An English Padlock


Mathew Prior

MISS DANAE, when fair and young, (As Horace has divinely sung ' )
Could not be kept from Jove's embrace
By doors of steel, and walls of brass.
The reason of the thing is clear ;
Would Jove the naked truth aver :
Cupid was with him of the party,
And show'd himself sincere and hearty :
For, give that whipster but his errand,
He takes my Lord Chief Justice' warrant ;
Dauntless as death away he walks ;
Breaks the doors open ; snaps the locks ;
Searches the parlour, chamber, study ;
Nor stops till he has culprit's body.

Since this has been authentic truth,
By age deliver'd down to youth ;
Tell us, mistaken husband, tell us,
Why so mysterious, why so jealous ?
Does the restraint, the bolt, the bar
Make us less curious, her less fair ?
The spy, which does this treasure keep,
Does she ne'er say her prayers, nor sleep ?
Does she to no excess incline ?
Does she fly music, mirth, and wine ?
Or have not gold or flattery power
To purchase one unguarded hour ?

Your care does farther yet extend :
That spy is guarded by your friend. —
But has this friend nor eye, nor heart ?
May he not feel the cruel dart,
Which, soon or late, all mortals feel ?
May he not, with too tender zeal,
Give the fair pris'ner cause to see,
How much he wishes she were free ?
May he not craftily infer
The rules of friendship too severe,
Which chain him to a hated trust :
Which make him wretched, to be just ?
And may not she, this darling she,
Youthful and healthy, flesh and blood,
Easy with him, ill us'd by thee,
Allow this logic to be good ?

Sir, will your questions never end ?
I trust to neither spy nor friend.
In short, I keep her from the sight
Of every human face. — She'll write. —
From pen and paper she's debarr'd. —
Has she a bodkin and a card ?
She'll prick her mind. — She will, you say :
But how shall she that mind convey?
I keep her in one room : I lock it :
The key (look here) is in this pocket.
The key-hole, is that left ? Most certain.
She'll thrust her letter through — Sir Martin.

Dear angry Friend, what must be done ?
Is there no way ? — There is but one.
Send her abroad ; and let her see,
That all this mingled mass, which she,
Being forbidden, longs to know,
Is a dull farce, an empty show,
Powder, and pocket-glass, and beau ;
A staple of romance and lies,
False tears, and real perjuries :
Where sighs and looks are bought and sold ;
And love is made but to be told . . .
And youth, seduc'd from friends and fame,
Must give up age to want and shame.
Let her behold the frantic scene,
The women wretched, false the men :
And when, these certain ills to shun,
She would to thy embraces run ;
Receive her with extended arms :
Seem more delighted with her charms :
Wait on her to the Park and play :
Put on good humour ; make her gay :
Be to her virtues very kind ;
Be to her faults a little blind ;
Let all her ways be unconfin'd ;
And clap your Padlock — on her mind.D