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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



Lorenzo Lotto. Portrait of a Young Gentleman in his Study, c1527
Lorenzo Lotto. Portrait of a Young Gentleman, c1527.

A Letter to a Brother of the Pen in Tribulation.

Poor Damon! Art thou caught? Is't ev'n so?
Art thou become a tabernacler too?
Where sure thou dost not mean to preach or pray,
Unless it be the clean contrary way:
This holy time I little thought thy sin
Deserved a tub to do its penance in.
Oh how you'll for th'Aegyptian flesh-pots wish,
When you're half-famished with your Lenten-dish,
Your almonds, currants, biscuits hard and dry,
Food that will soul and body mortify:
Damned penitential drink, that will infuse
Dull principles into thy grateful Muse.
—Pox on't that you must needs be fooling now,
Just when the wits had greatest need of you.
Was Summer then so long a-coming on,
That you must make an artificial one?
Much good may't do thee; but 'tis thought thy brain
Ere long will wish for cooler days again.
For honesty no more will I engage:
I durst have sworn thou'dst had thy pusillage.
Thy looks the whole cabal have cheated too;
But thou wilt say, most of the wits do so.
Is this thy writing plays? Who thought thy wit
An interlude of whoring would admit.
To poetry no more thou'lt be inclined,
Unless in verse to damn all womankind:
And 'tis but just thou shouldst in rancour grow
Against that sex that has confined thee so.
All things in nature now are brisk and gay
At the approaches of the blooming May:
The new-fletched birds do in our arbours sing
A thousand airs to welcome in the Spring;
Whilst ev'ry swain is like a bridegroom dressed,
And ev'ry nymph as going to a feast.
The meadows now their flowery garments wear,
And ev'ry grove does in its pride appear:
Whilst thou poor Damon in close rooms art pent
Where hardly thy own breach can find a vent.
Yet that too is a Heaven, compared to th'task
Of coddling every morning in a cask.
Now I could curse this female, but I know,
She needs it not, that thus could handle you.
Besides, that vengeance does to thee belong,
And 'twere injustice to disarm thy tongue.
Curse then, dear swain, that all the youth may hear,
And from thy dire mishap be taught to fear.
Curse till thou hast undone the race, and all
That did contribute to thy spring and fall.

Behn, Aphra. Oroonoko, and Other Writings. Paul Salzman, ed.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. 229-230.

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