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]
  

expand sectionI. 
expand sectionII. 


1

EPISTLE I.

Mrs. Shore being represented to King Edward the Fourth as a great Beauty, he takes an Occasion to see her privately, falls in Love with her, sends her the following Letter, and receives an Answer from her agreeable to his Wishes. She was the Wife of a Goldsmith and Banker in Lombardstreet.

King Edward the IV. to Mrs. Jane Shore.

Edward to Thee, the fairest of thy Kind,
This Letter sends, the Image of his Mind;
Oh! that to ease me of the Pains I feel,
I ne'er had seen thee, or cou'd see thee still.
So much my Eyes to gaze on thine delight,
'Tis Death to be a Minute from thy sight;

2

Must vile Mechanicks have so rich a Prize,
And Sots possess the Treasures of thy Eyes?
My Love to live among the Base shou'd scorn,
Whose Beauties wou'd the gayest Court adorn.
When with thy Story I was first surpriz'd,
I thought it Fable and the Tale despis'd:
But when the bright Original I saw,
I found no Fancy cou'd thy Picture draw;
No Colours paint a Beauty so Divine,
Nor Words express such Excellence as thine.
Struck with the full Perfection of thy Charms,
I rav'd to think Thee in another's Arms.
Careless of Joy, he takes Thee to his Breast,
By him but half belov'd, and half caress'd.
Who, more than stupid Fools, does Fortune bless?
For while the Miser sleeps his Stores increase.
If in a common Dress Thou look'st so fair,
How glorious woud'st Thou in a Queens appear?
Till cut and set in Gold the Diamond seems
Like Pebbles rowling in the Crystal Streams.

3

But polisht like Celestial Orbs they shine,
Whose Lustre only is excell'd by Thine.
Thou sleep'st but coarsely on a vulgar Bed,
I Tyrian Carpets o'er thy limbs will spread.
In Purple, wrought with Orient Pearl and Gold,
The wondring Crowd my Mistress shall behold.
When in Disguise to see Thee first I came,
My Crown abandon'd, and my Kingly Name;
I saw thy Husband, he the Monarch view'd,
Ask'd me to buy, and said his Wares were good.
A Casket of his Jewels he produc'd,
I lik'd them all, yet all by turns refus'd;
Another Casket then he made me see,
Yet hid his richest in reserving thee.
I wanted nor his Jewels nor his Gold,
Nor came to purchase what a Banker sold.
Cou'd he a Sapphire to thy Veins compare,
Or had an Agat like thy Blushes fair;
Had he a Diamond which like thee did shine,
Whate'er it cost, the Treasure shou'd be mine:

4

If not my Purse, my Crown shou'd be the price,
For Crowns are worthless in a Lover's Eyes.
How fond of forein Trifles are we grown,
We praise their Wonders and neglect our own;
The Tuscan Villa's, and the Lombard Fields,
While bounteous England better Prospects yields.
In vain their Poets of their Seasons sing,
In thee alone we find perpetual Spring;
In vain the Merchant brings us Syrian Gums,
Thy Breath is sweeter than his best Perfumes.
Hence let the Mariner his Toil give o'er,
Nor sweep the amber Seas nor search the Shoar;
Thy Lips more sweets than Indian Groves dispense,
Thou Charmer of the Soul and Joy of Sense.
The Crystal brought us from the Northern Sea
Is less transparent, and looks dull to Thee:
France gives us Fashions, and imports her Toys,
To flatter Women, and divert our Boys.

5

The Mode is best directed by thy Dress,
For none, unless they copy Thee, can please;
On Thee the meanest things appear with Grace,
So much thy Garments borrow from thy Face.
A Fool, thy Husband, to expose his Ware,
When thou outshining all his Gold art there;
Thy Charms our Wishes, and our Looks engross,
And in thy Presence, we despise his dross.
The Golden Tresses which adorn thy Head,
In worth the value of a Mint exceed;
Well may my Love contemn the studious Fools,
Who seek the great Elixir in their Schools.
The Artist in its search, in vain grows poor,
In vain the Chymist melts the pretious Ore;
Their Studies, and their Wealth, in Smoke ascend,
In Folly they begin, in Ruin end.
The powerful Change is by thy Touches made,
And Gold converted from impurest Lead;

6

Free from allay, it wants no Chymick Fires,
And more Correction, than the Flame, requires.
Let artful Odours be by others us'd,
All Sweetness is, where'er thou breath'st, diffus'd;
All Senses find in Thee enough to feast,
And scarce we can distinguish what is best.
Perfection is in all, to Smell, to See,
To Hear with Rapture, we must live with Thee;
Softer thy Voice, than when the Warblers sing
On blooming Trees, to welcome in the Spring.
Whiter than Milk, thy Skin, or Alpine Snow,
Or Lilies which in Eastern Vallies grow;
We only thee can to thy self compare,
For nothing else in Nature is so fair.
A Thousand Eyes at envious Night repine,
And wish for Day, that they may gaze on thine;
All other Objects they with Pride disdain,
And Light without thee, is to them a Pain.

7

No Heart so strong, as can thy Charms withstand,
The fair, who rule our Eyes, our Souls command;
The Preachers in the Pulpit censure Love,
But what their Doctrine damns, their Lives approve.
For Wealth the Merchants plow the watry main,
On wanton Wives to lavish what they gain
The Sages oft the search of Wisdom leave,
And sweeter Comforts from your Sex receive.
The Hero arms, and rushes to the War,
That courting Glory he may win the fair.
What tho the Pleader for his Client fails,
The Fees he gave him with the Nymph prevails;
No Peasant, no Plebeian Wretch so mean,
But hugs his Lass, and thinks his Wench a Queen:
Both Prince and People still agree in this,
Their Wishes are the same, the same their Bliss;

8

Thee for their Theme Apollo's Sons shall choose,
Thy self a Goddess to inspire the Muse;
Soft be their Numbers, and their Sense be strong,
And equal to my Passion be their Song.
Let 'em on thee their Eloquence employ,
Lead thee to Pity first, and then to Joy:
No more let Artists Observations raise
From Stars, of windy Nights and stormy Days;
No more presage the Promise of the Year
From Heavens kind Aspect or an angry Star:
Vain Studies these, and their Prediction lies
To cheat the foolish, and amuse the wise,
But Fate's Decrees are certain in thy Eyes.
No more of Rules and Circles let 'em speak,
Their Proofs are false, and demonstrations weak:
In Thee alone we just Proportion find,
A Symmetry of Body and of Mind:
Our Wits on Thee may shew their utmost skill
In Praise and Picture yet be wanting still.

9

With Envy from the East the Sun surveys
A Mortal shining with Superior Rays,
He blushes at his weakness, and would fain
Restore the Night, and sink in Shades again:
His Golden Carpet he unwilling spreads,
And jealous Glories on his Rival sheds.
We seldom see those Objects with delight,
By Custom made familiar to the sight.
The Persian Monarch when he rides abroad
But rarely seen, is worshipt like a God,
While those who common to their Slaves are made,
So little are ador'd, they're scarce obey'd.
Thou shou'dst not be expos'd to publick view,
So much respect to Edward's Love is due.
At Court, the Mistress of the King shou'd shine
In brightness that may more resemble thine,
Where to divert thee, England's Youth shall meet,
Dispute the Prize, and lay it at thy Feet.

10

The vile Embraces of a Subject scorn,
To nobler Joys, and royal Honours born;
Which State becomes thee best, thou soon wilt prove,
And soon distinguish who deserv'd thy Love.
Away with Fears, which may my Hopes destroy:
What we both wish for, let us both enjoy.
In Love, 'tis fatal to dispute the Field,
The wisest there, are such as soonest yield.
My Crown, my Heart, my Freedom I resign,
All that I have, or that I can, is thine;
This on a King's Imperial Word receive,
And what I give with Joy, with Joy receive.

11

Mrs. Jane Shore to King Edward the Fourth.

When Boys accustom'd to the Mothers Wing,
Practise the Lute, and first attempt to sing,
Their Fingers tremble, and imperfect Notes,
Through doubt of pleasing, strain their Infant Throats;
They dread the Musick of their Master's Ear,
And tune their Voices and their Strings with fear.
My Hand thus conscious of my Weakness shakes,
And Blots, where I intended Letters, makes;
Oh! had I ne'er this tempting City known.
Nor the gay Pleasures of a wealthy Town.
Had I with Shepherds in the Woods been bred,
To watch the Flocks that on the Mountains fed;
I, unobserv'd, and Innocent, and Poor,
Had kept my Vertue and my Peace secure,
Who now expos'd to every Tongue and Eye,
Shine like a Meteor in an angry Sky.

12

Oft I have heard my Beauty prais'd before,
Content to gaze, they never wisht for more.
A Prince more curious each Perfection sees,
Those Charms transport him which can others please:
The Conquest glorious, but 'tis won with Cost,
For what is got by Chance, is soonest lost.
How am I grown so much my Sovereign's Care?
Or you must be deceiv'd, or I am fair:
With Pride the Beauties of the Court we name,
But others seldom are oblig'd to Fame,
Who sings their Wonders, who their Cheeks compares
To blushing Roses, and their Eyes to Stars.
The Bards will not so much the Muses wrong
With vulgar Subjects, to defile their Song;
Strange! that a Monarch shou'd so far mistake,
As such a Choice, in such a place to make.
A Thousand fairer in the Town you see,
And more deserving of your Smiles than me;

13

Where'er you move such shining Forms appear,
Who left the Provinces to flourish here,
That all wou'd think, to whom the sight is shewn,
The Realm impoverish'd to enrich the Town:
So lovely all, the meanest Nymph wou'd charm
The coldest Writer, and his Fancy warm;
His Genius in the Subject he might raise,
And make himself immortal in her Praise.
Eternal Sweets he from those Flowers may choose,
No more with rural Weeds debase his Muse;
In every common Hedge the Bramble grows,
While only in the Garden springs the Rose.
Oft pointed Satyr has attack'd our Sex,
In odious Colours painted our defects;
With Justice she our weakness has disclos'd,
Chastis'd our Folly, and our Pride expos'd.
In vain the Matron conscious of her Years,
Wou'd hide her Wrinkles, and her Silver Hairs;

14

What time has ruin'd, she in vain wou'd save.
She paints, perfumes, and dresses for the Grave.
She haunts indecently the Park and Plays,
For while she aims to flourish, she decays.
Our Youth, affected in their dress and Mien,
Too fond of forein Airs and Toys have been:
Nature in all their Actions they despise,
And think the most ridiculous most nice.
Tho gay and fine we oft the Sex behold,
'Tis borrow'd Beauty, and dissembled Gold.
Yet in this Town enough of real Charms
May Edward find to bless a Prince's arms.
In blaming others I my self condemn,
Mean and unworthy of a King's esteem;
My Virgin Treasures with my Name are gone,
Another's Right, and by another known.
What most cou'd warm your Wishes is destroy'd,
By him who first enjoy'd it, still enjoy'd;
He reapt the bounteous Harvest of my Youth,
As happy in my Person as my Truth.

15

He thinks me faithful, can I wrong his trust.
Or be to him, and to my self unjust?
You cou'd not think but in your Suit to fail,
Nor hope, when first you tempted, to prevail.
A Crown wou'd dazle me, perhaps, you guess'd,
And the King soon be of his Wish possest.
The Rebel, Honour, you wou'd force to yield,
Seize the rich Prize, and ravage all the Field.
Against your Tears our Virtue is too weak,
We seldom mean the angry things we speak.
Too well you know we are imperfect made,
And where we're most defenceless, you invade.
The lucky Minute you too often find,
Exert your native Power, and we are kind;
You vow, you swear, and we as well believe,
You weep, you sigh, you conquer and deceive:
Our Humour you observe, our Will obey,
And we comply as fast as you betray.
The Fair, the Brown, the Slender and the Tall,
The Bulky and the Short, you praise us all;

16

Whatever Mien we use, what dress we wear,
You tell us some peculiar Grace is there.
Where'er we walk, like Goddesses we move,
And every thing we do, confirms your Love;
All ways to please us you with Care devise,
Our Ears with Musick, and with Show our Eyes.
But when your fatal Ends you have enjoy'd,
We grow a Burthen, and you soon are cloy'd;
On us ungratefully you throw the shame,
Boast of our Favours, and our Frailty blame.
Ovid first taught your Sex to touch the Heart,
Tho Man in this has little need of Art;
'Tis rare to see a Hero us'd to reign,
Descend to write in a Poetick Strain.
Will Kings in Fables too their Love rehearse,
And court in Similes, and woo in Verse?
'Tis pleasant sure to hear a Prince compare
My Breath to Roses, and to Gold my Hair,
My Eyes to Stars, to snowy Hills my Skin,
Enough the Prize, without a Crown, to win.

17

The Men who flatter us like you, we raise,
And love too oft the Poet, for his Praise.
Our Husbands bound our Pleasure by their Will,
And fansie they've a right to use us ill;
So far enslav'd when we are once subdu'd,
They think they're Civil, when they are not Rude.
Too well you know this Treatment is not strange,
And we're too easily dispos'd to change.
The Spouses Stomach with Fruition full,
The Wife grows Tastless, and the Husband Dull.
No Adoration to our Charms they pay,
But preach, that they must rule, and Wives obey.
Is this so pleasing to a Womans Ears,
As when a Lover's Sighs and Vows she hears?
When at her Feet the fearful Suppliant lies,
And, e'er he knows his Doom, with terror dies:
Whom every Touch and every Kiss transport
Not sweeter to enjoy, than hear him court.

18

Our Husbands, weary of repeated Bliss,
Think they oblige us, if they deign to kiss.
In their Caresses they their Pride constrain,
And give unwilling, what their Wives disdain.
To walk the Park, or see the Play deny'd,
They dare but seldom in our Truth confide
The Priest has said it, and the Mob conclude,
The Stage is dang'rous, and the Poems lewd.
More for our Bodies than our Souls they fear,
Were they less jealous, they'd be less severe.
The Comick Muse, as filthy, they reprove,
The Tragick, as it teaches us to love.
This the Pretence, tho what offends the Cit,
Is his own Picture, and the Author's Wit:
Himself the Cuckold, and his Wife the Jilt,
He learns his Folly in his Consorts guilt.
Not all his Care his Fortune can prevent,
He sees 'tis Fate, and is at last content.
In vain he hopes in Bolts to be secure,
What Wife so stupid but defies a Door?

19

Who so insipid as can Act the Spouse,
Or like the nauseous Business of a House.
An Ape her Pastime, and her Dog her Toy,
A Sot her Lover, and her Play a Boy.
To this Disease a Remedy you bring,
A Sovereign Balm, the Promise of a King.
We faintly struggle when a Monarch woos,
We might the Man, but can't the Prince, refuse.
You are the Cause that I my Husband scorn,
I wish your Presence, and your Absence mourn.
His loath'd Embraces I of late avoid,
To be no more by one I hate, enjoy'd.
For him I love the Lord of my Desires,
I keep for Edward my remaining Fires.
Tho nearer with my Joy my Ruin draws,
'Tis glorious Ruin when a King's the Cause.