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Winning their hearts with all the means she might, That when her fault should chance t'abide the light, Their loves might cover or extenuate it,
And high in her worst fate make pity sit.
She married them, and in the banquet came
Borne by the virgins: Hero strove to frame
Her thoughts to mirth. Aye me! but hard it is
To imitate a false and forced bliss.
Ill may a sad mind forge a merry face,
Nor hath constrained laughter any grace.
Then laid she wine on cares to make them sink;
Who fears the threats of fortune let him drink.
To these quick nuptials enter'd suddenly
Admired Teras with the ebon thigh;
A nymph that haunted the green Sestian groves,
And would consort soft virgins in their loves,
At gaysome triumphs, and on solemn days.
Singing prophetic elegies and lays :
And fing'ring of a silver lute, she tied
With black and purple scarfs by her left side.
Apollo gave it, and her skill withal,
And she was term'd his dwarf, she was so small:
Yet great in virtue, for his beams inclos'd
His virtues in her: never was propos'd
Riddle to her, or augury, strange or new,
But she resolv'd it: never slight tale flew
From her charm'd lips, without important sense,
Shown in some grave succeeding consequence.
This little sylvan, with her songs and tales,
Gave such estate to feasts and nuptials,
That though ofttimes she forewent tragedies,
Yet for her strangeness still she pleas'd their eyes;
And for her smallness they admir'd her so,
They thought her perfect born, and could not grow.
All eyes were on her: Hero did command
An altar deck'd with sacred state should stand
At the feast's upper end, close by the bride,
On which the pretty nymph might sit espied.
Then all were silent; every one so hears,
As all their senses climb'd into their ears:
And first this amorous tale, that fitted well
Fair Hero and the nuptials, she did tell :
Hymen, that now is god of nuptial rites, And crowns with honour love and his delights, Of Athens was; a youth so sweet of face, That many thought him of the female race: Such quick'ning brightness did his clear eyes dart, Warm went their beams to his beholder's heart. In such pure leagues his beauties were combin'd, That there your nuptial contracts first were sign'd. For as proportion, white and crimson, meet In beauty's mixture, all right clear, and sweet, The eye responsible, the golden hair,
And none is held without the other, fair:
All spring together, all together fade;
Such intermix'd affection should invade
Two perfect lovers: which being yet unseen,
Their virtues and their comforts copied been
In beauty's concord, subject to the eye,
And that, in Hymen, pleas'd so matchlessly,
That lovers were esteem'd in their full grace,
Like form and colour mix'd in Hymen's face;
And such sweet concord was thought worthy then
Of torches, music, feasts, and greatest men:
So Hymen look'd, that e'en the chastest mind
He mov'd to join in joys of sacred kind:
For only now his chin's first down consorted
His head's rich fleece, in golden curls contorted;
And as he was so lov'd, he lov'd so too,
So should best beauties, bound by nuptials, do.
Bright Eucharis, who was by all men said
The noblest, fairest, and the richest maid
Of all th' Athenian damsels, Hymen lov'd
With such transmission, that his heart remov'd
From his white breast to hers; but her estate,
In passing his, was so interminate
For wealth and honour, that his love durst feed
On nought but sight and hearing, nor could breed
Hope of requital, the grand prize of love;
Nor could he hear or see, but he must prove
How his rare beauty's music would agree
With maids in consort: therefore robbed he
His chin of those some few first fruits it bore,
And clad in such attire as virgins wore,
He kept them company, and might right well,
For he did all but Eucharis excel
In all the fair of beauty: yet he wanted
Virtue to make his own desires implanted
In his dear Eucharis; for women never
Love beauty in their sex, but envy ever.
His judgment yet, that durst not suit address,
Nor past due means, presume of due success,
Reason gat fortune in the end to speed
To his best prayers: but strange it seem'd indeed,
That fortune should a chaste affection bless:
Preferment seldom graceth bashfulness.
Nor grac'd it Hymen yet; but many a dart,
And many an am'rous thought, enthrall'd his heart,
Ere he obtain'd her; and he sick became,
Forc'd to abstain her sight, and then the flame
Raged in his bosom. O what grief did fill him!
Sight made him sick, and want of sight did kill
The virgins wonder'd where Diætia stayed,
For so did Hymen term himself a maid:
At length with sickly looks he greeted them: 'Tis strange to see 'gainst what an extreme stream A lover strives; poor Hymen look'd so ill,
That as in merit he increased still,
By suffering much, so he in grace decreas'd.
Women are most won, when men merit least:
If Merit look not well, Love bids stand by;
Love's special lesson is to please the eye.
And Hymen soon recovering all he lost,
Deceiving still these maids, but himself most,
His love and he with many virgin dames,
Noble by birth, noble by beauty's flames,
Leaving the town with songs and hallow'd lights,
To do great Ceres Eleusina rites
Of zealous sacrifice, were made a prey
To barbarous rovers that in ambush lay,
And with rude hand enforc'd their shining spoil,
Far from the darken'd city, tir'd with toil.
And when the yellow issue of the sky
Came trooping forth, jealous of cruelty
To their bright fellows of this under heaven,
Into a double night they saw them driven;
A horrid cave, the thieves' black mansion,
Where, weary of the journey they had gone,
Their last night's watch, and drunk with their sweet
Dull Morpheus enter'd, laden with silken chains
Stronger than iron, and bound the swelling veins
And tired senses of these lawless swains.
But when the virgins' lights thus dimly burn'd,
O what a hell was heaven in! how they mourn'd
And wrung their hands, and wound their gentle
Into the shapes of sorrow! golden storms
Fell from their eyes: as when the sun appears,
And yet it rains, so show'd their eyes their tears.