If Atreus' wife to incest had not run,1
(But ah, how hard it is to love but one!)
His coursers Phoebus had not driv'n away,
To shun that sight, and interrupt the day.
Thy daughter, Nissus, pull'd thy purple hair;2
And barking sea-dogs yet her bowels tear.
At sea and land Atrides sav'd his life;
Yet fell a prey to his adult'rous wife.3
Who knows not what revenge Medea sought,
When the slain offspring bore the father's fault!
Thus Phoenix did a woman's love bewail;4
And thus Hippolytus by Phaedra fell.5
These crimes revengeful matrons did commit!
Hotter their lust, and sharper is their wit.
Doubt not from them an easy victory;
Scarce of a thousand dames will one deny.
All women are content that men should woo;
She who complains, and she who will not do.
Rest then secure, whate'er thy luck may prove,
Not to be hated for declaring love:
And yet how canst thou miss, since womankind
Is frail and vain; and still to change inclin'd?
Old husbands, and stale gallants, they despise;
And more another's than their own they prize.
A larger crop adorns our neighbour's field,
More milk his kine from swelling udders yield.