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Then in dreams I find you by my side, and perhaps much against your will, you are induced to come. For sometimes I seem to behold you swimming near the shore, sometimes you recline your humid arms upon my shoulders: now I reach you the robe to

throw round your yet moist limbs; anon I clasp you shivering to my panting breast; with much more besides, not fit to be mentioned by a modest pen; what in doing may give great pleasure, but which when done delicacy forbids me to name. Unhappy wretch! it is but a short and fleeting pleasure; for you always vanish with my dream. Grant, Heaven, that such ardent lovers may at length be joined together by surer bonds, nor let our enjoyments be destitute of a firm basis. Why have I passed cold and comfortless so many solitary nights? Why, my dear swimmer, are you so slow; why so often absent from me? The sea, I own, is rough and intractable; but last night it blew a gentler gale. Why was that opportunity lost? why did you not dread that following storms might hinder you? why was so fair an offer suffered to escape, and no attempt made? Should a like opportunity of crossing with case invite you, yet the other, as first in time, was far the best. Soon, it is true, was the face of the

troubled deep changed: but, when eager, you have hastened across it in a shorter time. If you are detained here by storms, ought this to make you complain? No tempestuous sea can hurt you when locked in my embraces. I could then calmly listen to the loud threatening winds, nor fatigue Heaven with prayers to smooth the swelling deep. But what has lately happended to cause this unusual dread of the sea? why do you tremble at those waves you formerly despised? For I remember your coming when the sea was no less obstinate and threatening, or at least not much less so. Then I conjured you to be wisely daring, that I might not have cause to lament the fatal effects of your boldness. Whence arises this new fear? Whither has your former courage fled? where is that illustrious swimmer, who nobly despised the threatening waves? Yet rather continue thus, than again expose yourself to former hazards, and

plunge secure into a calm inviting sea; provided only you are unalterably the same, provided you love with the same ardor with which you write, and this noble flame never changes into cold lifeless ashes. I am not so much afraid of the winds that disappoint my earnest wishes, as of your love, that it may prove, like the wind, changeable and inconstant. I fear the not being held in the same esteem; that the dangers may be thought greater than the reward, or that I am accounted too mean a recompence of your toil. Sometimes I am uneasy, from an idea that my country may detract from me, and that a Thracian girl may seem an unequal match for a citizen of Abydos. Yet I can patiently bear any affliction whatever, sooner than the apprehension of your being detained by another flame. Ah! let me rather perish, than suffer under so cruel a distress; may fate end my days before I hear of the dreadful crime!

Nor do I mention this from any reason you give me to suspect approaching grief, or because I am alarmed by some new spreading rumor. But I am subject to every fear; (for when did love yet settle in a quiet mind?) distance and absence feed my anxious thoughts. Happy they, who, always together, know at once what they have to fear, nor feel the piercing grief of false alarms. We are as much disturbed by unjust fears, as ignorant of real injuries; and each error begets equal anxiety.

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    • John Conington, Commentary on Vergil's Aeneid, Volume 1, 4.53
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