Page images
PDF
EPUB

He pierc'd the glitt'ring clouds with golden streams, And warm'd the womb of earth with genial beams. It fo befel, in-that fair morning-tide,

The Fairies fported on the garden fide,

620

And in the midft their Monarch and his bride.
So featly tripp'd the light-foot ladies round,
The knights fo nimbly o'er the green sword bound,
That scarce they bent the flow'rs, or touch'd the
ground.

The dances ended, all the fairy train

For pinks and daifies search'd the flow'ry plain ;
While on a bank reclin'd of rifing green,

Thus, with a frown, the King befpoke his Queen.

'Tis too apparent, argue what you can,

The treachery you women use to man :

A thoufand authors have this truth made out,

625

And fad experience leaves no room for doubt. 630 Heav'n reft thy fpirit, noble Solomon,

A wiser monarch never saw the fun :

All wealth, all honours, the fupreme degree

Of earthly blifs, was well beftow'd on thee!

For fagely haft thou faid: Of all mankind,
One only juft, and righteous, hope to find:

635

But should'st thou search the spacious world around, Yet one good woman is not to be found.

Thus fays the King who knew

your

wickedness;

The fon of Sirach testifies no less.

640

645

650

So may fome wildfire on your bodies fall,
Or fome devouring plague confume you all;
As well you view the leacher in the tree,
And well this honourable Knight you fee:
But fince he's blind and old (a helpless cafe)
His Squire fhall cuckold him before your face.
Now by my own dread majefty I fwear,
And by this aweful sceptre which I bear,
No impious wretch shall 'scape unpunish'd long,
That in my presence offers fuch a wrong.
I will this instant undeceive the Knight,
And, in the very act restore his fight:
And set the ftrumpet here in open view,
A warning to these Ladies, and to you,
And all the faithless sex, for ever to be true.
And will you fo, reply'd the Queen, indeed? 655
Now, by my mother's foul it is decreed,
She fhall not want an answer at her need.
For her, and for her daughters, I'll engage,
And all the fex in each succeeding age;
Art fhall be theirs to varnish an offence,
And fortify their crimes with confidence.

Nay, were they taken in a strict embrace,
Seen with both eyes, and pinion'd on the place;
All they shall need is to proteft and fwear,
Breathe a foft figh, and drop a tender tear;
Till their wife husbands, gull'd by arts like these,

}

660

665

Grow gentle, tractable, and tame as geese,

670

What tho' this fland'rous Jew, this Solomon,
Call'd women fools, and knew full many a one;
The wifer wits of later times declare,
How conftant, chafte, and virtuous women are:
Witness the martyrs, who refign'd their breath,
Serene in torments, unconcern'd in death;
And witness next what Roman authors tell,
How Arria, Portia, and Lucretia fell.

But fince the facred leaves to all are free,
And men interpret texts, why should not we?
By this no more was meant, than to have shown,
That fov'reign goodness dwells in him alone
Who only Is, and is but only One.

675

680

But grant the worft; fhall women then be weigh'd

By ev'ry word that Solomon has faid?

What tho' this King (as ancient story boasts)

Built a fair temple to the Lord of hofts;

He ceas'd at laft his Maker to adore,

685

And did as much for Idol gods, or more.

Beware what lavish praises you confer

On a rank leacher and idolater;

Whose reign indulgent God, fays holy writ,
Did but for David's righteous fake permit;
David, the monarch after heav'n's own mind,
Who lov'd our sex, and honour'd all our kind.

690

Well, I'm a Woman, and as fuch must speak; Silence would fwell me, and my heart would break.

Know then, I fcorn your dull authorities,
Your idle wits, and all their learned lyes.

695

By heav'n, thofe authors are our fex's foes,
Whom, in our right, I must and will oppose.
Nay (quoth the King) dear Madam, be not wroth:
I yield it up; but fince I gave my oath,

700 That this much-injur❜d Knight again should see; It must be done-I am a King, faid he,

And one, whose faith has ever facred been.

And fo has mine (the faid)-I am a Queen:
Her answer the fhall have, I undertake;
And thus an end of all difpute I make.

Try when you lift; and you shall find, my Lord,
It is not in our sex to break our word.

We leave them here in this heroic ftrain,
And to the Knight our story turns again;
Who in the garden, with his lovely May,
Sung merrier than the Cuckow or the Jay:
This was his fong; "Oh kind and conftant be,
"Conftant and kind I'll ever prove to thee,"

705

710

715

Thus finging as he went, at last he drew By easy fteps, to where the Pear-tree grew; The longing dame look'd up, and spy'd her Love Full fairly perch'd among the boughs above. She stopp'd, and fighing: Oh good Gods, fhe cry'd, What pangs, what fudden fhoots diftend my fide? O for that tempting fruit, fo fresh, fo green; Help, for the love of heav'n's immortal Queen!

721

Help, dearest lord, and fave at once the life
Of thy poor infant, and thy longing wife!

Sore figh'd the Knight to hear his Lady's cry, 725
But could not climb, and had no servant nigh:
Old as he was, and void of eye-fight too.
What could, alas! a helpless husband do?
And must I languish then, she said, and die,
Yet view the lovely fruit before my eye?
At least, kind Sir, for charity's sweet sake,
Vouchfafe the trunk between your arms to take;
Then from your back I might ascend the tree;
Do you but stoop, and leave the reft to me.

With all my foul, he thus reply'd again,
I'd spend my dearest blood to ease thy pain.
With that, his back against the trunk he bent,
She feiz'd a twig, and up the tree she went,

Now prove your patience, gentle Ladies all!
Nor let on me your heavy anger fall:
'Tis truth I tell, tho' not in phrase refin'd;
Tho' blunt my tale, yet honeft is my mind.
What feats the lady in the tree might do,
I país, as gambols never known to you;
But fure it was a merrier fit, she swore,

Than in her life fhe ever felt before.

730

735

740

745

In that nice moment, lo! the wond'ring knight Look'd out, and stood reftor'd to fudden fight.

« EelmineJätka »