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Elegy XI: To Nape, praying her to deliver his letter to her mistress. By Henry Cromwell.

Nape, who know'st so well to set the hair,
And all the fashions of the modish fair,
Like thee no lady's woman in the town
Can forward an intrigue, or pin a gown;
No maid than thee can boast a quicker eye,
Nor sooner the sour husband's coming spy.
Here, Nape, take this billet-doux, and bear
My soul's soft wishes to the absent fair.
If I can guess, thy heart is not of flint,
Nor is there the least vein of iron in't;
I something in thy looks and manners see
Above the rudeness of thy low degree;
A softer turn, to pity more inclined,
Than vulgar souls, a more complacent mind;
Thou feel'st, if I can guess, an equal flame,
And thine and my distemper is the same.
If how I do, she asks, do thou reply,
For the dear night, and night's dear joys, I die.
Tell her the letter will the rest explain,
And does my soul, and all its hopes contain.
But time, while I am speaking, flies: be sure
To give the billet in a leisure hour:
Don't be content with her imperfect view,
But make her, when she has it, read it through.
I charge thee, as she reads, observe her eyes,
Catch, if thou canst, her gentle looks and sighs;
As these are sure presages of my joy,
So frowns and low'rs my flattering hopes destroy.
Pray her, when she has read it, to indite
An answer, and a long epistle write.
I hate a billet, where at once I view
A page all empty, but a line or two.
Let her without a margin fill it up,
And crowd it from the bottom to the top.
But why should I her pretty fingers tire?
A word's enough, and all that I desire.
Ah, Nape, let her only bid me come;
The page is large, which for that word has room.
Her letter, like a conqu'ror's, shall be bound
With bays, for it with conquests shall be crown'd.

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    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TABULAE
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