« EelmineJätka »
"Sir, I have lived a courtier all my days,
And studied men, their manners, and their ways,
And have observed this useful maxim still,
To let my betters always have their will.
Nay, if my lord affirm that black was white,
My word was this : ‘Your honour's in the right.
The assuming wit, who deems himself so wise,
As his mistaken patron to advise,
Let him not dare to vent his dangerous thought:
A noble fool was never in a fault.
This, sir, affects not you, whose every word
Is weigh'd with judgment, and befits a lord :
Your will is mine; and is (I will maintain)
Pleasing to God, and should be so to man !
At least your courage all the world must praise,
Who dare to wed in your declining days.
Indulge the vigour of your mounting blood,
And let gray folks be indolently good,
Who, past all pleasure, damn the joys of sense
With reverend dulness, and grave impotence.'
Justin, who silent sat, and heard the man,
Thus, with a philosophic frown, began;
• A heathen author of the first degree
(Who though not faith, had sense as well as wc.)
Bids us be certain our concerns to trust
To those of generous principles, and just.
The venture's greater, I'll presume to say,
To give your person, than your goods away:
And therefore, sir, as you regard your rest,
First learn your lady's qualities at least :
Whether she's chaste or rampant, proud or civil,
Meek as a saint, or haughty as the devil;
Whether an easy, fond familiar fool,
Or such a wit as no man e'er can rule.
"Tis true, perfection none must hope to find
In all this world, much less in womankind;
But, if her virtues prove the larger share,
Bless the kind Fates, and think your fortune rare.
Ah, gentle sir, take warning of a friend,
Who knows too well the state you thus commend;
And, spite of all his praises, must declare,
All he can find is bondage, cost, and care.
Heaven knows, I shed full many a private tear,
And sigh in silence, lest the world should hear!
While all my friends applaud my blissful life,
And swear no mortal's happier in a wife;
Demure and chaste as any vestal nun,
The meekest creature that beholds the sun !
But, by the immortal powers, I feel the pain,
And he that smarts has reason to complain.
Do what you list, for me; you must be sage,
And cautious sure; for wisdom is in age;
But at these years, to venture on the fair!
By him who made the ocean, earth, and air,
To please a wife, when her occasions call,
Would busy the most vigorous of us all.
And trust me, sir, the chastest you can choose
Will ask observance, and exact her dues.
If what I speak my noble lord offend,
My tedious sermon here is at an end.'
""Tis well, 'tis wondrous well,' the knight replies,
Most worthy kinsman ; 'faith you're mighty wise !
We, sirs, are fools ; and must resign the cause
To heathenish authors, proverbs, and old saws.'
Ile spoke with scorn, and turn'd another way :-
What does my friend, my dear Placebo, say?'
I say,' quoth he, ‘by Heaven the man's to blame, I'o slander wives, and wedlock's holy name. At this the council rose, without delay ; Each, in his own opinion, went his way; With full consent, that, all disputes appeased, The knight should marry, when and where he pleased
Who now but January exults with joy : The charms of wedlock all his soul employ. Each nymph by turns his wavering mind possess'da And reign'd the short-lived tyrant of his breast;
While fancy pictured every lively part,
And each bright image wander'd o'er his heart.
'Thus, in some public forum fix'd on high,
A mirror shows the figures moving by ;
Still one by one, in swift succession, pass
The gliding shadows o'er the polish'd glass.
This lady's charms the nicest could not blame,
But vile suspicions had aspersed her fame:
That was with sense, but not with virtue bless'd;
And one had grace,
that wanted all the rest.
Thus doubting long what nymph he should obey,
Ile fix'd at last upon the youthful May.
Her faults he knew not, Love is always blind,
But every charm revolved within his mind :
Her tender age, her form divinely fair,
Her easy motion, her attractive air,
Her sweet behaviour, her enchanting face,
Her moving softness and majestic grace.
Much in his prudence did our knight rejoice,
And thought no mortal could dispute his choice;
Once more in haste he summon'd every friend,
And told them all, their pains were at an end.
* Heaven that (said he) inspired nie first to wed,
Provides a consort worthy of my bed :
Let none oppose the election, since on this
Depends my quiet, and my future bliss.
* A dame there is, the darling of my eyes,
Young, beauteous, artless, innocent, and wiso;
Chaste, though not rich; and, though not nobly bon
OC honest parents, and may serve my turn.
Her will I wed, if gracious Heaven so please,
To pass my age in sanctity and ease:
And thank the powers, I may possess alone
The lovely prize, and share my bliss with none !
If you, my friends, this virgin can procure,
My joys are full, my happiness is sure.
“One only doubt remains : full oft I've heard, By casuists grave, and deep divines averr'd,
That 'tis too much for human race to know
The bliss of heaven above, and earth below:
Now should the nuptial pleasures prove so great,
'To match the blessings of the future state,
Those endless joys were ill-exchanged for these.
Then clear this doubt, and sei my mind at ease.'
This Justin heard, nor could his spleen control
Touch'd to the quick, and tickled at the soul.
•Sir knight,' he cried, “if this be all you dread,
Ileaven put it past your doubt, whene'er you wed
And to my fervent prayers so far consent,
Thit, ere the rites are o'er you may repent!
Good Heaven, no doubt, the nuptial state approves,
Since it chastises still what best it loves.
Then be not, sir, abandon'd to desrair;
Seek, and perhaps you'll find among the fair,
One that may do your business to a hair :
Not e'en in wish, your happiness delay,
But prove the scourge to lash you on your way.
Then to the skies your mounting soul shall go,
Swift as an arrow soaring from the buw!
Provided still, you moderate your joy,
Nor in your pleasures all your might employ.
Let reason's rule your strong desires abate,
Nor please too lavishly your gentle mate.
Old wives there are, of judgment most acute,
Who solve these questions beyond all dispute ;
Consult with those, and be of better cheer;
Marry, do penance, and dismiss your fear.'
So said, they rose, nor more the work delay'd; The match was offered, the proposals made. The parents, you may think, would soon comply ; The old have interest ever in their eye. Nor was it hard to move the lady's mind; When fortune favours, still the fair are kind.
I pass cach previous settlement and deed, Too long for me to write, or you to read; Nor will with quaint impertinence display The pomp, the pageantry, the proud array
The time approach'd, to church the parties went,
At once with carnal and devout intent:
Forth came the priest, and bade the obedient wife,
Like Sarah or Rebecca lead her life;
Then pray'd the powers the fruitful bed to bless,
And made all sure enough with holiness.
And now the palace gates are open'd wide,
The guests appear in order, side by side,
And placed in state the bridegroom and the bride.
The breathing flute's soft notes are heard around,
And the shrill trumpets mix their silver sound;
The vaulted roofs with echoing music ring,
These touch the vocal stops, and those the trems
Not thus Amphion tuned the warbling lyre,
Nor Joab the sounding clarion could inspire,
Nor fierce Theodamus, whose sprightly strain
Could swell the soul to rage, and fire the martial
Bacchus himself, the nuptial seast to grace,
(So poets sing) was present on the place :
And lovely Venus, goddess of delight,
Shook high her flaming torch in open sight.
And danced around, and smiled on every knight :
Pleased her best servant would his courage try,
No less in wedlock, than in liberty.
Full many an age old Hymen had not spied
So kind a bridegroom, or so bright a bride.
Ye bards! renown'd among the tuneful throng
For gentle lays, and joyous nuptial song,
Think not your softest numbers can display
The matchless glories of the blissful day:
The joys are such as far transcend your rage,
When tender youth has wedded stooping age.
The beauteous dame sat smiling at the board,
And darted amorous glances at her lora.
Not Esther's self, whose charms the Hebrews sing,
E'er look'd so lovely on her Persian king.