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And truft me, Sir, the chastest you can chuse
Will ask obfervance, and exact her dues.
If what I speak my noble Lord offend,

My tedious fermon here is at an end.


'Tis well, 'tis wondrous well, the Knight replies, Most worthy kinfman, faith you're mighty wise! We, Sirs, are fools; and must resign the cause To heath'nish authors, proverbs, and old faws. He spoke with scorn, and turn'd another way:What does my friend, my dear Placebo fay!

I fay, quoth he, by heav'n the man's to blame, To flander wives, and wedlock's holy name.

At this the council rofe, without delay; Each, in his own opinion, went his way; With full confent, that, all difputes appeas'd,



The Knight should marry, when and where he pleas'd.

Who now but January exults with joy?

The charms of Wedlock all his foul employ:

Each nymph by turns his wav'ring mind poffest, 230
And reign'd the short-liv'd tyrant of his breast;
Whilst fancy pictur'd every lively part,
And each bright image wander'd o'er his heart.
Thus, in fome public Forum fix'd on high,
A Mirrour fhows the figures moving by ;
Still one by one, in fwift fucceffion, pass
The gliding fhadows o'er the polish'd glass.
This Lady's charms the nicest could not blame,
But vile fufpicions had afpers'd her fame;



That was with fenfe, but not with virtue, bleft: 240
And one had grace, that wanted all the rest.
Thus doubting long what nymph he should obey,
He fix'd at last upon the youthful May.

Her faults he knew not, Love is always blind,
But ev'ry charm revolv'd within his mind:
Her tender age, her form divinely fair,
Her easy motion, her attractive air,
Her fweet behaviour, her enchanting face,
Her moving softness, and majestic grace.


Much in his prudence did our Knight rejoice, 250 And thought no mortal could dispute his choice: Once more in haste he summon'd ev'ry friend, And told them all, their pains were at an end. Heav'n, that (faid he) infpir'd me first to wed, Provides a confort worthy of my bed: Let none oppose th' election, fince on this Depends my quiet, and my future blifs.


A dame there is, the darling of my eyes, Young, beauteous, artless, innocent, and wife; Chafte, though not rich; and tho' not nobly born,

Of honeft

may parents, and ferve

my turn.

Her will I wed, if gracious heav'n fo please;
To pass my age in fanctity and ease;




VER. 261. May serve my turn.] One of Dryden's familiar, colloquial terms, happily used; as alfo verfe 286. Dryden, among other excellencies of a varied ftyle, was happy in the ufe of fuch terms.

And thank the pow'rs, I may poffefs alone

The lovely prize, and fhare my blifs with none! 265
If you, my friends, this virgin can procure,
My joys are full, my happiness is fure.


One only doubt remains: Full oft, I've heard, By cafuifts grave, and deep divines averr'd; That 'tis too much for human race to know The blifs of heav'n above, and earth below. Now fhould the nuptial pleasures prove fo great, To match the bleffings of the future state, Those endless joys were ill exchang'd for thefe; Then clear this doubt, and fet my mind at ease. 275 This Juftin heard, nor could his fpleen controul, Touch'd to the quick, and tickled at the foul. Sir Knight, he cry'd, if this be all you dread, Heav'n put it past your doubt, whene'er you And to my fervent pray'rs fo far confent, That ere the rites are o'er, you may repent!



Good heav'n, no doubt, the nuptial state approves, Since it chastises still what best it loves.

Then be not, Sir, abandon'd to despair;

Seek, and perhaps you'll find

the fair, 285

among the fair,

One, that may do your business to a hair;
Not ev'n in wish, your happiness delay,

But prove the scourge to lafh you on your way:
Then to the skies your mounting foul fhall go,
Swift as an arrow foaring from the bow!



Provided ftill, you moderate your joy,
Nor in your pleasures all your might employ,
Let reafon's rule your strong defires abate,
Nor please too lavishly your gentle mate.
Old wives there are, of judgment most acute,
Who folve these questions beyond all difpute;
Confult with thofe, and be of better cheer;
Marry, do penance, and dismiss your fear.


So faid, they rofe, nor more the work delay'd; The match was offer'd, the proposals made.


The parents, you may think, would foon comply;
The Old have int'reft ever in their eye.

Nor was it hard to move the Lady's mind ;
When fortune favours, ftill the Fair are kind.

I pass each previous fettlement and deed,
Too long for me to write, or you to read;
Nor will with quaint impertinence display


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 fure enough with holiness.

And now the palace-gates are open'd wide,


The guests appear in order, fide by fide,
And plac'd in state, the bridegroom and the bride,


The breathing flute's foft notes are heard around,
And the fhrill trumpets mix their filver found;
The vaulted roofs with echoing mufick ring,


These touch the vocal ftops, and those the trembling


Not thus Amphion tun'd the warbling lyre,

Nor Joab the founding clarion could infpire,
Nor fierce Theodomas, whose sprightly strain
Could fwell the foul to rage, and fire the martial train.
Bacchus himself, the nuptial feast to grace,
(So Poets fing) was present on the place:

And lovely Venus, Goddess of delight,


Shook high her flaming torch in open fight,
And danc'd around, and fmil'd on ev'ry knight:
Pleas'd her best fervant would his courage try, 331
No less in wedlock, than in liberty.

Full many an age old Hymen had not spy'd
So kind a bridegroom, or fo bright a bride.
Ye bards! renown'd among the tuneful throng 335
For gentle lays, and joyous nuptial fong;
Think not your foftest numbers can display
The matchlefs glories of this blissful day;
The joys are fuch, as far tranfcend your rage,
When tender youth has wedded stooping age.

The beauteous dame fate smiling at the board,

And darted am'rous glances at her Lord.
Not Hefter's felf, whofe charms the Hebrews fing,
E'er look'd fo lovely on her Perfian King:



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