The Frail Nymph's Apology

by William Wycherley

How can I help my yielding to Mankind?
All are, alas! too hard for me, I find;
And, the Love-sickness of the Soul will make
The Spirit, for the potent Flesh, too weak.
Then since Resistance makes the Lover more
Exact his Vigour, and provokes his Pow'r,
The vain Repulsing of our Honour's Foes,
Us to their Passion does but more expose;
Why more than They should we our Credit lose,
Who can but ill th' Invader's Force oppose?
That which we can't defend, we must submit
To strong Perswasions urg'd by Love, or Wit;
And, not to lose our Honour, part with it;
Since sure our Honour more our Shame wou'd prove,
Made by our Pride, ungrateful to our Love:
If cruelly perverse, and simply coy,
We would prevent our Own and Lover's Joy:
And still the more he sued for our Embrace,
Be sullen, and refuse the courted Grace.
Shou'd I return him less, to make him more
My Foe, as more he was my Friend before;
By not submitting we the Lover make
Our Honour from Us, in Revenge, to take;
And by Perverseness set our Fame at Stake:

To lose our Honour, and our Pleasure too,
Does both Ingratitude and Folly shew;
Therefore that Honour, which we can't defend
Without Assistance of an able Friend,
'Tis best resigning, since it is our Trust
Of Men of Honour makes them nobly just;
For 'tis the Pleasure of vain Liars most
Those Women's Favours, who refuse, to boast.
I yield to them, still to preserve a Name,
Exposing Modesty, to save my Fame:
I yield to Fools, and Wits, to Great and Small,
That none my Honour may in Question call,
Which, but to keep, I render up to all:
Since all Men (sure) must needs speak best of those,
Who, for their Love, their Honour most expose.

So that by Force, or Inclination, we,
To Love, and Lovers, must submissive be.
The Proud I favour, out of Pride to see
Them on their Knees, more willingly, to Me.
Since Men are brib'd to Silence by our Love,
Who, when deny'd, wou'd our Traducers prove.
The Humble, favour'd, think me free from Pride,
And with the Great and Proud I've oft comply'd,
But by my Shame to be more dignify'd.
The sturdy Ruffian makes me yield by Force.
The Gentle by the Pow'r of soft Discourse.
I yield to one, because by him compell'd,
To t' other, but because not forc'd, I yield.
An old Acquaintance makes me to comply
On the pure Score of Familiarity;
And 'tis uncivil Strangers to deny.
The Bully makes me out of Fear submit,
I yield, for fear of Scandal, to the Wit:
Nor can I This resist, or That prevent,
For Strength of Arms, of Back, or Argument;
Nor can I This reject, or That deny,
But yield to Love or Importunity.

Too weak my Body, for the Bold, I find;
As, for the Gentle, much too weak my Mind.
By Force, the Rude my Ravisher will prove,
The Gentle is my Ravisher with Love;
The Flatt'rer gains me by his artful Praise,
The Libeller for fear of more Disgrace;
I to the Brave submit, because they ne'er
Boast of their Conquests, or expose the Fair:
To Cowards, since they dare not tell for Fear.
Me, the well-spoken, to Compliance move;
The Dumb, Distrustful, by their Silence prove
An aweful Modesty, Respect, and Love.
The fashionable Sparks my Fancy take,
Who go more fine, their better Court to make,
Less for their Pride, than for my Pleasure's sake.
To love th' Ill-dress'd, and Careless, I'm inclin'd,
Who less themselves, the more they love me, mind.

The Lusty, and the Tall, my Liking claim,
Who hope Proportion is All o'er the same.
As oft I clasp the Little, and the Low,
In Hopes some Parts may make a goodlier Show;
(Since little Women oft are large below.)
I like the spare Man, for his slender Size,
As best by Nature form'd for Exercise;
The Fat, and Burly, equally approve,
Such are good-natur'd All, and Friends to Love.
I love the Black Man, since the warmer Friend;
The Fair, because more gentle, soft and kind:
Me, in their Turns, the Brown, or Aubourn take,
Only by diff'ring from the Fair or Black.
Nay I can love those, whom few like, the Red,
Who tho' they look worse up, are best in Bed.
Alike thus all Complexions me delight,
If that alike All seem to me by Night;
Of handsome Men I cannot but approve,
Who give me Pleasure, and engage my Love.
And to th' Ill-favour'd must good natur'd be,
Who (though I like them least) most plead, I see,
And still are ever satisfy'd with me.

Old Men (for being fond of me) I deem
Worthy my Friendship, tho' not my Esteem;
The Young, because they make me fond of them.
Old Men, since young Men for us they maintain,
The Young, since we, more Pleasure from 'em gain.
Old Men, because they get us not with Child,
By which our Fame were ruin'd, Beauty spoil'd;
Tho' happ'ly our advent'rous Ladies find,
They grow less pregnant, as the Men more kind.

The Old we sleep with but that Gold to take,
We give the Young for keeping us awake:
I to the Rich am of my Favours free,
That of their Coin they may be so to me:
And to the Poor I charitable prove,
Who, what they want in Gold, must give in Love.
Then if with old and poor Men I comply,
You may be sure I no Man can deny.