The Willing Captive

What secret Magic charm, what lambent fires

Now animate my Heart with soft desires?

What dear Ideas arise within my Breast?

What pains? – what pleasures not to be exprest

What drops, what Fears, what new Emotions rise,

Heave in my Breast and sparkle in my Eyes? 5

The Effect I feel the cause is also plain,

A Willing Votary of the Enamour’d train.

Hail Gentle Power! – well pleased I own thy Sway,

Thy dictates without murmuring obey.

Accept a Heart a Heart that’s wholly thine, 10

A Victim worthy of thy Sacred Shrine.

Innocent! Artless! tender fit to prove

(Forgive the boast) that Heaven born passion Love,

Much injured Deity assert thy Fame

And Vindicate the Honor of thy Name. 15

Shall Selfish Vulgar minds to thee aspire

And brutally prophane thy Sacred Fire?

Shall such presumeingWretches dare pretend

To be a Lover, or to be a Friend?

Alike incapable of Either Flame, 20

They only know the prostituted Name.

Say, can these feel the transports of distress,

The pangs of pleasure, all the soft excess,

The tender Extacy that that Bosom knows

Which with a Chaste, a Mutual Passion glows? 25

Can their Ideas reach that trembling height

Where shared Misfortune turns to shared delight?

Their Souls are form’d too narrow to receive

The Bliss or Misery that Love can give –

Oh lost to all that can exalt mankind, 30

The soft Sensations of the expanded Mind,

The gen’rous warmth Humanity bestows,

The tender feeling for another’s Woes,

From Sympathy of Soul what raptures rise,

Soft, Silent, raptures beaming from the Eyes, 35

From Eyes like Beville’s with soft meaning fraught

Which lately to my own this Lesson taught.


Text: Box 28, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 4, p. 184.