Then Philomel I ask'd whence came the tide
Of all those thronging suppliants? she replied,
"From divers realms they come: those dress'd in blue
Shew by that colour they have still been true;
The men in black lament that those they love
Are sick, or dead, or that they cruel prove."
"What makes the priests (said I) in court appear?
Have they the privilege of serving here?"
The dame replied, "Full many maids can tell,
None are so welcome, and none serve so well."
While thus I view'd, with Philomel, the crowd,
A herald from the king cried out aloud,
"Come, all ye strangers, to the throne draw near
And instantly before the king appear."
In haste I ran, and kneel'd before the throne,
All pale and trembling, as a wretch undone;
The king look'd sternly, and demanded why
I came so late, and what I could reply?
Weeping, I answer'd, "Oh, my sov'reign lord,
One act of mercy to your slave afford;
If yet, a rebel both in word and thought,
I never lov'd so truly as I ought,
I will henceforth endeavour to fulfil
The just decrees of your almighty will."
"Well, all is pardon'd (he replied), if now
To me allegiance and true faith you'll vow."
Then straight he call'd an officer of state,
His name is Rigour; solemn was his gait,
And grim his look; unmov'd with gold or pray'r;
A statute book he brought, and said, "You swear
True to remain, in deed, in thought, and word,
To Venus and her son, your sovereign lord;
To love one fair unchangeably till death,
And own your passion with your latest breath;
To bear the various temper of her mind,
And let her will your just obedience find;
To give the honour to her virtue due,
And think all tales that blast her fame, untrue;
To swear her conduct was exactly right,
And in defence of that opinion fight;
To find what present or device she loves,
And oft to send her what she most approves;
To write, to dress, and practise ev'ry art
Yourself to recommend, and gain her heart;
To take no pleasure, absent from her sight,
But by reflecting on your past delight;
Nor absence long endure, but justly choose,
Rather than live from her, your life to lose."
All this I swore, and as I turn'd the book,
On other statutes of the realm to look,
Rigour cried out, "Hold, traitor to the queen,
Those sacred statutes are not to be seen;
Those are the laws for womankind ordain'd,
That with men's eyes were never yet profan'd;
Not e'en with mine, tho' I on Venus wait,
Long trusted with her deep affairs of state.
Believe me, friend, mankind must still despair
To know the rules and maxims of the fair;
And when you see 'em change with ev'ry wind,
Themselves indulging, to their slaves unkind,
Conclude their duty to these laws they pay,
Which, tho' unwillingly, they must obey.-
Now seek the temple of the queen of love,
And may her son yourjust desires approve;
All you whose choice is made, her grace implore,
To serve and please the ladies you adore;
And each that wants a mistress, pray to find
By her propitious aid, some beauty kind."