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Fame sits aloft, and points them out their course, Once ere he died, to taste the blissful life
These thoughts he fortified with reasons still, Or wane and wax alternate with the moon.
(For none want reasons to confirm their will.) Around, a thousand winged wonders fly,
Grave authors say, and witty poets sing, Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd through That honest wedlock is a glorious thing: the sky.
But depth of judgment most in him appears,
Then let him choose a damsel young and fair,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life.
Let sinful bachelors their woes deplore,
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear, Like birds and beasts promiscuously they join :
• "Tis true,' said I; ‘not void of hopes I came; And find divulged the secrets they would hide. For who so fond as youthful bards of Fame? The married man may bear his yoke with ease, But few, alas! the casual blessing boast,
Secure at once himself and Ileaven to please; So hard to gain, so easy to be lost.
And pass his inoffensive hours away, Ilow vain that second life in others' breath, In bliss all night, and innocence all day: The estate which wits inherit after death! Though fortune change, his constant spouse remains, Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign, Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains. (Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine!)
But what so pure, which envious tongues will spare ? The great man's curse, without the gains, endure, Some wicked wits have libell'd all the fair. Be envied, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor; With matchless impudence they style a wife, All luckless wits their enemies profess'd,
The dear-bought curse, and lawful plague of life; And all successful, jealous friends at best :
A bosom-serpent, a domestic evil, Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call; A night-invasion, and a mid-day devil. She comes unlook'd-for, if she comes at all. Let not the wise these slanderous words regard, But if the purchase cost so dear a pri
But curse the bones of every lying bard. As soothing folly, or exalting vice,
All other goods by fortune's hand are given; Oh! if the muse must flatter lawless sway,
A wife is the peculiar gift of Heaven. And follow still where fortune leads the way; Vain fortune's favours, never at a stay, Or if no basis bear my rising name,
Like empty shadows, pass, and glide away;
One solid comfort, our eternal wife,
As long as heart can wish—and longer too.
Alone, and e'en in Paradise unbless'd,
With mournful looks the blissful scenes survey'd, JANUARY AND MAY;
And wander'd in the solitary shade:
The Maker saw, took pity, and bestow'd
Woman, the last, the best reserved of God.
A wife! ah gentle deities, can he
All things would prosper, all the world grow wise.
His father's blessing from an elder son : Of gentle manners, as of generous race,
Abusive Nabal owed his forfeit life Bless'd with much sense, more riches, and some grace; To the wise conduct of a prudent wife : Yet, led astray by Venus' soft delights,
Heroic Judith, as old IIebrews show, le scarce could rule some idle appetites :
Preserved the Jews, and slew the Assyrian foe: For long ago, let priests say what they could, At Esther's suit, the persecuting sword Weak sinful laymen were but flesh and blood. Was sheathed, and Israel lived to bless the Lord.
But in due time, when sixty years were o'er, These weighty mo:ives, January the sage Jle vow'd to lead this vicious life no more: Maturely ponder'd in his riper age ; Whether pure holiness inspired his mind,
And, charm’d with virtuous joys and sober life, Or dorage turn'd his brain, is hard to find :
Would try that Christian comfort, callid a wife. But his high courage prick'd him forth to wed, His friends were summon'd on a point so nice, And try the pleasures of a lawful bed.
To pass their judgment, and to give advice; This was his nightly dream, his daily care,
But fix'd before, and well resolved was he; And to the heavenly powers his constant prayer, |(As men that ask advice are wont to be.)
My friends,' he cried, (and cast a mournful look But, with the wise man's leave, I must protest, Around the room, and sigh'd before he spoke :) So may my soul arrive at ease and rest,
Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend, As still I hold your own advice the best.
And have observed this useful maxim still,
Nay, if my lord affirm that black was white, And, as the precept of the Church decrees,
My word was this : 'Your honour's in the right.' Will take a wife, and live in holy ease.
The assuming wit, who deems himself so wise, But, since by counsel all things should be done, As his inistaken patron to advise, And many heads are wiser still than one; Let him not dare to vent his dangerous thought: Choose you for me, who best shall be content A noble fool was never in a fault. When my desire 's approved by your consent. This, sir, affects not you, whose every word "One caution yet is needful to be told,
Is weigh'd with judgment, and befits a lord: To guide your choice; this wife must not be old. Your will is mine; and is (I will maintain) There goes a saying, and 'twas shrewdly said, Plcasing to God, and should be so to man! Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed.
At least your courage all the world must praise, My soul abhors the tasteless, dry embrace
Who dare to wed in your declining days. Of a stale virgin with a winter face :
Indulge the vigour of your mounting blood, In that cold season Love but treats his guest And let gray folks be indolently good, With bean-straw, and tough forage at the best. Who, past all pleasure, damn the joys of sense, No crafty widows shall approach my bed;
With reverend dulness, and grave impotence.' Those are too wise for bachelors to wed ;
Justin, who silent sat, and heard the man,
"Conceive me, sirs, nor take my sense amiss; To those of generous principles, and just.
To give your person, than your goods away:
First learn your lady's qualities at least : And sink downright to Satan when I die.
Whether she's chaste or rampant, proud or civil, Or were I cursed with an unfruitful bed,
Meek as a saint, or haughty as the devil;
"Tis true, perfection none must hope to find Trink not I dote ; 'tis time to take a wife,
In all this world, much less in womankind; When vigorous blood forbids a chaster life: But, if her virtues prove the larger share, Those that are bless'd with store of grace divine, Bless the kind Fates, and think your fortune rare. May live like saints, by Heaven's consent and mine. Ah, gentle sir, take warning of a friend,
And since I speak of wedlock, let me say, Who knows too well the state you thus com(As thank my stars, in modest truth I may,)
mend ; My limbs are active, still I'm sound at heart, And, spite of all his praises, must declare, And a new vigour springs in every part.
All he can find is bondage, cost, and care. Think nou my virtue lost, though time has shed Heaven knows, I shed full many a private tear, These reverend honours on my hoary head; And sigh in silence, lest the world should hear! Thus trees are crown'd with blossoms white as snow, While all my friends applaud my blissful life, The vital sap then rising from below:
And swear no mortal's happier in a wife;
Demure and chaste as any vestal nun,
He said; the rest in different parts divide; Do what you list, for me; you must be sage,
And trust me, sir, the chastest you can choose Placebo this was call'd, and Justin that.
Will ask observance, and exact her dues. First to the knight Placebo thus begun
If what I speak my noble lord ofiend, (Bild were his looks, and pleasing was his tone :) My tedious sermon here is at an end.' Such prudence, sir, in all your words appears,
*"Tis well, 'tis wondrous well,' the knight replies, As plainly proves, experience dwells with years! Most worthy kinsman ; 'faith you're mighty wise ! Yet you pursue sage Solomon's advice,
We, sirs, are fools ; and must resign the cause To work by counsel when affairs are nice:
To heathenish authors, proverbs, and old cawg.' L
He spoke with scorn, and turn'd another way : Not e'en in wish, your happiness delay,
I say,' quoth he, ‘by Heaven the man's to blame, Then to the skies your mounting soul shall go,
Provided still, you moderate your joy,
Nor in your pleasures all your might employ. With full consent, that, all disputes appeased, Let reason's rule your strong desires abate, The knight should marry, when and where he pleased. Nor please too lavishly your gentle mate. Who now but January exults with joy :
Old wives there are, of judgment most acute, The charms of wedlock all his soul employ; Who solve these questions beyond all dispute; Each nymph by turns his wavering mind possess’d, Consult with those, and be of better cheer; And reign'd the short-lived tyrant of his breast; Marry, do penance, and dismiss your fear.' While fancy pictured every lively part,
So said, they rose, nor more the work delay'd; And each bright image wander'd o'er his heart. The match was offered, the proposals made. Thus, in some public forum fix'd on high,
The parents, you may think, would soon comply ; A mirror shows the figures moving by;
The old have interest ever in their eye. Still one by one, in swist succession, pass
Nor was it hard to move the lady's mind; The gliding shadows o'er the polish'd glass. When fortune favours, still the fair are kind. This lady's charms the nicest could not blame, I pass each previous settlement and deed, But vile suspicions had aspersed her fame: Too long for me to write, or you to read; That was with sense, but not with virtue bless'd; Nor will with quaint impertinence display And one had grace, that wanted all the rest.
pageantry, the proud array. Thus doubting long what nymph he should obey, The time approach'd, to church the parties went, He fix'd at last upon the youthful May.
At once with carnal and devout intent: Her faults he knew not, Love is always blind, Forth came the priest, and bade the obedient wife, But every charm revolved within his mind:
Like Sarah or Rebecca lead her life; Her tender age, her form divinely fair,
Then pray'd the powers the fruitful bed to bless, Her easy motion, her attractive air,
And made all sure enough with holiness. Her sweet behaviour, her enchanting face,
And now the palace gates are open'd wide, Her moving softness and majestic grace.
The guests appear in order, side by side, Much in his prudence did our knight rejoice, And placed in state the bridegroom and the bride. And thought no mortal could dispute his choice; The breathing flute's soft notes are heard around, Once more in haste he summon'd every friend, And the shrill trumpets mix their silver sound; And told them all, their pains were at an end. The vaulted roofs with echoing music ring, * Heaven that (said he) inspired me first to wed, These touch the vocal stops, and those the tremProvides a consort worthy of my bed :
bling string. Let none oppose the election, since on this Not thus Amphion tuned the warbling lyre, Depends my quiet, and my future bliss.
Nor Joab the sounding clarion could inspire, • A dame there is, the darling of my eyes,
Nor fierce Theodamus, whose sprightly strain Young, beauteous, artless, innocent, and wise ; Could swell the soul to rage, and fire the martial Chaste, though not rich; and, though not nobly train. born,
Bacchus himself, the nuptial feast to grace, Of honest parents, and may serve my turn.
(So poets sing) was present on the place: Her will I wed, if gracious Heaven so please, And lovely Venus, goddess of delight, To pass my age in sanctity and ease:
Shook high her flaming torch in open sight. And thank the powers, I may possess alone And danced around, and smiled on every knight: The lovely prize, and share my bliss with none ! Pleased her best servant would his courage try, If you, my friends, this virgin can procure,
No less in wedlock, than in liberty.
Full many an age old Hymen had not spied
For gentle lays, and joyous nuptial song,
The joys are such as far transcend your rage, Those endless joys were ill-exchanged for these. When tender youth has wedded stooping age. Then clear this doubt, and set my mind at ease.' The beauteous dame sat smiling at the board,
This Justin heard, nor could his spleen control, And darted amorous glances at ber lord. Touch'd to the quick, and tickled at the soul. Not Esther's self, whose charms the Hebrews sing, "Sir knight,' he cried, 'if this be all you dread, E'er look'd so lovely on her Persian king. Heaven put it past your doubt, whene'er you wed; Bright as the rising sun in summer's day, And to my fervent prayers so far consent,
And fresh and blooming as the month of May! That, ere the rites are o'er you may repent !
The joyful knight survey'd her by his side; Good Heaven, no doubt, the nuptial state approves Nor envied Paris with the Spartan bride : Since it chastises still what best it loves.
Still as his mind revolved with vast delight Then be not, sir, abandon’d to despair;
The entrancing raptures of the approaching night, Seek, and perhaps you'll find among the fair, Restless he sate, invoking every power One that may do your business to a hair :
To speed his bliss, and haste the happy hour.
Meantime the vigorous dancers beat the ground, Who studies now but discontented May ?
The lumpish husband snored away the night, With odorous spices they perfumed the place, Till coughs awaked him near the morning light. Abu mirth and pleasure shone in every face. What then he did, I'll not presume to tell, Damian alone of all the menial train,
Nor if she thought herself in heaven or hell; Sad in the midst of triumphs, sigh'd for pain; Honest and dull in nuptial bed they lay, Damian alone, the knight's obsequious 'squire, Till the bell toll'd, and all arose to pray. Consumed at heart, and fed a secret fire.
Were it by forceful destiny decreed, His lovely mistress all his soul possess'd;
Or did from chance, or nature's power proceed; He look'd, he languish'd, and could take no rest : Or that some star, with aspect kind to love, His task perform'd, he sadly went his way, Shed its selectest intluence from above; Fell on his bed, and loathed the light of day. Whatever was the cause, the tender dame There let himn lie, till his relenting dame
Felt the first motions of an infant flame; Weep in her turn, and waste in equal flame. Received the impressions of the love-sick 'squire, The wearied sun, as learned poets write,
And wasted in the soft infectious fire. Forsook the horizon, and roll'd down the light; Ye fair, draw near, let May's example move While glittering stars his absent beams supply, Your gentle minds to pity those who love ! And night's dark mantle overspread the sky. Had some fierce tyrant, in her stead been found, Then rose the guests: and, as the time required, The poor adorer sure had hang'd or drown'd: Each paid his thanks, and decently retired. But she, your sex's mirror, free from pride, The foe once gone, our knight prepared to un- Was much too meek to prove a homicide. dress,
But to my tale: Some sages have defined, So keen he was, and eager to possess :
Pleasure the sovereign bliss of human-kind : But first thought fit the assistance to receive, Our knight (who studied much, we may suppose,) Wuch grave physicians scruple not to give: Derived his high philosophy from those ! Satyrion near, with hot eringos stood,
For, like a prince, he bore the vast expense Cantharides, to fire the lazy blood,
Of lavish pomp, and proud magnificence: Whose use old bards describe in luscious rhymes, His house was stately, his retinue gay; And critics learn'd explain to modern times. Large was his train, and gorgeous his array. By this the sheets were spread, the bride undressid, His spacious garden, made to yield to none, The room was sprinkled, and the bed was bless’d. Was compass'd round with walls of solid stone; What next ensued beseems not me to say ;
Priapus could not half describe the grace 'Tis song, he labour'd till the dawning day, (Though god of gardens) of this charming place; Then briskly sprung from bed, with heart so light, A place to tire the rambling wits of France As all were nothing he had done by night; In long descriptions, and exceed romance ; And sipp'd his cordial as he sat upright.
Enough to shame the gentlest bard that sings He kiss'd his balmy spouse with wanton play, Of painted meadows, and of purling springs. And feebly sung a lusty roundelay :
Full in the centre of the flowery ground, Then on the couch his weary limbs he cast : A crystal fountain spread its streams around For every labour must have rest at last.
The fruitful banks with verdant laurels crown'd; But anxious cares the pensive 'squire oppress'd, About this spring (if ancient fame say true) Sleep fled his eyes, and peace forsook his breast : The dapper elves their moonlight sports pursue; The raging flames that in his bosom dwell, Their pigmy king, and little fairy queen, He wanted art to hide, and means to tell;
In circling dances garubol'd on the green, Yet hoping time the occasion might betray, While tuneful sprites a merry concert made, Composed a sonnet to the lovely May;
And airy music warbled through the shade. Which, writ and folded with the nicest art,
Hither the noble knight would oft repair
When now the fourth revolving day was run, For this he held it dear, and always bore
How short a space our worldly joys endure ! The obliging dames obey'd with one consent : O Fortune, fair, like all thy treacherous kind, They left the hall, and to his lodging went. But faithless still, and wavering as the wind ! The female tribe surround him as he lay,
O painted monster, form'd mankind to cheat And close beside him sate the gentle May: With pleasing poison, and with soft deceit ! Where, as she tried his pulse, he softly drew This rich, this amorous, venerable knight, A heaving sigh, and cast a mournful view! Amidst his ease, his solace, and delight, Then gave his bill, and bribed the powers divine Struck blind by thee, resigns his days to grief, With secret vowe, to favour his design.
And calls on death, the wretch's last relief.
The rage of jealousy then seized his mind, Old as I am, and now deprived of sight,
Nor age nor blindness rob me of delight.
"Consider then, my lady, and my wife,
As, first, the love of Christ himself you gain ; For, oh! 'twas fix’d, she must possess or die! Next, your own honour undefiled maintain ; Nor less impatience vex'd her amorous 'squire, And lastly, that which sure your mind must move, Wild with delay, and burning with desire.
My whole estate shall gratity your lore: Watch'd as she was, yet could he not refrain Make your own terms, and ere to-morrow's sun By secret writing to disclose his pain :
Displays his light, by Heaven, it shall be done.
I seal the contract with a holy kiss,
Ah! gentle knight, what could thy eyes avail, Have comfort, spouse, nor think thy lord unkind;
And join'd to them my own unequal age, Argus himself, so cautious and so wise,
From thy dear side I have no power to part, Was over-watch'd, for all his hundred eyes : Such secret transports warm my melting heart. So many an honest husband may, 'tis known, For who, that once possess'd those heavenly charins, Who, wisely, never thinks the case his own. Could live one moment absent from thy arms ?' The dame at last, by diligence and care,
He ceas'd, and May with modest grace replied, Procured the key her hnight was wont to bear: (Weak was her voice, as while she spoke she cried, She took the wards in wax before the fire,
• Heaven knows,' with that a tender sigh she drew, And gave the impression to the trusty 'squire. 'I bave a soul to save as well as you; By means of this, some wonder shall appear, And, what no less you to my charge commend, Which, in due place and season, you may hear. My dearest honour, will to death defend.
Well sung sweet Ovid, in the days of yore, To you in holy church I gave my hand, What slight is that which love will not explore ? And joined my heart in wedlock's sacred band : And Pyramus and Thisbe plainly show
Yet, after this, if you distrust my care, The feats true lovers, when they list, can do: Then hear, my lord, and witness what I swear: Though watch'd and captive, yet in spite of all, * First may the yawning earth her bosom rend, They found the art of kissing through a wall. And let me hence to hell alive descend ;
But now no longer from our tale to stray: Or die the death I dread no less than hell, It happ'd, that once upon a summer's day,
Sew'd in a sack, and plung'd into a well, Our reverend knight was urged to amorous play: Ere I my fame by one lewd act disgrace, He raised his spouse ere matin bell was rung, Or once renounce the honour of my race: And thus his morning canticle he sung;
For know, sir knight, of gentle blood I came;
But jealous men on their own crimes reflect,
The only strain a wife must hope to hear.'
And singled out a pear-tree planted nigh: This heard, to Dainian straight a sign she made, 'Twas charged with fruit that made a goodly show, To haste before; the gentle 'squire obey'd :
And hung with dangling pears was every bough. Secret and undescried, he took his way,
Thither the obsequious 'squire address'd his pace, And ambush'd close behind an arbour lay.
And, climbing, in the summit took his place; It was not long ere January came,
The knight and lady walk'd beneath in view, And hand in hand with him his lovely dame; Where let us leave them, and our tale pursue. Blind as he was, not doubting all was sure,
'Twas now the season when the glorious sun He turn'd the key, and made the gate secure. His heavenly progress through the 'Twins had run;
Here let us walk,' he said, “observed by none, And Jove, exalted, his mild influence yields, Conscious of pleasures to ihe world unknown; To glad the glebe, and paint the flowery fields. So may my soul have joy, as thou, my wife, Clear was the day, and Phæbus, rising brighi, Art for the dearest solace of my life;
Had streak'd the azure firmament with light: And rather would I choose, by Heaven above, He pierced the glittering clouds with golden streams, To die this instant, than to lose thy love.
And warm'd the womb of earth with genial beams. Reflect what truth was in my passion shown,
It so befell, in that fair morning-tide,
The fairies sported on the garden-side,