Love Death and Reputation. A Fable.
MS Folger, 278-9*.
I have taken this one from the 1713 Miscellany:
Reputation, Love, and Death,
(The Last all Bones, the First all Breath,
The Midd'st compos'd of Restless Fire)
From each other wou'd Retire;
Thro' the World resolv'd to stray;
Every One a several Way;
Exercising, as they went,
Each such Power, as Fate had lent;
Which, if it united were,
Wretched Mortals cou'd not bear:
But as parting Friends do show,
To what Place they mean to go,
Correspondence to engage,
Nominate their utmost Stage;
Death declar'd he wou'd be found
Near the fatal Trumpet's sound;
Or where Pestilences reign,
And Quacks the greater Plagues maintain;
Shaking still his sandy Glass,
And mowing Human Flesh, like Grass.
Love, as next his Leave he took,
Cast on both so sweet a Look,
As their Tempers near disarm'd,
One relax'd, and t'other warm'd;
Shades for his Retreat he chose,
Rural Plains, and soft Repose;
Where no Dowry e'er was paid,
Where no Jointure e'er was made;
No Ill Tongue the Nymph perplex'd,
Where no Forms the Shepherd vex'd;
Where Himself shou'd be the Care,
Of the Fond and of the Fair:
Where that was, they soon should know,
Au Revoir! then turn'd to Go.
Reputation made a Pause,
Suiting her severer Laws;
Second Thoughts, and Third she us'd,
Weighing Consequences mus'd;
When, at length to both she cry'd:
You Two safely may Divide,
To th' Antipodes may fall,
And re-ascend th' encompast Ball;
Certain still to meet agen
In the Breasts of tortur'd Men;
Who by One (too far) betray'd,
Call in t'other to their Aid:
Whilst I Tender, Coy, and Nice,
Rais'd and ruin'd in a Trice,
Either fix with those I grace,
Or abandoning the Place,
No Return my Nature bears,
From green Youth, or hoary Hairs;
If thro' Guilt, or Chance, I sever,
I once Parting, Part for ever.
1713 Misc, 29-30; rpt of 1713: 1903 Reynolds, 160- 2; rpt of 1903 Reynolds: 1928 Murray, 72-3; 1930 Fausset, 73-4; 1987 Thompson, 65-6.
A traditional story of which the two closest contemporary renderings seemed to me: 1) "Upon a time Reputation, Love and Death", John Webster's Duchess of Malfi, III, ii, 120-35; and 2) John Ogilby, Aesop's Fables, "Of Cupid, Death, and Reputation" 1668, reprint 1675, Fable 61, 152-4.
Rpt of 1713: 1757 Colman, 257-8.
Rpt of 1713/1903: 1905 Tutin, 25-7.
Free imitation; intensity, speed (Finch has now fully mastered the octosyllabic couplet suits Finch very well), sardonic wit makes this one of Finch's best fables.
Page Last Updated 8 January 2003