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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]

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Lady Giraldine to Henry Howard Earl of Surrey.

If, like my Surrey, I cou'd speak my Mind,

John Earl of Kildare, her Ancestor, and Maurice his second Son, first Earl of Desmond, were descended from Thomas Fitz-Maurice, Lord Justice of Ireland, Son of Maurice Fitz Gerald, Son of Gerald, who married the Daughter of Rees, the Great Prince of Wales, and in a direct Line sprung from Walter Son of Oter of Windsor.

My Love wou'd be as fond, my Heart as kind.
'Tis Custom, only, makes our Sex conceal
The Flames that wast 'em, and which yours reveal.
This niceness, Surrey! This my Pen restrains,
Or else 'twould answer you in softer Strains.
Less artful, yet as honest and sincere,
Writ with more Truth, tho not with greater Care.
Bred in a Court, their Manners I despise,
Nor aim at Conquest by my Mien, or Eyes.
No Hearts I flatter with pernicious Smiles,
Nor make you Rivals by fallacious Wiles.
My Heart, tho weak, is uncorrupt and pure,
My Virgin Innocence the richest dowr.


To You great Arbiter of Love and Wit,
I fear to speak, and now, with trembling, write;
Or I forget, or you have often said,
Fear, tho 'tis folly, yet becomes a Maid.
Our Virtue, with our Ignorance, we lose,
And Innocence will want of Art excuse.
If in your Absence I appear too free,
If my Words shou'd'n with my Sex agree,
Remember Lovers are not always wise,
And Maids may be too forward or too nice.
Uncertain if we e'er, again shall meet:
Cou'd I love less, I might be more discreet.
Yet, try my Errors, like a Judge severe,
And chide me much, if I a little err.
My Women, when your Letter I receiv'd.
Or thought me Frantick, or a Fool believ'd.
Transported as I was, they knew not why,
Nor guest the Reason of my silent Joy.
I strove to hide it, conscious of my Shame,
But my Eyes sparkled, and confest my Flame.


A Secret still I fain would have it be,
And fearing to be seen, the more they see.
They thought 'twas Love, but cou'd not think for whom,
Nor whence the Message, and my Pleasure come.
In Love, by Age, and long Experience learn'd,
My Passion, by their Weakness they discern'd.
I blush'd or smil'd at every Line I read,
Forgetting where I was, or what I did;
Your Verse, as powerful, as you think, they prove,
'Tis You, and You alone that won my Love.
No Numbers can be sweeter than your Tongue,
Your Voice more moving than your artful Song.
So graceful are your Words, so soft your Air,
They're forc'd to love you, who to listen dare.
My Heart so tender, you may scarce, believe,
And think, a Court has taught me to deceive.
That You, like others, by my Smiles betray'd,
Hear the false Vows which I to them have made.


Who's proud of Worship, or is fond of Praise,
Ne'er matters, if she conquers, what she says.
She wants not Lovers, but to make 'em Slaves,
And only to enlarge her Empire, craves.
This in the Court, and in our Sex you see,
So oft, you well may be afraid of Me.
Shou'd you my meaning, or my Faith, mistrust,
Your Judgment will be weak, as 'tis unjust.
An Air of Truth in every Page appears,
And what I ought not to reveal, declares.
I wou'd not trust it, were it feign'd to you,
You'll soon distinguish if 'tis false or true.
Yet who from Slander in this Age is free,
So thick it falls, perhaps 'twill light on me?
To live at Court, where Spite and Envy reign,
Whose Fame so pure, that Scandal will not stain:
Tho such is mine, nor by my Foes deny'd,
My only Frailty is, they tell me, Pride.
In what, did any this my Error see,
Of what am I, or vain, or proud, but Thee?


I ne'er pretend that I from Florence came,
Nor borrow Lustre from Giraldi's Name;
Nor fancy Desmond or Kildare disgrace,
The Boasted Glory of the Tuscan Race.
The Line of Windsor and Fitzgerald bears,
Sufficient Honours if they own me theirs.
Were my Birth Nobler, or my ancient Blood,
'Tis only your Consent which makes it good.
Where'er I come, I meet with something new,
Which gives me Reason to remember you.
At Windsor, when I walk for Evening Air,
The Shades disgust me when I miss you there.
Windsor where oft my Hero I beheld,
Triumphant in the Lists, the Terror of the Field.
To Nonsuch Forrest, when the Queen removes,
The Trees I see are printed with our Loves.
In Hampton's proud Magnificence I find,
A lively Image of thy Princely Mind.
I view at Richmond when the Court is there,
The numerous Trophies of thy Northern War.


And Woolsey's Gallery around is set,
With rich Devices of thy Noble Wit.
Greenwich is still to my Remembrance dear,
'Twas there we met, Alas! and parted there.
The Town, the Country, are the same to me,
My Thoughts are full, and every Place, of Thee.
When the Winds rise, and angry Ocean boyls,
I dread the Tempest, as I hate his Smiles,
A Calm detains Thee, and a Storm destroys,
This ruins both, and that prevents our Joys.
I blame the lazy Winds, the Furious, fear,
Or hope impatiently, or else despair.
Oh! were you here beneath a Shade to tell,
The Wonders which your Pen describes so well.
So kind the Story from your Lips wou'd come,
The Tuscan Greatness, and the Pride of Rome.
The Wonders you have seen, we then shou'd hear,
With greater Pleasure than you saw 'em there.
Thus to their Dames, the Grecian Chiefs relate.
The wast of Troy, and Mighty Hector's Fate.


They draw the Figure of the War, in Wine,
The Grecian there, and there the Trojan line.
Were you now present with your artful Hands,
To shew how Venice on her Pillars stands.
To tell, or by your Picture to display,
The beauteous City rising from the Sea.
The Nuptials of her Prince, her Pomp marine,

'Tis the Custom of the Doge of Venice, once a Year, to go, attended by the Senate, in rich Gallies, and triumphant Manner to wed the Adriatick, to shew thereby that the Sovereignty of that Sea is in the Republick.

By you were better told than ever seen.
They're such as you, who in your Travels find,
Illustrious Virtues to enrich your Mind.
England you honour, and her Peers adorn,
And Foreign Habits, and their Vices, scorn;
While Fops infected with an itch to roam,
Leave their few Morals, and their Wit, at home.
Fond of the Vanities of different Climes,
They bring their Follies back, and oft their Crimes
At Rome they're lewd, at Paris they are vain,
In Holland Drunkards, and devout in Spain.


The Fools, who fear to be despis'd at home,

The Folly of some People, who are fond of Rambling without qualifying themselves before, to make their Travels useful to them, gave Occasion to the following Lines; and much more might have been said on the Subject, if we did not fear to offend against Gallantry and Love, which will not admit of too much Satyr. Those who out of Vanity have wandred too far, are accountable for the Scandal our Country lies under among the refin'd Nations, who, shou'd they judge of such as are left at home, by the Merit of some that go abroad, may well take us for as barbarous as Cæsar found us.

Wou'd raise their Merit by a Tour to Rome.
They hope, by wandring from the common Road,
To make a Figure, and to shine abroad.
Strange Tales they tell, of what they've heard and seen,
And how they were Carest, where'er they've been.
What Ruins they beheld, what wast of Time,
What Wines they met with in the Southern Clime.
Who Sung, who Fiddled best, with this content,
The Fops return as worthless as they went.
Their Tast, in Fashions, and in Airs refin'd,
They thought 'twas needless to improve the Mind.
If such as these were only seen at Rome,
They well may scorn the Region whence they come.
But Surrey so Divinely Great appears,
His Actions wipe away the Stain of theirs.


To Me the Muses Sons, with Songs repair,
And beg at least, that I wou'd deign to hear.
I please 'em by approving what they bring,
For next to Paying, is to hear 'em sing.
They want Supplies, nor will a little serve,
By Nature lavish, as they lov'd to starve,
Prudence, it seems, is Av'rice with the Wits,
And Care looks mean in any one but Citts.
The little that they get, they madly spend,
Still hoping, Fortune at the worst will mend.
Their Fame, among their Fellows to secure,
They think 'tis necessary to be Poor.
This to the Bays, is oft their best Pretence,
And want of Mony, less than want of Sense.
Their Case, to you, they beg me to commend,

There were some Persons in this Reign, who thought Poetry and Politicks were incompatible; and tho Sir Thomas Wyat, Sir Francis Bryan, Sir Thomas Moore, and the Lord Surrey, were all Lovers of the Muse at the same time that they distinguished themselves in the Cabinet or Field. Yet the Cry against the Poetical Ministers was so loud, that at last it prevail'd, and they were all outed.

Their Prince, their Patron, and their constant Friend.
Wits in your Absence, at the Court disgrac'd,
The Muse neglected, and her Sons displac'd.


To You, by Me, to be reliev'd they fly,
The Mean wou'd be excus'd, the Great deny.
E'en those, that only by her Favour rose,

Another Complaint against those Gentlemen, was, that while they had it in their Power to do good, and several fair Proposals were made to 'em for the Advancement of Learning, and the Encouragement of those that deserv'd it in all Sciences, yet they slipt the Opportunity, and forgot the Art which had been so serviceable to them, taking too much Care to get Money, and to keep what they had gotten. 'Tis true, they were well with the Court, and their Loyalty hid a great many Faults. But they had in general disoblig'd those whom they once cherish'd, and for the sake of one or two writers, who made their Court to 'em with most Assiduity, neglected the rest, and were severely censur'd by their Brethren. They found when they had occasion for their Pens, how impolitick it was to be Partial to a few, who cou'd not defend them, neglect those who cou'd. However as they were guilty of no such false Steps in the publick Affairs, the Bards shou'd have forgiven their Errors in private ones.

Her Friends, when humble, when advanc'd, her Foes.
Their Brethren, in Necessity despise,
And keep 'em down, if they attempt to rise.

Tho these Ministers were not only Lovers of Poetry, but perform'd in it with Reputation. Yet so far were they from encouraging the Art, that when Address was made to 'em by the Poets for Favour, they as often hindred their Advancement, as help'd 'em to rise.

With Partial Bounty, they their Gifts dispense,
And Sots are better paid, than Men of Sense.
Who sings his Ballad, who his Musick plays,
Or he that reads his Poem has a Place.
Who most adores 'em, for a Wit they choose,
And his must be the best, the taking Muse.
The rest are despicable and obscure,
To make him rich, they keep his Fellows poor,
No Wit but his, no Critick they'll allow,
And all the Poets Sheaves to his must bow.
The Monster Faction, with devouring Rage,
First fell upon the Court, and next the Stage.


She snarl'd at both, her venom'd Teeth she shew'd,
And all the Mischief did 'em that she cou'd.
For you, they both with equal Reason cry,
These Clouds before your shining worth wou'd fly.
Your mighty Genius, wou'd their Peace restore,
And Fools and Knaves be suffer'd there no more.
The Building Founded, in your Absence lies,

The Lord Surrey built a very noble Structure on Leonard's Hill, over against the City of Norwich, which the Rabble in Ket's Insurrection, in Edward the VI's Reign, almost demolish'd. It had a fine Prospect of the River Yare, and the lovely Vale of Mouschole under it. The House was from this Lord, call'd Mount Surrey.

With the Ground level, and despairs to rise.
Your self the Architect, the Treasure yours,
And Norwich waits to see the promis'd Tow'rs.
'Tis mine, my Surrey, 'tis the People's Voice,
Restore our Darling, and secure our Joys.
The Muses then will to their Seats return,
The Nymphs to sigh, the Shepherds cease to mourn.
Discord and Faction of their Aims will fail,
And Merit be prefer'd, and Wit prevail.
But what is dearer, what is more to me,
My Heart will meet with all its Hopes in Thee.