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Demure and chaste as any vestal Nun,
'The meekeft creature that beholds the fun!
But, by th' immortal powers, I feel the pain,
And he that smarts has reason to complain.
Do what you lift, for me; you must be fage,
And cautious fure; 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 occafions call,
Would bufy the most vigorous of us all.
And trust me, Sir, the chafteft you can chuse
Will ask observance, and exact her dues.
If what I speak my noble Lord offend,
My tedious fermon here is at an end.
'Tis well, 'tis wondrous well, the Knight replies,
Moft worthy kinfman, faith you're mighty wife!
We, Sirs, are fools; and must resign the cause
To heathenish authors, proverbs, and old faws.
He spoke with fcorn, and turn'd another way :- 220
What does my friend, my dear Placebo, fay?
I fay, quoth he, by heaven the man's to blame,
To flander wives, and wedlock's holy name.
At this the council rofe, without delay;
Each, in his own opinion, went his way;
With full confent, that, all difputes appeas'd,
The knight should marry, when and where he pleas'd.
Who now but January exults with joy?
The charms of wedlock all his foul employ;
Each nymph by turns his wavering mind poffeft,
And reign'd the short-liv'd tyrant of his breast;
While fancy pictur'd every lively part,
And each bright image wander'd o'er his heart.
Thus, in fome public Forum fix'd on high,
A Mirrour shows the figures moving by ;
Still one by one, in fwift fucceffion, pass
The gliding fhadows o'er the polish'd glass.
This Lady's charms the niceft could not blame,
But vile fufpicions had afpers'd her fame;
That was with sense, but not with virtue, bleft;
And one had grace, that wanted all the rest.
Thus doubting long what nymph he should obey,
He fixt at last upon the youthful May.
Her faults he knew not, Love is always blind,
But every charm revolv'd within his mind:
Her tender age, her form divinely fair,
Her easy motion, her attractive air,
Her fweet 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 hafte he fummon'd every friend,
And told them all, their pains were at an end.
Heaven, that (faid he) inspir'd me first to wed,
Provides a confort worthy of my bed:
Let none oppofe th' election, fince on this
Depends my quiet, and my future blifs.
A dame there is, the darling of my eyes,
Young, beauteous, artless, innocent, and wife;
Chafte, though not rich; and, though not nobly born,
Of honeft parents, and ferve
Her will I wed, if gracious Heaven so please;
To pafs my age in fanctity and ease:
And thank the powers, I may poffefs alone
The lovely prize, and share my blifs with none !
If you, my friends, this virgin can procure,
My joys are full, my happiness is fure.
One only doubt remains: Full oft I've heard,
By cafuifts grave, and deep divines averr'd;
That 'tis too much for human race to know
The blifs of heaven above, and earth below.
Now should the nuptial pleasures prove so great,
To match the bleffings of the future state,
Those endless joys were ill-exchang'd for these
Then clear this doubt, and fet my mind at ease.
This Juftin heard, nor could his spleen control,
Touch'd to the quick, and tickled at the foul.
Sir Knight, he cry'd, if this be all you dread,
Heaven put it past your doubt, whene'er you wed;
And to my fervent prayers fo far confent,
That, ere the rites are o'er, you may repent!
Good Heaven, no doubt, the nuptial state approves,
Since it chastises ftill what beft it loves.
Then be not, Sir, abandon'd to despair;
Seek, and perhaps you'll find among the fair,
One that may do your bufinefs to a hair
Not ev'n in wish, your happiness delay,
But prove the scourge to lash you on your way:
Then to the skies your mounting foul shall go,
Swift as an arrow foaring from the bow!
Provided ftill, you moderate your joy,
Nor in your pleasures all your might employ,
Let reafon's rule your strong defires abate,
Nor please too lavishly your gentle mate.
Old wives there are, of judgment most acute,
Who folve these questions beyond all dispute;
Confult with those, and be of better chear;
Marry, do penance, and dismiss your fear.
So faid, they rofe, nor more the work delay'd;
The match was offer'd, the proposals made.
The parents, you may think, would foon comply;
The Old have interest ever in their eye.
Nor was it hard to move the Lady's mind;
When fortune favours, ftill the Fair are kind.
I pafs each previous fettlement 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 th' obedient wife
Like Sarah or Rebeccah lead her life:
Then pray'd the powers the fruitful bed to bless,
And made all fure enough with holiness.
And now the palace-gates are open'd wide,
The guests appear in order, fide by fide,
And plac'd in ftate the bridegroom and the bride.
The breathing flute's foft notes are heard around,
And the shrill trumpets mix their filver found;
The vaulted roofs with echoing mufic ring,
These touch the vocal ftops, and thofe the trembling
Not thus Amphion tun'd the warbling lyre,
Nor Joab the founding clarion could inspire,
Nor fierce Theodamas, whose sprightly strain
Could fwell the foul to rage, and fire the martial train.
Bacchus himself, the nuptial feast to grace,
(So Poets fing) was present on the place :
And lovely Venus, Goddess of delight,
Shook high her flaming torch in open fight,
And danc'd around, and fmil'd on every Knight:
Pleas'd her beft fervant would his courage try,
No lefs in wedlock, than in liberty.
Full many an age old Hymen had not spy'd
So kind a bridegroom, or so bright a bride.
Ye bards! renown'd among the tuneful throng
For gentle lays, and joyous nuptial fong;
Think not your fofteft numbers can display
The matchlefs glories of this blissful day:
The joys are fuch, as far tranfcend your rage,
When tender youth has wedded stooping age.
The beauteous dame fat fmiling at the board,
And darted amorous glances at her Lord.
Not Hefter's felf, whofe charms the Hebrews fing,
E'er look'd fo lovely on her Persian King:
Bright as the rifing fun, in fummer's day,
And fresh and blooming as the month of May!
The joyful Knight furvey'd her by his fide,
Nor envy'd Paris with the Spartan bride: