26 AprAnother Fable for a Regency Romance Era Miss

THE WOLF, THE SHEEP, AND THE LAMB.
Duty demands the parent’s voice
Should sanctify the daughter’s choice;
In that is due obedience shewn;
To choose belongs to her alone.

May horror seize his midnight hour
Who builds upon a parent’s pow’r,
And claims, by purchase vile and base,
The loathing maid for his embrace;
Hence virtue sickens, and the breast,
Where peace had built her downy nest,
Becomes the troubled seat of care,
And pines with anguish and despair.

A WOLF, rapacious, rough, and bold,
Whose nightly plunders thinn’d the fold,
Contemplating his ill-spent life,
And cloy’d with thefts, would take a wife.
His purpose known, the savage race
In num’rous crouds attend the place;
For why, a mighty WOLF he was,
And held dominion in his jaws.
Her fav’rite whelp each mother brought,
And humbly his alliance sought;
But cold by age, or else too nice,
None found acceptance in his eyes.

It happen’d, as at early dawn,
He, solitary, cross’d the lawn,
Stray’d from the fold, a sportive LAMB
Skip’d wanton by her fleecy DAM;
When CUPID, foe to man and beast,
Discharg’d an arrow at his breast.
The tim’rous breed the robber knew,
And trembling o’er the meadow flew;
Their nimblest speed the WOLF o’ertook,
And, courteous, thus the DAM bespoke:
Stay, fairest, and suspend your fear,
Trust me, no enemy is near;
These jaws, in slaughter oft imbru’d,
At length have known enough of blood,
And kinder business brings me now,
Vanquish’d, at beauty’s feet to bow.
You have a daughter—Sweet, forgive
A WOLF’S address—In her I live;
Love from her eye like lightning came,
And set my marrow all on flame;
Let your consent confirm my choice,
And ratify our nuptial joys.
Me ample wealth and pow’r attend,
Wide o’er the plains my realms extend;
What midnight robber dare invade
The fold, if I the guard am made?
At home the shepherd’s cur may sleep,
While I secure his master’s sheep.
Discourse like his attention claim’d;
Grandeur the MOTHER’S breast inflam’d;
Now fearless by his side she walk’d,
Of settlements and jointures talk’d;
Propos’d and doubled her demands,
Of flow’ry fields and turnip lands.
The WOLF agrees.—Her bosom swells;
To MISS her happy fate she tells;
And, of the grand alliance vain,
Contemns her kindred of the plain.

The loathing LAMB with horror hears,
And wearies out her DAM with pray’rs,
But all in vain; mamma best knew
What unexperienc’d girls should do:
So, to a neighb’ring meadow carry’d,
A formal ass the couple marry’d.

Torn from the tyrant-mother’s side,
The trembler goes, a victim-bride;
Reluctant meets the rude embrace,
And bleats among the howling race.
With horror oft her eyes behold
Her murder’d kindred of the fold;
Each day a sister-lamb is serv’d,
And at the glutton’s table carv’d;
The crashing bones he grinds for food,
And slakes his thirst with streaming blood.

Love, who the cruel mind detests,
And lodges but in gentle breasts,
Was now no more.—Enjoyment past,
The savage hunger’d for the feast;
But (as we find in human race,
A mask conceals the villain’s face)
Justice must authorize the treat:
Till then he long’d, but durst not eat.

As forth he walk’d, in quest of prey,
The hunters met him on the way;
Fear wings his flight; the marsh he sought,
The snuffing dogs are set at fault.
His stomach baulk’d, now hunger gnaws,
Howling he grinds his empty jaws;
Food must be had—and lamb is nigh;
His maw invokes the fraudful lie.
Is this, dissembling rage, he cry’d,
The gentle virtue of a bride?
That, leagu’d with man’s destroying race,
She sets her husband for the chase?
By treach’ry prompts the noisy hound
To scent his footsteps o’er the ground?
Thou trait’ress vile, for this thy blood
Shall glut my rage, and dye the wood!

So saying, on the LAMB he flies:
Beneath his jaws the victim dies.

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