Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
Extracts from The Miscellanies: The Chronicle. A Ballad
By Abraham Cowley (1618–1667)
MARGARITA first possest,
    If I remember well, my breast,
    Margarita first of all;
But when awhile the wanton maid
With my restless heart had played,        5
    Martha took the flying ball.
Martha soon did it resign
    To the beauteous Catharine.
    Beauteous Catharine gave place
(Though loth and angry she to part        10
With the possession of my heart)
    To Elisa’s conquering face.
Elisa till this hour might reign
    Had she not evil counsels ta’en.
    Fundamental laws she broke,        15
And still new favourites she chose,
Till up in arms my passions rose,
    And cast away her yoke.
Mary then and gentle Ann
    Both to reign at once began.        20
    Alternately they sway’d,
And sometimes Mary was the fair,
And sometimes Ann the crown did wear,
    And sometimes both I obey’d.
Another Mary then arose        25
    And did rigorous laws impose.
    A mighty tyrant she!
Long, alas, should I have been,
Under that iron-sceptered Queen,
    Had not Rebecca set me free.        30
When fair Rebecca set me free,
    ’Twas then a golden time with me.
    But soon those pleasures fled,
For the gracious Princess died
In her youth and beauty’s pride,        35
    And Judith reigned in her stead.
One month, three days, and half an hour
    Judith held the sovereign power.
    Wondrous beautiful her face,
But so weak and small her wit,        40
That she to govern was unfit,
    And so Susanna took her place.
But when Isabella came
    Arm’d with a resistless flame
    And th’ artillery of her eye;        45
Whilst she proudly marched about
Greater conquests to find out,
    She beat out Susan by the by.
But in her place I then obeyed
    Black-ey’d Bess, her viceroy-maid,        50
    To whom ensu’d a vacancy,
Thousand worse passions then possest
The interregnum of my breast.
    Bless me from such an anarchy!
Gentle Henriette then        55
    And a third Mary next began,
    Then Joan, and Jane, and Audria.
And then a pretty Thomasine,
And then another Katharine,
    And then a long et cætera.        60
But should I now to you relate,
    The strength and riches of their state,
    The powder, patches, and the pins,
The ribbons, jewels, and the rings,
The lace, the paint, and warlike things        65
    That make up all their magazines;
If I should tell the politic arts
    To take and keep men’s hearts,
    The letters, embassies, and spies,
The frowns, and smiles, and flatteries,        70
The quarrels, tears, and perjuries,
    Numberless, nameless mysteries!
And all the little lime-twigs laid
    By Matchavil the waiting-maid;
    I more voluminous should grow        75
(Chiefly if I like them should tell
All change of weathers that befell)
    Than Holinshed or Stow.
But I will briefer with them be,
    Since few of them were long with me.        80
    An higher and a nobler strain
My present Emperess dost claim,
Heleonora, first o’ the name;
    Whom God grant long to reign!

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