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The Ephesian Matron
by [?]

[NOTE: See Chapters 111 & 112 from The Satyricon
by Petronius Arbiter. DW]

IF there’s a tale more common than the rest,
The one I mean to give is such confessed.
Why choose it then? you ask; at whose desire?
Hast not enough already tuned thy lyre?
What favour can thy MATRON now expect,
Since novelty thou clearly dost neglect?
Besides, thou’lt doubtless raise the critick’s rage.
See if it looks more modern in my page.

AT Ephesus, in former times, once shone,
A fair, whose charms would dignify a throne;
And, if to publick rumour credit ‘s due,
Celestial bliss her husband with her knew.
Naught else was talked of but her beauteous face,
And chastity that adds the highest grace;
From ev’ry quarter numbers flocked to see
This belle, regarded as from errors free.
The honour of her sex, and country too;
As such, old mothers held her up to view,
And wished their offspring’s wives like her to act:
The sons desired the very same in fact;
From her, beyond a doubt, our PRUDES descend,
An ancient, celebrated house, depend.

THE spouse adored his beauteous charming wife:
But soon, alas! he lost his precious life;
‘Twere useless on particulars to dwell:
His testament, indeed, provided well
For her he loved on earth to fond excess,
Which, ‘yond a doubt, would have relieved distress;
Could gold a cherished husband’s loss repair,
That filled her soul with black corroding care.

A WIDOW, howsoever, oft appears
Distracted ‘mid incessant floods of tears,
Who thoroughly her int’rest recollects,
And, spite of sobs, her property inspects.

OUR Matron’s cries were loudly heard around,
And feeling bosoms shuddered at the sound;
Though, we, on these occasions, truly know,
The plaint is always greater than the woe.
Some ostentation ever is with grief
Those who weep most the soonest gain relief.

EACH friend endeavoured to console the fair;
Of sorrow, she’d already had her share:
‘Twas wrong herself so fully to resign;–
Such pious preachings only more incline
The soul to anguish ‘mid distractions dire:
Extremes in ev’ry thing will soonest tire.

AT length, resolved to shun the glorious light,
Since her dear spouse no longer had the sight,
O’erwhelmed with grief she sought Death’s dreary cell,
Her love to follow, and with him to dwell.

A SLAVE, through pity, with the widow went;
To live or die with her she was content;
To die, howe’er, she never could intend:
No doubt she only thought about her friend,
The mistress whom she never wished to quit,
Since from her birth with her she used to sit.
They loved each other with a friendship true:
From early years it daily stronger grew;
Look through the universe you’ll scarcely find,
So great a likeness, both in heart and mind.
The slave, more clever than the lady fair,
At first her mistress left to wild despair;
She then essayed to soothe each torment dire;
But reason ‘s fruitless, with a soul on fire.
No consolation would the belle receive,
For one no more, she constantly would grieve,
And sought to follow him to regions blessed:–
The sword had shortest proved, if not the best.

BUT still the lady anxious was to view,
Again those precious relicks, and pursue,
E’en in the tomb what yet her soul held dear
No aliment she took her mind to cheer;
The gate of famine was the one she chose,
By which to leave this nether world of woes.

A DAY she passed; another day the same;
Her only sustenance, sobs, sighs, and flame
Still unappeased; she murmur’d ‘gainst her fate;
But nothing could her direful woes abate.