On illicit love. Written among the ruins of Godstow nunnery, near Oxford. By John Brand,

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ON ILLICIT LOVE.

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ON ILLICIT LOVE.

Written among the Ruins of GODSTOW NUNNERY, near Oxford.

—Pulchra gaudet Latona Diana.
Sed vetat optari faciem Lucretia, qualem
Ipſa habuit.—
Rara eſt adeo concordia Formae
Atque Pudicitiae.
JUVENAL.

By JOHN BRAND, A. B. Of LINCOLN COLLEGE, Oxford.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE: Printed by T. SAINT, for J. WILKIE, No. 71, St Paul's Church-yard, London; J. FLETCHER, Oxford; and W. CHARNLEY, Newcaſtle.

MDCCLXXV.

ADVERTISEMENT.

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GODSTOW is at preſent a Ruin on the Margin of the Iſis, at a ſmall diſtance from Oxford. It was formerly a Houſe of Nuns, famous perhaps on no account ſo much as for having been the Burial-place of Roſamond, daughter of Lord Clifford, the beautiful Paramour of Henry the Second. This Monarch is ſaid to have built a Labyrinth at Woodſtock to conceal her from his jealous Queen, who, during his Abſence, when he was called away by an unnatural Rebellion of his Sons, at the ſuppoſed Inſtigation of their Mother, found means to get Acceſs to her, and compelled her to ſwallow Poiſon. Frequent Walks in this delightful Receſs, ſacred to the Moments of Contemplation, ſuggeſted the following Thoughts, for the Publication of which, let the alarming Progreſs of Lewdneſs, and conſequently of Licentiouſneſs of Manners, which indeed threatens the Diſſolution of our State, be accepted as an Apology.

1. ON ILLICIT LOVE.

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[...].’ MUSAEUS.
THE moral Muſe, from yon monaſtic ſhade,
Where frown the Tow'rs by envious Time decay'd,
Invites my footſteps from the flow'ry plain,
And calls from Folly's rout to Fancy's train.
O hallow'd Haunts! where Genius loves to ſtray,
Where ſilver ISIS winds her murm'ring way:
Whence ſeen from far, aſpiring to the ſkies,
The awful Fanes of BRITISH ATHENS riſe:
Where, thro' her reeds, a path as we explore,
Some ſtartled Halcyon ſeeks the farther ſhore:
[Page 4] And all her woods, and winding groves among
The lonely Philomela ſwells her ſong:
Around; thy verdant olives, PEACE! ariſe;
Thy radiance, LEARNING! ſhines to diſtant ſkies!
O ſacred ſcenes! Remembrance ſhall renew,
And Fancy's eye with frantic bliſs review!
Soon ſhall I ceaſe to linger with delight,
And 'mid your willows meet a noon-day night;
Doom'd on thy banks, commercial Tyne! to roam,
Where lev'ling PHRENZY finds her fav'rite home;
Where croſt AMBITION, curſing all ſhe hates,
(Ah dark Diſturber of the peace of ſtates!)
Miſleads with lies an undeſigning train,
And drags THE MANY in her magic chain.
Where PARTY rages, with her Gothic pow'rs,
Nor ſpares the Muſe's ſhade, nor Sion's bow'rs;
Her rankling ſpleen ſome vileſt Traſh betrays,
That, meant for malice, proves the higheſt praiſe:
Her lewdeſt Libels court the public ſhame!
Her baſe Aſſaſſins wound each envied name!
[Page 5]
Pleas'd I renew my walks by Iſis' ſtream,
Indulging Fancy's ſweet extatic dream:
In learned eaſe with devious ſteps I ſtray,
Where lonely CONTEMPLATION points my way:
The ſedgy margin oft her ſtep retains,
When ſober Ev'ning frees the ſervile ſwains;
A ſoften'd ſmile unbends her brow auſtere,
Serenely grave, and pleaſingly ſevere!
Retarded now 'mid GODSTOW's walls ſhe ſtands;
Walls fam'd of yore! the work of pious hands!
Of ages paſt each diſtant deed appears,
And riſe the ſcenes of long elapſed years
In her revolving mind. Tears fill her eyes,
While Henry's woes and Roſamund's ariſe:
Woes! that ſtill warn us from this Wreck of Time;
A frailty fam'd and far-renowned Crime!
Ah hapleſs Maid! th' aetherial Pow'r began,
(While penſive ſadneſs thro' my boſom ran!)
What mov'd thee firſt thy Fathers to diſgrace?
The boaſt and brand of Clifford's noble race!
[Page 6] Cou'd icy Age thy youthful breaſt inſpire,
Or e'er grey hairs enkindle green deſire?
Love's living ſmile Ambition's frowns devour,
And Pleaſure flies the rude embrace of Pow'r.
Could Henry's Crown a charm ſo pow'rful prove,
To blanch the negro front of lawleſs love?
Too juſtly blam'd! to blaſt whoſe fame conſpire
A Lover old, wrong'd Queen, and injur'd Sire!
I ſee the Father tear his hoary hairs,
And beat a boſom, rack'd with hopeleſs cares;
Invoke high Heav'n on Henry's head to ſhow'r
The vengeful light'nings of incenſed Pow'r:
Bare the red arm againſt th' adult'rous flame,
And hide in duſt a darling daughter's ſhame!
The pray'r's preferr'd—Nor ever move in vain
The holy lips of Age, incens'd by pain.
War's ſtern alarms their infant loves annoy,
And black remorſe ſucceeds the blaze of joy.
In vain has Woodſtock rear'd her haughty tow'rs,
In vain immur'd thee in meand'ring bow'rs:
[Page 7] Eludes no lab'rinth Guilt's intruſive eyes,
And CONSCIENCE follows whereſoe'er ſhe flies!
How chang'd by abſence* ev'ry Haunt remains!
The ſcene of pleaſures paſt, of preſent pains!
There mourn, frail Maid! till o'er the murky gloom,
Repentance ſhine to mitigate thy doom:
By Man unheard, unwept, and unforgiv'n,
The mercy Earth denies, draw down from Heav'n!
The dark retreats ſtern Jealouſy explores,
Fate's clue conducting thro' the mazy doors!
See Guilt at once and injur'd Love arraign,
While Pity pleads and Mercy moves in vain!
Nor ſighs, nor pray'rs, nor tears in torrents ſhed,
Avert the doom from her devoted head,
Till Poiſon's ſpumy bowl aveng'd the ſpotted bed!
Here paus'd the Pow'r! and having glean'd her ſtore
From ages paſt, to future fram'd her lore.
[Page 8] Be warn'd ye Fair! (ſhe cried) by Clifford's fate,
What vengeful woes on lawleſs love await!
The phantoms, Fairy Pleaſure rais'd, ſhall fall,
And ſoon her luſcious ſweets be daſh'd with gall!
Still Pleaſure flies from Guilt on flitting wings,
And 'mid her flow'rs the ſerpent Sorrow ſtings!
Tranſcribe the Tale*, that on this wall is wrought,
The Tablet hangs a Toilette for your thought!
Here look,—nor to thoſe flatt'ring mirrors fly,
Where ſouls are poiſon'd by the pleaſur'd eye;
Nor vainly wiſh, to future fortunes blind,
Lucretia's face, without her fairer mind!
Think then! and from the crime let thought reſtrain,
For tranſient joys, what laſting ills remain!
The fall in vain from Honour's height you mourn;
In vain with tears to ruthleſs Man you turn:
As ſoon the ſtreams that down the valleys ſtray,
Shall backwards to their fountains force a way!
[Page 9] Sooner ſhall Froſt its freezing pow'rs forego,
And Afric's ſoot be chang'd to Europe's ſnow,
Than blaſted Beauty ſhall its bloom regain,
Or female Honour ſoil'd, remove the ſtain!
O think! as o'er th' inſidious Glaſs you lie,
When conſcious Pleaſure ſparkles in the eye!
When Caution ſleeps, and to th' unguarded mind,
Conceit and Pride an eaſy entrance find!
How Senſe ſhall ſurfeit o'er the faireſt face,
If Minds too mix not in the warm embrace!
How ſoon the vivid fluſh of Beauty flies!
Tho' Bloſſoms pleaſe us, 'tis the Fruit we prize!
With care, O cultivate in earlieſt youth,
Perennial charms, Faith, Modeſty, and Truth!
Charms! that ſurviving Beauty's boaſted claim,
Riſe phoenix-like from the funereal flame!
Of equal worth, no earthly good is told;
Golconda's gems, nor all Peruvia's gold!
[Page 10] Still BRITAIN boaſt, by circling waves embrac'd,
Her young men valiant, and her maidens chaſte!
No more on Faſhion's frothy Tide be borne,
But ſtem the Torrent you alone can turn:
No more with ſmiles the Rake's lewd wiſhes fan,
Refuſe of ſtews and reliques of the man!
With coy reſerve th' inſidious Villain view;
Falſe to himſelf, can he have faith to you?
The Fopling's fond impertinence deſpiſe,
And blaſt his hopes with your diſdainful eyes:
To him in vain your rival charms are ſhewn;
Narciſſus-like he loves himſelf alone!
'Gainſt Vice in vain Religion ſtill inveighs,
While Paſſion ſleeps nor heeds th' unmoving lays:
From BEAUTY's lips the living lore would charm,
And coldeſt Unbelief with Ardor warm;
Her chaſt'ning pow'r the Scorner's pride would own,
And Atheiſts tremble at her angel frown:
[Page 11] Thro' Error's maze a Leader ſhe would prove,
And light the Lamp of pure celeſtial Love?
On Thule's heathy heights ſee VIRTUE ſtand,
With ling'ring looks, prepar'd to leave the Land!
To waſte in northern night the lonely hour,
And mourn 'mid Hecla's caves her raviſh'd pow'r:
See fond Affection warn her e'er ſhe flies,
And turn to you her ſupplicating eyes;
Where Hope ſtill ſtruggles thro' each chryſtal Tear,
That watry ſhines, and ſtreaks the gloom of Fear!
Recall her with your ſmiles, confirm her reign,
The trait'rous Rival of her empire ſlain!
For yours, for Albion's ſake retard her flight;
When Virtue ſets, 'tis Beauty's blackeſt night.
In vain you'll mourn the abſence of her ray,
To ruthleſs Luſt an unreſiſting Prey!
Find civil Order to Confuſion hurl'd,
And mental Darkneſs overwhelm the world!
[Page 12] Again from Luſt War's fatal flame ſhall blaze,
And other HELENS future Troys ſhall raze;
Soon ſick'ning Nature find th' abortive grave,
And ſink like Sodom in Perdition's wave!
Nor thou, fond Youth! with boiling blood elate,
Ah! heedleſs of the gath'ring ſtorms of Fate!
With ſophiſt fuel heap the blazing fire,
Nor plead th' ungovern'd rage of rapt Deſire!
Deſire, new-born in the impaſſion'd breaſt,
By Reaſon's ſacred pow'r is ſoon ſuppreſt;
But fann'd by Sloth, by Reaſon unreſtrain'd;
The headlong heights of frantic Lewdneſs gain'd!
Their Mounds in vain preventive Laws oppoſe;
In vain her Laſh ſhall angry Pow'r diſcloſe:
Pow'r's laſh is ſpurn'd, and Law's eluded care;
Nor yields the Fury but to fell Deſpair!
O could the Muſe, in Virtue's int'reſts warm,
Thy ſoften'd ſoul from ſiren pleaſures charm!
[Page 13] She would conjure thee by the Chains that bind
The ſocial Frame, and rivet mind to mind:
By all the ſacred Charities of life,
And deareſt Ties of daughter! ſiſter! wife!
If fervid Honour ever fir'd thy ſoul,
Or Paſſion ſtoop'd to Reaſon's chaſte controul;
If e'er Religion, watchful in thy breaſt,
Each wanton thought in embryo ſuppreſt,
Some Father's faireſt hopes from ruin ſave,
Nor give his hoary honours to the grave!
No more the fort of female Virtue prove,
With artful vows; th' artillery of Love!
Of feigned Love!—that, tempting to foul Sin,
Aſſails without, and undermines within.
For Pity's ſake the friendleſs Orphan ſpare,
Nor lure the wretched to thy luſtful Snare.
Ah hapleſs Maid! to hardeſt trials born,
When Fortune lours upon her opening morn,
[Page 14] The dang'rous boon of tempting Charms beſtows,
And gives without its guardian Thorn, the Roſe!
Soon muſt the ſhort-liv'd Flow'r its ſweets forego,
And ruffian Luſt ſhall crop them ere they blow!
When Falſhood's wiles th' unwary Maid betray,
(Ah meaneſt conqueſt o'er unguarded prey!)
Soon muſt the ſad alternative be try'd,
When Vice has vanquiſh'd Shame, and Pleaſure, Pride,
In Proſtitution's public ſhrine to bleed,
Till poignant pains to fleeting joys ſucceed;
Till ev'ry evil try'd, Intemp'rance knows,
Wiſh'd Death cut ſhort the varied line of woes!
Or ſcorch Love's fruit by fell Abortion's flame,
And blaſt by Murder the firſt-born of Shame!
Who but muſt ſhrink from the ſad Scene diſtreſt,
And mourn the miſchief from his inmoſt breaſt!
Who but would bind in Vengeance' penal chain
The baſe Betrayers of the virgin train!
[Page 15]
Yet know, ye prowling Wolves! to Pity blind,
That ſpare no Lambkins of the female kind!
Who Love perverts, with Nature wages ſtrife,
Love! the great ſecond cauſe in worlds of life!
As Sages ſay Attraction's ſecret chain
In worlds of matter binds the ſtarry train;
A cement thus of ſouls Affections prove,
And living Nature's all upborne by Love!
Who lewdly blind this Paſſion points aſtray,
And gives to govern what Heav'n bid obey;
Too late ſhall find, when frantic Luſt enſlaves,
That Giant-like 'tis Heav'n itſelf he braves!
Hail holy flame! aetherial pure Deſire!
Enliv'ning Man as erſt Prometheus' Fire!
All Nature kindles at thy burſting beam,
And Lands with Life and Ocean's waters teem!
Thy ray on Greenland's icy mountains glows,
And keener burns 'mid Zembla's frozen ſnows!
[Page 16] To Glory's heav'nly heights how doſt thou lead,
The ſacred Source of ev'ry daring deed!
By thee the Soldier's dauntleſs boſom's ſteel'd,
When danger braves him in th' embattled field:
Love points the Falchion, ſpeeds the ſcythed Car,
And Beauty's ſpoils repay the wounds of war!
For thee the Stateſman plans his deep deſign,
And by thy light the Court's gay circles ſhine.
Thy pow'r e'en pall'd Ambition's vot'ries prove,
And Care finds reſpite in the arms of Love!
For thee the Scholar ſpends his midnight oil;
A purer paſſion animates his toil
Than Fame;—that, faint as Echo's fainteſt breath,
Nor lives in life, nor can be heard in death:
Supremely bleſt if lab'ring long he find
The laurel wreath with Lover's myrtle twin'd!
For thee the Sailor ev'ry ſtorm outbraves,
And Lucy's ſmile o'erpays the frowning waves.
At eve, ſlow plodding from the labour'd plain,
Mild Phillis' kiſs revives her fainting Swain:
[Page 17] How high reward, when Toil his taſk foregoes,
To find on Beauty's boſom ſoft repoſe!
Search then all life, each ſtate, condition prove!
The pureſt pleaſure flows from virtuous Love.
O Bliſs ſincere! if Bliſs ſincere can be,
In the dull ſphere of dark Mortality:
When Senſe and Soul conſpire to feed a flame!
That burns thro' age, unchangeably the ſame.
E'en brighter burns and brighter ſtill the fire
That Virtue lighted up and pure Deſire;
Nor Time, whoſe envious Rage would all remove,
Can clip the wings of chaſte connubial Love!
Frail Man! no more of mental ills complain,
Nor mourn the progreſs of corporeal pain!
Pandora's deadly dole, whence Evil roſe,
The fated ſource of never-ceaſing woes!
One good that ev'ry ill o'erpay'd, confin'd,
And Woman was the Hope ſtill left behind!
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O Woman! Source of ev'ry dear delight,
That draws th' enamour'd ſoul, and charms the ſight!
In whom concenters each attractive grace,
That decks the mind, and deifies the face!
Your rubied lips diſtill Aurora's dew,
Your breath has ſweets that Hybla never knew:
Your eyes outſhine the ſilver orbs of night;
Serenely gay, and mild with ſoften'd light!
O may the Guardian of ſo great a prize,
Heſperian HONOUR, watch with Argus' eyes!
Breaſts ſo ſerene no ruder paſſions tear,
Nor poiſon lurk in Flow'rs ſo paſſing fair!
So ſhall your arms an Amulet ſtill prove,
To ward off with'ring Care, the bane of Love!
For ah! in vain your beauties Heav'n beſtow'd,
If vicious Paſſion foul their fair abode!
Vice draws her deadlieſt bane from Beauty's pow'r,
The rankeſt poiſon from the richeſt Flow'r!
[Page 19] Nor greater Lure's her magic charms among;
Not Circe's potion, nor the Siren's ſong!
Precarious Bleſſing! to beſt ends deſign'd,
But prov'd too oft the bane of woman kind!
Who drink the poiſon of thy treach'rous eye,
With Circe ſtabling in the ſwiniſh ſty!
More than deform their Maker's choiceſt grace,
And marr the mintage of the faireſt face!
The Cherub Beauty chang'd, foregoes her light,
Like rebel Angels plung'd in rayleſs night:
From higheſt heights to loweſt depths declin'd,
And fallen Woman's an infernal kind!
But chiefly Ye, o'er Honour's bounds that fly,
By Luſt unloos'd from Hymen's holy tie!
Ye, join'd in hand, tho' ill your heart accords,
Who fail of fealty to your lawful Lords!
Yet ſhall the Muſe, indignant of your charms,
'Gainſt female falſhood wield her dreaded arms.
[Page 20]
Tho' laviſh Nature ev'ry grace beſtows,
And blends the Lilly with the vermeil Roſe;
The faultleſs form, with the celeſtial face,
Attemper'd to Proportion's ſweeteſt grace:
Charms, that intenſe as Cleopatra's prove,
And flinty Valour fuſe in flames of Love!
Abhor alike with guilty Gr—r's name,
And damn with D—h—ff, to undying ſhame!
FINIS.
Notes
*.
This alludes to the wars in Normandy, which called Henry away, ſoon after the commencement of this unhappy amour.
*.
The Hiſtory of Roſamond inſcribed on the wall of the chapel, which is now converted into a ſtable.