"For love, I fear, corrupts the judge within."

— Hamilton, William, of Bangour (1704-1754)

w. c. 1762, 1850
"For love, I fear, corrupts the judge within."
Metaphor in Context
Hear me, O youths! whose now impending fates
The extreme of joy or misery awaits,
Or still to mourn your unavailing vows,
Or victor in the strife enjoy the spouse.
Then who shall first begin the important lay
Let lots determine, and those lots obey.
This coin, ordained through Scotia's realm to pass,
The monarch's face refulgent on the brass;
Fair, on the side opposed, the thistle rears
Its wand'ring foliage and its bristly spears.
This, from my hand flung upwards in the sky,
In countless circles whirls its orb on high;
If, when descended on the level ground,
The monarch's awful visage upward's found,
Then thou, O Fiddler, shall thy skill employ
The first, to try the song of grief or joy.
If, undeprised upon the blushing green
Its chance directs, the thistle's front is seen,
The Piper first the sweet melodious strain
Shall urge, and finish or increase his pain.
But thou, O Elspet, fair beyond the rest,
Whose fatal beauty breeds the dire contest,
O heedful of advice, attentive hear
My faithful counsels with no careless ear.
Fair (though) thou art, yet fairer have there been,
Such as of old these aged orbs have seen.
Lives there a maiden now that can compare
With Agnew's downy breasts and amber hair?
O, when shall I again the match behold
Of sprightly Henny, and her cheeks of gold!
Or her, adorn'd with every blushing grace,
Sweet Marion, comely as the Gentle's race!
If these in younger years I could engage,
Then blush not thou to hear my words of age.
View both the combatants with equal eyes,
Thyself at once the judge, at once the prize.
O dread to load thy tender soul with sin,
For love, I fear, corrupts the judge within.
For if misjudging, thou award'st the day
To him inferior in the sweet essay,
Each tongue shall rank thee with the worst of names,
Deep pierces scandal when 'tis truth that blames.
The perjury shall every age prolong,
To fright the changeful mind from doing wrong.
But if thy sentence speak an upright heart,
Where pride and female error has no part,
Thy name remembered in the feasting days,
The youths shall chant sweet ballads in thy praise,
The lover shall his faithless fair upbraid,
And quote the example of the Piper's Maid.
Then Elspet, Maid of Gallowshiels, take heed,
For infamy or fame attends thy deed.
Searching "judge within" in HDIS (Poetry)
An incomplete manuscript poem: first book and portion of the second complete. Left unfinished at the time of Hamilton's death.

Text from The Poems and Songs of William Hamilton of Bangour. Ed. James Paterson. Edinburgh, 1850.
Date of Entry

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