網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Ah! gentle knight, what would thy eyes avail, Though they could see as far as ships can sail? 'Tis better, sure, when blind, deceived 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, Procured the key her knight was wont to bear; She took the wards in wax before the fire, And gave the 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 flight is that which love will not explore? 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 urged to amorous play: He raised 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 pass'd; the clouds and tempests fly; The sun adorns the fields, and brightens all the sky, Fair without spot, whose every charming part My bosom wounds, and captivates my heart;

[ocr errors]

Joy of

Come, and in mutual pleasures let's engage,

my

life, and comfort of my age.' This heard, to Damian straight a sign she made To haste before; the gentle squire obey'd : Secret and undescried 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.

· Here let us walk, (he said) observed by none,
Conscious of pleasures to the world unknown:
So may my soul have joy, as thou my wife
Art far the dearest solace of my life;
And rather would I choose, by Heaven above,
To die this instant, than to lose thy love.
Reflect what truth was in my passion shown,
When, unendow'd, I took thee for my own,
And sought no treasure but thy heart alone.
Old as I am, and now deprived of sight,
Whilst thou art faithful to thy own true knight,
Nor age, nor blindness, rob me of delight.
Each other loss with patience I can bear,
l'he loss of thee is what I only fear.

• Consider then, my lady and my wife, The solid comforts of a virtuous life. As first, the love of Christ himself you gain; Next, your own honour undefiled maintain ; And, lastly, that which sure your mind must move, My whole estate shall gratify your love: Made your own terms, and ere to-morrow's sun Displays his light, by Heaven it shall be done. I seal the contract with a holy kiss, And will perform, by this—my dear, and this

Have comfort, spouse, nor think thy lord unkind;
'Tis love, not jealousy, that fires my mind :
For when thy charms my sober thoughts engage
And join'd to them my own unequal age,
From thy dear side I have no power to part,
Such secret transports warm my melting heart.
For who that once possess'd those heavenly charms,
Could live one moment absent from thy arms ??

He ceased, and May with modest grace replied ;
(Weak was her voice, as while she spoke she cried)
Heaven knows (with that a tender sigh she drew)
I have a soul to save as well as you ;
And, what no less you to my charge commend,
My dearest honour, will to death defend.
To you in holy church I gave my hand,
And join'd my heart in wedlock's sacred band :
Yet after this, if you

distrust

my care, Then bear, my lord, and witness what I swear:

• First, may the yawning earth her bosom rend, And let me hence to Hell alive descend; Or die the death I dread no less than Hell, Sew'd in a sack, and plunged into a well, Ere I my fame by one lewd act disgrace, Or once renounce the honour of my race. For know, Sir Knight, of gentle blood I came; I loathe a whore, and startle at the name. But jealous men on their own crimes reflect, And learn from thence their ladies to suspect : Else why these needless cautions, sir, to me? These doubts and fears of female constancy? This chime still rings in every lady's ear, The only strain a wife must hope to hear.'

Thus while she spoke a sidelong glance she cast, Where Damian kneeling worship'd as she pass'd.

pursue.

She saw him watch the motions of her eye,
And singled out a pear-tree planted nigh:
'Twas charged with fruit that made a goodly show,
And hung with dangling pears was every bough.
Thither the obsequious squire address'd his pace,
And, climbing, in the summit took his place;
The knight and lady walk'd beneath in view,
Where let us leave them, and our tale

'Twas now the season when the glorious sun
His heavenly progress through the Twins had run;
And Jove, exalted, his mild influence yields,
To glad the glebe, and paint the flowery fields :
Clear was the day, and Phoebus, rising bright,
Had streak'd the azure firmament with light;
He pierced the glittering clouds with golden

streams, And warm'd the womb of earth with genial beams.

It so befel, in that fair morning-tide, The fairies sported on the garden side, And in the midst their monarch and his bride. So featly tripp'd the light-foot ladies round, The knights so nimbly o'er the greensward bound, That scarce they bent the flowers, or touch'd the

ground.
The dances ended, all the fairy train
For pinks and daisies search'd the flowery plain ;
While on a bank reclined of rising green,
Thus, with a frown, the king bespoke his queen.

• 'Tis too apparent, argue what you can,
The treachery you women use to man:
A thousand authors have this truth made out,
And sad experience leaves no room for doubt.

• Heaven rest thy spirit, noble Solomon, A wiser monarch never saw the sun:

All wealth, all honours, the supreme degree
Of earthly bliss, was well bestowed on thee!
For sagely hast thou said, of all mankind,
One only just and righteous hope to find :
But shouldst thou search the spacious world
Yet one good woman is not to be found. [around,

*Thus says the king, who knew your wickedness;
The son of Sirach testifies no less.
So may some wildfire on your bodies fall,
Or some devouring plague consume you all ;
As well you view the lecher in the tree,
And well this honourable knight you see:
But since he's blind and old (a helpless case)
His squire shall cuckold him before your face.

• Now by my own dread majesty I swear, And by this awful sceptre which I bear, No impious wretch shall scape unpunish'd long, That in my presence offers such a wrong. I will this instant undeceive the knight, And in the very act restore his sight: And set the strumpet here in open view, A warning to these ladies, and to you, And all the faithless sex, for ever to be true.'

"And will you so, (replied the queen) indeed? Now, by my mother's soul, it is decreed, She shall not want an answer at her need. For her and for her daughters, I'll engage, And all the sex in each succeeding age; Art shall be theirs to varnish an offence, And fortify their crimes with confidence. Nay, were they taken in a strict embrace, Seen with both eyes, and pinion'd on the place; All they shall need is to protest and swear, Breathe a soft sigh, and drop a tender tear;

« 上一頁繼續 »