this lock are grown so rustie with time, that a modern key will scarce unlock it, seeing in eighty years and upward (such the age of this book from the Nativitie thereof) many criticisms of time, place and person, wherein the life and lustre of this storie did consist, are utterly lost, and unknown in our age.
Cotton (1630-87) uses the traditions of women as Arcadia-readers, and of its amorous associations. Poems by his older friend Lovelace (No. 54) and by Waller (No. 52 (b)) may have been sources for the ‘united grace’ of Pamela and Philoclea. The speaker comes upon a nymph in a cool grove and ‘There stole my passion from her killing Eyes.’ She will not give way to his desires, which remain fulfilled only in the romance, perhaps appropriately for a poet with royalist sympathies writing probably during the Interregnum.
The happy Object of her Eye
Was Sidney’s living Arcady;
Whose amorous tale had so betrai’d
Desire in this all-lovely Maid;
That, whilst her Cheek a blush did warm,
I read Loves story in her form:
And of the Sisters the united grace,
Pamela’s vigour in Philoclea’s Face.
She read not long, but clos’d the Book,
And up her silent Lute she took,
Perchance to charm each wanton thought,
Youth, or her reading had begot.