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Conquest, an odious name, was laid aside, Where all submitted, none the battle try'd. The senseless plea of right by Providence Was, by a flattering priest, invented since; And lasts no longer than the present sway; But justifies the next who comes in play.
The people's right remains; let those who dare Dispute their power, when they the judges are.
He join'd not in their choice, because he knew Worse might, and often did, from change ensue. Much to himself he thought; but little spoke ; And, undepriv'd, his benefice forsook.
Now, through the land, his cure of souls he stretch'd:
And like a primitive apostle preach'd.
Still cheerful; ever constant to his call;
By many follow'd; lov'd by most, admir'd by all With what he begg'd, his brethren he reliev'd; And gave the charities himself receiv'd.
Gave, while he taught; and edify'd the more, Because he show'd, by proof, 'twas easy to be poor.
He went not with the crowd to see a shrine; But fed us, by the way, with food divine.
In deference to his virtues, I forbear
To show you what the rest in orders were :
This brilliant is so spotless, and so bright,
He needs no foil, but shines by his own proper
Or all the cities in Romanian lands,
The chief, and most renown'd, Ravenna stands,
Adorn'd in ancient times with arms and arts,
And rich inhabitants, with generous hearts.
But Theodore the brave, above the rest,
With gifts of Fortune and of Nature bless'd,
The foremost place for wealth and honour held,
And all in feats of chivalry excell'd.
This noble youth to madness lov'd a dame
Of high degree, Honoria was her name;
Fair as the fairest, but of haughty mind,
And fiercer than became so soft a kind.
Proud of her birth (for equal she had none);
The rest she scorn'd, but hated him alone;
His gifts, his constant courtship, nothing gain'd;
For she, the more he lov'd, the more disdain'd.
He liv'd with all the pomp he could devise,
At tilts and tournaments obtain❜d the prize;
But found no favour in his lady's eyes:
Relentless as a rock, the lofty maid,
Turn'd all to poison, that he did or said :
Nor prayers, nor tears, nor offer'd vows, could
The work went backward; and the more he strove
T' advance his suit, the farther from her love.
Weary'd at length, and wanting remedy,
He doubted oft, and oft resolv'd to die.
But Pride stood ready to prevent the blow,
For who would die to gratify a foe?
His generous mind disdain'd so mean a fate;
That pass'd, his next endeavour was to hate.
But vainer that relief than all the rest,
The less he hop'd, with more desire possess'd;
Love stood the siege, and would not yield his breast.
Change was the next, but change deceiv'd his care;
He sought a fairer, but found none so fair.
He would have worn her out by slow degrees,
As men by fasting starve th' untam'd disease:
But present love requir'd a present ease.
Looking he feeds alone his famish'd eyes,
Feeds lingering Death, but looking not he dies.
Yet still he chose the longest way to Fate,
Wasting at once his life and his estate.
His friends beheld, and pity'd him in vain,
For what advice can case a lover's pain!
Absence, the best expedient they could find,
Might save the fortune, if not cure the mind:
This means they long propos'd, but little gain'd,
Yet, after much pursuit, at length obtain'd. ·
Hard you may think it was to give consent, But struggling with his own desires he went, With large expense, and with a pompous train, Provided as to visit France and Spain,
Or for some distant voyage o'er the main.
But Love had clipp'd his wings, and cut him short,
Confin'd within the purlieus of the court.
Three miles he went, nor farther could retreat;
His travels ended at his country seat:
To Chassis' pleasing plains he took his way,
There pitch'd his tents, and there resolv'd to stay.
The spring was in the prime; the neighbouring
Supply'd with birds, the choristers of Love:
Music unbought, that minister'd delight
To morning walks, and lull'd his cares by night:
There he discharg'd his friends: but not th' expense
Of frequent treats, and proud magnificence.
He liv'd as kings retire, though more at large
From public business, yet with equal charge;
With house and heart still open to receive:
As well content as Love would give him leave:
He would have liv'd more free; but many a guest,
Who could forsake the friend, pursued the feast.
It hapt one morning, as his fancy led,
Before his usual hour he left his bed ;
To walk within a lonely lawn, that stood
On every side surrounded by a wood :
Alone he walk'd, to please his pensive mind,
And sought the deepest solitude to find;
'Twas in a grove of spreading pines he stray'd;
The winds within the quivering branches play'd,
And dancing trees a mournful music made.
The place itself was suiting to his care,
Uncouth and savage, as the cruel fair.
He wander'd on, unknowing where he went
Lost in the wood, and all on love intent:
The Day already half his race had run,
And summon'd him to due repast at noon,
But Love could feel no hunger but his own.
Whilst listening to the murmuring leaves he stood,
More than a mile immers'd within the wood,
At once the wind was laid; the whispering sound
Was dumb; a rising earthquake rock'd the ground;
With deeper brown the grove was overspread;
A sudden horrour seized his giddy head,
And his cars tinkled, and his colour fled.
Nature was in alarm; some danger nigh
Seem'd threaten'd, though unseen to mortal eye.
Unus'd to fear, he summon'd all his soul,
And stood collected in himself, and whole;
Not long for soon a whirlwind rose around,
And from afar he heard a screaming sound,
As of a dame distress'd, who cry'd for aid,
And fill'd with loud laments the secret shade.
A thicket close beside the grove there stood,
With briers and brambles choak'd, and dwarfish
From thence the noise, which now, approaching near,
With more distinguish'd notes invades his ear;
He rais'd his head, and saw a beauteous maid,
With hair dishevell'd, issuing through the shade;
Stripp'd of her clothes, and ev'n those parts reveal'd,
Which modest Nature keeps from sight conceal'd.
Her face, her hands, her naked limbs were torn,
With passing through the brakes, and prickly thorn;
Two mastiffs gaunt and grim her flight pursu'd,
And oft their fasten'd fangs in blood embru'd;
Oft they came up, and pinch'd her tender side,
"Mercy, O mercy Heaven!" she ran, and cry'd.
When Heaven was nam'd, they loos'd their hold
Then sprang she forth, they follow'd her amain.
Not far behind, a knight of swarthy face,
High on a coal-black steed pursu'd the chase:
With flashing flames his ardent eyes were fill'd,
And in his hand a naked sword he held :
He cheer'd the dogs to follow her who fled,
And vow'd revenge on her devoted head.