"To the arts of the libertine, however fair, my heart had always been steeled."

— Brooke [née Moore], Frances (bap. 1724, d. 1789)

Place of Publication
Printed for J. Dodsley
"To the arts of the libertine, however fair, my heart had always been steeled."
Metaphor in Context
When your father's death called you back to England, you may remember I continued my journey to Rome: where a letter from my father introduced me into the family of count Melespini, a nobleman of great wealth and uncommon accomplishments: as my father, who has always been of opinion that nothing purifies the heart, refines the taste, or polishes the manners, like the conversation of an amiable, well educated, virtuous woman, had particularly entreated for me the honour of the countess's friendship, whom he had known almost a child, and to whom he had taught the English language; I was admitted to the distinction of partaking in all her amusements, and attending her every where in the quality of Cecisbeo. To the arts of the libertine, however fair, my heart had always been steeled; but the countess joined the most piercing wit, the most winning politeness, the most engaging sensibility, the most exquisite delicacy, to a form perfectly lovely. You will not therefore wonder that the warmth and inexperience of youth, hourly exposed in so dangerous a situation, was unable to resist such variety of attractions. Charmed with the flattering preference she seemed to give me, my vanity fed by the notice of so accomplished a creature, forgetting those sentiments of honour which ought never to be one moment suspended, I became passionately in love with this charming woman: for some months I struggled with my love, till on her observing that my health seemed impared, and I had lost my usual vivacity, I took courage to confess the cause, though in terms which sufficiently spoke my despair of touching a heart which I feared was too sensible to virtue for my happiness: I implored her pity, and protested I had no hope of inspiring a tenderer sentiment. Whilst I was speaking, which was in broken interrupted sentences, the countess looked at me with the strongest sorrow and compassion painted in her eyes; she was for some moments silent, and seemed lost in thought; but at last, with an air of dignifyed sweetness, "My dear Enrico," said she, "shall I own to you that I have for some time feared this confession? I ought perhaps to resent this declaration, which from another I could never have forgiven: but as I know and esteem the goodness of your heart, as I respect your father infinitely, and love you with the innocent tenderness of a sister, I will only entreat you to reflect how injurious this passion is to the count, who has the tenderest esteem for you, and would sacrifice almost his life for your happiness: be assured of my eternal friendship unless you forfeit it by persisting in a pursuit equally destructive to your own probity and my honor; receive the tenderest assurances of it," continued she, giving me her hand to kiss, "but believe at the same time that the count deserves and possesses all my love, I had almost said, my adoration. The fondest affection united us, and time, instead of lessening, every hour increases our mutual passion. Reserve your heart, my good Enrico, for some amiable lady of your own nation, and believe that love has no true pleasures but when it keeps within the bounds of honor."
(I, pp. 22-5)
Searching "heart" and "steel" in HDIS (Poetry)
At least 8 entries in the ESTC (1769, 1775, 1777, 1784, 1786, 1800).

See The History of Emily Montague. In Four Volumes. By the Author of Lady Julia Mandeville. (London: Printed for J. Dodsley, 1769). <Link to ESTC><Link to Penn's Digital Library><Link to LION>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.