"A Woman's Friendship Ever Ends In Love"
Context: Gay was certainly one of the best minor poets of the early eighteenth century, although he was greatly overshadowed by his friend Alexander Pope. His verse was generally light, and his thought was seldom profound; his favorite mode was burlesque which frequently took the form of mock-epic. In drama the twentieth century knows him best for his The Beggar's Opera in both its original form and as the Three-Penny Opera. In Dione, however, Gay changed his humour and tried his hand at pastoral tragedy. In the play the heroine, Dione, must appear disguised as a youth, Alexis. In this garb she befriends Parthenia and thus rouses jealousy in Lycidas whom she loves and who loves Parthenia. Lycidas believes that Alexis (Dione in disguise) has seduced Parthenia, and in the fourth act charges Alexis with the supposed betrayal:
LYCIDASBoast then her favours; say, what happy hourNext calls to meet her in th' appointed bower;Say, when and where you met.DIONE––Be rage supprest.In stabbing mine, you wound Parthenia's breast.She said, she still defy'd Love's keenest dart;Yet purer friendship might divide her heart,Friendship's sincerer bands she wish'd to prove.LYCIDASA woman's friendship ever ends in love.Think not these foolish tales my faith command;Did not I see thee press her snowy hand?O may her passion like thy friendship last!May she betray thee e'er a day be past!