue all designs destroy,
And equal with thy wishes be thy joy.


The Countess of Salisbury to Edward the Black Prince.

As one that fain wou'd grant, and fain denie,
I doubtful what I ought to do, reply,
My Sexes weakness I in this declare,
And yielding to a Treaty, yield too far.
For Love may turn the favour to offence,
And wrest my meaning to a guilty sense.
Of utmost caution have we Women need,
To Write what Lovers with design will Read.
Not always silence can preserve our Fame,
And every look's perverted to our shame.
While in our breasts our hidden thoughts remain,
The Tongue of flander shews its sting in vain.
But once declar'd, she seizes 'em as prize,
And wounds our Virtue with invenom'd lyes.
Resolv'd to Write, and fearing what to send,
I wish, before I will begin, to end.


Respect, when I wou'd finish, bids me stay,
And my Heart tells me I have more to say.
Some secret which I tremble to confess,
And Words too little or too much express.
What I wou'd say, I feign as said to thee,
Then fancy what thou wouldst reply to me.
The fairest prospect of thy cause I view,
And then consider what's to honour due.
A thousand things in your excuse I frame,
Your cause is weak, and my defence the same.
A Prince, a Hero courts me I confess,
Your worth in this is more, and mine the less.
Your Bed's for me a too exalted place,
My Subject fortune will the Throne disgrace.
For this alone I should your vows reprove,
In me 'tis Treason to accept your love.
Each Sex in love their priviledge may use,
'Tis Man's to tempt, and Woman's to refuse


We ne'er without our own consent are won,
And ne'er can be but by ourselves undone.
You of your love and your success may boast,
Who blames the Lover when the Maid is lost.
'Tis brave in you our Innocence to try
In us, when Woo'd 'tis glorious to deny.
The Crime in you, is by the Crime excus'd,
We censur'd most, when we are most abus'd.
'Tis Beauties high Prerogative to grant;
It shou'd not beg, for it can nothing want.
We shou'd no Hearts by wanton Arts surprize,
Nor shoot pernicious Glances with our Eyes;
For, if with Modesty a Woman parts
She gains Contempt, when she wou'd conquer Hearts.
In Henry, and John's misfortune, you
May learn to shun the Evil you persue.
To you their Story shou'd a Lesson be,
And the fair Virgins, whom they wrong'd, to me.


The Father, when he had his Mistris won,
His Mistris blames, Matilda blames the Son.
Your Lordly Sex is Accessary still,
And our's condemn'd as Principals in Ill:
What praise can we but by our Vertue claim?
We lose our Merit, when we lose our Fame.
This Fortress we our selves can best defend,
Which ne'er is lost but by the Force we lend:
Shou'd Malice strive our Innocence to wrong,
True to our selves, she cou'd not hurt us long.
To your Invasions, when we basely yield,
The shame is ours, and yours the glory of the Field.
The hope of Nations, Edward now is stil'd;
But your Renown, will by your Love be soil'd.
Where (will the Realms in vile derison say)
Is the young Hero we must once obey?
Where he, that conquer'd in the Gallick Plains,
Subdu'd their Chiefs, and led their Kings in Chains:


Has he forsook the noble Chace of Arms,
To wast his Fortune on a Womans Charms?
Can Victory no more his Soul inspire,
And melts he softly in a wanton Fire?
Is he, who dealt in France a thousand Wounds,
And bound her Monarchs, led himself in Bonds?
Twice to the Bridal Altar I've been led:
Two Lords successively injoy'd my Bed.
The waster time my Charms must have destroy'd:
The Beauty wear that has been twice injoy'd.
For a young Prince, is this a worthy Store
Of which two Subjects were possest before.
Let France or Spain their Princesses prefer,
To make you happy, and your Empire share
With you, They come from an Imperial Line,
And nothing can you see to tempt in mine;
For me the Royal Station's to sublime,
And e'en to please you were in me a Crime.
Though for my life I must your Suit deny,
Yet rather than not love you I cou'd dye.


My noble Lord, to tell me, wou'd delight,
The wonders he has seen you do in Fight.
No Mothers Voice, when with her Babe she plays,
Like his, cou'd Flatter, in his Princes praise.
I catcht the Musick from his charming Tongue:
My ravisht Soul on every Accent hung.
I curst the minutes that they roul'd so fast,
And wisht the darling Theam wou'd ever last.
No harmony so moving to the Ear,
And he as fond to speak as I to hear:
To ev'ry word with pleasure I attend,
And heard him, with regret, his Story end.
On you, whene're he talkt the Subject, fell,
And I prais'd him for praising you so well.
Must I now loath what I have lov'd so long.
And fear from such a Prince the greatest wrong?
Yes! I must hate you, and cou'd almost swear
You'l hate your self, when you your fault shall hear.


Consider Time will cool your hot desire,
Or Reason quench at last the raging Fire.
By you, and Justice, let my Cause be try'd,
And if I am not injur'd then decide.
In vain my Father, Reverend by his years,
Beg'd me to yield, and deign'd to beg with Tears.
In vain persuasion sooth'd me to comply,
Twas Sin to grant, and Merit to deny.
My Mother boldly both your Pray'rs withstood,
And with her Frowns restrain'd your boiling Blood;
Aw'd by her Vertue, of her Frowns afraid
To try my weakness, you a while delay'd.
How faithfully I love you, I have shown,
Your Honour, in preserving, with my own.
Had your base wishes in your Suit prevail'd;
Or had I, foolish, in my Duty fail'd:
You wou'd not guiltless to the World have prov'd;
But been as much abhor'd as you're belov'd.


Against you, thus the Nations would have said,
Her Parents sin must to his charge be laid.
To save her Life she sacrific'd her Fame,
And gain'd her dear bought Liberty with shame.
Did our strong Castle vail her lofty Fanes,
To your bright Ensigns on the Northern Plains?
When your shril Trumpets eccoh'd from a far,
Did I, with joy return the sound of War?
Did I receive you as my Soveraign Lord,
To perish by your Lust, who triumph'd by your Sword?
The Foe, that for the Treasure came, is fled,
And left a Foe more dangerous in his stead,
The vanquisht Enemy for Plunder came:
The Victor Edward to attack my Fame.
Ready to fly the Scot begirt me round;
Bent on my ruin you maintain your ground.
How cou'd I here reproach you, but respect
Restrains my anger. that cou'd much reflect.


A Princess name I neither court nor slight,
Nor am ambitious of your Consort's Right;
Nor wou'd I study by deceitful Lures
To get that Title, or to make me yours.
Too humble in my own esteem, I ne'r
To such a height could one so low prefer.
Happy if I obtain'd a second place
To wait on her, that shou'd deserve your grace;
Yet, if my Prince shall nothing ill require,
And safely I may yield to his desire.
If he no more will of my Bounty want
Than he may well demand, and I may grant?
If in due bounds he will his Youth confine,
Let all his wishes be as Chast as mine.
I'll plight the Faith which I from him receive,
And what he freely asks, will freely give.