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Think not yoаr 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 lord.
Not Hester's self, whose charms the Hebrews sing,
E’er look'd so lovely on her Persian king :
Bright as the rising sun in summer's day,
And fresh and blooming as the month of May!
The joyful knight survey'd her by his side,
Nor envied Paris with the Spartan bride : -
Still as his mind revolv'd with vast delight
Th' entrancing raptures of th' approaching night,
Restless he sat, invoking every power
To speed his bliss, and haste the happy hour.
Meantime the vigorous dancers beat the ground,
And songs were sung, and flowing bowls went
With odorous spices they perfum'd the place,
And mirth and pleasure shone in every face.
Damian alone of all the menial train,
Sad in the midst of triumph, sigh'd for pain;
Damian alone, the knight's obsequious 'squire,
Consum'd at heart, and fed a secret fire.
His lovely mistress all his soul possess'd;
He look'd, he languish'd, and could take no rest:
His task perform'd, he sadly went his way,
Fell on his bed, and loath'd the light of day.
There let him lie, till his relenting dame
Weep in her turn, and waste in equal flame.
The wearied sun, as learned poets write,
Forsook the horizon, and rolld down the light;
While glittering stars his absent beams supply,
And night's dark mantle overspread the sky.
Then rose the guests; and, as the time requir'd,
Each paid his thanks, and decently retir'd.
The foe once gone, our knight prepar'd t’undress , So keen he was, and eager to possess :
But first thought fit th' assistance to receive,
Which grave physicians scruple not to give ;
Satyrion near, with hot eringos stood,
Cantharides, to fire the lazy blood,
Whose use old bards describe in luscious rhymes,
And critics learn'd explain to modern times.
By this the sheets were spread, the bride in-
dress'd, The room was sprinkled, and the bed was bless'd. What Dext ensued beseems me not to say; 'Tis sung he labour'd till the dawning day, Then briskly sprung from bed, with heart so
As all were nothing he had done by night;
And sipp'd his cordial as he sat upright.
He kiss'd his balmy spouse with wanton play,
And feebly sung a lusty roundelay:
Then on the couch his weary limbs he cast;
For every labour must have rest at last.
But anxious cares the pensive 'squire oppress'd,
Sleep fled his eyes, and peace forsook his breast :
The raging flames that in his bosom dwell,
He wanted art to hide, and means to tell;
Yet hoping time th' occasion might betray,
Compos'd a sonnet to the lovely May;
Which, writ and folded with the nicest art,
He wrapp'd in silk, and laid upon his heart.
When now the fourth revolving day was run ('Twas June, and Cancer had receiv'd the sun), Forth from her chamber came the beauteous
bride; The good old knight mov'd slowly by her side. High mass was sung; they feasted in the hall; The servants round stood ready at their call. The 'squire alone was absent from the board, And much his sickness griev'd his worthy lord, Who pray'd his spouse, attended with her train, To visit Damian, and divert his pain. Th' obliging dames obey'd with one consent; They left the hall, and to his lodging went.
The female tribes surround him as he lay
And close beside him sat the gentle May :
Where, as she try'd his pulse, he softly drew
A hearing sigh, and cast a mournful view!
Then gave his bill, and brib'd the powers divine,
With secret vows to favour his design.
Who studies now but discontented May?
On her soft couch uneasily she lay;
The lumpish husband snor'd away the night,
Till coughs awak'd him near the morning light.
What then he did, I'll not presume to tell,
Nor if she thought herself in Heaven or Hell;
Honest and dull in nuptial bed they lay,
'Till the bell toll'd, and all arose to pray.
Were it by forceful destiny decreed, Or did from chance or nature's pow'r proceed; Or that some star, with aspect kind to love, Shed its selectest influence from above; Whatever was the cause, the tender dame Felt the first motions of an infant fiame; Receiv'd tl'impressions of the love-sick 'squire, And wasted in the soft infectious fire.
Ye fair, draw near, let May's example move Your gentle minds to pity those who love! Had some fierce tyrant in her stead been found, The poor adorer sure had hang'd or drown'd: But she, your sex's mirror, free from pride, Was much too meek to prove a homicide.
But to my tale: Some ages have defin'd Pleasure the sovereign bliss of human kind : Our knight (who study'd much, we may suppose) Deriv'd his high philosophy from those ; For, like a prince, he bore the vast expense Of lavish pomp, and proud magnificence: His house was stately, his retinue gay; Large was his train, and gorgeous his array. His spacious garden made to yield to none, Was compass'd round with walls of solid stone; Priapus could not half describe the grace (Though god of gardens) of this charming place :
A place to tire the rambling wits of France
In long descriptions, and exceed romance;
Enough to shame the gentlest bard that sings
Of painted meadows, and of purling springs.
Full in the centre of the fow'ry ground,
A crystal fountain spread its streams around,
The fruitful banks with verdagt laurels crown'd;
About this spring (if ancient fame say true)
The dapper elves their moon-light sports pursue ;
Their pigmy king, and little fairy queen,
In circling dances gambol'd on the green,
While tuneful sprites a merry concert made,
And airy music warbled through the shade.
Hither the noble knight would oft repair
(His scene of pleasure, and peculiar care),
For this he held it dear, and always bore
The silver key that lock'd the garden door.
To this sweet place, in summer's sultry heat,
He us'd from noise and business to retreat;
And here in dalliance spend the live-long day,
Solus cum sola, with his sprightly May:
For whate'er work was undischarg'd a-bed,
The duteous knight in this fair garden sped.
But, ah! what mortal lives of bliss secure ?
How short a space our worldly joys endure !
O Fortune, fair, like all thy treacherous kind,
But faithless still, and wavering as the wind !
O painted monster, form'd mankind to cheat
With pleasing poison, and with soft deceit!
This rich, this amorous, venerable knight,
Admidst his ease, his solace, and delight,
Struck blind by thee, resigns his days to grief,
And calls on death, the wretch's last relief.
The rage of jealously then seiz'd his mind,
For much he fear'd the faith of womankind.
His wife, not suffer'd from his side to stray,
Was captive kept; he watch'd her night and day,
Abridg'd her pleasures, and confin'd her sway.
Full oft in tears did hapless May complain,
And sigh'd full oft; but sigh'd and wept in vain :
She look'd on Damian with a lover's eye ;
For, oh, 'twas fix'd, she must possess or die!
Nor less impatience vex'd her amorous 'squire,
Wild with delay, and burning with desire.
Watch'd as she was, yet could he not refrain
By secret writing to disclose his pain :
The dame by signs reveal'd her kind intent,
Till both were conscious what each other meant.
Ah! gentle knight, what could'thy eyes avail,
Though they could see as far as ships can sail ?
'Tis better, sure, when blind, deceiv'd to be,
Than be deluded when a man can see !
Argus himself so cautious and so wise,
Was over-watch'd, for all his hundred eyes :
So many an honest husband may, 'tis known,
Who, wisely, never thinks the case his own.
The dame at last, by diligence and care,
Procur'd the key her knight was wont to bear;
She took the war.ls in wax before the fire,
And gave th' impression to the trusty 'squire.
By means of this, some wonder shall appear,
Which in due place and season, you may hear.
Well sung sweet Ovid, in the days of yore,
What slight is that, which love will not eeplore ?
And Pyramus and Thisbe plainly show
The feats true lovers, when they list, can do:
Though watch'd and captive, yet in spite of all,
They found the art of kissing through a wall.
But now no longer from our tale to stray;
It happ'd, that once upon a summer's day,
Our reverend knight was urg'd to amorous play:
He rais'd his spouse ere matin-bell was rung,
And thus his morning canticle he sung :
• Awake, my love, disclose thy radiant eyes;
Arise, my wife, my beauteous lady, rise !
Hear how the doves with pensive notes complain,
And in soft murmurs tell the trees their pain :
The winter's past; the clouds and tempests fly;
The sun adorns the fields, and brightens all the sky.