Elegy III: Of His Perjured Mistress. By Henry Cromwell.Can there be gods ?-has she not falsely swore?
Yet is the beauty that she was before!
The curious tresses of her dangling hair,
As long, and graceful still as e'er they were;
That same inimitable white and red,
Which o'er her face was so distinctly spread,
The roses, and the lilies keep their place,
And ev'ry feature still as justly grace;
Her sparkling eyes their lustre still retain,
That form, that perfect shape does still remain,
As if she ne'er had sinn'd ; and heav'n, ('tis plain)
Suff'ring the fairer sex to break their vows,
To the superior pow'r of beauty bows.
T' inforce my credit to her perjuries,
Oft would she swear by those persuasive eyes;
As if that charm had been too weak to move,
Sh'as added mine;-tell me, ye pow'rs above,
Why all this pain ? why are these guiltless eyes
For her offence th' atoning sacrifice ?
Was't not enough Andromeda has died,
An expiation for her mother's pride ?
Is't not enough, that unconcern'd you see
(Vain witnesses for truth, for faith, for me,)
Such an affront put on divinity,
Yet no revenge the daring crime pursue,
But the deceiv'd must be her victim too?
Either the gods are empty notions, crept
Into the minds of sleepers as they slept,
In vain are fear'd, are but the tricks of law,
To keep the foolish cred'lous world in awe;
Or, if there be a god, he loves the fair,
And all things at their sole disposal are.
For us are all the instruments of war
Design'd, the sword of Mars, and Pallas' spear;
'Gainst us alone Apollo's bows are bent,
And at our hands Jove's brandish'd thunder sent.
Yet of the ladies, oh ! how fond are they !
Dare not the inj'ries they receive, repay,
But those who ought to fear them they obey.
Jove to his votaries is most severe;
Temples nor altars does his lightning spare.
Obliging Semele in flames expires,
But those who merit, can escape the fires.
Is this the justice of your pow'rs divine?
Who then will offer incense at a shrine ?
Why do we thus reproach the deities ?
Have they not hearts ?-and surely they have eyes,
Nay, had I been a god, I had believ'd
The lovely criminals, and been deceiv'd;
Had wav'd the judgments to their perj'ries due,
And sworn myself that all they spoke was true.
Since then the gods such ample gifts bestow,
As make you absolute o'er men below;
Pray let me find some mercy in your reign,
Or spare at least your lover's eyes from pain.