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Leave off thy paint, perfumes, and youthful dress,
Thou strut'st as if thou wert the only lord;
When we all know of such there is a bouse, Where I might sit, cou'd I the price afford,
And Child has now three earldoms out at use. High expectation does attend good seed, Yet none will buy a known jade for his breed ; Boast not too much thy mighty pedigree, Were they alive they'd be ashamed of thee.
Thou quibl'st well, hast craft and industry,
Flatt'rest great men, laugh'st at their enemies, Rally'st the absent, art a pretty spy,
Yet for all this in court thou dost not rise; Thou play'st thy court-game booty : I'm afraid Th’ast promis'd marriage, when thy fortune's made, And so thou dar'st not thrive upon thy trade.
Whil'st thou sit’st drinking up thy loyalty,
And rayl'st at laws, thou dost not understand, Ador’st the ministers, who know not thee, Sellist thy long freedom for a short command,
thou aim’st at, if o'er thee one have, In a rich coat th’art but a ranting slave.
I'd take thy judgment on a pot of ale:
A dwarf too short, the pyramid too tall;
But if thou would'st, this is the only way;
draw; Of knavish Curio scorn the ill-got plate,
The numerous servants, and the cringing throng: With a few friends on fewer dishes eat,
And let thy clothes, like mine, be plain and strong: Such friendships make as thou may'st keep with ease,
Great men expect what good men hate to pay; Be never thou thyself in pain to please,
But leave to fools and knaves, th' uncertain prey. Let thy expence with thy estate keep pace;
Meddle with no man's business, scarce thy own;
And leave vain fops the beauties of the town.
A grave physician, and the third a priest;
Married to her, thou yet may'st court the rest.
Whilst thou stand'st doub:ing, Bradbury has got
Five thousand pound, and Conquest as much more ; W is made B from a drunken sot:
Leap in, and stand not shiv ring on the shore;
When I had purchas'd a fresh horse or coat,
For which I knew not how to pay,
My ancient friend, as he will say ;
And mutter'd to himself aloud,
How much he to Secundus ow'd,
We have copied largely from these epigrams, which have been overlooked by former collectors, not only on account of their exhibiting the talent of wit, for which Sedley was celebrated in his day, to some advantage; * but also as they display the character and manners of that age, being doubtless, portraits drawn from the life.
* Was this meant for Seth Ward, Bishop successively of Exeter and Salisbury? He was a fellow collegian with Sedley at Oxford.
+“Sedley,” says Burnet “had a more sudden and copious wit, wbich furnished a perpetual run of discourse; but he was not so correct as Lord Dorset, nor so sparkling as Lord Rocbester."--History of his own Times, vol. 1 p. 372.
BORN ABOUT 1640.-DIED 1689.
Beauty may fude,—but everlasting verse
Aphra Behn was born at Canterbury, in what year is uncertain. Her father's name was Johnson; he was a gentleman of good family, and patronised by Lord Willoughby, to whom he was related. This nobleman procured for him the appointment of Governor of Surinam, and the West India Islands, but he died on his passage; his family, however, among which was our poetess then very young, arrived in safety, settled at Surinam, and continued to reside there several years.
During her residence at Surinam, she became acquainted with the history of the American prince, Oroonoko, of which on her return she availed herself in the composition of a tale which bears his name, and is one of the best of her literary productions; it had
also the good fortune to attract the notice of Southern, the dramatic writer, and constitutes the foundation of the most pathetic tragedy in the English language.
Aphra Johnson returned to England in the prime of life and beauty, and soon afterwards married Mr. Behn, a London merchant of Dutch extraction. What time she continued a wife is uncertain, probably not long; her marriage, however, gave her an opportunity of appearing with advantage at the gay court of Charles the Second, where she soon became an object of attraction, having all the personal and mental qualifications requisite to make a figure on such a theatre. It was the custom of that age, a custom which with characteristic propriety had its origin in France, to employ accomplished women for the purposes of political intrigue and information, and Mrs. Behn, then probably a widow, was chosen as a fit agent to reside in Flauders during the war with Holland. She selected Antwerp for the place of her residence, where she seems to have led a life of gaiety and dissipation. By means of one of her suitors, of the name of Vander Albert, she obtained a knowledge of the design formed by the Dutch to surprise London in 1667, and communicated the information in due course to the government by which she was employed. But she obtained no credit from her employers; the attempt was made, and as is well known with partial success. Disgusted with this want of confidence in her veracity, Mrs. Behn threw up her employment as a state agent, and continued some time longer at Antwerp as a private individual. Her adventures during this period are related at some length in the narrative of her life, and are sufficiently amusing, but too long for insertion in this place.