Mary Robinson ( )


The Fortune-Teller, a Gypsy Tale


LUBIN and KATE, as gossips tell,
Were Lovers many a day;
LUBIN the damsel lovd so well,
That folks pretend to say
The silly, simple, doting Lad,
Was little less than loving mad:
A malady not known of late--
Among the little-loving Great!

KATE liked the youth; but woman-kind
Are sometimes givn to range.
And oft, the giddy Sex, we find,
(They know not why)
When most they promise, soonest change,
And still for conquest sigh:
So twas with KATE; she, ever roving
Was never fixd, though always loving!

STEPHEN was LUBINS rival; he
A rustic libertine was known;
And many a blushing simple She,
The rogue had left,--to sigh alone!
KATE cared but little for the rover,
Yet she resolvd to have her way,
For STEPHEN was the village Lover,
And women pant for Sovreign sway.
And he, who has been known to ruin,--
Is always sought, and always wooing.

STEPHEN had long in secret sighd;
And STEPHEN never was denyd:
Now, LUBIN was a modest swain,
And therefore, treated with disdain:
For, it is said, in Love and War ,--
The boldest, most successful are!

Vows, were to him but fairy things
Borne on capricious Fancys wings;
And promises, the Phantoms Airy
Which falsehood formd to cheat th unwary;
For still deception was his trade,
And though his traffic well was known,
Still, every trophy was his own
Which the proud Victor, Love, displayd.
In short, this STEPHEN was the bane
Of evry maid,--and evry swain!

KATE had too often playd the fool,
And now, at length, was caught;
For she, who had been pleasd to rule,
Was now, poor Maiden, taught!
And STEPHEN ruld with boundless sway,
The rustic tyrant of his day.

LUBIN had givn inconstant KATE,
Ten pounds , to buy her wedding geer:
And now, tis said, tho somewhat late,
He thought his bargain rather dear.
For, Lo ! The day before the pair
Had fixd, the marriage chain to wear,
A GYPSY gang, a wandring set,
In a lone wood young LUBIN met.
All round him press with canting tale,
And, in a jargon, well designd
To cheat the unsuspecting mind,
His listning ears assail.

Some promisd riches; others swore
He should, by women, be adord;
And never sad, and never poor--
Live like a Squire, or Lord;--
Do what he pleasd, and neer be brought
To shame,--for what he did, or thought;
Seduce mens wives and daughters fair,
Spend wealth, while others toild in vain,
And scoff at honesty, and swear,--
And scoff, and trick, and swear again! 

ONE roguish Girl, with sparkling eyes,
To win the handsome LUBIN tries;
She smild, and by her speaking glance,
Enthralld him in a wondring trance;
He thought her lovelier far than KATE,
And wishd that she had been his mate;
For when the FANCY is on wing,
VARIETYS a dangerous thing:
And PASSIONS, when they learn to stray
Will seldom seldom keep the beaten way.

The gypsy-girl, with speaking eyes,
Observd her pupils fond surprize,
She beggd that he her hand would cross,
With Sixpence; and that He should know
His future scene of gain and loss,
His weal and woe.--

LUBIN complies. And straight he hears
That he had many long, long years;
That he a maid inconstant, loves,
Who, to another slyly roves.
That a dark man his bane will be--
And poison his domestic hours;
While a fair woman, treachrously--
Will dress his brow--with thorns and flowrs!
It happend, to confirm his care--
STEPHEN was dark ,--and KATE was fair!
Nay more that home his bride would bring
A little, alien, prattling thing
In just six moons! Poor LUBIN hears
All that confirms his jealous fears;
Perplexd and frantic, what to do
The cheated Lover scarcely knew.
He flies to KATE, and straight he tells
The wonder that in magic dwells!
Speaks of the Fortune-telling crew,
And how all things the Vagrants knew;
KATE hears: and soon determines, she
Will know her future destiny.

Swift to the wood she hies, tho late
To read the tablet of her Fate.
The Moon its crystal beam scarce shewd
Upon the darkly shadowd road;
The hedge-row was the feasting-place
Where, round a little blazing wood,
The wandring, dingy, gabbling race,
Crowded in merry mood.

And now she loiterd near the scene.
Now peepd the hazle copse between;
Fearful that LUBIN might be near
The story of her Fate to hear.--
She saw the feasting circle gay
By the stoln faggots yellow light;
She heard them, as in sportive play,
They cheard the sullen gloom of night.
Nor was sly KATE by all unseen
Peeping, the hazle copse between.

And now across the thicket side
A tatterd, skulking youth she spied;
He beckond her along, and soon,
Hid safely from the prying moon,
His hand with silver, thrice she crosses--
Tell me, said she, my gains and losses?

You gain a fool , the youth replies,
You lose a lover too.
The false one blushes deep, and sighs,
For well the truth she knew!
You gave to STEPHEN, vows; nay more
You gave him favors rare:
And LUBIN is condemnd to share
What many others shard before!
A false, capricious, guilty heart,
Made up of folly, vice, and art,
Which only takes a wedded mate
To brand with shame, an husbands fate.

Hush! hush! cried KATE, for Heavns sake be
As secret as the grave--
For LUBIN means to marry me--
And if you will not me betray,
I for your silence well will pay;
Five pounds this moment you shall have.--
I will have TEN! the gypsy cries--
The fearful, trembling girl complies.

But, what was her dismay, to find
That LUBIN was the gypsy bold;
The cunning, fortune-telling hind
Who had the artful story told--
Who thus, was curd of jealous pain,--
And got his TEN POUNDS back again! 

Thus, Fortune pays the LOVER bold!
But, gentle Maids, should Fate
Have any secret yet untold,--
Remember, simple KATE!



Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. Sonnet 13. Bring, Brick to Deck My Brow
  2. Ode to Valour
  3. Sonnet 9. Ye, Who in Alleys Green
  4. Sonnet 35. What Means the Mist
  5. The Confessor, a Sanctified Tale


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