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The phantom flies me, as unkind as you. I call aloud; it hears not what I say: I stretch my empty arms; it glides away. To dream once more I close my willing eyes; Ye soft illusions, dear deceits, arise! Alas, no more!—methinks we wand'ring go Through dreary wastes, and weep each other's woe, Where round some mould'ring tow'r pale ivy creeps, And low-brow’d rocks hang nodding o'er the deeps. Sudden you mount, you beckon from the skies; Clouds interpose, waves roar, and winds arise. I shriek, start up, the same sad prospect find, And wake to all the griefs I left behind. For thee the fates, severely kind, ordain A cool suspense from pleasure and from pain; Thy life a long dead calm of fix’d repose; No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows. Still as the sea, ere winds were taught to blow, Or moving spirit bade the waters flow; Soft as the slumbers of a saint forgiven, And mild as opening gleams of promis'd heaven. Come, Abelard' for what hast thou to dread? The torch of Venus burns not for the dead. Nature stands check'd; religion disapproves; Ev’n thou art cold—yet Eloisa loves. Ah, hopeless, lasting flames' like those that burn To light the dead, and warm th’ unfruitful urn. What scenes appear where'er I turn my view The dear ideas, where I fly, pursue, Rise in the grove, before the altar rise, Stain all my soul, and wanton in my eyes. I waste the matin lamp in sighs for thee, Thy image steals between my God and me, Thy voice I seem in every hymn to hear, With every bead I drop too soft a tear. When from the censer clouds of fragrance roll, And swelling organs lift the rising soul, One thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight, Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight: In seas of flame my plunging soul is drown'd, While altars blaze, and angels tremble round. While prostrate here in humble grief I lie, Kind, virtuous drops just gathering in my eye, While praying, trembling, in the dust I roll, And dawning grace is opening on my soul: Come, if thou dar'st, all charming as thou art! Oppose thyself to heaven; dispute my heart; Come, with one glance of those deluding eyes, Blot out each bright idea of the skies; Take back that grace, those sorrows, and those tears; Take back my fruitless penitence and prayers; Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode; Assist the fiends, and tear me from my God! No, fly me, fly me! far as pole from pole; Rise Alps between us! and whole oceans roll! Ah, come not, write not, think not once of me, Nor share one pang of all I felt for thee. Thy oaths I quit, thy memory resign; Forget, renounce me, hate whate'er was mine. Fair eyes, and tempting looks (which yet I view ) Long lov’d, ador'd ideas, all adieu ! O grace serenel O virtue heavenly fair!
Divine oblivion of low-thoughted care!
Fresh-blooming hope, gay daughter of the sky!
And faith, our early immortality
Enter, each mild, each amicable guest;
Receive and wrap me in eternal rest! o
See in her cell sad Eloisa spread,
Propt on some tomb, a neighbour of the dead!
In each low wind methinks a spirit calls,
And more than echoes talk along the walls.
Here, as I watch'd the dying lamp around,
From yonder shrine I heard a hollow sound.
“Come, sister, come!” (it said, or seem'd to say)
“Thy place is here, sad sister, come away!
Once like thyself, I trembled, wept, and pray'd,
Love's victim then, though now a sainted maid:
But all is calm in this eternal sleep;
Here grief forgets to groan, and love to weep:
Ev’n superstition loses every fear;
For God, not man, absolves our frailties here.”
I come, I come! prepare your roseate bowers,
Celestial palms, and ever-blooming flowers.
Thither, where sinners may have rest, I go,
Where flames refin'd in breasts seraphic glow:
Thou, Abelard the last sad office pay,
And smooth my passage to the realms of day;
See my lips tremble, and my eyeballs roll,
Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul!
Ah, no—in sacred vestments mayst thou stand,
The hallow'd taper trembling in thy hand,
Present the cross before my lifted eye,
Teach me at once, and learn of me to die.
Ah then, thy once-lov'd Eloisa see!
It will be then no crime to gaze on me.
See from my cheek the transient roses fly!
See the last sparkle languish in my eyes
Till every motion, pulse, and breath be o'er;
And ev’n my Abelard be lov’d no more.
O, death all eloquent! you only prove
What dust we doat on, when 'tis man we love.
Then too, when fate shall thy fair frame destroy,
(That cause of all my guilt, and all my joy),
In trance ecstatic may the pangs be drown'd,
Bright clouds descend, and angels watch theeround;
From opening skies may streaming glories shine,
And saints embrace thee with a love like mine!
May one kind grave unite each hapless name,
And graft my love immortal on thy fame!
Then, ages hence, when all my woes are o'er,
When this rebellious heart shall beat no more;
If ever chance two wandering lovers brings
To Paraclete's white walls and silver springs,
O'er the pale marble shall they join their heads,
And drink the falling tears each other sheds;
Then sadly say, with mutual pity mov’d,
“O, may we never love as these have lov’d."
From the full choir, when loud hosannahs rise,
And swell the pomp of dreadful sacrifice,
Amid that scene, if some relenting eye
Glance on the stone where our cold relics lie,
Devotion's self shall steal a thought from heaven,
One human tear shall drop, and be forgiven.
And sure if sate some future bard shall join
In sad similitude of griefs to mine,
Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore,
And image charms he must behold no more;
Such if there be, who loves so long, so well;
Let him our sad, our tender story tell
The well-sung woes will soothe my pensive ghost;
He best can paint them who shall feel them most.
JANU MR P AND MAY: OR, THE MERCHANT"S TALE.
There liv'd in Lombardy, as authors write, In days of old, a wise and worthy knight; Of gentle manners, as of generous race, Blest with much sense, more riches, and some grace; Yet, led astray by Venus' soft delights, He scarce could rule some idle appetites: For long ago, let priests say what they could, Weak sinful laymen were but flesh and blood. But in due time, when sixty years were o'er, He vow'd to lead this vicious life no more: Whether pure holiness inspir'd his mind, Or dotage turn'd his brain, is hard to find; But his high courage prick'd him forth to wed, And try the pleasures of a lawful bed. This was his nightly dream, his daily care, And to the heavenly powers his constant prayer, Once, ere he dy'd, to taste the blissful life Of a kind husband and a loving wife. These thoughts he fortify'd with reasons still, (For none want reasons to confirm their will). Grave authors say, and witty poets sing, That honest wedlock is a glorious thing: But depth of judgment most in him appears, Who wisely weds in his maturer years. Then let him choose a damsel young and fair, To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir ; To soothe his cares, and, free from noise and strife, Conduct him gently to the verge of life. Let sinful bachelors their woes deplore, Fall well they merit all they feel, and more : Unaw’d by precepts human or divine, Like birds and beasts promiscuously they join : Nor know to make the present blessing last, To hope the future, or esteem the past: But vainly boast the joys they never try'd, And find divulg'd the secrets they would hide. The marry'd man may bear his yoke with ease, Secure at once himself and heaven to please; And pass his inoffensive hours away, labliss all night, and innocence all day: Tho' fortune change, his constant spouse remains, Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains. [spare? But what so pure, which envious tongues will Some wicked wits have libell'd all the fair. With matchless impudence they style a wife The dear-bought curse, and lawful plague of life; A bosom-serpent, a domestic evil, A night invasion, and a mid-day devil.
Let not the wise these slanderous words regard, But curse the bones of every lying bard. All other goods by fortune's hand are given, A wife is the peculiar gift of heaven. Vain fortune's favours, never at a stay, Like empty shadows, pass and glide away; One solid comfort, our eternal wife, Abundantly supplies us all our life: This blessing lasts (if those who try say true) As long as heart can wish—and longer too. Our grandsire Adam, ere of Eve possess'd, Alone, and ev’n in Paradise unbless'd, With mournful looks the blissful scenes survey'd, And wander'd in the solitary shade: The Maker saw, took pity, and bestow'd Woman, the last, best gift, reserv'd of God. A wife ah, gentle deities, can he That has a wife e'er feel adversity ? Would men but follow what the sex advise, All things would prosper, all the world grow wise. 'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Jacob won His father's blessing from an elder son: Abusive Nabal ow'd his forfeit life To the wise conduct of a prudent wife: Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews shew, Preserv'd the Jews, and slew th’ Assyrian foe: At Hester's suit, the persecuting sword Was sheath'd, and Israel liv'd to bless the Lord. These weighty motives, January the sage Maturely ponder'd in his riper age; And, charm'd with virtuous joys and sober life, would try that Christian comfort, call'd a wife. His friends were summon'd on a point so nice, To pass their judgment, and to give advice; But fix’d before, and well resolv’d was he: (As men that ask advice are wont to be). My friends, he cry’d (and cast a mournful look Around the room, and sigh’d before he spoke); Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend, And worn with cares, and hastening to my end; How I have liv'd, alas! you know too well, In worldly follies, which I blush to tell; But gracious heaven has ope'd my eyes at last, with due regret I view my vices past, And, as the precept of the church decrees, Will take a wife, and live in holy ease. But, since by counsel all things should be done, And many heads are wiser still than one; Choose you for me, who best shall be content when my desire's approv’d by your consent. One caution yet is needful to be told, To guide your choice; this wife must not be old: There goes a saying, and 'twas shrewdly said, Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed. My soul abhors the tasteless, dry embrace Of a stale virgin with a winter face: In that cold season love but treats his guest With bean-straw, and tough forage at the best. No crafty widows shall approach my bed ; Those are too wise for bachelors to wed;
As subtle clerks by many schools are made, | Twice-marry'd dames are mistresses o' th' trade: H h
But young and tender virgins, rul’d with ease,
We form like wax, and mould them as we please.
Conceive me, sirs, nor take my sense amiss;
'Tis what concerns my soul's eternal bliss:
Since if I found no pleasure in my spouse,
As flesh is frail, and who (God help me) knows?
Then should I live in lewd adultery,
And sink downright to Satan when I die.
Or were I curs'd with an unfruitful bed,
The righteous end were lost, for which I wed;
To raise up seed to bless the powers above,
And not for pleasure only, or for love.
Think not I doat; 'tis time to take a wife,
When vigorous blood forbids a chaster life;
Those that are blest with store of grace divine,
May live like saints, by heaven's consent and mine.
And since I speak of wedlock, let me say,
(As, thank my stars, in modest truth I may)
My limbs are active, still I'm sound at heart,
And a new vigour springs in every part.
Think not my virtue lost, though time has shed
These reverend honours on my hoary head;
Thus trees are crown'd with blossoms white as snow,
The vital sap then rising from below:
Old as I am, my lusty limbs appear
Like winter greens, that flourish all the year.
Now, sirs, you know to what I stand inclin'd,
Let every friend with freedom speak his mind.
He said; the rest in different parts divide;
The knotty point was urg'd on either side:
Marriage, the theme on which they all declaim’d,
Someprais'd with wit,and some with reason blam'd;
Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies,
Each wondrous positive, and wondrous wise,
There fell between his brothers a debate,
Placebo this was call'd, and Justin that.
First to the knight Placebo thus begun,
(Mild were his looks, and pleasing was his tone):
Such prudence, sir, in all your words appears,
As plainly proves experience dwells with years!
Yet you pursue sage Solomon's advice,
To work by counsel when affairs are nice:
But, with the wise man's leave, I must protest,
So may my soul arrive at ease and rest,
As still I hold your own advice the best.
Sir, I have liv'd a courtier all my days,
And study'd men, their manners, and their ways;
And have observ'd this useful maxim still,
To let my betters always have their will.
Nay, if my lord affirm'd that black was white,
My word was this, Your honour's in the right.
Th’ 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 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 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 th’ immortal powers, I feel the pain,
And he that smarts has reason to complain.
Do what ye 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 appeas'd,
The knight should marry, when and where he
Who now but January exults with joy [pleas'd.
The charms of wedlock all his soul employ;
Each nymph by turns his wavering mind possest,
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 some public forum fix'd on high,
A mirror shews 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 aspers'd her fame;
That was with sense, but not with virtue blest;
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 every charm revolv’d 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) inspir'd me first to wed,
Provides a consort worthy of my bed:
Let none oppose th' 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
Of honest parents, and may serve my turn. [born,
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-exchang'd for these;
Then clear this doubt, and set my mind at ease.
This Justin heard, nor could his spleen controul,
Touch'd to the quick, and tickled at the soul.
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 so far consent,
That, 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 despair;
Seek, and perhaps you’ll find among the fair,
One that may do your business 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 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 those 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 th' 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 plac'd 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, [string.
These touch the vocal stops, and those the trembling
Not thus Amphion tun'd the warbling lyre,
Nor Joab the sounding clarion could inspire,
Nor fierce Theodamas, whose sprightly strain
Couldswell the soul torage, and fire the martial train.
Bacchus himself, the nuptial feast to grace,
(So poets sing) was present in the place:
And lovely Venus, goddess of delight,
Shook high her flaming torch in open sight,
And danc'd around, and smil'd on every knight,
Pleas'd her best servant would his courage try,
No less 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 song;
Think not your softest numbers can display
The matchless glories of this 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 envy’d 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 round.
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 triumphs, 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 loth'd the light of day.
There let him lie, till his relenting dame
Weep in her turn, and waste in equal flame.
The weary sun, as learned poets write,
Forsook th’ horizon, and roll'd 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 to 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 undress'd,
The room was sprinkled, and the bed was bless'd.
What next ensued beseems me not to say;
'Tis sung, he labour'd till the dawning day,
Then briskly sprung from bed, with heart so light,
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 tribe surround him as he lay,
And close beside him sat the gentle May:
Where, as she try’d his pulse, he softly drew
A heaving 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 2
o 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 power proceed;
Or that some star, with aspect kind to love,
Shed its selected influence from above;
Whatever was the cause, the tender dame
Felt the first motions of an infant flame;
Receiv'd th’ 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 sages have defined
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 flowery ground,
A crystal fountain spread its streams around,
The fruitful banks with verdant laurels crown'd:
About this spring (if ancient fame say true)
The dapper elves their moonlight 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 locked 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,
Amidst his ease, his solace and delight,