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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
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;
Come, and in mutual pleasures let's engage,
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,
· Here let us walk, (he said) observed by none,
• 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;
He ceased, and May with modest grace replied ;
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.
She saw him watch the motions of her eye,
'Twas now the season when the glorious sun
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
• 'Tis too apparent, argue what you can,
• Heaven rest thy spirit, noble Solomon, A wiser monarch never saw the sun:
All wealth, all honours, the supreme degree
*Thus says the king, who knew your wickedness;
• 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;