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Elegy VIII: He Curses a Bawd, for going about to debauch his mistress. By Sir Charles Sedley.

There is a bawd renown'd in Venus' wars,
Aud dreadful still with honorable scars;
Her youth and beauty, craft and guile supply,
Sworn foe to all degrees of chastity.
Dypsas, who first taught love-sick maids the way
To cheat the bridegroom on the wedding-day,
And then a hundred subtle tricks devis'd,
Wherewith the am'rous theft might be disguis'd;
Of herbs and spells she tries the guilty force,
The poison of a mare that goes to horse.
Cleaving the midnight air upon a switch,
Some for a bawd, most take her for a witch.
Each morning sees her reeling to her bed,
Her native blue o'ercome with drunken red:
Her ready tongue ne'er wants a useful lie,
Soft moving words, nor charming flattery.
Thus I o'erheard her to my Lucia speak:
"Young Damon's heart wilt thou for ever break
He long has lov'd thee, and by me he sends
To learn thy motions, which he still attends;
If to the park thou go'st, the plays are ill;
If to the plays, he thinks the air would kill.
The other day he gaz'd upon thy face,
As he would grow a statue in the place;
And who indeed does not? like a new star,
Beauty like thine strikes wonder from afar.
Alas! methinks thou art ill-dress'd to-night;
This point's too poor; thy necklace is not right;
This gown was by some botching tailor made,
It spoils thy shape; this fucus is ill laid.
Hear me, and be as happy as thou'rt fair:
Damon is rich, and what thou wanst, can spare.
Like thine his face, like thine his eyes are thought.
Would he not buy, he might himself be bought."
Fair Lucia blush'd. "It is a sign of grace,
(Dypsas replied,) that red becomes thy face.
All lovers now by what they give are weighed,
And she is best belov'd that best is paid;
The sun-burnt Latins, in old Tatius' reign,
Did to one man perhaps their love restrain:
Venus in her Aeneas' city rules,
And all adore her deity but fools.
Go on, ye fair, chaste only let such live
As none will ask, and know not how to give.
Life steals away, and our best hours are gone
Ere the true use or worth of them be known.
Things long neglected, of themselves decay;
What we forbear, time rudely makes his prey.
Beauty is best preserv'd by exercise,
Nor for that task can one or few suffice.
Wouldst thou grow rich, thou must from many take:
From one 'twere hard continually to rake.
Without new gowns and coaches, who can live ?
What does thy poet but new verses give?
A poet, the last thing that earth does breed,
Whose wit, for sixpence, any one may read.
Hang the poor lover, and his pedigree;
The thriving merchant, or fat judge, give me.
Love truly none, but seem in love with all,
And at old friends to thy new lovers rail.
Sometimes deny, 'twill appetite procure;
The sharp-set hawks will stoop to any lure.
Then grant again, lest he a habit get
Of living from thee; but be sure thou let
No empty lover in; murmur sometimes,
And at first hurt, reproach him with thy crimes.
Seem jealous, when thou'st been thyself to blame;
'Twill stop his mouth, if thou the first complain.
All thou hast done be ready to forswear:
For lovers' oaths fair Venus has no ear.
Whilst lie is with thee, let some woman bring
Some Indian stuff or foreign precious thing;
Which thou must say thou want'st, and he must buy,
Though for it six months hence in gaol he lie.
Thy mother, sister, brother, and thy nurse,
Must have a pull each at thy lover's purse.
Let him from rivals never be secure,
That hope once gone, love will not long endure;
Show him the presents by those rivals sent,
So shall his bounty thy request prevent.
When he will give no more, ask him to lend:
If he wants money, find a trusting friend.
Get hangings, cabinets, and looking-glass,
Or any thing for which his word will pass.
Practise these rules, thou'lt find the benefit!
I lost my beauty ere I got this wit."
I at that word step'd from behind the door,
And scarce my nails from her thin cheeks forbore.
Her few gray hairs in rage I vow'd to pull,
And thrust her drunken eyes into her skull.
"Poor in a dungeon's bottom may'st thou rot,
Die with a blow with thy beloved pot;
No brandy, and eternal thirst, thy lot."

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load focus Latin (R. Ehwald, 1907)
load focus English (Christopher Marlowe)
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  • Commentary references to this page (4):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 5
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 68b
    • John Conington, Commentary on Vergil's Aeneid, Volume 1, 2.196
    • Sulpicia, Carmina Omnia, 6
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), SERVUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TURBO
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