Touch’d by no shame, she now demands its praise;
In her tall mirror then she shows a face,
Still coldly fair with unaffecting grace;
These she compares: “It has the form,” she cries,
“But wants the air, the spirit, and the eyes;
This, as a likeness, is correct and true,
But there alone the living grace we view.”
This said, th’ applauding voice the Dame requir’d,
And, gazing, slowly from the glass retired.
Thrice blessed they that master so their blood —
But earthly happier is the rose distill’d,
Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness.
Shakespeare, Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I something do excuse the thing I hate,
For his advantage whom I dearly love.
Measure for Measure.
Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!
Much Ado about Nothing.
Of a fair town where Doctor Rack was guide,
His only daughter was the boast and pride —
Wise Arabella, yet not wise alone,
She like a bright and polish’d brilliant shone;
Her father own’d her for his prop and stay,
Able to guide, yet willing to obey;
Pleased with her learning while discourse could please,
And with her love in languor and disease:
To every mother were her virtues known,
And to their daughters as a pattern shown;
Who in her youth had all that age requires,
And with her prudence all that youth admires:
These odious praises made the damsels try
Not to obtain such merits, but deny;
For, whatsoever wise mammas might say,
To guide a daughter, this was not the way;
From such applause disdain and anger rise,
And envy lives where emulation dies.
In all his strength contends the noble horse
With one who just precedes him on the course,
But when the rival flies too far before,
His spirit fails, and he attempts no more.
This reasoning Maid, above her sex’s dread,
Had dared to read, and dared to say she read;
Not the last novel, not the new-born play;
Not the mere trash and scandal of the day;
But (though her young companions felt the shock)
She studied Berkeley, Bacon, Hobbes and Locke:
Her mind within the maze of history dwelt,
And of the moral Muse the beauty felt;
The merits of the Roman page she knew,
And could converse with More and Montague:
Thus she became the wonder of the town,
From that she reap’d, to that she gave renown;
And strangers coming, all were taught t’admire
The learned lady, and the lofty spire.
Thus fame in public fix’d the Maid where all
Might throw their darts, and see the idol fall:
A hundred arrows came with vengeance keen,