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Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays; Before my view appear'd a structure fair,:
With ceaseless noise the ringing walls resound; In fact, 'tis true, no nymph we could persuade, Not less in number were the spacious doors, But still in fancy vanquish'd every maid ;
Than leaves on trees, or sands upon the shores ; Of unknown dutchesses lewd tales we tell,
Which still unfolded stand, by night, by day, Yet, would the world believe us, all were well, Pervious to winds, and open every way. The joy let others have, and we the name, As flames by nature to the skies ascend, And what we want in pleasure, grant in fame.” As weighty bodies to the centre tend,
The queen assents, the trumpet rends the skies, As to the sea returning rivers roll, And at each blast a lady's honour dies.
And the touch'd needle trembles to the pole; Pleas'd with the same success, vast numbers prest Hither as to their proper place, arise Around the shrine, and made the same request :
All various sounds from earth, and seas, and skies; “What you,”(she cry'd)“unlearn'din arts to please, Or spoke aloud, or whisper'd in the ear; Slaves to yourselves, and ev'n fatigued with case,
Nor ever silence, rest, or peace, is here. Who lose a length of undeserving days,
As on the smooth expanse of crystal lakes Would you usurp the lover's dear-bought praise? The sinking stone at first a circle makes; To just contempt, ye vain pretenders, fall, The trembling surface, by the motion stirr'd, The people's fable, and the scorn of all.”
Spreads in a second circle, then a third ; Straight the black clarion sends a horrid sound, Wide, and inore wide, the Aoating rings advance, Loud laughs burst out, and bitter scott's fly round, Fill all the watery plain, and to the margin dance : Whispers are heard, with taunts reviling loud, Thus every voice and sound, when first they break, And scornful hisses run through all the croud. On neighbouring air a soft impression make;
Last those who boast of mighty mischiefs done, Another ambient circle then they move; Enslave their country, or usurp a throne; (406 That, in its turn, impels the next above ; Or who their glory's dire foundation lay'd
Through undulating air the sounds are sent, On sovereigns ruin'd, or on friends betray'd; And spread o'er all the fluid element. Calm, thinking villains, whom no faith could fix, There various news I heard of love and strife, 444 Of crooked counsels and dark polities;
Of peace and war, health, sickness, death, and Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne,
Of loss and gain, of famine and of store, [life, And beg to make th' immortal treasons known. Of storms at sea, and travels on the shore, The trumpet roars, long flaky flames expire, Of prodigies, and portents seen in air, With sparks that seem'd to set the world on fire. Of fires and plagues, and stars with blazing hair, At the dread sound, pale mortals stood aghast, Of turns of fortune, changes in the state, And startled Nature trembled with the blast. The falls of favourites, projects of the great, This having heard and seen, some power lin
Of old mismanagements, taxations new: known
418 | All neither wholly false, nor wholly true. Straight chang'd the scene, and snatch'd me from Above, below, without, within, around, 453 the throne.
Confus'd, unnumber'd multitudes are found,
Tho came another companye,
That had y-done the treachery, &c.
Tho saw I stonde in a valey,
Of werres, of peace, of marriages,
Of fire, and divers accident.
But such a grete congregation
And every wight that I saw there
Thus north and south
Who pass, repass, adrance, and glide away; Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call;
But if the purchase costs so dear a price
But the fall’n ruins of another's fame;
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
JANUARY AND MAY: -
on, THE MERCHANT'S TALE. Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire,
There liv'd in Lombardy, as anthors write,
In days of old, a wise and worthy knight; Through thousand vents, impatient, forth they flow, of gentle manners, as of generous race, And rush in millions on the world below,
Blest with much sense, more riches, and some grace; Fame sits aloft, and points them out their course,
Yet, led astray, by Venus' soft delights, Their date determines, and prescribes their force :
He scarce could rule some idle appetites : Some to remain, and some to perish soon;
For long ago, let priests say what they could, Or wane and wax alternate like the Moon.
Weak sinful laymen were but flesh and blood. Arourd a thousand winged wonders fiy,
But in due time, when sixty years were o'cr, Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd through He rowd to lead this vicious life no more:
Whether pure the sky.
holiness inspir'd his mind, There, at one passage, oft you might survey 489 Or dotage turn'd his brain, is hard to find; A lie and truth contending for the way;
But bis high courage prick'd him forth to wed, And long 'twas doubtful though so closely pont,
And try the pleasures of a lawful bed. Which first should issue through the narrow vent:
This was his nightly dream, his daily care, At last agreed, together out they fly,
And to the heavenly powers his constant prayer, Inseparable now the truth and lie;
Once ere he dy'd, to taste the blissful life The strict companions are for ever join'd,
Of a kind husband and a loving wife. And this or that unmix'd, no mortal e'er shall find.
These thoughts he fortify'd with reasons still, While thus I stood, intent to see and hear,
(For none want reasons to contirın their will.) One came, methought, and whisper'd in my ear:
Grare authors say, and witty poets sing,
That honest wedlock is a glorious thing: “ What could thus high thy rash ambition raise?
But depth of judgment most in him appears,
Who wisely weds in his maturer years.
To bless bis age, and bring a worthy heir;
To sooth his cares, and, free from noise and strife, How vain that second life in others breath,
Couduct him gently to the verge of life. Tl estate which wits inherit after death!
Let sinful batchelurs their woes deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more : Fase, health, and life, for this they must resign, (l'nsure the tenur?, but how vast the fine!)
Unaw'd by precepts human or divine,
Like birds and beasts promiscuously they join : The grrat man's rurse, without the gains, endure, Be envy'd, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor;
Nor know to make the present blessing last, All luckless wits their eneinies profi-st,
To hope the future, or esteem the past :
But rainly boast the joys they never try'd, And all successful, jealous friends at best.
And find iyuly'd the secrets they would hide.
The marry'd man may bear his yoke with ease,
Secure at once himself and Heaven to please ;
and pass his inuttensive hours away,
In bliss all night, and innocence all day :
Though fortune change, his constant spouse remains,
Auginents his joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what so pure which envioustongues will spare? Ver. 489. There, at one passage, &c.]
Some wickest wits hare libcll'd all the fair.
With matchless impude ce they style a wife
The car-bought curse, and lawful plague of life ;
A bo-on-serpent, a doncstic evil,
A night invasion, and a mid-day devil.
Let not the wise these slanderous words regard,
All other goods by Fortune's hand are given, To raise up seed to bless the powers above,
And not for pleasure only, or for love.
Think not I doat ; 'tis time to take a wife, Like empty shadows, pass, and glide away ; When vigorous blood forbids a chaster life: One solid confort, our eterual wife,
Those that are blest with store of grace divine, Abundantly supplies us all our life :
May live like saints, by Heaven's consent and This blessing lasts (if those who try say true)
mine. As long as heart can wish- and longer too.
* And since I speak of wedlock, let me say, Our grandsire Adam, cre of Eve possess'd, (As, thank my stars, in modist truth I may) Alone, and er'n in Paradise unblessid,
My limbs are active, still I'm sound at beart, With inournful looks the blissful scenes survey'd, And a new vigour springs in every part. And wander'd in the solitary shade :
Think not my virtue lost, though tim has shed The Maker saw, took pity, and testow'd
These reverend honours on my hoary head; Woman, the last, the best reserv'd of God. Thus trecs are crown'd with blossoms white as snow, A wife! ah, gentle deities, can he
The vital sap then rising from below : That has a wife, e'er feel adversity ?
Old as I am, iny lusty limbs appear Would men but follow what the sex advise, Like winter greens, that flourish all the year. All things would prosper, all the world grow wise. Now, sirs, you know to what I stand inclin'd, 'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Jacob won
Let every friend with freedom speak his mind.", His father's bicssing from an elder son :
He said ; the rest in different parts divide; Abusive Nabal ow'd his forfeit life
The knotty point was urg'd on either side: To the wise conduct of a prudent wifc :
Marriage, the theme on which they all declaim'd, Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews show,
Some prais'd with wit, and some with reason blam'd; Preserv'd the Jews, and slew th’ Assyrian foe : Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies, At Hester's suit, the persecuting sword
Each wondrous positive, and wondrous wise, Was sheath'd, and Israel lir'd to bless the Lord. There fell between his brothers a debate,
These weighty motives, January the sage Placebo this was call'd, and Justin that. Maturely ponder'd in his riper age;
First to the knight Placeho thus begun And, chari'd with virtuous joys and sober life, (Mild were his looks, and pleasing was his tone): Would try that christian comfort, call'd a wife. “ Such prudence, sir, in all your words appears, His friends were summond on a point so nice, As plainly proves, experience dwells with years ! To pass their judgment, and to give advice; Yet you pursue sage Solomon's advice, But fix'd before, and well resolv'd was he; To work by counsel when affairs are nice: (As men that ask advice are wont to be.)
But with the wise man's leave, I must protest, “My friends," he cry'd, (ard cast a mournful look So may my soul arrive at ease and rest Aroimu the room, and sigh'd before he spoke) As still I hold your own advice tlic best. “ Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend, · Sir, I have liv'd a courtier all my days, And worn with cares, and hastening to my end; And study'd men, their manners, and their ways; How I have liv'd, alas ! you know too well, And have observ'd this useful maxiin still, In worldly follies, which I blush to tell;
To let my betters always have their will. But gracious Heaven has ope'd my eyes at last, Nay, if my lord affirm that black was white, With due regret I view my vices past,
My word was this, ‘Your honour's in the right.' And, as the precept of the church decrees, Th' assuming wit, who deems himself so wise, Will take a wife, and live in holy ease.
As his mistaken patron to advise, But, since by counsel all things should be done, Let hiin not dare to vent his dangerous thought, And many heads are wiser still than one;
A noble fool was never in a fault. Chus. you for me, who best shall be content This, sir, affects not you, whiuse every word When my desire's approv'd by your consent. Is weigh'd with judgment, and befiis a lord :
“ One caution yet is needful to be told, Your vill is mine; and is (I will maintain) To guide your choice; this wife must not be old : Pleasing to God, and should be so to man! There goes a saying and 'twas shrawilly said, At least, your courage all the world must praise, Old fish at tule, but young Aesh iu bed.
Who dare to wed in your declininy days. My soul abhors the tasteless, dry embrace
Indulge the vigour of your mounting blood, Of a stal.. virgin with a wintor fruce:
Ar!d let grey fools be indolently good, In that old season Lovt, but triats his guest Who, past all plcasure, damn the joys of sense, With brun-straw, and tough forage at the best. With reverend ulniss, and grave impotence.” No crafty widows shall approach my bed;
stin who silent sat, and heard the man, Those are too wise for batchelors to well;
Thus, nith a philosophic frown, began. As subtle clerks by many schools are inade,
“ A haihin author of the first degree, Twier-marry"! slames are mistresses of th' trade: (Who, though not faith, had sense as well as we) Bur young and renler virgins, rul'd with ease, Bits us be certain our concerns to trust We forn: iko wax and mould them as we please. to those of generous principles, and just.
“ ('onceive me, sirs, nor take my sense auiss; The venture's greater, I'll presune to say, 'Tis whit cons ons my soul's ntersal bliss : To give your person, than your yonis away: Since if I found no pleasure in my spouse,
Ind therefore, sir, as your recaril your rest, As flesh is frail, and who (God help ine) knows? First leart your ladly's qualities at least: Then should Uiv» in lewil adultery,
Whether she's chaste or rampant, proud or civil, An:l sink downright to satan when I die.
Me k as a saint, or haughty as the devil; Os xere I cursd with an unfruitful bed,
Whether an easy, fond, familiar fool, Th righteous ond were lost for which I wod; Or such a wit as no man e'er can rule.
'Tis true, perfection none must hope to find Chaste, though not rich; and, though not nobly In all this world, much less in womankind; Of honest parents, and may serve my tum. [borrt. But, if her virtues prove the larger share,
Her will I'wed, il gracious Heaven so please,
And thank the powers, I may possess alone
The bliss of Heaven above, and Earth below. Deniure and chaste as any vestal nun,
Now should the nuptial pleasures prove so great, The meekest creature that beholds the Sun ! To match the blessings of the future state, But, by th' immortal powers, I feel the pain, Those endless joys were ill-exchang'd for these ; And he that smarts has reason to complain. Then clear this doubt, and set my mind at case." Do what you list, for me; you must be sage, This Justin heard, nor could his spleen control, And cautious sure; for wisdom is in age :
Touch'd to the quick, and tickled at the soul. But at these years, to venture on the fair ; “Sir Knight,” he cry'd, " if this be all you dread, By him who made the ocean, earth, and air, Heaven put it past your doubt, whene'er you wed; To please a wife, when her occasions call,
And to my fervent prayers so far consent, Would busy the most vigorous of us all.
That, ere the rites are o'er, you may repent ! And trust ine, sir, the chastest you can chuse Good Heaven, no doubt, the nuptial state approves, Will ask observance, and exact her dues,
Since it chastiscs still what best it loves. If what I speak my noble lord offend,
'Then be not, sir, abandon'd to despair; My tedious sermon here is at an end.
Seek, and perhaps you'll find among the fair, “ 'Tis well, 'tis wonderous well," the Knight replies, One that may do your business to a hair ; “ Most worthy kinsman, faith you're mighty wise! Not ev'n in wish, your happiness delay, We, sirs, are fouls, and must resign the cause But prove the scourge to lash you on your way: To heathenish authors, proverbs, and old saws.” Then to the skies your mounting soul shall go, He spoke with scorn, and tum'd another way :- Swift as an arrow soaring from the bow! What does my friend, my dear Placebo, say? Provided still, you moderate your joy,
“I say,”quoth he, “by heaven the man's to blame, Nor in your pleasures all your might employ, To slander wives, and wedlock's holy name." Let reason's rule your strong desires abate, At this the council rose, without delay;
Nor please too lavishly your gentle mate. Fach, in his own opinion, went his way ;
Old wives there are, of judgment most acute, With full consent, that, all disputes appeas'd, Who solve these questions beyond all dispute ; The knight should marry, when and where he Consult with those, 'and be of better cheer;
Who now hut January exults with joy? (pleas'd. Marry, do penance, and dismiss your fear.” The charms of wedlock all his soul employ ; So said, they rose, no more the work delay'd ; Each nymph by turns his wavering mind possest, The match was offer'd, the proposals made. And reign'd the short-liv'd tyrant of his breast; The parents, you may think, would soon comply: While fancy pictur'd every lively part,
The old have interest ever in their cye. And each bright image wanderd o'er his heart, Nor was it hard to move the lady's mind; Thus, in some public forum fix'd on high,
When fortune favours, still the fair are kind. A mirror shows the figures moving Ly;
I pass each previous settlement and deed, Still one by one, in swift succession, pass
Too long for me to write, or you to read ; The gliding shadows o'er the polish'd glass. Nor will with quaint impertinence display This lady's charms the nicest could not blame, The pomp, the pageantry, the proud array. But vile suspicions had aspers'd her fare ;
The time approach'd, to church the parties went, That was with sense, but not with virtue, blest ; At once with carnal and devout intent: And one had grace, that wanted all the rest. Forth came the priest, and bade th' obedient wife Thus doubting long what nymph he should obey, Like Sarah or Rebecca lead her life; He fix'd at last upon the youthful May.
Then pray'd the powers the fruitful bed to bless, Her faults he knew not, Love is always blind, And made all sure enough with holiness. Bnt every charın revolv'd within his mind :
And now the palace-gates are opend wide, Her tender age, her form divinely fair,
The guests appear in order, side by side, Her easy motion, her attractive air,
And plac'd in state the bridegroom and the bride. Her sweet behaviour, her enchanting face, The breathing flute's soft notes are heard around, Fler moving softness, and majestic grace.
And the shrill trumpets mix their silver sound; Much in his prudence did our knight rejoice, The vaulted roofs with echoing music ring, (string. And thought no mortal could dispute his choice : These touch the vocal stops, and those the trembling Once more in haste he summon'd every friend, Not thus Amphion tun'd the warbling lyre, And told them all, their pains were at an end. Nor Joab the sounding clarion could inspire, “ Heaven, that” (said he) " inspir'd me first to wed, Nor fierce Theodamas, whose sprightly strain Provides a consort worthy of my bed :
Could swell the soul to rage,and fire the martial train. Let none oppose th' election, since on this
Bacchus himself, the nuptial feast to grace, Depends my quiet, and my future bliss.
(So poets sing) was present on the place : " A dame there is, the darling of my eyes,
And lovely Venus, goddess of delight, Young, beauteous, artless, innocent, and wise ;
Shook high her faming torch in open sight,
And danc'd around, and smild on every knight: When now the fourth revolving day was run, Pleas'd her best servant would his courage try, ('Twas June, and Cancer had receiv') the Sun) No less in wedlock, than in liberty.
Forth from her chamber came the beauteous Full many an age old Hymen had not spy'd
bride; So kind a bridegroom, or so bright a bride. The good old knight mov'd slowly by her side. Ye bards ! renown'd among the tuneful throng High mass was sung; they feasted in the hall; For gentle lays, and joyous nuptial song,
The servants round stood ready at their call. Think not your softest numbers can display The squire alone was absent from the board, The matchless glories of the blissful day:
And much bis sickness griev'd his worthy lord, The joys are such as far transcend your rage, Who pray'd his spouse, attended with her train, When tender youth has wedded stooping age. To visit Dainian, and divert his pain.
The beauteous dame sat smiling at the board, Th'obliging danes obey'd with one consent ; And darted amorous glances at her lord.
They left the hall, and to his lodging went. Not Hester's self, whose charms the Hebrews sing, The female tribe surround him as he lay, E'er look'd so lovely on her Persian king :
And close beside him sate the gentle May: Bright as the rising Sun in summer's day, Where, as she try'd his pulse, he softly drew And fresh and blooming as the month of May! A heaving sigh, and cast a mournful view! The joyful knight survey'd her by his side, Then gave his bill, and brib'd the powers divine, Nor envy'd Paris with the Spartan bride :
With secret vows to favour his design. Still as his mind revolv'd with vast delight
Who studies now but discontented May? Th' entrancing raptures of th' approaching night, On her soft couch uneasily she lay ; Restless be sate, invoking every power
The lumpish husband snor'd away the night, To speed his bliss, and haste the happy hour. Till coughs awak'd him near the morning light. Meantime the vigorous dancers beat the ground, What then he did, I'll not presume to tell, And songs were sung, and flowing bowls went round. Nor if she thought herself in Heaven or Hell: With odorous spices they perfum'd the place, Honest and dull in nuptial bed they lay, And mirth and pleasure shone in every face.
'Till the bell tolld, and all arose to pray. Damian alone, of all the menial train,
Were it by forceful Destiny decreed, Sad in the midst of triumph, sigh'd for pain;
Or did from Chance or Nature's power proceeds Damian alone, the knight's obsequious squire, Or that some star, with aspect kind to love, Consum'd at beart, and fed a secret fire.
Shed its selectest influence from above; His lovely mistress all his soul possess'd ;
Whatever was the cause, the tender dame He look'd, he lànguish'd, and could take no rest: Pelt the first motions of an infant flame; His task perform’d, he sadly went his way, Receiv'd th' impressions of the love-sick squire, Fell on his bed, and loath'd the light of day. And wasted in the soft infectious fire. There let him lie, till his relenting dame
Ye fair, draw near, let May's example move Weep in her turn, and waste in equal flame. Your gentle minds to pity those who love !
The wearied Sun, as learned poets write, Had some fierce tyrant in her stead been found, Forsook the horizon, and rollid down the light; The poor adorer sure had hang'd, or drown'd: While glittering stars his absent beams supply, But she, your sex's mirrour, free from pride, And Night's dark mantle overspread the sky. Was much too meek to prove a homicide. Then rose the guests; and, as the time requir'd, But to my tale: Some sages have defin'd Each paid his thanks, and decently retir'd! Pleasure the sovereign bliss of human kind :
The foe once gone, our knight prepar'd t' undress, Our knight (who study'd much, we may suppose) So keen he was, and eager to possess :
Deriv'd bis high philosophy from those ;
His house was stately, his retinue gay;
Large was his train, and gorgeous bis array. Whose use old bards describe in luscious rhymes, His spacious garden, made to yield to none, And critics learn'd explain to modern times. Was compass'd round with walls of solid stone;
By this the sbeets were spread, the bride undress'd, Priapus could not half describe the grace The rooin was sprinkled, and the bed was bless'd. (Though god of gardens) of this charming place: What next ensued beseems me not to say ;
A place to tire the rambling wits of France 'Tis sung, he labour'd till the dawning day, In long descriptions, and exceed romance; Then briskly spring from bed, with heart so light, Enough to shame the gentlest bard that sings As all were nothing he had done by night; Of painted meadows, and of purling springs. And sipp'd his cordial as he sat upright.
Full in the centre of the flowery ground, He kiss'd his balmy spouse with wanton play, A crystal fountain spread its streams around, And feebly sung a lusty roundelay :
The fruitful banks with verdant laurels crown'd: Then on the couch his weary limbs he cast ; About this spring (if ancient Fame say true) For every labour must have rest at last.
The dapper elves their moon-light sports pursue: But anxions cares the pensive squire oppress'd, Their pigmy king, and little fairy queen, Sleep fled his eyes, and peace forsook his breast : In circling dances gambold on the green, The raging fames that in his bosoin dwell, While tuneful sprites a merry concert made, He wanted art to hide, and means to tell;
And airy music warbled through the shade. Yet hoping time th' occasion might betray,
Hither the noble knight would oft repair, Compos'd a sonnet to the lovely May;
(His scene of pleasure, and peculiar care) Which, writ and folded with the nicest art, For this he held it dear, and always bore He wrap'd in silk, and laid upon his heart. The silver key that lock'd the garden door,