« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
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 grey fools 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 we)
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
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.'
He 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,
To 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
Who now but January exults with joy? The charms of wedlock all his soul employ:
Each nymph by turns his wavering mind possess'd,
And reign'd the short-lived tyrant of his breast;
Whilst 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,
He fix'd at last upon the youthful May.
Her faults he knew not, love is always blind,
But 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 me 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 wise; Chaste,though not rich; and, though not nobly born, Of 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 set 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,
Heaven put it past your doubt whene'er
you wed; And to my fervent prayers so far consent, That, ere the rites are o'er, you may repent! Good Heaven, no doubt, the nuptial state ap
Since it chastises still what best it loves.
Then be not, sir, abandon'd to despair;
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 bow! 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 offer'd, 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 each 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 trembling
Not thus Amphion tuned the warbling lyre, [string.
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 feast 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;