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Why vow'st thou then to live in Sestos here,
Who on Love's seas more glorious wouldst appear 2
Like untun'd golden strings all women are,
Which long time lie untouch'd, will quickly jar.
Wessels of brass, oft handled, brightly shine;
What difference betwixt the richest mine
And basest mould, but use 2 For both, not us'd,
Are of like worth. Then treasure is abus'd,
When misers keep it; being put to loan,
In time it will return us two for one.
Rich robes themselves and others do adorn;
Neither themselves nor others, if not worn.
Who builds a palace, and rams up the gate,
Shall see it ruinous and desolate:
Ah! simple Hero, learn thyself to cherish,
Lone women like to empty houses perish.
Less sins the poor rich man, that starves himself,
In heaping up a mass of drossy pelf,
Than such as you: his golden earth remains,
Which after his decease some other gains;
But this fair gem, sweet in the loss alone,
When you fleet hence, can be bequeath'd to none;
Or if it could, down from the enamell'd sky,
All heaven would come to claim this legacy;
And with intestine broils the world destroy,
And quite confound Nature's sweet harmony.
Well therefore by the gods decreed it is,
We human creatures should enjoy that bliss.
One is no number; maids are nothing then,
Wilt thou live single still ? one shalt thou be,
Though never-singing Hymen couple thee.
Wild savages, that drink of running springs,
Think water far excels all earthly things:
But they, that daily taste neat wines, despise it:
Virginity, albeit some highly prize it,
Compar'd with marriage, had you tried them both,
Differs as much as wine and water doth.
Base bullion for the stamp's sake we allow;
Even so for men's impression do we you.
By which alone our reverend fathers say,
Women receive perfection every way.
This idol, which you term virginity,
is neither essence subject to the eye,
No, nor to any one exterior sense,
Nor hath it any place of residence
Nor is't of earth, or mould celestial,
Or capable of any form at all.
Of that which hath no being, do not boast;
Things that are not at all, are never lost.
Men foolishly do call it virtuous,
What virtue is it, that is born with us?
Much less can honour be ascrib'd thereto:
Honour is purchas'd by the deeds we do.
Believe me, Hero, honour is not won,
Until some honourable deed be done.
Seek you, for chastity, immortal fame;
And know that some have wrong'd Diana's name?
Whose name is it, if she be false or not,
So she be fair, but some vile tongues will blot?
But you are fair, ah me! so wondrous fair,
So young, so gentle, and so debonair,
As Greece will think, if thus you live alone,
Some one or other keeps you as his own.
Then, Hero, hate me not, nor from me fly,
To follow swiftly blasting infamy.
Perhaps thy sacred priesthood makes thee loath:
Tell me, to whom mad'st thou that heedless oath 7”
“To Venus,” answer'd she ; and, as she spake,
Forth from those two translucent cisterns brake
A stream of liquid pearl, which down her face
Made milk-white paths, whereon the gods might trace
To Jove's high court. He thus replied: “The rites
In which Love's beauteous empress most delights,
| Are banquets, Doric music, midnight revel,
Plays, masks, and all that stern age counteth evil.
Thee as a holy idiot doth she scorn;
For thou, in vowing chastity, hast sworn
To rob her name and honour, and thereby
Committ'st a sin far worse than perjury,
Even sacrilege against her deity,
Through regular and formal purity.
To expiate which sin, kiss, and shake hands:
Such sacrifice as this Venus demands.”
Thereat she smil'd, and did deny him so,
As but thereby, yet might he hope for mo;
Which makes him quickly reinforce his speech,
And her in humble manner thus beseech :
“Though neither gods nor men may thee deserve, Yet for her sake, whom you have vow'd to serve, Abandon fruitless cold virginity, The gentle Queen of Love's sole enemy. Then shall you most resemble Venus' nun, When Venus' sweet rites are perform'd and done. Flint-breasted Pallas joys in single life; But Pallas and your mistress are at strife. Love, Hero, then, and be not tyrannous; But heal the heart that thou hast wounded thus; Nor stain thy youthful years with avarice: Fair fools delight to be accounted nice. The richest corn dies, if it be not reap'd; Beauty alone is lost, too warily kept.” These arguments he us'd, and many more; Wherewith she yielded, that was won before. Hero's looks yielded, but her words made war; Women are won when they begin to jar. Thus having swallow'd Cupid's golden hook, The more she striv'd, the deeper was she strook. Yet evilly feigning anger, strove she still, And would be thought to grant against her will. So having paus'd awhile, at last she said, “Who taught thee rhetoric to deceive a maid! Ah me ! such words as these should I abhor, And yet I like them for the orator.” With that Leander stoop'd, to have embrac'd her, But from his spreading arms away she cast her, And thus bespake him : “Gentle youth, forbear To touch the sacred garments which I wear.
Upon a rock, and underneath a hili,
Far from the town, (where all is whist and still,
Save that the sea, playing on yellow sand,
Sends forth a rattling murmur to the land,
Whose sound allures the golden Morpheus,
In silence of the night to visit us,)
My turret stands, and there, God knows, I play
With Venus' swans and sparrows all the day.
A dwarfish beldam bears me company,
That hops about the chamber where I lie,
And spends the night, that might be better spent,
In vain discourse and apish merriment:
Comethither?" As she spake this, her tongue tripp'd;
For unawares, Come thither, from her slipp'd;
And suddenly her former colour chang'd,
And here and there her eyes through anger rang'd :
And like a planet moving several ways
At one self instant, she poor soul, essays,
Loving, not to love at all, and every part
Strove to resist the motions of her heart.
And hands so pure, so innocent, nay such
As might have made Heaven stoop to have a touch,
Did she uphold to Venus, and again
Vow'd spotless chastity, but all in vain:
Cupid beats down her prayers with his wings;
Her vows above the empty air he flings:
All deep enrag'd, his sinewy bow he bent,
And shot a shaft that burning from him went;
Wherewith she stricken, look'd so dolefully,
As made Love sigh to see his tyranny.