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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 int'rest 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 pow'rs 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,


These touch the vocal stops, and those the trembling string.
Not thus Amphion tun'd the warbling lyre,

Nor Joab the sounding clarion could inspire,

Nor fierce Theodamas, whose sprightly strain

Could swell the soul to rage, and fire the martial train1. 325
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 danc'd around, and smil'd on ev'ry 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.

[Tyrwhitt suspects that Chaucer had met with the name of Theodamas, who occurs again as a famous trumpeter in the House of Fame,





but is otherwise unknown, in some Romantic History of Thebes.]

The beauteous dame sate smiling at the board, And darted am'rous glances at her Lord.

Not Hester's self, whose charms the Hebrews sing,
E'er look'd so lovely on her Persian King:

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Mean time the vig'rous dancers beat the ground,

And songs were sung, and flowing bowls went round.

With od'rous spices they perfum'd the place,


And mirth and pleasure shone in ev'ry 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 loath'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 glitt'ring 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 Eringo's stood1,

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 ensu'd beseems not me 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 sate 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 ev'ry labour must have rest at last.

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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 pow'rs 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 heav'n 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 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 defin'd
Pleasure the sov'reign bliss of humankind:

[i. e. gave her what he had written.]




Our Knight (who study'd much, we may suppose)
Deriv'd his high philosophy from those;

For, like a Prince, he bore the vast expence
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
(Tho' 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 flow'ry 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 moon-light sports pursue:
Their pygmy king1, and little fairy queen,
In circling dances gamboll'd on the green,
While tuneful sprites a merry concert made,
And airy music warbled thro' 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 bus'ness 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 treach'rous kind,
But faithless still, and wav'ring as the wind!
O painted monster, form'd mankind to cheat,
With pleasing poison, and with soft deceit!
This rich, this am'rous, venerable knight,
Amidst 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 jealousy then seiz'd his mind,
For much he fear'd the faith of woman-kind.
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,

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Their pygmy king.] Pope has here shewn of Shakespear and Milton. Chaucer has 'Kyng his judgment in adopting the lighter 'fairy race' Pluto, and his Queene Proserpina.' Bowles.

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 fixt; she must possess or die!
Nor less impatience vex'd her am'rous 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 would thy eyes avail,
Tho' 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 wards 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 sleight is that, which love will not explore?
And Pyramus and Thisbe plainly show
The feats true lovers, when they list, can do:
Tho' watch'd and captive, yet in spite of all,
They found the art of kissing thro' a wall.

But now no longer from our tale to stray;
It happ'd, that once upon a summer's day,
Our rev'rend Knight was urg'd to am'rous play:
He rais'd his spouse ere Matin-bell was rung,
And thus his morning canticle he sung.

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"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 tempest fly;


Joy of my life, and comfort of my age.

Come, and in mutual pleasures let's engage,

My bosom wounds, and captivates my heart;

The sun adorns the fields, and brightens all the sky.
Fair without spot, whose ev'ry charming part


This heard, to Damian straight a sign she made,
To haste before; the gentle Squire obey'd:
Secret, and undescry'd he took his way,
And ambush'd close behind an arbour lay.


It was not long ere January came,
And hand in hand with him his lovely dame;
Blind as he was, not doubting all was sure,
He turn'd the key, and made the gate secure.


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