« EelmineJätka »
But by a long descent, th' ethereal fire
Corrupts; and forms, the mortal part, expire.
As he withdraws his virtue, so they pass,
And the same matter makes another mass:
For which already I have gain'd th' assent
Of my free people in full parliament.
| Long love to her has borne the faithful knight,
And well deserv'd, had Fortune done him right:
This law the Omniscient Power was pleas'd to give, 'Tis time to mend her fault; since Emily
That every kind should by succession live!
That individuals die, his will ordains,
The propagated species still remains.
The monarch oak, the patriarch of the trees,
Shoots rising up, and spreads by slow degrees;
Three centuries he grows, and three he stays
Supreme in state, and in three more decays;
So wears the paving pebble in the street,
And towns and towers their fatal periods meet:
So rivers, rapid once, now naked lie,
Forsaken of their springs; and leave their channels
So man, at first a drop, dilates with heat,
Then, form'd, the little heart begins to beat;
Secret he feeds, unknowing in the cell;
At length, for hatching ripe, he breaks the shell,
And struggles into breath, and cries for aid;
Then, helpless, in his mother's lap is laid.
He creeps, he walks, and, issuing into man,
Grudges their life, from whence his own began:
Reckless of laws, affects to rule alone,
Anxious to reign, and restless on the throne:
First vegetive, then feels, and reasons last;
Rich of three souls, and lives all three to waste.
Some thus; but thousands more in flower of age:
For few arrive to run the latter stage.
Sunk in the first, in battle some are slain,
And others whelm'd beneath the stormy main.
What makes all this, but Jupiter the king,
At whose command we perish, and we spring?
Then 'tis our best, since thus ordain'd to die,
To make a virtue of necessity.
By Arcite's death from former vows is free:
If you, fair sister, ratify th' accord,
And take him for your husband and your lord,
"Tis no dishonor to confer your grace
On one descended from a royal race:
And were he less, yet years of service past
From grateful souls exact reward at last :
Pity is Heaven's and yours; nor can she find
A throne so soft as in a woman's mind."
He said; she blush'd; and, as o'eraw'd by might,
Seem'd to give Theseus what she gave the knight
Then turning to the Theban thus he said;
"Small arguments are needful to persuade
Your temper to comply with my command;
And speaking thus, he gave Emilia's hand.
Smil'd Venus, to behold her own true knight
Obtain the conquest, though he lost the fight;
And bless'd with nuptial bliss the sweet laborious
Eros, and Anteros, on either side,
One fir'd the bridegroom, and one warm'd the bride;
And long-attending Hymen, from above,
Shower'd on the bed the whole Idalian grove.
All of a tenor was their after-life,
No day discolor'd with domestic strife;
No jealousy, but mutual truth believ'd,
Secure repose, and kindness undeceiv'd.
Thus Heaven, beyond the compass of his thought,
Sent him the blessing he so dearly bought.
So may the queen of love long duty bless,
And all true lovers find the same success.
Take what he gives, since to rebel is vain;
The bad grows better, which we well sustain;
And could we choose the time, and choose aright,
"Tis best to die, our honor at the height.
When we have done our ancestors no shame,
But serv'd our friends, and well secured our fame;
Then should we wish our happy life to close,
And leave no more for Fortune to dispose :
So should we make our death a glad relief
From future shame, from sickness, and from grief:
Enjoying while we live the present hour,
And dying in our excellence and flower,
Then round our death-bed every friend should run, Nor darkling did they glance, the silver light
And joyous of our conquest early won :
Of Phoebe serv'd to guide their steps aright,
While the malicious world with envious tears And, with their tripping pleas'd, prolong the night.
Should grudge our happy end, and wish it theirs. Her beams they follow'd, where at full she play'd,
Since then our Arcite is with honor dead,
Nor longer than she shed her horns they stay'd,
Why should we mourn, that he so soon is freed, From thence with airy flight to foreign lands convey'd.
Or call untimely what the gods decreed?
Above the rest our Britain held they dear,
With grief as just, a friend may be deplor'd, More solemnly they kept their sabbaths here, [year
From a foul prison to free air restor❜d.
And made more spacious rings, and ravel'd half the
Ought he to thank his kinsman or his wife,
Could tears recall him into wretched life?
Their sorrow hurts themselves; on him is lost;
And, worse than both, offends his happy ghost.
What then remains, but, after past annoy,
To take the good vicissitude of joy?
To thank the gracious gods for what they give,
Possess our souls, and, while we live, to live?
Ordain we then two sorrows to combine,
And in one point th' extremes of grief to join;
That thence resulting joy may be renew'd,
As jarring notes in harmony conclude.
Then I propose that Palamon shall be
In marriage join'd with beauteous Emily;
THE WIFE OF BATH,
IN days of old, when Arthur fill'd the throne,
Whose acts and fame to foreign lands were blown;
The king of elfs and little fairy queen
Gambol'd on heaths, and danc'd on every green;
And where the jolly troop had left the round,
The grass unbidden rose, and mark'd the ground:
I speak of ancient times, for now the swain
Returning late may pass the woods in vain,
And never hope to see the nightly train:
In vain the dairy now with mint is dress'd,
The dairy-maid expects no fairy guest
To skim the bowls, and after pay the feast.
She sighs, and shakes her empty shoes in vain.
No silver penny to reward her pain:
For priests with prayers, and other goodly gear,
Have made the merry goblins disappear:
And where they play'd their merry pranks before,
Have sprinkled holy water on the floor:
And friars that through the wealthy regions run,
Thick as the motes that twinkle in the sun,
Resort to farmers rich, and bless their halls,
And exorcise the beds, and cross the walls:
This makes the fairy quires forsake the place,
When once 'tis hallow'd with the rites of grace:
But in the walks where wicked elves have been,
The learning of the parish now is seen,
The midnight parson posting o'er the green,
With gown tuck'd up, to wakes, for Sunday next;
With humming ale encouraging his text;
Nor wants the holy leer for country girl betwixt.
From fiends and imps he sets the village free,
There haunts not any incubus but he.
The maids and women need no danger fear
To walk by night, and sanctity so near:
For by some haycock, or some shady thorn,
He bids his beads both even song and morn.
It so befell in this king Arthur's reign,
A lusty knight was pricking o'er the plain;
A bachelor he was, and of the courtly train.
It happen'd, as he rode, a damsel gay
In russet robes to market took her way:
Soon on the girl he cast an amorous eye,
So straight she walk'd, and on her pasterns high:
If seeing her behind he lik'd her pace,
Now turning short, he better likes her face.
He lights in haste, and, full of youthful fire,
By force accomplish'd his obscene desire :
This done, away he rode, not unespied,
For swarming at his back the country cried :
And once in view they never lost the sight,
But seiz'd, and pinion'd, brought to court the knight.
Then courts of kings were held in high renown,
Ere made the common brothels of the town;
There, virgins honorable vows receiv'd,
But chaste as maids in monasteries liv'd:
The king himself to nuptial ties a slave,
No bad example to his poets gave:
And they, not bad, but in a vicious age,
Had not, to please the prince, debauch'd the stage.
Now what should Arthur do? He lov'd the
But sovereign monarchs are the source of right:
Mov'd by the damsel's tears, and common cry,
He doom'd the brutal ravisher to die.
But fair Geneura rose in his defence,
And pray'd so hard for mercy from the prince,
That to his queen the king th' offender gave,
And left it in her power to kill or save:
This gracious act the ladies all approve,
Who thought it much a man should die for love;
And with their mistress join'd in close debate
(Covering their kindness with dissembled hate)
If not to free him, to prolong his fate.
At last agreed they call'd him by consent
Before the queen and female parliament.
And the fair speaker rising from the chair,
Did thus the judgment of the house declare.
"Sir knight, though I have ask'd thy life, yet still
'Thy destiny depends upon my will:
Nor hast thou other surety than the grace
Not due to thee from our offended race.
But as our kind is of a softer mould,
And cannot blood without a sigh behold,
I grant thee life: reserving still the power
To take the forfeit when I see my hour:
Unless thy answer to my next demand
Shall set thee free from our avenging hand.
The question, whose solution I require,
Is, What the sex of women most desire?
In this dispute thy judges are at strife;
Beware; for on thy wit depends thy life.
Yet (lest, surpris'd, unknowing what to say,
Thou damn thyself) we give thee farther day:
A year is thine to wander at thy will;
And learn from others, if thou want'st the skill
But, not to hold our proffer turn'd in scorn,
Good sureties will we have for thy return;
That at the time prefix'd thou shalt obey,
And at thy pledge's peril keep thy day."
Woe was the knight at this severe command:
But well he knew 'twas bootless to withstand:
The terms accepted as the fair ordain,
He put in bail for his return again,
And promis'd answer at the day assign'd,
The best, with Heaven's assistance, he could find
His leave thus taken, on his way he went
With heavy heart, and full of discontent,
Misdoubting much, and fearful of th' event.
"Twas hard the truth of such a point to find,
As was not yet agreed among the kind.
Thus on he went; still anxious more and more,
Ask'd all he met, and knock'd at every door;
Inquir'd of men; but made his chief request
To learn from women what they lov'd the best.
They answer'd each according to her mind
To please herself, not all the female kind.
One was for wealth, another was for place:
Crones, old and ugly, wish'd a better face.
The widow's wish was oftentimes to wed;
The wanton maids were all for sport a-bed.
Some said the sex were pleas'd with handsome lies,
And some gross flattery lov'd without disguise :
"Truth is," says one," he seldom fails to win
Who flatters well; for that's our darling sin :
But long attendance, and a duteous mind,
Will work ev'n with the wisest of the kind."
One thought the sex's prime felicity
Was from the bonds of wedlock to be free:
Their pleasures, hours, and actions, all their own,
And uncontrol'd to give account to none.
Some wish a husband-fool; but such are curst,
For fools perverse of husbands are the worst:
All women would be counted chaste and wise,
Nor should our spouses see, but with our eyes;
For fools will prate; and though they want the wit
To find close faults, yet open blots will hit :
Though better for their ease to hold their tongue,
For woman-kind wa never in the wrong.
So noise ensues, and quarrels last for life;
The wife abhors the fool, the fool the wife.
And some men say that great delight have we,
To be for truth extoll'd, and secrecy :
And constant in one purpose still to dwell;
And not our husbands' counsels to reveal.
But that's a fable: for our sex is frail,
Inventing rather than not tell a tale.
Like leaky sieves no secrets we can hold :
Witness the famous tale that Gvid told.
Midas the king, as in his book appears,
By Phoebus was endow'd with ass's ears,
Which under his long locks he well conceal'd,
As monarchs' vices must not be reveal'd,
For fear the people have them in the wind,
Who long ago were neither dumb nor blind:
Nor apt to think from Heaven their title springs
Since Jove and Mars left off begetting kings.
This Midas knew; and durst communicate
To none but to his wife his ears of state :
One must be trusted, and he thought her fit,
As passing prudent, and a parlous wit.
To this sagacious confessor he went.
And told her what a gift the gods had sent:
But told it under matrimonial seal,
With strict injunction never to reveal.
The secret heard, she plighted him her troth,
(And sacred sure is every woman's oath)
The royal malady should rest unknown,
Both for her husband's honor and her own;
But ne'ertheless she pin'd with discontent;
The counsel rumbled till it found a vent.
The thing she knew she was oblig'd to hide;
By interest and by oath the wife was tied;
But if she told it not, the woman died.
Loth to betray a husband and a prince,
But she must burst, or blab: and no pretence
Of honor tied her tongue from self-defence.
A marshy ground commodiously was near,
Thither she ran, and held her breath for fear,
Lest if a word she spoke of any thing,
That word might be the secret of the king.
Thus full of counsel to the fen she went,
Grip'd all the way, and longing for a vent;
Arriv'd, by pure necessity compell'd,
On her majestic marrow-bones she kneel'd:
Then to the water's brink she laid her head,
And, as a bittour bumps within a reed,
"To thee alone, O Lake," she said, "I tell,
(And, as thy queen, command thee to conceal):
Beneath his locks the king my husband wears
A goodly royal pair of ass's ears.
Now I have eas'd my bosom of the pain,
Till the next longing-fit return again."
Thus through a woman was the secret known;
Tell us, and in effect you tell the town.
But to my tale: The knight with heavy cheer,
Wandering in vain, had now consum'd the year:
One day was only left to solve the doubt,
Yet knew no more than when he first set out.
But home he must, and, as th' award had been,
Yield up his body captive to the queen.
In this despairing state he hapt to ride,
As Fortune led him, by a forest side:
Lonely the vale, and full of horror stood,
Brown with the shade of a religious wood;
When full before him at the noon of night,
(The Moon was up, and shot a gleamy light)
He saw a quire of ladies in a round,
That featly footing seem'd to skim the ground:
Thus dancing hand in hand, so light they were,
He knew not where they trod, on earth or air.
At speed he drove, and came a sudden guest,
In hope where many women were, at least,
Some one by chance might answer his request.
But faster than his horse the ladies flew,
And in a trice were vanish'd out of view.
One only hag remain'd: but fouler far Than grandame apes in Indian forests are; Against a wither'd oak she lean'd her weight, Propp'd on her trusty staff, not half upright, And dropp'd an awkward court'sy to the knight. Then said, "What makes you, sir, so late abroad Without a guide, and this no beaten road? Or want you aught that here you hope to find, Or travel for some trouble in your mind? The last I guess; and if I read aright, Those of our sex are bound to serve a knight; Perhaps good counsel may your grief assuage, Then tell your pain: for wisdom is in age."
To this the knight: “Good mother, would you know The secret cause and spring of all my woe? My life must with to-morrow's light expire, Unless I tell what women most desire
Now could you help me at this hard essay,
Or for your inborn goodness, or for pay;
Yours is my life, redeem'd by your advice,
Ask what you please, and I will pay the price:
The proudest kerchief of the court shall rest
Well satisfied of what they love the best."
"Plight me thy faith," quoth she, "that what I ask,
Thy danger over, and perform'd thy task,
That thou shalt give for hire of thy demand;
Here take thy oath, and seal it on my hand;
I warrant thee, on peril of my life,
Thy words shall please both widow, maid, and wife."
More words there needed not to move the knight,
To take her offer, and his truth to plight.
With that she spread a mantle on the ground,
And, first inquiring whither he was bound,
Bade him not fear, though long and rough the way
At court he should arrive ere break of day;
His horse should find the way without a guide,
She said with fury they began to ride,
He on the midst, the beldam at his side.
The horse, what devil drove I cannot tell,
But only this, they sped their journey well:
And all the way the crone inform'd the knight,
How he should answer the demand aright.
To court they came: the news was quickly spread
Of his returning to redeem his head.
The female senate was assembled soon,
With all the mob of women of the town:
The queen sate lord chief justice of the hall,
And bade the crier cite the criminal.
The knight appear'd; and silence they proclaim:
Then first the culprit answer'd to his name:
And, after forms of law, was last requir'd
To name the thing that women most desir'd.
Th' offender, taught his lesson by the way,
And by his counsel order'd what to say,
Thus bold began: "My lady liege," said he,
What all your sex desire is sovereignty.
The wife affects her husband to command:
All must be hers, both money, house, and land.
The maids are mistresses ev'n in their name ;
And of their servants full dominion claim.
This, at the peril of my head, I say,
A blunt plain truth, the sex aspires to sway,
You to rule all, while we, like slaves, obey."
There was not one, or widow, maid, or wife,
But said the knight had well deserv'd his life.
Ev'n fair Geneura, with a blush, confess'd
The man had found what women love the best.
Up starts the beldam, who was there unseen: And, reverence made, accosted thus the queen.
My liege," said she, "before the court arise, May I, poor wretch, find favor in your eyes, To grant my just request: 'twas I who taught The knight this answer, and inspir'd his thought. None but a woman could a man direct To tell us women, what we most affect. But first I swore him on his knightly troth, (And here demand performance of his oath) To grant the boon that next I should desire; He gave his faith, and I expect my hire: My promise is fulfill'd: I sav'd his life, And claim his debt, to take me for his wife." The knight was ask'd, nor could his oath deny, But hoped they would not force him to comply The women, who would rather wrest the laws, Than let a sister-plaintiff lose the cause, (As judges on the bench more gracious are, And more attent, to brothers of the bar,)
Cried one and all, the suppliant should have right,
And to the grandame hag adjudg'd the knight.
In vain he sigh'd, and oft with tears desir'd,
Some reasonable suit might be requir'd.
But still the crone was constant to her note:
The more he spoke, the more she stretch'd her throat.
In vain he proffer'd all his goods, to save
His body destin'd to that living grave.
The liquorish hag rejec the pelf with scorn;
And nothing but the man would serve her turn.
"Not all the wealth of eastern kings," said she,
"Have power to part my plighted love and me :
And, old and ugly as I am, and poor,
Yet never will I break the faith I swore;
For mine thou art by promise, during life,
And I thy loving and obedient wife."
My love! nay rather my damnation thou,"
Said he "nor am I bound to keep my vow;
The fiend thy sire hath sent thee from below,
Else how couldst thou my secret sorrows know?
Avaunt, old witch, for I renounce thy bed:
The queen may take the forfeit of my head,
Ere any of my race so foul a crone shall wed."
Both heard, the judge pronounc'd against the
Make gentlemen, and that your high degree
Is much disparag'd to be match'd with me;
Know this, my lord, nobility of blood
Is but a glittering and fallacious good:
The nobleman is he whose noble mind
Is fill'd with inborn worth, unborrow'd from his kind.
The King of Heaven was in a manger laid;
And took his earth but from an humble maid;
Then what can birth, or mortal men, bestow?
Since floods no higher than their fountains flow.
We, who for name and empty honor strive,
Our true nobility from him derive.
Your ancestors, who puff your mind with pride
And vast estates to mighty titles tied,
Did not your honor, but their own, advance;
For virtue comes not by inheritance.
If you tralineate from your father's mind,
What are you else but of a bastard-kind?
Do, as your great progenitors have done,
And by their virtues prove yourself their son.
No father can infuse or wit or grace;
A mother comes across, and mars the race.
A grandsire or a grandame taints the blood;
And seldom three descents continue good.
Were virtue by descent, a noble name
Could never villanize his father's fame:
But, as the first, the last of all the line
Would like the Sun even in descending shine;
Take fire, and bear it to the darkest house,
Betwixt king Arthur's court and Caucasus;
If you depart, the flame shall still remain,
And the bright blaze enlighten all the plain :
Nor, till the fuel perish, can decay,
By Nature form'd on things combustible to prey.
Such is not man, who, mixing better seed
With worse, begets a base degenerate breed:
The bad corrupts the good, and leaves behind
trace of all the great begetter's mind.
The father sinks within his son, we see,
And often rises in the third degree;
If better luck a better mother give,
Chance gave us being, and by chance we live.
Such as our atoms were, even such are we,
Or call it chance, or strong necessity :
Thus loaded with dead weight, the will is free.
And thus it needs must be: for seed conjoin'd
Lets into Nature's work th' imperfect kind;
But fire, th' enlivener of the general frame,
Is one, its operation still the same.
Its principle is in itself: while ours
Works, as confederates war, with mingled powers,
Or man or woman, whichsoever fails:
And, oft, the vigor of the worse prevails.
Ether with sulphur blended alters hue,
And casts a dusky gleam of Sodom blue.
Thus, in a brute, their ancient honor ends,
And the fair mermaid in a fish descends:
The line is gone; no longer duke or earl;
But, by himself degraded, turns a churl.
Nobility of blood is but renown
Of thy great fathers by their virtue known,
And a long trail of light, to thee descending down
If in thy smoke it ends, their glories shine;
But infamy and villanage are thine.
Then what I said before is plainly show'd,
The true nobility proceeds from God:
Nor left us by inheritance, but given
So was he married in his own despite :
And all day after hid him as an owl,
Not able to sustain a sight so foul.
Perhaps the reader thinks I do him wrong,
To pass the marriage feast and nuptial song:
Mirth there was none, the man was à-la-mort,
And little courage had to make his court.
To bed they went, the bridegroom and the bride:
Was never such an ill-pair'd couple tied :
Restless he toss'd, and tumbled to and fro,
And roll'd and wriggled further off for woe.
The good old wife lay smiling by his side,
And caught him in her quivering arms, and cried,No
"When you my ravish'd predecessor saw,
You were not then become this man of straw;
Had you been such, you might have 'scap'd the law.
Is this the custom of king Arthur's court?
Are all round-table knights of such a sort?
Remember I am she who sav'd your life,
Your loving, lawful, and complying wife:
Not thus you swore in your unhappy hour,
Nor I for this return employ'd my power.
In time of need, was your faithful friend;
Nor did I since, nor ever will offend.
Believe me, my lov'd lord, tis much unkind;
What Fury has possess'd your alter'd mind?
Thus on my wedding-night without pretence-
Come turn this way, or tell me my offence.
If not your wife, let reason's rule persuade;
Name but my fault, amends shall soon be made."
"Amends! nay that's impossible," said he;
"What change of age or ugliness can be?
Or, could Medea's magic mend thy face,
Thou art descended from so mean a race,
That never knight was match'd with such disgrace.
What wonder, madam, if I move my side,
When, if I turn, I turn to such a bride?"
"And is this all that troubles you so sore?"
"And what the devil couldst thou wish me more?"
"Ah, Benedicite," replied the crone :
"Then cause of just complaining have you none.
The remedy to this were soon applied,
Would you be like the bridegroom to the bride:
But, for you say a long-descended race,
And wealth, and dignity, and power, and place,
By bounty of our stars, and grace of Heaven.
Thus from a captive Servius Tullius rose,
Whom for his virtues the first Romans chose :
Fabricius from their walls repell'd the foe,
Whose noble hands had exercis'd the plow.
From hence, my lord and love, I thus conclude,
That though my homely ancestors were rude,
Mean as I am, yet I may have the grace
To make you father of a generous race:
And noble then am I, when I begin,
In Virtue cloth'd, to cast the rags of Sin.
If poverty be my upbraided crime,
And you believe in Heaven, there was a time
When He, the great controller of our fate,
Deign'd to be man, and liv'd in low estate :
Which he, who had the world at his dispose,
If poverty were vice, would never choose.
Philosophers have said, and poets sing,
That a glad poverty 's an honest thing.
Content is wealth, the riches of the mind;
And happy he who can that treasure find.
But the base miser starves amidst his store,
Broods on his gold, and, griping still at more,
Sits sadly pining, and believes he's poor.
The ragged beggar, though he want relief,
Has not to lose, and sings before the thief.
Want is a bitter and a hateful good,
Because its virtues are not understood:
Yet many things, impossible to thought,
Have been by need to full perfection brought:
The daring of the soul proceeds from thence,
Sharpness of wit, and active diligence;
Prudence at once, and fortitude, gives,
And, if in patience taken, mends our lives;
For ev'n that indigence, that brings me low,
Makes me myself, and Him above, to know.
A good which none would challenge, few would|
A fair possession, which mankind refuse.
If we from wealth to poverty descend,
Want gives to know the flatterer from the friend.
If I am old and ugly, well for you,
No lewd adulterer will my love pursue;
Nor jealousy, the bane of married life,
Shall haunt you for a wither'd homely wife;
For age and ugliness, as all agree,
Are the best guards of female chastity.
→ Yet since I see your mind is worldly bent,
I'll do my best to further your content.
And therefore of two gifts in my dispose,
Think ere you speak, I grant you leave to choose;
Would you I should be still deform'd and old,
Nauseous to touch, and lothesome to behold;
On this condition to remain for life
A careful, tender, and obedient wife,
In all I can, contribute to your ease,
And not in deed, or word, or thought, displease?
Or would you rather have me young and fair,
And take the chance that happens to your share?
Temptations are in beauty, and in youth,
And how can you depend upon my truth?
Now weigh the danger with the doubtful bliss,
And thank yourself if aught should fall amiss."
Sore sigh'd the knight, who this long sermon
At length, considering all, his heart he cheer'd;
And thus replied: "My lady and my wife,
To your wise conduct I resign my life:
Choose you for me, for well you understand
The future good and ill, on either hand:
But if an humble husband may request,
Provide, and order all things for the best;
Yours be the care to profit, and to please:
And let your subject servant take his ease.”
Since I am turn'd the husband, you the wife :
The matrimonial victory is mine,
Which, having fairly gain'd, I will resign;
Forgive if I have said or done amiss,
And seal the bargain with a friendly kiss:
I promis'd you but one content to share.
But now I will become both good and fair.
No nuptial quarrel shall disturb your ease;
The business of my life shall be to please:
And for my beauty, that, as time shall try;
But draw the curtain first, and cast your eye."
He look'd, and saw a creature heavenly fair,
In bloom of youth, and of a charming air.
With joy he turn'd, and seiz'd her ivory arm;
And like Pygmalion found the statue warm.
Small arguments there needed to prevail,
A storm of kisses pour'd as thick as hail.
Thus long in mutual bliss they lay embrac'd,
And their first love continued to the last:
One sun-shine was their life, no cloud between ;
Nor ever was a kinder couple seen.
And so may all our lives like theirs be led ; Heaven send the maids young husbands fresh in bed;
May widows wed as often as they can,
And ever for the better change their man;
And some devouring plague pursue their lives,
Who will not well be govern'd by their wives.
THE CHARACTER OF A GOOD PARSON.
A PARISH priest was of the pilgrim-train ;
An awful, reverend, and religious man.
His eyes diffus'd a venerable grace,
And charity itself was in his face.
Rich was his soul, though his attire was poor,
As God had cloth'd his own ambassador,
For such, on Earth, his bless'd Redeemer bore.
Of sixty years he seem'd; and well might last
To sixty more, but that he liv'd too fast;
Refin'd himself to soul, to curb the sense;
And made almost a sin of abstinence.
Yet, had his aspect nothing of severe,
But such a face as promis'd him sincere.
Nothing reserv'd or sullen was to see;
But sweet regards, and pleasing sanctity:
Mild was his accent, and his action free.
With eloquence innate his tongue was arm'd;
Though harsh the precept, yet the people charm'd,
For, letting down the golden chain from high,
He drew his audience upward to the sky:
And oft with holy hymns he charm'd their ears,
(A music more melodious than the spheres,)
For David left him, when he went to rest,
His lyre; and after him he sung the best.
He bore his great commission in his look:
But sweetly temper'd awe; and soften'd all he spoke.
He preach'd the joys of Heaven, and pains of Hell,
And warn'd the sinner with becoming zeal;
But on eternal mercy lov'd to dwell.
He taught the gospel rather than the law;
And forc'd himself to drive; but lov'd to draw.
For Fear but freezes minds: but Love, like heat,
Exhales the soul sublime, to seek her native seat.