5 Chaucer his sense can only boast;
The glory of his numbers lost!
Years have defaced his matchless strain;
And yet he did not sing in vain.
6 The beauties which adorn’d that age,
The shining subjects of his rage,
Hoping they should immortal prove,
Rewarded with success his love.
7 This was the gen’rous poet’s scope;
And all an English pen can hope,
To make the fair approve his flame,
That can so far extend their fame.
8 Verse, thus design’d, has no ill fate,
If it arrive but at the date
Of fading beauty; if it prove
But as long-lived as present love.
Tasso knew how the fairer sex to grace,
But in no one durst all perfection place.
In her alone that owns this book is seen
Clorinda’s spirit, and her lofty mien,
Sophronia’s piety, Erminia’s truth,
Armida’s charms, her beauty, and her youth.
Our Princess here, as in a glass, does dress
Her well-taught mind, and every grace express.
More to our wonder than Rinaldo fought,
The hero’s race excels the poet’s thought.
When through the world fair Mazarin had run,
Bright as her fellow-traveller, the sun,
Hither at length the Roman eagle flies,
As the last triumph of her conqu’ring eyes.
As heir to Julius, she may pretend
A second time to make this island bend;
But Portsmouth, springing from the ancient race
Of Britons, which the Saxon here did chase,
As they great Caesar did oppose, makes head,
And does against this new invader lead. 10
That goodly nymph, the taller of the two,
Careless and fearless to the field does go.
Becoming blushes on the other wait,
And her young look excuses want of height.
Beauty gives courage; for she knows the day
Must not be won the Amazonian way.
Legions of Cupids to the battle come,
For Little Britain these, and those for Rome.
Dress’d to advantage, this illustrious pair
Arrived, for combat in the list appear. 20
What may the Fates design! for never yet
From distant regions two such beauties met.
Venus had been an equal friend to both,
And vict’ry to declare herself seems loth;
Over the camp, with doubtful wings, she flies,
Till Chloris shining in the fields she spies.
The lovely Chloris well-attended came,
A thousand Graces waited on the dame;
Her matchless form made all the English glad, 29
And foreign beauties less assurance had;
Yet, like the Three on Ida’s top, they all
Pretend alike, contesting for the ball;
Which to determine, Love himself declined,
Lest the neglected should become less kind.