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420

Herewith he stay'd his fury, and began
To give her leave to rise : away she ran ;
After went Mercury, who used such cunning,
As she, to hear his tale, let off her running
(Maids are not won by brutish force and might,
But speeches full of pleasures and delight);
And, knowing Hermes courted her, was glad
That she such loveliness and beauty had
As could provoke his liking; yet was mute,
And neither would deny nor grant his suit.
Still vow'd he love : she, wanting no excuse
To feed him with delays, as women use,
Or thirsting after immortality,
(All women are ambitious naturally),
Impos'd upon her lover such a task,
As he ought not perform, nor yet she ask;

430
A draught of flowing nectar she requested,
Wherewith the king of gods and men is feasted.
He, ready to accomplish what she willd,
Stole some from Hebe (Hebe Jove's cup fill’d),
And gave it to his simple rustic love:
Which being known,—as what is hid from Jove ?-
He inly storm'd, and wax'd more furious
Than for the fire filch'd by Prometheus ;
And thrusts him down from heaven. He, wandering here,
In mournful terms, with sad and heavy cheer,

440 Complain'd to Cupid : Cupid, for his sake, To be reveng'd on Jove did undertake; And those on whom heaven, earth, and hell relies, I mean the adamantine Destinies,

450

He wounds with love, and forc'd them equally
To dote upon deceitful Mercury.
They offer'd him the deadly fatal knife
That shears the slender threads 1 of human life;
At his fair-feather'd feet the engines laid,
Which th' earth from ugly Chaos' den upweigh'd.
These he regarded not; but did entreat
That Jove, usurper of his father's seat,
Might presently be banish'd into hell,
And agèd Saturn in Olympus dwell.
They granted what he crav'd; and once again
Saturn and Ops began their golden reign :
Murder, rape, war, and 2 lust, and treachery,
Were with Jove clos'd in Stygian empery.
But long this blessèd time continu'd not:
As soon as he his wished purpose got,
He, reckless of his promise, did despise
The love of th' everlasting Destinies.
They, seeing it, both Love and him abhorr'd,
And Jupiter unto his place restord:
And, but that Learning, in despite of Fate,
Will mount aloft, and enter heaven-gate,
And to the seat of Jove itself advance,
Hermes had slept in hell with Ignorance.
Yet, as a punishment, they added this,
That he and Poverty should always kiss ;

460

470

1 We are reminded of Lycidas

“Comes the blind Fury with the abhorrèd shears

And slits the thin-spun life.” 2 Omitted in ed. 1600 and later 4tos.

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And to this day is every scholar poor :
Gross gold from them runs headlong to the boor.
Likewise the angry Sisters, thus deluded,
To venge themselves on Hermes, have concluded
That Midas' brood shall sit in Honour's chair,
To which the Muses' sons are only heir ;
And fruitful wits, that inaspiring are,
Shall, discontent, run into regions far;
And few great lords in virtuous deeds shall joy
But be surpris'd with every garish toy,
And still enrich the lofty servile clown,
Who with encroaching guile keeps learning down.
Then muse not Cupid's suit no better sped,
Seeing in their loves the Fates were injured.

480

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1 This word cannot be right. Query, "high-aspiring?"

THE SECOND SESTIAD.

The Argument of the Second Sestiad.

Hero of love takes deeper sense,
And doth her love more recompense :
Their first night's meeting, where sweet kisses
Are th' only crowns of both their blisses
He swims t’ Abydos, and returns :
Cold Neptune with his beauty burns ;
Whose suit he shuns, and doth aspire

Hero's fair tower and his desire.
By this, sad Hero, with love unacquainted,
Viewing Leander's face, fell down and fainted.
He kiss'd her, and breath'd life 1 into her lips;
Wherewith, as one displeas'd, away she trips;
Yet, as she went, full often look'd behind,
And many poor excuses did she find
To linger by the way, and once she stay'd,
And would have turn'd again, but was afraid,
In offering parley, to be counted light :
So on she goes, and, in her idle flight,

IO 20

1 Cf. Rom, and Jul, v. I

I dreamed my lady came and found me dead,

Strange dream that gives a dead man leave to think !-
And breathed such life with kisses in my lips,
That I revived and was an emperor."

Her painted fan of curled plumes let fall,
Thinking to train Leander therewithal.
He, being a novice, knew not what she meant,
But stay'd, and after her a letter sent;
Which joyful Hero answer'd in such sort,
As he had hope to scale the beauteous fort
Wherein the liberal Graces locked their wealth ;
And therefore to her tower he got by stealth.
Wide open stood the door; he need not climb;
And she herself, before the pointed time,
Had spread the board, with roses strew'd the room,
And oft looked out, and mused he did not come.
At last he came : O, who can tell the greeting
These greedy lovers had at their first meeting?
He asked; she gave; and nothing was denied ;
Both to each other quickly were affied :
Look how their hands, so were their hearts

united,
And what he did, she willingly requited.
(Sweet are the kisses, the embracements sweet,
When like desires and like 1 affections meet;
For from the earth to heaven is Cupid raised,
Where fancy is in equal balance paised. 2)
Yet she this rashness suddenly repented,
And turn'd aside, and to herself lamented,
As if her name and honour had been wronged
By being possessed of him for whom she longed ;

30

i Omitted in eds. 1600, 1606, 1613, and 1637. 2 Peised, weighed.

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