An Answer to a Love-Letter
by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762)
Is it to me, this sad lamenting strain?
Are heaven’s choicest gifts bestowed in vain?
A plenteous fortune, and a beauteous bride,
Your love rewarded, gratify’d your pride:
Yet leaving her—’tis me that you pursue
Without one single charm, but being new.
How vile is man! how I detest their ways
Of artful falsehood, and designing praise!
Tasteless, an easy happiness you slight,
Ruin your joy, and mischief your delight,
Why should poor pug (the mimic of your kind)
Wear a rough chain, and be to box confin’d?
Some cup, perhaps, he breaks, or tears a fan
While roves unpunish’d the destroyer, man.
Not bound by vows, and unrestrain’d by shame,
In sport you break the heart, and rend the fame.
Not that your art can be successful here,
Th’ already plunder’d need no robber fear:
Nor sighs, nor charms, nor flatteries can move,
Too well secur’d against a second love
Once, and but once, that devil charm’d my mind;
To reason deaf, to observation blind;
I idly hop’d (what cannot love persuade?)
My fondness equal’d, and my love repaid:
Slow to distrust, and willing to believe,
Long hush’d my doubts, and did myself deceive;
But oh! too soon—this tale would ever last;
Sleep, sleep my wrongs, and let me think them past.
For you, who mourn with counterfeited grief,
And ask so boldly like a begging thief,
May soon some other nymph inflict the pain,
You know so well with cruel art to feign.
Though long you sported with Dan Cupid’s dart,
You may see eyes, and you may feel a heart.
So the brisk wits, who stop the evening coach,
Laugh at the fear which follows their approach;
With idle mirth, and haughty scorn despise
The passenger’s pale cheek and staring eyes:
But seiz’d by Justice, find a fright no jest,
And all the terror doubled in their breast.