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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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Mr. Waller has not made himself more famous for his excellent Vein in Poetry, than for his Love to the Lady Dorothy Sydney, Daughter to my Lord Leicester, and afterwards Countess of Carlisle: Celebrated by him, under the Name of Sacharissa. She was one of the most noted Beauties in the Court of King Charles L. and as proud as She was Fair. There will not be much History expected in these Epistles, the Persons being very little concern'd in the State.

Mr. WALLER to the Countess of Carlisle.

Thus the bright God, who gilds the Chrystal Skies;
Chac'd the Coy Nymph, and thus his Daphne flies,
To the fierce Wolf she gives her fleecy Train,
Of nothing fearful, but the Deathless Swain.


She leaves her little Lambs, her bleating Ewes
Hasts to the Village, and the God pursues.
He Sings, he Sighs, he follows her in vain,
Her Home she leaves, and hyes her to the Plain
As fast as Daphne from Apollo flew,
From me you fly, and I as fast pursue.
If the Nymph heard him touch his Golden Lyre,
Nor caught the Flame of his Immortal Fire.
What Hopes, you'll listen to my Songs or me,
A Mortal I, and you as proud as She.
At Court, they tell me, when I seek you there,
At Pensburst, I may find our absent Fair.
To Pensburst, I pursue the flying Dame,
And ever Chacing, ever miss the Game.
To Court, she hastens from the Beechen Shade,
And shuns the Flowry Walks her Hands have made.
The Mountain sports, the Circle at the Green,
The Subjects of the May, her self the Queen.


The merry Maids she leaves, the jolly Swains,
And the gay Pleasures of her Native Plains.
To her self Cruel, she consents to be,
If else she fears, she must be kind to me.
Your Eyes too much ador'd, your Charms desir'd,
To shine in Solitude, and Live retir'd.
How poor the Service of such humble Swains,
When Princes are ambitious of your Chains?
Illustrious, like your Beauty, you aspire,
To Conquest, and to set the World on Fire.
Thus like the Sun, beneath the burning Line,
You rather to destroy, than bless us, shine.
So fierce, and yet so Beauteous you appear,
We wish at once to see you, and we Fear.
Jove, will not long your Tyranny endure,
Whose Dart's as Fatal, as his Vengeance sure.
You brav'd his Fury, and was once compell'd,

The Lady Dorothy Sydney, Dowager of my Lord Carlisle.

Tho vainly you resisted him, to yield.


In Arms Rebellious, you again appear,
And press amid the thickest of the War.
Where Show'rs of Darts, & pointed Arrows rain,
The Danger you despise, the Fight maintain,
And ride, a Cruel Pleasure! o'er the slain.
You see the Ruins that your Eyes have made,
And triumph o'er the Dying, and the Dead.
Death, in your soft envenom'd Glances lies,
And he that gazes of their Poyson dyes.
Happy, to perish by a quick Despair,
Whose Life you think so little worth your Care.
The killing Smart, contented, he'd endure,
Were your Eyes ready as to hurt, to cure.
Which like our Indian Plant, at once conceal,
To wound, the Venom, and the Balm to heal.
Proud of your Fortune, your survey the Spoils,
And rule severely, whom you won with Smiles.
As Monarchs, giddy with too much Success,
By War grow Cruel, who were born for Peace.


Love may at last, the destin'd Hero send,
The Charm to finish, and our Bondage end.
Brave, Young, and Great, for such the Knight must be,
Who wins the Dame, and sets the Captives free.
As you, your Slaves, so he may you controul,
And haughty like your self, command your Soul.
Thus the fierce Amazon in Phrygian Fields,

Pentheselea, Queen of the Amazons, at the Siege of Troy, was according to the Fable, kill'd by Pyrrhus Son of Achilles.

Voiture in his Letters, speaks of the Spanish Beauties, and writ several gallant Poems in the Spanish Tongue, which were taken to be done by their famous Lopez de Vega.

Rush'd thro' wing'd Squadrons, and by brazen Shields.
Her Arms, her Eyes, the Victor Greeks destroy,
And singly she suspends the Fate of Troy.
Till Pyrrhus meets her, and her Conquests Bounds,
Charms with his Youth, and with his Valour wounds.
Far as the Glory of our English Name,
Carlisle is worship'd, and the first in Fame.
From France, from Italy and Spain they come,
To see this Wonder, and receive their Doom


Europe and Asia of your Beauties ring,
Of these, a happy Theam, the Poets sing,
And Foreign Incense to your Altars bring.
Voiture, the Gallant, who so well has sung,

The same Voiture in his Letter to Mr. Gourdon at London, extolls highly the Beauty of this Lady Carlisle.

In their own Language, and adorn'd their Tongue.
Of Proud Iberian Dames, whose matchless Eyes,
Wou'd shine like Stars, and better light the Skies.
To you confesses, they with Shame must yield,
By yours, their Beauty and their Pride excell'd.
Tho vain and partial, is his Nations Vice,
Who every thing, but what is French despise,
Carlisle compells him to be just and wise.
Montausier Cruel, as he says She's Fair.
And Paulet gentle, as her Friend's severe.
Both wou'd by your superior Brightness seem,

Mademoiselle de Rambouillet, afterwards Dutchess of Montausier, and Mademoiselle Paulet, Voiture's Fav'rite Mistress, very much celebrated by him in his Letters.

As much eclips'd, as other look by them.


Carlisle he saw, yet own'd he ne'er had seen,
Yet far, in search of Beauties he had been,
A Dame so perfect, and shou'd ne'er agen.
Tho in French Authors we are us'd to meet,
Of Words full plenty in a Dearth of Wit.
Voiture's Complaint, is yet as just as new,
That Words are wanting, when he speaks of you.
Weak as their Langurge is, it serves to paint,
Their Images imperfect, and as faint.
But when like you, a Goddess they behold,
The Subject seems in their Surprize, too bold.
In English Numbers, and her Native Tongue,
Soft as her Graces, like our Passion strong,
An English Beauty can be only sung.
Their Ladies shining with dissembled Light,
Thus War their Heroes, and their Poets write.
Their Courage is as false as their Desire,
And Vanity in both mistook for Fire.


To Love, to Fight, no better Reasons move,
Than hopes to have it said, they Fight and Love.
In Treason, or in Numbers safe, they dare,
And as they Love, thro' Wantonness they war.
If Rich their Master and his Slaves appear,
They neither matter what indeed they are.
The Province bought, his dreadful Arms invade,
The King's a Conq'ror, and the Muse well paid.
With Pomp, and many Words, his deeds are writ,
The Monarch's Conquests, like the Poets wit.
More Nations have not, were his Fable true,
By the Great Lewis, been enslav'd than you.
The Court you chose, a proper Scene to shew,
How far the Fairest are excell'd by you.
Where sighing Princes at your Feet are seen,
And suppliant Crouds adore you as their Queen.
For such they think you are, or shou'd have been.


By Laws confin'd, an Empire you despise,
And uncontroul'd, command us with your Eyes.
Kings may our Hands with Iron Fetters bind,
With Chains severer, you secure the Mind.
Monarchs to save their Subjects, shou'd employ,
The Pow'r, which first they did from them enjoy.
Carlisle, like Lewis, Conquers to destroy.
Too well our want, and your Desert you know,
We're still but paying, what you say we owe.
Deaf to our Praise, our Services you scorn,
They're a just Debt, and merit no Return.
Were you less fair, you fewer Slaves wou'd find,
And ev'n to those, to keep 'em, must be kind.
But when such Numbers to your Temple croud,
Our warm Devotion makes the Goddess proud.
She sees 'em, unconcern'd, before her fall,
Thinks 'tis their Duty, and despises all,
In Courts you hope, and Cities to maintain,
And spread the Terror of your Tyrant Reign.


Love, from Ambition, and from Tumult flies,
And in the distant Shade, in Ambush lies.
There with the Muses, and the Nymph He plays,
Walks in the Meads, or on the Mountain strays.
He sits by cooling Springs, he haunts your Bow'rs,
And steals upon your soft and silent Hours.
As much as you provoke, you dread him there,
And where you met him once, to meet him fear.
But know—if Love affects to reign in Shades,
He oft the Pallace, and the Throne invades.
Amid your Guards, you will not be secure,
When the God pleases to exert his Pow'r.
Your shining Slaves, will only serve to Grace,
The Triumphs of the Man he means to bless.
Knights, Peers and Princes you may now refuse,
For one whom Love will to revenge 'em choose,
Without a Title, and without a Muse,

The Gentleman who recommended this Subject to me for an Epistle, is so good a Judge, that if I have pleas'd him in the Imitation of Mr. Waller's manner, I am sure the World will be satisfied. I own the attempt bold, and my Success doubtful, but if I may take the Assurances of those Friends who have seen it, I have not much to fear from the Criticks that shall see it hereafter.


The Countess of Carlisle to Mr. WALLER.

When I first flourish'd in your artful Song,

The Lady Carlisle being in Company with Mr. Waller the Duke of Buckingham, and several Persons of the first Rank for Wit and Quality, ask'd him in her elder Years, when he wou'd again write so finely of her, to which Mr. Waller reply'd when her Ladyship was again as young.

Fresh was the Beauty, and the Muse was young.
The Court was full, the City of my Fame,
And the Woods eccho'd Sacharissa's Name,
At once delighted, and amaz'd, they view,
The shining Picture which your Fancy drew.
They cry'd a Goddess, and ador'd the Shrine,
The Praise the Painters, and the Worship mine.
Your Verse, the Pleasure of the Fair and Great,
And both to flatter me your Songs repeat.
Such as you made me, I believ'd I was,
And try'd your Image by as false a Glass.
Their Wonder pleases, and my Youth betrays,
For Women are like Wits, bewitch'd with Praise.


I leave my Judgment to be rul'd by you,
And live, as if I thought the Fable true.
I mounted with you in your airy Flight,
Kept her in view, and reach'd the Muses height.
Still tow'ring upwards on a daring Wing,
Nor thought of Falling, while I heard her sing,
My Hopes as Glorious, and as few my Fears,
I soar'd, and took my Seat among the Stars.
In Lustre equal, to their Orbs I reign'd,
Commenc'd a Goddess, and the World disdain'd.
Crowns from my Feet, & scepter'd Slaves I spurn,
And less than an Immortal Lover scorn.
The Great, in my Opinion, like the Croud;
And him I use the worst, who made me Proud.
His Songs at first, created their Esteem,
And first I try'd my boasted Pow'r on him.
He suffers by the Deity he made,
Repents, and wou'd unsay the things he said.
His Praise, and their Devotion, I despise,
His Love's like theirs, a Tribute to my Eyes.


As once an Artist, who a Statue made,
Built her a Shrine, and to his Image pray'd.
Implor'd the new Divinity in vain,
And Curst, and wish'd her in the Log again,
While the fierce Goddess, or the Fable lies,
The Wretch who form'd her, in her Rage destroys.
This, if in Rhimes Rebellious you presume,
Again to urge your Merit, is your Doom.
This, you expect, for you who make 'em know,
What Goddesses provok'd too much can do.
Nor is't the Poets Priviledge to take,
The Pow'r he gave, and what he made, unmake.
Rome's Mitred Vicars, tho their God before,
The Saints themselves have Cannoniz'd adore.
The Bull with Signet Apostollick sign'd,
He's a Saint still, tho friendly or unkind.
In your own Language, I assert my Claim,
To the first Honours of my Virgin Fame.


I hate a sordid Mercenary Muse,
Who asks, and murmurs if the Fair refuse.
Obedience pure, you've taught me to require,
From Interest free, and Guiltless of Desire.
A Wit in Love, becomes an errant Fool,
And quickly, if he grows sincere, is dull.
Fiction's the Life of Poetry, and those,
Who boast Sincerity, shou'd speak in Prose.
Too well you know it, to be told by me,
Verse shou'd be Gay, and Pegasus be free.
He trots but heavy, when he steps with Care,
And his whole Study is to please his Fair.
Not to one Path with tedious Pace confin'd,
But various in his Course, and free as Wind,
The Muse shou'd sing of all the Charming Kind,
Of Flames affected, and her Darts they'll read,
Play with the Danger which they else wou'd dread.
But if she blazes with a real Fire,
The Phœnix Muse may in the Flames expire.


Few are the Poets, and the Lovers few,
We fear for speaking, or for being true,
And none, whom less we shou'd suspect than you.
Yet when of Murder, and of Fire you cry
So loud, 'tis safest for our Sex to fly.
Wits, as of antient Petrarch, 't has been said,

Petrarch, who flourish'd in the Year 1370, was a Poet and Canon of Padua, and writes much of a certain Laura, generally believ'd to be an affected Name for an imaginary Beauty.

Shou'd dye for some Imaginary Maid,
Their Passion Fabulous, and such the Dame,
And Laura, serve for all, a common Name.
The Nymph Divine, the Goddess you adore,
In Rhimes are useful, and shou'd mean no more.
The Sighing Shepherds, and the weeping Maids,
And Eccho Regent of the moanful Shades.
The smiling Graces, and the little Loves,
The fairy Pleasures of your silent Groves.
Your Streams, your Willows, and the dying Swain,
May turn some Melancholly Damsel's Brain.


Who reads the Tale with Sympathetick Sighs,
And the sad Story wets the Matrons Eyes.
But when for something Real 'tis design'd.
Your Tears look foolish, and your Sighs are Wind.
Your gamesome Circles, and your merry Plays,
May speak your Fancy, or a Poem Grace.
Yet still the Splendor of a Court will please,
While Pride is dearer to our Sex than Ease.
Where Flatt'ry most, and where Ambition thrive,
The Great will covet, and the Fair to live.
To Court the witty, and the Brave repair,
For Wit and Valour flourish only there.
The Soldiers fight, and best the Poets sing,
Warm'd by the Presence of a Mighty King.
Charm'd by the Fair, and cherish'd by the Great,
Your Fire it quickens, and refines your Wit.
Your Sex, have Pensions, Dignities and Pow'rs,
Business is yours, you think, and Pleasure ours.


As if we ought not in the State to share,
And cou'd not be at once both Wise and Fair.
Less to our Weakness owing than your Pride,
You thought us useless, till our Strength was try'd.
Content to hear you flatter us and vain,
Too long we suffer'd you alone to Reign.
Why may'nt my Lady, summon'd to the Board,
As sagely sit, and Councel, as my Lord.
'Tis hard, you will not let 'em there have room,
Yet yield 'em up the Government at home.
You find us cunning, to your Cost, in Love,
In Court Intrigues, we may our Arts improve.

'Tis said, this Lady was a great Caballer in King Charles the first Court, and hearing of the King's Intention to field the Five Members, she gave them notice to escape, which they did.

Tho Wit and Politicks but seldom meet,
Beauty's more necessary there than Wit.
You fear by one Misfortune, 'tis in vain,

Mr. Waller was a Member of the Long Parliament and at first zealous for Liberty, but not being Proof against the Temptations of the Court at Oxford, he betray'd the Parliament's Councells to the King, for which he was try'd and convicted, and hardly got off for a Fine of 10000 l. and Banishment which lasted till the Restauration.

To tempt by Politicks to rise again.
You leave the Court, and seek the Myrtle Grove,
And having nothing else to do, you Love.


You Write, you Rhime, and when the Song is done,
As easie as it came, your Passion's gone.
The Dame's made cruel, and the Shepherd true,
A fine Employment for a Wit, like you.
Full Plenty you, with Laurel may be blest,
But Laurel, is a Winter Green at best.
Tho happily the Muse may merit Praise,
A Crownet, makes a better Shew, than Bays.
To Rivers you, and to the Woods resort,
As you the Country, I prefer the Court.
Besides, if what you say is True, I fear,
To find the little God in Ambush there.
Like Fairies he, you tell me, haunts the Woods,
The Greens, and Dances on the Silver Floods.
Invisible to Mortal view, he lies,
On Mischief bent, by Force, or by Surprize.
'Tis well you warn'd me, I might else have thought,
No Danger, and have ventur'd and been caught.


No Groves, no Greens, for Me, if Love is there
He comes but seldom to disturb us here.
Safe here his Vengeance, and his Threats I'll brave,
Live Great, and Free, and be no more a Slave.

The Stile of the last Epistle is observ'd in this, and if the Criticks think 'tis not natural in a Woman, let 'em consult the Character of this Lady, and perhaps they will not be so severe.