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Gain'd hardly, against right, and unenjoy'd. So, speechless, for a little space he lay; [away. When 'twas declar'd all hope of life was past, Then grasp'd the hand he held, and sigh'd his soul Conscience (that of all physic works the last)
But whither went his soul, let such relate Caus'd him to send for Emily in haste.
Who search the secrets of the future state : With her, at his desire, came Palamon ;
Divines can say but what themselves believe ; Then on his pillow rais'd, he thus begun.
Strong proofs they have, but not demonstrative : “No language can express the smallest part For, were all plain, then all sides must agree, Of what I feel, and suffer in my heart,
And faith itself be lost in certainty.
To save ourselves, and not to damn the rest.
The soul of Arcite went where heathens go, Unseen, unheard, shall hover at your side; Who better live than we, though less they know. Nor fright you waking, nor your sleep offend,
In Palamon a manly grief appears ; But wait officious, and your steps attend :
Silent he wept, asham'd to show his tears : How I have lov'd, excuse my faltering tongue, Emilia shriek'd but once, and then, oppressid My spirit's feeble, and my pains are strong: With sorrow, sunk upon her lover's breast : This I may say, I only grieve to die
Till Theseus in his arms convey'd with care, Because I lose my charming Emily:
Far from so sad a sight, the swooning fair. To die, when Heaven had put you in my power, "Twere loss of time her sorrow to relate ; Fate could not choose a more malicious hour! Ill bears the sex a youthful lover's fate, What greater curse could envious Fortune give, When just approaching to the nuptial state : Than just to die, when I began to live!
But, like a low-hung cloud, it rains so fast, Vain men, how vanishing a bliss we crave,
That all at once it falls, and cannot last. Now warm in love, now withering in the grave! The face of things is chang'd, and Athens now, Never, O never more to see the Sun!
That laugh'd so late, becomes the scene of woe : Still dark, in a damp vault, and still alone! Matrons and maids, both sexes, every state, This fate is common; but I lose my breath
With tears lament the knight's untimely fate. Near bliss, and yet not bless'd before my death. Nor greater grief in falling Troy was seen Farewell; but take me dying in your arms,
For Hector's death; but Hector was not then. 'Tis all I can enjoy of all your charms :
Old men with dust deform'd their hoary hair, This hand I cannot but in death resign;
The women beat their breasts, their cheeks they tear. Ah! could I live! but while I live 'tis mine. " Why wouldst thou go," with one consent they cry, I feel my end approach, and, thus embrac'd, * When thou hadst gold enough, and Emily !” Am pleas'd to die ; but hear me speak my last. Theseus himself, who should have cheer'd the grief Ah! my sweet foe, for you, and you alone,
of others, wanted now the same relief. I broke my faith with injur'd Palamon.
Old Egeus only could revive his son, But Love the sense of right and wrong confounds, Who various changes of the world had known, Strong Love and proud Ambition have no bounds. And strange vicissitudes of human fate, And much I doubt, should Heaven my life prolong, Still altering, never in a steady state ; I should return to justify my wrong:
Good after ill, and after pain delight; For, while my former flames remain within,
Alternate like the scenes of day and night : Repentance is but want of power to sin.
"Since every man who lives is born to die, With mortal hatred I pursu'd his life,
And none can boast sincere felicity, Nor he, nor you, were guilty of the strife:
With equal mind what happens let us bear, (care. Nor I, but as I lov'd ; yet all combin'd,
Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our Your beauty, and my impotence of mind,
Like pilgrims to th' appointed place we tend : And his concurrent flame, that blew my fire; The world's an inn, and death the journey's end. For still our kindred souls had one desire.
Ev'n kings but play; and when their part is done, He had a moment's right in point of time ;
Some other, worse or better, mount the throne." Had I seen first, then his had been the crime. With words like these the crowd was satisfied, Fate made it mine, and justified his right;
And so they would have been had Theseus died. Nor holds this Earth a more deserving knight, But he, their king, was laboring in his mind, For virtue, valor, and for noble blood,
A fitting place for funeral pomps to find,
Which were in honor of the dead design'd:
(As Love itself had mark'd the spot of ground) He loves you too, with such an holy fire,
That grove for ever green, that conscious land, As will not, cannot, but with life expire :
Where he with Palamon fought hand to hand : Our vow'd affections both have often tried,
That where he fed his amorous desires Nor any love but yours could ours divide.
With soft complaints, and felt his hottest fires, Then, by my love's inviolable band,
| There other fames might waste his earthly part, By my long suffering, and my short command, And burn his limbs, where love had burn'd his heart. If e'er you plight your vows when I am gone, This once resolv'd, the peasants were enjoin'd Have pity on the faithful Palamon."
Sere-wood, and firs, and dodder'd oaks to find. This was his last ; for Death came on amain, With sounding axes to the grove they go, And exercis'd below his iron reign;
Fell, split, and lay the fuel on a row, Then upward to the seat of life he goes :
Vulcanian food : a bier is next prepard, Sense fled before him, what he touch'd he froze: On which the lifeless body should be rear'd, Yet could he not his closing eyes withdraw,
Cover'd with cloth of gold, on which was laid Though less and less of Emily he saw;
The corpse of Arcite, in like robes array'd.
White gloves were on his hands, and on his head This office done, she sunk upon the ground;
While the devouring fire was burning fast,
And gave their warrior's ghost a warrior's due. Groans, cries, and howlings, fill the crowded place, Full bowls of wine, of honey, milk, and blood, And unaffected sorrow sat on every face.
Were pour'd upon the pile of burning wood, Sad Palamon above the rest appears,
And hissing flames receive, and hungry lick the food In sable garments, dew'd with gushing tears : Then thrice the mounted squadrons ride around His auburn locks on either shoulder flow'd,
The fire, and Arcite's name they thrice resound; Which to the funeral of his friend he vow'd : Hail, and farewell, they shouted thrice amain, But Emily, as chief, was next his side,
Thrice facing to the left, and thrice they turn'd again : A virgin-widow, and a mourning bride.
Still as they turn'd, they beat their clattering shields : And, that the princely obsequies might be
The women mix their cries; and Clamor fills the fields. Perform'd according to his high degree,
The warlike wakes continued all the night, The steed, that bore him living to the fight, And funeral games were play'd at new returning light. Was trapp'd with polish'd steel, all shining bright, Who, naked, wrestled best, besmear'd with oil, And cover'd with the achievements of the knight. Or who with gauntlets gave or took the foil, The riders rode abreast, and one his shield, I will not tell you, nor would you attend; His lance of cornel-wood another held;
But briefly haste to my long story's end. The third his bow, and, glorious to behold,
I pass the rest; the year was fully mourn'd, The costly quiver, all of burnish'd gold.
And Palamon long since to Thebes return'd: The noblest of the Grecians next appear,
When, by the Grecians' general consent, And, weeping, on their shoulders bore the bier; At Athens Theseus held his parliament: With sober pace they march'd, and often staid, Among the laws that pass'd, it was decreed, And through the master-street the corpse convey'd. That conquer'd Thebes from bondage should be freed; The houses to their tops with black were spread, Reserving homage to th' Athenian throne, And ev'n the pavements were with mourning hid. To which the sovereign summond Palamon. The right side of the pall old Egeus kept,
Unknowing of the cause, he took his way, And on the left the royal Theseus wept;
Mournful in mind, and still in black array. [high, Each bore a golden bowl, of work divine, (wine. The monarch mounts the throne, and, plac'd on With honey fillid, and milk, and mix'd with ruddy Commands into the court the beauteous Emily : Then Palamon, the kinsman of the slain,
So call'd, she came; the senate rose, and paid And after him appear'd the illustrious train.
Becoming reverence to the royal maid. To grace the pomp, came Emily the bright And first soft whispers through th' assembly went : With cover'd fire, the funeral pile to light.
With silent wonder then they watch'd th' event: With high devotion was the service made,
All hush'd, the king arose with awful grace, And all the rites of pagan-honor paid :
Deep thought was in his breast, and counsel in his So lofty was the pile, a Parthian bow,
face. With vigor drawn, must send the shaft below. At length he sigh'd : and, having first prepar'd The bottom was full twenty fathom broad,
Th'attentive audience, thus his will declar'd. With crackling straw beneath in due proportion “The Cause and Spring of Motion, from above, strow'd.
Hung down on Earth the golden chain of love : The fabric seem'd a wood of rising green,
Great was th' effect, and high was his intent, With sulphur and bitumen cast between,
When peace among the jarring seeds he sent, To feed the flames: the trees were unctuous fir, Fire, flood, and earth, and air, by this were bound, And mountain ash, the mother of the spear; And love, the common link, the new creation crown'd The mourner yew and builder oak were there: The chain still holds; for, though the forms decay, The beech, the swimming alder, and the plane, Eternal matter never wears away: Hard box, and linden of a softer grain, fordain. The same first Mover certain bounds has plac'd, And laurels, which the gods for conquering chiefs How long those perishable forms shall last : How they were rank’d, shall rest untold by me, Nor can they last beyond the time assign'd With nameless nymphs that liv'd in every tree; By that all-seeing and all-making Mind: Nor how the Dryads, or the woodland train, Shorten their hours they may; for will is free; Disherited, ran howling o'er the plain :
But never pass the appointed destiny. Nor how the birds to foreign seats repair'd,
So men oppress'd, when weary of their breath, Or beasts, that bolted out, and saw the forest bar'd: Throw off the burthen, and suborn their death. Nor how the ground, now clear'd, with ghastly fright Then, since those forms begin, and have their end, Beheld the sudden Sun, a stranger to the light. On some unalter'd cause they sure depend :
The straw, as first I said, was laid below: Parts of the whole are we; but God the whole ; Of chips and sere-wood was the second row; Who gives us life and animating soul: The third of greens, and timber newly felld; For Nature cannot from a part derive The fourth high stage the fragrant odors held, That being, which the whole can only give: And pearls, and precious stones, and rich array, He perfect, stable; but imperfect we, In midst of which, embalm'd, the body lay.
Subject to change, and different in degree; The service sung, the maid with mourning eyes Plants, beasts, and man; and, as our organs are, The stubble fir'd ; the smouldering flames arise : We more or less of his perfection share.
But by a long descent, th'ethereal fire
For which already I have gain’d th' assent
Long love to her has borne the faithful knight, And the same matter makes another mass :
And well deserv'd, had Fortune done him right: This law the Omniscient Power was pleas'd to give, "Tis time to mend her fault; since Emily That every kind should by succession live!
By Arcite's death from former vows is free: That individuals die, his will ordains,
If you, fair sister, ratify th'accord,
And take him for your husband and your lord.
Pity is Heaven's and yours; nor can she find
[dry. He said ; she blush'd ; and, as o'eraw'd by might, Forsaken of their springs; and leave their channels Seem'd to give Theseus what she gave the knight. So man, at first a drop, dilates with heat,
Then turning to the Theban thus he said; Then, form'd, the little heart begins to beat; “Small arguments are needful to persuade Secret he feeds, unknowing in the cell;
Your temper to comply with my command; Ai length, for hatching ripe, he breaks the shell, And speaking this, he gave Emilia's hand. And struggles into breath, and cries for aid ; Smild Venus, to behold her own true knight Then, helpless, in his mother's lap is laid.
Obtain the conquest, though he lost the fight; He creeps, he walks, and, issuing into man,
And bless'd with nuptial bliss the sweet laborious Grudges their life, from whence his own began:
night. Reckless of laws, aflects to rule alone,
Eros, and Anteros, on either side, Anxious to reign, and restless on the throne : One fir'd the bridegroom, and one warm'd the bride ; First vegetive, then feels, and reasons last;
And long-attending Hymen, from above, Rich of three souls, and lives all three to waste. Shower'd on the bed the whole Idalian grove. Some thus ; but thousands more in flower of age : | All of a tenor was their after-life, For few arrive to run the latter stage.
No day discolor'd with domestic strife ; Sunk in the first, in battle some are slain,
No jealousy, but mutual truth believ'd, And others whelm'd beneath the stormy main. Secure repose, and kindness undeceiv’d. What makes all this, but Jupiter the king,
Thus Heaven, beyond the compass of his thought, At whose command we perish, and we spring ? Sent him the blessing he so dearly bought. Then 'tis our best, since thus ordain'd to die,
So may the queen of love long duty bless,
And all true lovers find the same success.
THE WIFE OF BATH,
In days of old, when Arthur fill’d the throne, And leave no more for Fortune to dispose :
Whose acts and fame to foreign lands were blown; So should we make our death a glad relief
The king of ells and liule fairy queen From future shame, from sickness, and from grief: Gambol'd on heaths, and danc'd on every green; Enjoying wbile we live the present hour,
And where the jolly troop had left the round, And dying in our excellence and flower,
The grass unbidden rose, and mark'd the ground: Then round our death-bed every friend should run, Nor darkling did they glance, the silver light And joyous of our conquest early won :
Of Phoebe serv'd to guide their steps aright, While the malicious world with envious tears And, with their tripping pleas'd, prolong the night. Should grudge our happy end, and wish it theirs. Her beams they follow'd, where at full she play'd, Since then our Arcite is with honor dead,
Nor longer than she shed her horns they stay'd, Why should we mourn, that he so soon is freed, From thence with airy light to foreign lands convey'd. Or call untimely what the gods decreed?
Above the rest our Britain held they dear, With grief as just, a friend may be deplor'd, More solemnly they kept their sabbaths here, [year From a foul prison to free air restor'd.
And made more spacious rings, and revel'd half the Ought he to thank his kinsman or his wife,
I speak of ancient times, for now the swain Could tears recall him into wretched life?
Returning late may pass the woods in vain, Their sorrow hurts themselves ; on him is lost; And never hope to see the nightly train : And, worse than both, offends his happy ghost. In vain the dairy now with mint is dressid, What then remains, but, after past annoy,
The dairy-maid expects no fairy guest To take the good vicissitude of joy!
To skim the bowls, and after pay the feast. To thank the gracious gods for what they give, She sighs, and shakes her empty shoes in vain, Possess our souls, and, while we live, to live? No silver penny to reward her pain: Ordain we then two sorrows to combine,
For priests with prayers, and other goodly gear, And in one point th' extremes of grief to join ; Hare made the merry goblins disappear: That thence resulting joy may be renew'd,
And where they play'd their merry pranks before, As jarring notes in harmony conclude.
Have sprinkled holy water on the floor: Then I propose that Palamon shall be
And friars that through the wealthy regions run, In marriage join'd with beauteous Emily;
Thick as the motes that twinkle in the sun,
Resort to farmers rich, and bless their halls, Yet (lest, surpris'd, unknowing what to say,
Good sureties will we have for thy return;
That at the time prefix'd thou shalt obey, With gown tuck'd up, to wakes, for Sunday next; And at thy pledge's peril keep thy day.” With humming ale encouraging his text;
Woe was the knight at this severe command : Nor wants the holy leer for country girl betwixt. But well he knew 'twas bootless to withstand : From siends and imps he sets the village free, The terms accepted as the fair ordain, There haunts not any incubus but he.
He put in bail for his return again, The maids and women need no danger fear
And promis'd answer at the day assign'd, To walk by night, and sanctity so near:
The best, with Heaven's assistance, he could find For by some haycock, or some shady thorn,
His leave thus taken, on his way he went
Misdoubting much, and fearful of th' event.
'Twas hard the truth of such a point to find, A bachelor he was, and of the courtly train. As was not yet agreed among the kind. It happen'd, as he rode, a damsel gay
Thus on he went; still anxious more and more, In russet robes to market took her way :
Ask'd all he met, and knock'd at every door ; Soon on the girl he cast an amorous eye,
Inquir'd of men; but made his chief request So straight she walk'd, and on her pasterns high: To learn from women what they lov'd the best. If seeing her behind he lik'd her pace,
They answer'd each according to her mind Now turning short, he better likes her face.
To please herself, not all the female kind. He lights in haste, and, full of youthful fire, One was for wealth, another was for place: By force accomplish'd his obscene desire :
Crones, old and ugly, wish'd a better face. This done, a way he rode, not unespied,
The widow's wish was oftentimes to wed; For swarming at his back the country cried : The wanton maids were all for sport a-bed. And once in view they never lost the sight,
Some said the sex were pleas'd with handsome lies, But seiz'd, and pinion'd, brought to court the knight. And some gross Nattery lov'd without disguise :
Then courts of kings were held in high renown, " Truth is," says one, " he seldom fails to win Ere made the common brothels of the town; Who flatters well; for that 's our darling sin : There, virgins honorable vows receivid,
But long attendance, and a duteous mind, But chaste as maids in monasteries liv'd :
Will work ev'n with the wisest of the kind." The king himself to nuptial lies a slave,
One thought the sex's prime felicity No bad example to his poets gave :
Was from the bonds of wedlock to be free: And they, not bad, but in a vicious age,
Their pleasures, hours, and actions, all their own, Had not, to please the prince, debauch'd the stage. And uncontrol'd to give account to none. Now what should Arthur do? He lov'd the Some wish a husband-fool ; but such are curst, knight,
For fools perverse of husbands are the worst : But sovereign monarchs are the source of right: All women would be counted chaste and wise, Mov'd by the damsel's tears, and common cry, Nor should our spouses see, but with our eyes ; He doom'd the brutal ravisher to die.
For fools will prate ; and though they want the wit But fair Geneura rose in his defence,
To find close faults, yet open blots will hit: And pray'd so hard for mercy from the prince, Though better for their ease to hold their tongue, That to his queen the king th' offender gave, For woman-kind was never in the wrong. And left it in her power to kill or save :
So noise ensues, and quarrels last for life; This gracious act the ladies all approve,
The wife abhors the fool, the fool the wife. Who thought it much a man should die for love ; And some men say that great delight have we, And with their mistress join'd in close debate To be for truth extoll’d, and secrecy : (Covering their kindness with dissembled hate) And constant in one purpose still to dwell; If not to free bim, to prolong his fate.
And not our husbands' counsels to reveal. At last agreed they call’d him by consent
But that's a fable: for our sex is frail, Before the queen and female parliament.
Inventing rather than not tell a tale. And the fair speaker rising from the chair,
Like leaky sieves no secrets we can hold : Did thus the judgment of the house declare. Witness the famous tale that Cvid told.
“ Sir knight, though I have ask'd thy life, yet still Midas the king, as in his book appears, 'Thy destiny depends upon my will:
By Phoebus was endow'd with ass's ears, Nor hast thou other surety than the grace
Which under his long locks he well conceal'd, Not due to thee from our offended race.
As monarchs' vices must not be reveal'd, But as our kind is of a softer mould,
For fear the people have them in the wind, And cannot blood without a sigh behold,
Who long ago were neither dumb nor blind : I grant thee life : reserving still the power
Nor apl to think from Heaven their title springs, To take the forfeit when I see my hour :
Since Jove and Mars left off begetting kings. Unless thy answer to my next demand
This Midas knew; and durst communicate Shall set thee free from our avenging hand. To none but to his wife his ears of state : The question, whose solution I require,
One must be trusted, and he thought her fit, Is, What the sex of women most desire ?
As passing prudent, and a parlous wit. In this dispute thy judges are at strife;
To this sagacious confessor he went, Beware ; for on thy wit depends thy life.
| And told her what a gift the gods had sent:
But told it under matrimonial seal,
Now could you help me at this hard essay, With strict injunction never to reveal.
Or for your inborn goodness, or for pay; The secret heard, she plighted him her troth, Yours is my life, redeemd by your advice, (And sacred sure is every woman's oath)
Ask what you please, and I will pay the price : The royal malady should rest unknown,
The proudest kerchief of the court shall rest Both for her husband's honor and her own; Well satisfied of what they love the best.” But ne'ertheless she pin'd with discontent;
“ Plight me thy faith,” quoth she, “that what I ask, The counsel rumbled till it found a vent.
Thy danger over, and perform'd thy task, The thing she knew she was oblig'd to hide ; That thou shalt give for hire of thy demand; By interest and by oath the wife was tied ; Here take thy oath, and seal it on my hand; But if she told it not, the woman died.
I warrant thee, on peril of my life, Loth to betray a husband and a prince,
Thy words shall please both widow, maid, and wise." But she must burst, or blab: and no pretence
More words there needed not to move the knight, Of honor tied her tongue from self-defence.
To take her offer, and his truth to plight. A marshy ground commodiously was near, With that she spread a mantle on the ground, Thither she ran, and held her breath for fear, And, first inquiring whither he was bound, Lest if a word she spoke of any thing,
Bade him not fear, though long and rough the way That word might be the secret of the king. At court he should arrive ere break of day; Thus full of counsel to the fen she went,
His horse should find the way without a guide,
He on the midst, the beldam at his side.
And all the way the crone inform'd the knight, * To thee alone, O Lake," she said, “I tell, How he should answer the demand arigh:. (And, as thy queen, command thee to conceal): To court they came : the news was quickly spread Beneath his locks the king my husband wears of his returning to redeem his head. A goodly royal pair of ass's ears.
The female senate was assembled soon, Now I have eas'd my bosom of the pain,
With all the mob of women of the town: Till the next longing-fit return again.”
The queen sate lord chief justice of the hall, Thus through a woman was the secret known; | And bade the crier cite the criminal. Tell us, and in effect you tell the town.
| The knight appear'd; and silence they proclaim : But to my tale: The knight with heavy cheer, Then first the culprit answer'd to his name: Wandering in vain, had now consum'd the year: And, after forins of law, was last requir'd One day was only left to solve the doubt,
To name the thing that women most desir'd. Yet knew no more than when he first set out. Th' offender, taught his lesson by the way, But home he must, and, as th' award had been, And by his counsel order'd what to say, Yield up his body captive to the queen.
Thus bold began : “My lady liege," said he, In this despairing state he hapt to ride,
“ What all your sex desire is sovereignty. As Fortune led him, by a forest side:
The wife affects her husband to command : Lonely the vale, and full of horror stood,
All must be hers, both money, house, and land. Brown with the shade of a religious wood;
The maids are mistresses ev'n in their name ; When full before him at the noon of night,
And of their servants full dominion claim. (The Moon was up, and shot a gleamy light)
This, at the peril of my head, I say, He saw a quire of ladies in a round,
A blunt plain truth, the sex aspires to sway, That feativ footing seem'd to skim the ground: You to rule all, while we, like slaves, obey.” Thus dancing hand in hand, so light they were, There was not one, or widow, maid, or wife, He knew not where they trod, on earth or air. But said the knight had well deserv'd his life. At speed he drove, and came a sudden guest, Er'n fair Geneura, with a blush, confess'd In hope where many women were, at least, The man had found what women love the best. Some one by chance might answer his request. Up starts the beldam, who was there unseen: But faster than his horse the ladies flew,
And, reverence made, accosted thus the queen. And in a trice were vanish'd out of view.
“ My liege,” said she, “ before the court arise, One only hag remain'd: but fouler far
May 1, poor wretch, find favor in your eyes, Than grandame apes in Indian forests are;
To grant my just request : 'twas I who taught Against a wither'd oak she lean'd her weight, The knight this answer, and inspir'd his thought. Propp'd on her trusty stafl, not half upright, None but a woman could a man direct And dropp'd an awkward court'sy to the knight. To tell us women, what we most affect. Then said, “ What makes you, sir, so late abroad But first I swore him on his knightly troth, Without a guide, and this no beaten road ?
|(And here demand performance of his oath) Or want you aught that here you hope to find, To grant the boon that next I should desire; Or travel for some trouble in your mind ?
He gave his faith, and I expect my hire : The last I guess; and if I read aright,
My promise is fulfill'd: I sav'd his life, Those of our sex are bound to serve a knight; And claim his debt, to take me for his wife." Perhaps good counsel may your grief assuage, The knight was ask'd, nor could his oath deny, Then tell your pain: for wisdom is in age."
But hoped they would not force him to comply To this the knight: "Good mother, would you know The women, who would rather wrest the laws, The secret cause and spring of all my woe? Than let a sister-plaintill lose the cause, My life must with tomorrow's light expire,
(As judges on the bench more gracious are, Unless I tell what women most desire
And more attent, to brothers of the bar,)