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My peaceful exequies are crown'd, nor shall
I ask more honour at my funeral.
Thou will more richly 'balm me with thy tears
Than all the 'nard fragrant Arabia bears.
And as the Paphian queen by her grief's show'r
Brought up her dead love's spirit in a flow'r :
So by those precious drops rain'd from thine eyes,
Out of my dust, O may some virtue rise!
And like thy better genius thee attend,
Till thou in my dark period shalt end.
Lastly, my constant truth let me commend
To him thou choosest next to be thy friend,
For (witness all things good) I would not have
Thy youth and beauty married to my grave;
"Twould show thou didst repent the style of wife
Should'st thou relapse into a single life.
They with preposterous grief the world delude
Who mourn for their lost mates in solitude;
Since widowhood more strongly doth enforce
The much-lamented lot of their divorce.
Themselves then of their losses guilty are,
Who may, yet will not, suffer a repair.
Those were barbarian wives that did invent
Weeping to death at th' husband's monument,
But in more civil rights she doth approve
Her first, who ventures on a second love;
For else it may be thought, if she refrain,
She sped so ill she durst not try again.
Up then, my love, and choose some worthier one
Who may supply my room when I am gone;
So will the stock of our affection thrive
No less in death, than were I still alive.
And in my urn I shall rejoice, that I
Am both testator thus and legacy.
THE DEATH OF ROSAMOND.
FAIR Rosamond within her bower of le [state,
(While these sad storms had shaken her Henry's
And he from England last had absent been)
Retir'd herself; nor had that star been seen
To shine abroad, or with her lustre grace
The woods or walks adjoining to the place.
About those places, while the times were free, Oft with a train of her attendants she
For pleasure walk'd; and, like the huntress queen,
With her light nymphs, was by the people seen.
Thither the country lads and swains, that near
To Woodstock dwelt, would come to gaze on her.
Their jolly May-games there would they present,
Their harmless sports and rustic merriment,
To give this beauteous paragon delight.
Nor that officious service would she slight;
But their rude pastimes gently entertain.
When oft some forward and ambitious swain,
That durst presume (unhappy lad) to look
Too near that sparkling beauty, planet-struck
Return'd from thence, and his hard hap did wail.
What now, alas! can wake or fair avail
His love-sick mind? no Whitsun-ale can please,
No jingling Morris-dances give him ease;
The pipe and tabor have no sound at all,
Nor to the Maypole can his measures call;
Although invited by the merriest lasses,
How little for those former joys he passes?
But sits at home with folded arms; or goes
To carve on beeches' barks his piercing woes,
And too ambitious love. Cupid, they say,
Had stol'n from Venus then: and, lurking, lay
About the fields and villages, that nigh
To Woodstock were, as once in Arcady
He did before, and taught the rural swains
Love's oratory, and persuasive strains.
But now fair Rosamond had from the sight
Of all withdrawn; as in a cloud, her light
Envelop'd lay, and she immured close
Within her bower, since these sad stirs arose,
For fear of cruel foes; relying on
The strength and safeguard of the place alone:
If any place of strength enough could be
Against a queen's enraged jealousy.
Now came that fatal day, ordain'd to see
Th' eclipse of beauty, and for ever be
Accurs'd by woful lovers, all alone
Into her chamber Rosamond was gone;
Where (as if Fates into her soul had sent
A secret notice of their dire intent)
Afflicting thoughts possess'd her as she sate,
She sadly weigh'd her own unhappy state,
Her feared dangers, and how far, alas!
From her relief engaged Henry was.
But most of all, while pearly drops distain'd
Her rosy cheeks, she secretly complain'd,
And wail'd her honour's loss, wishing in vain
She could recall her virgin state again;
When that unblemish'd form so much admir'd,
Was by a thousand noble youths desir'd,
And might have mov'd a monarch's lawful flame.
Sometimes she thought how some more happy
By such a beauty, as was hers, had won, [dame
From meanest birth, the honour of a throne;
And what to some could highest glories gain,
To her had purchas'd nothing but a stain,
There, when she found her crime, she check'd again
That high-aspiring thought, and 'gan complain
How much, alas! the too, too dazzling light
Of royal lustre had misled her sight;
O! then she wish'd her beauties ne'er had been
Renown'd; that she had ne'er at court been seen:
Nor too much pleas'd enamour'd Henry's eye.
While thus she sadly mus'd, a ruthful cry
Had pierc'd her tender ear, and in the sound
Was nam'd (she thought) unhappy Rosamond.
(The cry was utter'd by her grieved maid,
From whom that clew was taken, that betray'd
Her lady's life,) and while she doubting fear'd,
Too soon the fatal certainty appear'd;
For with her train the wrathful queen was there.
Oh! who can tell what cold and killing fear
Through every part of Rosamond was struck?
The rosy tincture her sweet cheeks forsook,
And, like an ivory statue, did she show
Of life and motion reft; had she been so
Transform'd in deed, how kind the fates had been,
How pitiful to her! nay, to the queen!
Even she herself did seem to entertain
Some ruth; but straight revenge return'd again,
And fill'd her furious breast. 'Strumpet,' quoth she,
I need not speak at all; my sight may be
Enough expression of my wrongs, and what
The consequence must prove of such a hate.
Here, take this poison'd cup' (for in her hand
A poison'd cup she had,) and do not stand
To parley now: but drink it presently,
Or else by tortures be resolv'd to die.
Thy doom is set.' Pale trembling Rosamond
Receives the cup, and kneeling on the ground,
When dull amazement somewhat had forsook
Her breast, thus humbly to the queen she spoke :
'I dare not hope you should so far relent,
Great queen, as to forgive the punishment
That to my foul offence is justly due.
Nor will I vainly plead excuse, to show
By what strong arts I was at first betray'd,
Or tell how many subtle snares were laid
To catch mine honour. These, though ne'er so
Can bring no recompense at all to you,
Nor just excuse to my abhorred crime.
Instead of sudden death, I crave but time,
Which shall be styled no time of life but death,
In which I may with my condemned breath,
While grief and penance make me hourly die,
Pour out my prayers for your prosperity :
Or take revenge on this offending face,
That did procure you wrong, and my disgrace.
Make poisonous leprosies o'erspread my skin;
And punish that, that made your Henry sin.
Better content will such a vengeance give
To you, that he should loath me whilst I live,
Than that he should extend (if thus I die)
His lasting pity to my memory,
And you be forc'd to see, when I am dead,
Those tears, perchance, which he for me will shed:
For though my worthless self deserve from him
No tears in death: yet when he weighs my crime,
Of which he knows how great a part was his,
And what I suffer'd as a sacrifice
For that offence, 'twill grieve his soul to be
The cause of such a noble tragedy.'
'No more,' reply'd the furious queen, have Delay no longer, lest thy choice be gone,