HIS words were always gilt; (impressive tongue!) To gilded words will sure success belong. In soft amours they're ev'ry thing 'tis plain The maxim 's certain, and our aim will gain; My meaning doubtless easily is seen; A hundred times repeated this has been Th' impression should be made so very deep, That I thereon can never silence keep; And this the constant burden of my song— To gilded words will sure success belong.
THEY easily persuade the beauteous dame; Her dog, her maid, duenna, all the same; The husband sometimes too, and him we've shown 'Twas necessary here to gain alone; By golden eloquence his soul was lulled; Although from ancient orators not culled: Their books retained have nothing of the kind; Our jealous spouse indulgent grew we find. He followed e'en, 'tis said, the other's plan— And, thence his dishes to exchange began.
THE master and his fav'rite's freaks around; Continually the table-talk were found; He always thought the newest face the best: Where'er he could, each beauty he caressed; The wife, the widow, daughter, servant-maid, The nymph of field or town:—with all he played; And, while he breathed, the same would always be; His motto ever was—VARIETY.
SOME wit, handsome form and gen'rous mind; A triple engine prove in love we find; By these the strongest fortresses are gained E'en rocks 'gainst such can never be sustained. If you've some talents, with a pleasing face, Your purse-strings open free, and you've the place. At times, no doubt, without these things, success Attends the gay gallant, we must confess; But then, good sense should o'er his actions rule; At all events, he must not be a fool. The stingy, women ever will detest; Words puppies want;—the lib'ral are the best.
A Florentine, MAGNIFICENT by name, Was what we've just described, in fact and fame; The title was bestowed upon the knight, For noble deeds performed by him in fight. The honour ev'ry way he well deserved; His upright conduct (whence he never swerved,) Expensive equipage, and presents made, Proclaimed him all around what we've pourtrayed.
WITH handsome person and a pleasing mien, Gallant, a polished air, and soul serene; A certain fair of noble birth he sought, Whose conquest, doubtless, brilliant would be thought; Which in our lover doubly raised desire; Renown and pleasure lent his bosom fire.
THE jealous husband of the beauteous fair Was Aldobrandin, whose suspicious care Resembled more, what frequently is shown For fav'rites mistresses, than wives alone. He watched her every step with all his eyes; A hundred thousand scarcely would suffice; Indeed, quite useless Cupid these can make; And Argus oft is subject to mistake: Repeatedly they're duped, although our wight, (Who fancied he in ev'ry thing was right,) Himself so perfectly secure believed, By gay gallants he ne'er could be deceived.
TO suitors, howsoe'er, he was not blind; To covet presents, greatly he inclined. The lover yet had no occasion found, To drop a word to charms so much renowned; He thought his passion was not even seen; And if it had, would things have better been? What would have followed? what had been the end? The reader needs no hint to comprehend.
BUT to return to our forlorn gallant, Whose bosom for the lady's 'gan to pant; He, to his doctor, not a word had said; Now here, now there, he tried to pop his head. But neither door nor window could he find, Where he might glimpse the object of his mind, Or even hear her voice, or sound her name; No fortress had he ever found the same; Yet still to conquer he was quite resolved, And oft the manner in his mind revolved. This plan at length he thought would best succeed, To execute it doubtless he had need Of ev'ry wily art he could devise, Surrounded as he was by eagle-eyes.
I THINK the reader I've already told, Our husband loved rich presents to behold; Though none he made, yet all he would receive; Whate'er was offered he would never leave.
MAGNIFICENT a handsome horse had got, It ambled well, or cantered, or would trot; He greatly valued it, and for its pace, 'Twas called the Pad; it stept with wond'rous grace: By Aldobrandin it was highly praised; Enough was this: the knight's fond hopes were raised; Who offered to exchange, but t'other thought, He in a barter might perhaps be caught. 'Tis not, said he, that I the horse refuse; But I, in trucking, never fail to lose.
ON this, Magnificent, who saw his aim; Replied, well, well, a better scheme we'll frame; No changing we'll allow, but you'll permit, That for the horse, I with your lady sit, You present all the while, 'tis what I want; I'm curious, I confess, and fort it pant. Besides, your friends assuredly should know What mind, what sentiments may from her flow. Just fifteen minutes, I no more desire: What! cried the other, you my wife require? No, no, pray keep your horse, that won't be right. But you'll be present, said the courteous knight. And what of that? rejoined the wily spouse. Why, cried Magnificent, then naught should rouse Your fears or cares, for how can ill arise, While watched by you, possessed of eagle-eyes?
THE husband 'gan to turn it in his mind; Thought he, if present, what can be designed? The plan is such as dissipates my fears; The offer advantageous too appears; He's surely mad; I can't conceive his aim; But, to secure myself and wife from shame; Without his knowledge, I'll forbid the fair Her lips to open, and for this prepare.
COME, cried old Aldobrandin, I'll consent: But, said the other, recollect 'tis meant, So distant from us, all the while you stay, That not a word you hear of what I say. Agreed, rejoined the husband:—let's begin; Away he flew, and brought the lady in.
WHEN our gallant the charming belle perceived; Elysium seemed around, he half believed. The salutations o'er, they went and sat Together in a corner, where their chat Could not be heard, if they to talk inclined; Our brisk gallant no long harangues designed, But to the point advanced without delay; Cried he, I've neither time nor place to say What I could wish, and useless 'twere to seek Expressions that but indirectly speak The sentiments which animate the soul; In terms direct, 'tis better state the whole.
THUS circumstanced, fair lady, let me, pray; To you at once, my adoration pay; No words my admiration can express; Your charms enslave my senses, I confess; Can you suppose to answer would be wrong? Too much good sense to you should now belong; Had I the leisure, I'd in form disclose The tender flame with which my bosom glows; Each horrid torment; but by Fate denied Blessed opportunities, let me not hide, While moments offer, what pervades my heart, And openly avow the burning smart Few minutes I have got to travel o'er What gen'rally requires six months or more. Cold is that lover who will not pursue, With ev'ry ardour, beauty, when in view. But why this silence?—not a word you say! You surely will not send me thus away! That heav'n, an angel made you, none deny; But still, to what is asked you should reply. Your husband this contrived I plainly see, Who fancies that replies were not to be, Since in our bargain they were never named; For shuffling conduct he was ever famed; But I'll come round him, spite of all his art; I can reply for you, and from the heart, Since I can read your wishes in your eyes; 'Tis thus to say—Good, sir, I would advise That you regard me, not as marble cold; Your various tournaments and actions bold, Your serenades, and gen'ral conduct prove, What tender sentiments your bosom move.
YOUR fond affection constantly I praised, And quickly felt a flame within me raised; Yet what avails?—Oh, that I'll soon disclose; Since we agree, allow me to propose, Our mutual wishes we enjoy to-night; And turn to ridicule that jealous Wight; In short, reward him for his wily fear, In watching us so very closely here. Your garden will be quite the thing, I guess; Go thither, pray, and never fear success; Depend upon it, soon his country seat Your spouse will visit:—then the hunks we'll cheat. When plunged in sleep the grave duennas lie, Arise, furred gown put on, and quickly fly; With careful steps you'll to the garden haste; I've got a ladder ready to be placed Against the wall which joins your neighbour's square: I've his permission thither to repair; 'Tis better than the street:—fear naught my dove.— Ah! dear Magnificent, my fondest love; As you desire, I'll readily proceed; My heart is your's: we fully are agreed. 'T's you who speaks, and, would that in my arms Permission I had got to clasp your charms!
MAGNIFICENT (for her he now replied,) This flame you'll soon no reason have to hide Through dread or fear of my old jealous fool, Who wisely fancies he can woman rule.
THE lover, feigning rare, the lady left, And grumbling much, as if of hope bereft, Addressed the husband thus: you're vastly kind; As well with no-one converse I might find; If horses you so easily procure, You Fortune's frowns may very well endure. Mine neighs, at least, but this fair image seems, Mere pretty fish; I've satisfied my schemes; What now of precious minutes may remain, If any one desire my chance to gain, A bargain he shall have:—most cheap the prize; The husband laughed till tears bedewed his eyes. Said he, these youths have always in their head Some wond'rous fancies; follies round them spread. Friend, from pursuit you much too soon retire: With time we oft obtain our fond desire. But I shall always keep a watchful eye; Some knowing tricks methinks I yet can spy; Howe'er, the horse must now be clearly mine, And you'll the pad of course to me resign; To you no more expense; and from to-day, Be not displeased to see me on it, pray; At ease I'll ride my country house to view;— That very night he to the mansion flew, And our good folks immediately repaired, Where gay Magnificent no pains had spared To get access; what passed we won't detail; Soft scenes, you'll doubtless guess, should there prevail.
THE dame was lively, beautiful, and young; The lover handsome, finely formed, and strong; Alike enchanted with each other's charms, Three meetings were contrived without alarms; A fair so captivating to possess, What mortal could be satisfied with less? In golden dreams the sage duennas slept; A female sentinel to watch was kept.
A SUMMER-HOUSE was at the garden end, Which to the pair much ease was found to lend; Old Aldobrandin, when he built the same, Ne'er fancied LOVE, would in it freak and game. In cuckoldom he took his full degrees; The horse he daily mounted at his ease, And so delighted with his bargain seemed, Three days, to prove it, requisite he deemed. The country house received him ev'ry night; At home he never dreamed but all was right.
WHAT numbers round, whom Fortune favours less; Have got a wife, but not a horse possess; And, what yet still more wond'rous may appear, Know ey'ry thing that passes with their dear.
THE EPHESIAN MATRON
[NOTE: See Chapters 111 & 112 from The Satyricon by Petronius Arbiter. DW]
IF there's a tale more common than the rest, The one I mean to give is such confessed. Why choose it then? you ask; at whose desire? Hast not enough already tuned thy lyre? What favour can thy MATRON now expect, Since novelty thou clearly dost neglect? Besides, thou'lt doubtless raise the critick's rage. See if it looks more modern in my page.
AT Ephesus, in former times, once shone, A fair, whose charms would dignify a throne; And, if to publick rumour credit 's due, Celestial bliss her husband with her knew. Naught else was talked of but her beauteous face, And chastity that adds the highest grace; From ev'ry quarter numbers flocked to see This belle, regarded as from errors free. The honour of her sex, and country too; As such, old mothers held her up to view, And wished their offspring's wives like her to act: The sons desired the very same in fact; From her, beyond a doubt, our PRUDES descend, An ancient, celebrated house, depend.
THE spouse adored his beauteous charming wife: But soon, alas! he lost his precious life; 'Twere useless on particulars to dwell: His testament, indeed, provided well For her he loved on earth to fond excess, Which, 'yond a doubt, would have relieved distress; Could gold a cherished husband's loss repair, That filled her soul with black corroding care.
A WIDOW, howsoever, oft appears Distracted 'mid incessant floods of tears, Who thoroughly her int'rest recollects, And, spite of sobs, her property inspects.
OUR Matron's cries were loudly heard around, And feeling bosoms shuddered at the sound; Though, we, on these occasions, truly know, The plaint is always greater than the woe. Some ostentation ever is with grief Those who weep most the soonest gain relief.
EACH friend endeavoured to console the fair; Of sorrow, she'd already had her share: 'Twas wrong herself so fully to resign;— Such pious preachings only more incline The soul to anguish 'mid distractions dire: Extremes in ev'ry thing will soonest tire.
AT length, resolved to shun the glorious light, Since her dear spouse no longer had the sight, O'erwhelmed with grief she sought Death's dreary cell, Her love to follow, and with him to dwell.
A SLAVE, through pity, with the widow went; To live or die with her she was content; To die, howe'er, she never could intend: No doubt she only thought about her friend, The mistress whom she never wished to quit, Since from her birth with her she used to sit. They loved each other with a friendship true: From early years it daily stronger grew; Look through the universe you'll scarcely find, So great a likeness, both in heart and mind. The slave, more clever than the lady fair, At first her mistress left to wild despair; She then essayed to soothe each torment dire; But reason 's fruitless, with a soul on fire. No consolation would the belle receive, For one no more, she constantly would grieve, And sought to follow him to regions blessed:— The sword had shortest proved, if not the best.
BUT still the lady anxious was to view, Again those precious relicks, and pursue, E'en in the tomb what yet her soul held dear No aliment she took her mind to cheer; The gate of famine was the one she chose, By which to leave this nether world of woes.
A DAY she passed; another day the same; Her only sustenance, sobs, sighs, and flame Still unappeased; she murmur'd 'gainst her fate; But nothing could her direful woes abate.
ANOTHER corpse a residence had got, A trifling distance from the gloomy spot; But very diff'rent, since, by way of tomb, Enchained on gibbet was the latter's doom; To frighten robbers was the form designed, And show the punishment that rogues should find.
A SOLDIER, as a sentinel was set, To guard the gallows, who good payment met; 'Twas ruled, howe'er, if robbers, parents, friends, The body carried off, to make amends, The sentinel at once should take its place Severity too great for such a case; But publick safety fully to maintain, 'Twas right the sentry pardon should not gain.
WHILE moving round his post, he saw at night Shine, cross the tomb, a strange, unusual light, Which thither drew him, curious to unfold What, through the chinks, his eyesight could behold.
OUR wight soon heard the lady's cries distressed, On which he entered, and with ardour pressed, The cause of such excessive grief to know, And if 'twas in his pow'r to ease her woe.
DISSOLVED in tears, and quite o'ercome with care; She scarcely noticed that a man was there. The corpse, howe'er, too plainly told her pain, And fully seemed the myst'ry to explain. We've sworn, exclaimed the slave, what's 'yond belief, That here we'll die of famine and of grief.
THOUGH eloquence was not the soldier's art, He both convinced 'twas wrong with life to part: The dame was great attention led to pay, To what the son of Mars inclined to say, Which seemed to soften her severe distress: With time each poignant smart is rendered less.
IF, said the soldier, you have made a vow, That you, some food to take will not allow; Yet, looking on while I my supper eat, Will not prolong your lives, nor oaths defeat.
HIS open manner much was formed to please; The lady and her maid grew more at ease, Which made the gen'rous sentinel conclude, To bring his meat they would not fancy rude.
THIS done, the slave no longer was inclined To follow Death, as soon she changed her mind. Said she, good madam, pleasing thoughts I've got; Don't you believe that, if you live or not, 'Tis to your husband ev'ry whit the same? Had you gone first, would he have had the name Of following to the grave as you design? No, no, he'd to another course incline. Long years of comfort we may clearly crave; At twenty years it's surely wrong to brave Both death and famine in a gloomy tomb There's time enough to think of such a doom. At best, too soon we die; do let us wait; Here's nothing now at least to haste our fate. In truth, I wish to see a good old age: To bury charms like your's, would that be sage? Of what advantage, I should wish to know, To carry beauty to the shades below? Those heavenly features make my bosom sigh, To think from earthly praise they mean to fly.
THIS flatt'ry roused the beauteous widowed fair; The god of soft persuasion soon was there, And from his quiver in a moment drew Two arrows keen, which from his bow-string flew; With one he pierced the soldier to the heart, The lady slightly felt the other dart. Her youth and beauty, spite of tears, appeared, And men of taste such charms had long revered; A mind of tender feeling might, through life. Have loved her—even though she were a wife.
THE sentinel was smitten with her charms; Grief, pity, sighs, belong to Cupid's arms; When bosoms heave and eyes are drowned in tears, Then beauty oft with conq'ring grace appears.
BEHOLD our widow list'ning to his praise, Incipient fuel Cupid's flame to raise; Behold her, even glad to view the wight, Whose well tim'd flatt'ry filled her with delight
AT length, to eat he on the fair prevailed, And pleased her better than the dead bewailed. So well he managed, that she changed her plan, And, by degrees, to love him fondly 'gan. The son of Mars a darling husband grew, While yet her former dear was full in view.
MEANTIME the corpse, that long in chains had swung, By thieves was carried off from where it hung. The noise was heard, and thither ran our wight; But vain his efforts:—they were out of sight; Confused, distressed, he sought again the tomb, To tell his grief and settle, 'mid the gloom, How best to act, and where his head to hide, Since hang he must, the laws would now decide.
THE slave replied, your gibbet-thief, you say, Some lurking rogues this night have borne away: The law, it seems, will ne'er accord you grace The corpse that's here, let's set in t'other's place: The passers-by the change will never tell The lady gave consent, and all was well.
O FICKLE females, ever you're the same; A woman's a woman, both in mind and name Some fair we find, and some unlike the dove, But CONSTANCY'S the highest charm of love.
YE prudes, for ever doubt of full success; Don't boast at all: too much you may profess, How good soever your design may be, Not less is ours, you easily may see; The MATRON'S tale is not beyond belief: To entertain, our object is in chief.
THE widow's only errors were her cries; And mad design her life to sacrifice; For, merely setting husband-dead in place of one of this patibulary race, Was surely not a fault so very grave: Her lover's life was what she sought to save.
A LIVING drum-boy, truly be it said, Is better far, than any monarch dead.
BELPHEGOR ADDRESSED TO MISS DE CHAMMELAY
YOUR name with ev'ry pleasure here I place, The last effusions of my muse to grace. O charming Phillis! may the same extend Through time's dark night: our praise together blend; To this we surely may pretend to aim Your acting and my rhymes attention claim. Long, long in mem'ry's page your fame shall live; You, who such ecstacy so often give; O'er minds, o'er hearts triumphantly you reign: In Berenice, in Phaedra, and Chimene, Your tears and plaintive accents all engage: Beyond compare in proud Camilla's rage; Your voice and manner auditors delight; Who strong emotions can so well excite? No fine eulogium from my pen expect: With you each air and grace appear correct My first of Phillis's you ought to be; My sole affection had been placed on thee; Long since, had I presumed the truth to tell; But he who loves would fain be loved as well.
NO hope of gaining such a charming fair, Too soon, perhaps, I ceded to despair; Your friend, was all I ventured to be thought, Though in your net I more than half was caught. Most willingly your lover I'd have been; But time it is our story should be seen.
ONE, day, old Satan, sov'reign dread of hell; Reviewed his subjects, as our hist'ries tell; The diff'rent ranks, confounded as they stood, Kings, nobles, females, and plebeian blood, Such grief expressed, and made such horrid cries, As almost stunned, and filled him with surprise. The monarch, as he passed, desired to know The cause that sent each shade to realms below. Some said—my HUSBAND; others WIFE replied; The same was echoed loud from ev'ry side.
His majesty on this was heard to say: If truth these shadows to my ears convey, With ease our glory we may now augment: I'm fully bent to try th' experiment. With this design we must some demon send, Who wily art with prudence well can blend; And, not content with watching Hymen's flock, Must add his own experience to the stock.
THE sable senate instantly approved The proposition that the monarch moved; Belphegor was to execute the work; The proper talent in him seemed to lurk: All ears and eyes, a prying knave in grain In short, the very thing they wished to gain.
THAT he might all expense and cost defray, They gave him num'rous bills without delay, And credit too, in ev'ry place of note, With various things that might their plan promote. He was, besides, the human lot to fill, Of pleasure and of pain:—of good and ill; In fact, whate'er for mortals was designed, With his legation was to be combined. He might by industry and wily art, His own afflictions dissipate in part; But die he could not, nor his country see, Till he ten years complete on earth should be.
BEHOLD him trav'lling o'er th' extensive space; Between the realms of darkness and our race. To pass it, scarcely he a moment took; On Florence instantly he cast a look;— Delighted with the beauty of the spot, He there resolved to fix his earthly lot, Regarding it as proper for his wiles, A city famed for wanton freaks and guiles. Belphegor soon a noble mansion hired, And furnished it with ev'ry thing desired; As signor Roderick he designed to pass; His equipage was large of ev'ry class; Expense anticipating day by day, What, in ten years, he had to throw away.
HIS noble entertainments raised surprise; Magnificence alone would not suffice; Delightful pleasures he dispensed around, And flattery abundantly was found, An art in which a demon should excel: No devil surely e'er was liked so well. His heart was soon the object of the FAIR; To please Belphegor was their constant care.
WHO lib'rally with presents smoothes the road, Will meet no obstacles to LOVE'S abode. In ev'ry situation they are sweet, I've often said, and now the same repeat: The primum mobile of human kind, Are gold and silver, through the world we find.
OUR envoy kept two books, in which he wrote The names of all the married pairs of note; But that assigned to couples satisfied, He scarcely for it could a name provide, Which made the demon almost blush to see, How few, alas! in wedlock's chains agree; While presently the other, which contained Th' unhappy—not a leaf in blank remained.
No other choice Belphegor now had got, Than—try himself the hymeneal knot. In Florence he beheld a certain fair, With charming face and smart engaging air; Of noble birth, but puffed with empty pride; Some marks of virtue, though not much beside. For Roderick was asked this lofty dame; The father said Honesta* (such her name) Had many eligible offers found; But, 'mong the num'rous band that hovered round, Perhaps his daughter, Rod'rick's suit might take, Though he should wish for time the choice to make. This approbation met, and Rod'rick 'gan To use his arts and execute his plan.
THE entertainments, balls, and serenades, Plays, concerts, presents, feasts, and masquerades, Much lessened what the demon with him brought; He nothing grudged:—whate'er was wished he bought. The dame believed high honour she bestowed, When she attention to his offer showed; And, after prayers, entreaties, and the rest, To be his wife she full assent expressed.
BUT first a pettifogger to him came, Of whom (aside) Belphegor made a game; What! said the demon, is a lady gained just like a house?—these scoundrels have obtained Such pow'r and sway, without them nothing's done; But hell will get them when their course is run. He reasoned properly; when faith's no more, True honesty is forced to leave the door; When men with confidence no longer view Their fellow-mortals,—happiness adieu! The very means we use t' escape the snare, Oft deeper plunge us in the gulph of care; Avoid attorneys, if you comfort crave Who knows a PETTIFOGGER, knows a KNAVE; Their contracts, filled with IFS and FORS, appear The gate through which STRIFE found admittance here. In vain we hope again the earth 'twill leave Still STRIFE remains, and we ourselves deceive: In spite of solemn forms and laws we see, That LOVE and HYMEN often disagree. The heart alone can tranquilize the mind; In mutual passion ev'ry bliss we find.
HOW diff'rent things in other states appear! With friends—'tis who can be the most sincere; With lovers—all is sweetness, balm of life; While all is IRKSOMENESS with man and wife. We daily see from DUTY springs disgust, And PLEASURE likes true LIBERTY to trust.
ARE happy marriages for ever flown? On full consideration I will own, That when each other's follies couples bear; They then deserve the name of HAPPY PAIR.
ENOUGH of this:—no sooner had our wight The belle possessed, and passed the month's delight; But he perceived what marriage must be here, With such a demon in our nether sphere. For ever jars and discords rang around; Of follies, ev'ry class our couple found; Honesta often times such noise would make, Her screams and cries the neighbours kept awake, Who, running thither, by the wife were told:— Some paltry tradesman's daughter, coarse and bold, He should have had:—not one of rank like me; To treat me thus, what villain he must be! A wife so virtuous, could he e'er deserve! My scruples are too great, or I should swerve; Indeed, without dispute, 'twould serve him right:— We are not sure she nothing did in spite; These prudes can make us credit what they please: Few ponder long when they can dupe with ease.
THIS wife and husband, as our hist'ries say, Each moment squabbled through the passing day; Their disagreements often would arise About a petticoat, cards, tables, pies, Gowns, chairs, dice, summer-houses, in a word, Things most ridiculous and quite absurd.
WELL might this spouse regret his Hell profound, When he considered what he'd met on ground. To make our demon's wretchedness complete, Honesta's relatives, from ev'ry street, He seemed to marry, since he daily fed The father, mother, sister (fit to wed,) And little brother, whom he sent to school; While MISS he portioned to a wealthy fool.
His utter ruin, howsoe'er, arose From his attorney-steward that he chose. What's that? you ask—a wily sneaking knave, Who, while his master spends, contrives to save; Till, in the end, grown rich, the lands he buys, Which his good lord is forced to sacrifice.
IF, in the course of time, the master take The place of steward, and his fortune make, 'Twould only to their proper rank restore, Those who become just what they were before.
POOR Rod'rick now no other hope had got, Than what the chance of traffick might allot; Illusion vain, or doubtful at the best:— Though some grow rich, yet all are not so blessed. 'Twas said our husband never would succeed; And truly, such it seemed to be decreed. His agents (similar to those we see In modern days) were with his treasure free; His ships were wrecked; his commerce came to naught; Deceived by knaves, of whom he well had thought; Obliged to borrow money, which to pay, He was unable at th' appointed day, He fled, and with a farmer shelter took, Where he might hope the bailiffs would not look.
HE told to Matthew, (such the farmer's name,) His situation, character, and fame: By duns assailed, and harassed by a wife, Who proved the very torment of his life, He knew no place of safety to obtain, Like ent'ring other bodies, where 'twas plain, He might escape the catchpole's prowling eye, Honesta's wrath, and all her rage defy. From these he promised he would thrice retire; Whenever Matthew should the same desire: Thrice, but no more, t'oblige this worthy man, Who shelter gave when from the fiends he ran.
THE AMBASSADOR commenced his form to change:— From human frame to frame he 'gan to range; But what became his own fantastick state, Our books are silent, nor the facts relate.
AN only daughter was the first he seized, Whose charms corporeal much our demon pleased; But Matthew, for a handsome sum of gold, Obliged him, at a word, to quit his hold. This passed at Naples—next to Rome he came, Where, with another fair, he did the same; But still the farmer banished him again, So well he could the devil's will restrain; Another weighty purse to him was paid Thrice Matthew drove him out from belle and maid.
THE king of Naples had a daughter fair, Admired, adored:—her parents' darling care; In wedlock oft by many princes sought; Within her form, the wily demon thought He might be sheltered from Honesta's rage; And none to drive him thence would dare engage.
NAUGHT else was talked of, in or out of town, But devils driven by the cunning clown; Large sums were offered, if, by any art, He'd make the demon from the fair depart.
AFFLICTED much was Matthew, now to lose The gold thus tendered, but he could not choose, For since Belphegor had obliged him thrice, He durst not hope the demon to entice; Poor man was he, a sinner, who, by chance, (He knew not how, it surely was romance,) Had some few devils, truly, driven out: Most worthy of contempt without a doubt. But all in vain:—the man they took by force; Proceed he must, or hanged he'd be of course.
THE demon was before our farmer placed; The sight was by the prince in person graced; The wond'rous contest numbers ran to see, And all the world spectators fain would be.
IF vanquished by the devil:—he must swing; If vanquisher:—'twould thousands to him bring: The gallows was, no doubt, a horrid view; Yet, at the purse, his glances often flew; The evil spirit laughed within his sleeve, To see the farmer tremble, fret, and grieve. He pleaded that the wight he'd thrice obeyed; The demon was by Matthew often prayed; But all in vain,—the more he terror showed, The more Belphegor ridicule bestowed.
AT length the clown was driven to declare, The fiend he was unable to ensnare; Away they Matthew to the gallows led; But as he went, it entered in his head, And, in a sort of whisper he averred (As was in fact the case) a drum he heard.
THE demon, with surprise, to Matthew cried; What noise is that? Honesta, he replied, Who you demands, and every where pursues, The spouse who treats her with such vile abuse.
THESE words were thunder to Belphegor's ears, Who instantly took flight, so great his fears; To hell's abyss he fled without delay, To tell adventures through the realms of day. Sire, said the demon, it is clearly true, Damnation does the marriage knot pursue. Your highness often hither sees arrive, Not squads, but regiments, who, when alive, By Hymen were indissolubly tied:— In person I the fact have fully tried. Th' institution, perhaps, most just could be: Past ages far more happiness might see; But ev'ry thing, with time, corruption shows; No jewel in your crown more lustre throws.
BELPHEGOR'S tale by Satan was believed; Reward he got: the term, which-sorely grieved, Was now reduced; indeed, what had he done, That should prevent it?—If away he'd run, Who would not do the same who weds a shrew? Sure worse below the devil never knew! A brawling woman's tongue, what saint can bear? E'en Job, Honesta would have taught despair.
WHAT is the inference? you ask:—I'll tell;— Live single, if you know you are well; But if old Hymen o'er your senses reign, Beware Honestas, or you'll rue the chain.
* By this character La Fontaine is supposed to have meant his own wife.
THE LITTLE BELL
HOW weak is man! how changeable his mind! His promises are naught, too oft we find; I vowed (I hope in tolerable verse,) Again no idle story to rehearse. And whence this promise?—Not two days ago; I'm quite confounded; better I should know: A rhymer hear then, who himself can boast, Quite steady for—a minute at the most. The pow'rs above could PRUDENCE ne'er design; For those who fondly court the SISTERS NINE. Some means to please they've got, you will confess; But none with certainty the charm possess. If, howsoever, I were doomed to find Such lines as fully would content the mind: Though I should fail in matter, still in art; I might contrive some pleasure to impart.
LET'S see what we are able to obtain:— A bachelor resided in Touraine. A sprightly youth, who oft the maids beset, And liked to prattle to the girls he met, With sparkling eyes, white teeth, and easy air, Plain russet petticoat and flowing hair, Beside a rivulet, while Io round, With little bell that gave a tinkling sound, On herbs her palate gratified at will, And gazed and played, and fondly took her fill.
AMONG the rustic nymphs our spark perceived A charming girl, for whom his bosom heaved; Too young, however, to feel the poignant smart, By Cupid oft inflicted on the heart. I will not say thirteen's an age unfit The contrary most fully I admit; The LAW supposes (such its prudent fears) Maturity at still more early years; But this apparently refers to towns, While LOVE was born for groves, and lawns, and downs.
THE youth exerted ev'ry art to please; But all in vain: he only seemed to teaze: Whate'er he said, however nicely graced, Ill-humour, inexperience, or distaste, Induced the belle, unlearned in Cupid's book; To treat his passion with a froward look.
BELIEVING ev'ry artifice in love Was tolerated by the pow'rs above, One eve he turned a heifer from the rest; Conducted by the girl his thoughts possessed; The others left, not counted by the fair, (Youth seldom shows the necessary care,) With easy, loit'ring steps the cottage sought, Where ev'ry night they usually were brought.
HER mother, more experienced than the maid, Observed, that from the cattle one had strayed; The girl was scolded much, and sent to find The heifer indiscreetly left behind. Fair Isabella gave a vent to tears; Invoked sweet echo to disperse her fears: Solicited with fervent, piercing cry, To tell her where lorn Io she might spy, Whose little bell the spark deprived of sound; When he withdrew her from the herd around.
THE lover now the tinkling metal shook; The path that t'wards it led the charmer took. The well known note was pleasing to her ear; Without suspecting treachery was near, She followed to a wood, both deep and large, In hopes at least she might regain her charge.
GUESS her surprise, good reader, when she heard, A lover's voice, who would not be deterred. Said he, fair maid whene'er the heart's on fire, 'Tis all permitted that can quench desire. On this, with piercing cries she rent the air; But no one came:—she sunk to dire despair.
YE beauteous dames avoid the Sylvan shade; Dread dangers solitary woods pervade.
A STURGEON, once, a glutton famed was led To have for supper—all, except the head. With wond'rous glee he feasted on the fish; And quickly swallowed down the royal dish. O'ercharged, howe'er, his stomach soon gave way; And doctors were required without delay.
THE danger imminent, his friends desired He'd settle ev'ry thing affairs required. Said he, in that respect I'm quite prepared; And, since my time so little is declared, With diligence, I earnestly request, The sturgeon's head you'll get me nicely dressed.
THE TWO FRIENDS
AXIOCHUS, a handsome youth of old, And Alcibiades, (both gay and bold,) So well agreed, they kept a beauteous belle, With whom by turns they equally would dwell.
IT happened, one of them so nicely played, The fav'rite lass produced a little maid, Which both extolled, and each his own believed, Though doubtless one or t'other was deceived.
BUT when to riper years the bantling grew, And sought her mother's foot-steps to pursue, Each friend desired to be her chosen swain, And neither would a parent's name retain.
SAID one, why brother, she's your very shade; The features are the same-:-your looks pervade. Oh no, the other cried, it cannot be Her chin, mouth, nose, and eyes, with your's agree; But that as 'twill, let me her favours win, And for the pleasure I will risk the sin.
THE COUNTRY JUSTICE
TWO lawyers to their cause so well adhered, A country justice quite confused appeared, By them the facts were rendered so obscure With which the truth remained he was not sure. At length, completely tired, two straws he sought Of diff'rent lengths, and to the parties brought. These in his hand he held:—the plaintiff drew (So fate decreed) the shortest of the two. On this the other homeward took his way, To boast how nicely he had gained the day.
THE bench complained: the magistrate replied Don't blame I pray—'tis nothing new I've tried; Courts often judge at hazard in the law, Without deciding by the longest straw.
SICK, Alice grown, and fearing dire event, Some friend advised a servant should be sent Her confessor to bring and ease her mind;— Yes, she replied, to see him I'm inclined; Let father Andrew instantly be sought:— By him salvation usually I'm taught.
A MESSENGER was told, without delay, To take, with rapid steps, the convent way; He rang the bell—a monk enquired his name, And asked for what, or whom, the fellow came. I father Andrew want, the wight replied, Who's oft to Alice confessor and guide: With Andrew, cried the other, would you speak? If that's the case, he's far enough to seek; Poor man! he's left us for the regions blessed, And has in Paradise ten years confessed.
THE KISS RETURNED
AS WILLIAM walking with his wife was seen, A man of rank admired her lovely mien. Who gave you such a charming fair? he cried, May I presume to kiss your beauteous bride? With all my heart, replied the humble swain, You're welcome, sir:—I beg you'll not refrain; She's at your service: take the boon, I pray; You'll not such offers meet with ev'ry day.
THE gentleman proceeded as desired; To get a kiss, alone he had aspired; So fervently howe'er he pressed her lip, That Petronella blushed at ev'ry sip.
SEVEN days had scarcely run, when to his arms, The other took a wife with seraph charms; And William was allowed to have a kiss, That filled his soul with soft ecstatick bliss. Cried he, I wish, (and truly I am grieved) That when the gentleman a kiss received, From her I love, he'd gone to greater height, And with my Petronella passed the night.
WHEN Sister Jane, who had produced a child, In prayer and penance all her hours beguiled Her sister-nuns around the lattice pressed; On which the abbess thus her flock addressed: Live like our sister Jane, and bid adieu To worldly cares:—have better things in view.
YES, they replied, we sage like her shall be, When we with love have equally been free.
AN IMITATION OF ANACREON
PAINTER in Paphos and Cythera famed Depict, I pray, the absent Iris' face. Thou hast not seen the lovely nymph I've named; The better for thy peace.—Then will I trace For thy instruction her transcendent grace. Begin with lily white and blushing rose, Take then the Loves and Graces... But what good Words, idle words? for Beauty's Goddess could By Iris be replaced, nor one suppose The secret fraud—their grace so equal shows. Thou at Cythera couldst, at Paphos too, Of the same Iris Venus form anew.
ANOTHER IMITATION OF ANACREON
PRONE, on my couch I calmly slept Against my wont. A little child Awoke me as he gently crept And beat my door. A tempest wild Was raging-dark and cold the night. "Have pity on my naked plight," He begged, "and ope thy door."—"Thy name?" I asked admitting him.—"The same "Anon I'll tell, but first must dry "My weary limbs, then let me try "My mois'ened bow."—Despite my fear The hearth I lit, then drew me near My guest, and chafed his fingers cold. "Why fear?" I thought. "Let me be bold "No Polyphemus he; what harm "In such a child?—Then I'll be calm!" The playful boy drew out a dart, Shook his fair locks, and to my heart His shaft he launch'd.—"Love is my name," He thankless cried, "I hither came "To tame thee. In thine ardent pain "Of Cupid think and young Climene."— "Ah! now I know thee, little scamp, "Ungrateful, cruel boy! Decamp!" Cupid a saucy caper cut, Skipped through the door, and as it shut, "My bow," he taunting cried, "is sound, "Thy heart, poor comrade, feels the wound."
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO HIS SECOND BOOK OF THESE TALES
These are the last works of this style that will come from the pen of the Author, and consequently this is the last opportunity he has of vindicating the boldness and privilege which he has assumed. We make no mention of villainous rhymes, of lines that run into the next, of two vowels without elision, nor, in general, of such kinds of carelessness as he would not allow himself in another style of poetry, but which are part and parcel, so to say, of this style. Too anxious a care in avoiding such would force a tale-writer into a labyrinth of shifts, into narratives as dull as they are grand, into straits that are utterly useless, and would make him disregard the pleasure of the heart in order to labour for the gratification of the ear. We must leave studied narrative for lofty subjects, and not compose an epic poem of the Adventures of Renaud d'Ast. Suppose the Author, who has put these tales into rhyme, had brought to bear on them all the care and preciseness required of him; not only would this care be observed, especially as it is unnecessary, but it would also transgress the precept lain down by Ouintilian, still the Author would not have attained the main object, which is to interest the reader, to charm him, to rivet his attention in spite of himself,—in a word, to please him. As everybody knows, the secret of pleasing the reader is not always based on regulation, nor even on symmetry; there is need of smartness and tastefulness, if we would strike home. How many of those perfect types of beauty do we see which never strike home, and of which nobody feels enamoured! We do not wish to rob Modern Authors of the praise that is due to them. Nicely turned lines, fine language, accuracy, elegance of rhyme are accomplishments in a poet. However that may be, let us consider of our own epigrams wherein all these qualities are combined, perhaps we shall find in them far less point, nay, I would venture to add, far less charm than in those of Marot or Saint-Gelais, although almost all the works of the latter poets are full of the same faults as are attributed to us. We will be told that these were not faults in their day, whereas they are very great faults in ours. To this we answer by a similar kind of argument, by saying, as we have already said, that these would undoubtedly be faults in another style of poetry, but not in this. The late M. de Voiture is a proof in point. We need only read the works in which he brings to life again the character of Marot. For our Author does not lay claim to praise for himself, nor to rounds of applause from the public for having put a few tales into rhyme. Without doubt he has entered on quite a new path, and has pursued it to the utmost of his power, choosing now one road, now another, and always treading with surer step when he has followed the manner of our old poets "quorum in hae re imitari negligentiam exoptat potius quam istorum diligentiam."
But while saying that we wished to waive this question, we have unconsciously involved ourselves in its discussion. Perhaps this has not been without advantage; for there is nothing that resembles faults more than these licenses. Let us now consider the liberty which the Author has assumed in cutting into the property of others as well as his own, without making exception even to the best known stories, none of which he scruples to tamper with. He curtails, enlarges, and alters incidents and details, at times the main issue and the sequel; in short, the story is no longer the same; it is, in point of fact, quite a new tale; its original author would find it no small difficulty to recognise in it his own work. "Non sic decet contaminari fabulas," Critics will say. Why should they not? They twitted Terence in just the same way; but Terence sneered at them, and claimed a right to treat the matter as he did. He has mingled his own ideas with the subjects he drew from Menander, just as Sophocles and Euripides mingled theirs with the subjects they drew from former writers, sparing neither history nor romance, where "decorum" and the rules of the Drama were at issue. Shall this privilege cease with respect to fictitious stories? Must we in future have more scrupulous or religious regard, if we may be allowed the expression, for falsehood than the Ancients had for truth? What people call a good tale never passes from hand to hand without receiving some fresh touch of embellishment. How comes it then, we may be asked, that in many passages the Author curtails instead of enlarging on the original? On that point we are agreed: the Author does so in order to avoid lengthiness and ambiguity,—two faults which are inadmissible in such matters, especially the latter. For if lucidity is to be commended in all literary works, we may say that it is especially necessary in narratives, where one thing is, as a rule, the sequel and the result of another; where the less important sometimes lays the basis of the more important; so that, once the thread becomes broken, the reader cannot gather it up again. Besides, as narratives in verse are very awkward, the author must clog himself with details as little as possible; by means of this you relieve not only yourself, but also the reader, for whom an author should not fail to prepare pleasure unalloyed. Whenever the Author has altered a few particulars and even a few catastrophes, he has been forced to do so by the cause of that catastrophe and the urgency of giving it a happy termination. He has fancied that in tales of this kind everyone ought to be satisfied with the end: it pleases the reader at any rate, if the author has not given the characters too distasteful a rendering. But he must not go so far as that, if possible, nor make the reader laugh and cry in the same tale. This medley shocks Horace above all things; his wish is not that our works should border on the grotesque, and that we should draw a picture half woman half fish. These are the general motives the Author has had in view. We might still quote special motives and vindicate each point; but we must needs leave something to the capacity and leniency of our readers. They will be satisfied, then, with the motives we have mentioned. We would have stated them more clearly and have set more by them, had the general compass of a Preface so allowed.
FRIAR PHILIP'S GEESE
IF these gay tales give pleasure to the FAIR, The honour's great conferred, I'm well aware; Yet, why suppose the sex my pages shun? Enough, if they condemn where follies run; Laugh in their sleeve at tricks they disapprove, And, false or true, a muscle never move. A playful jest can scarcely give offence: Who knows too much, oft shows a want of sense. From flatt'ry oft more dire effects arise, Enflame the heart and take it by surprise; Ye beauteous belles, beware each sighing swain, Discard his vows:—my book with care retain; Your safety then I'll guarantee at ease.— But why dismiss?—their wishes are to please: And, truly, no necessity appears For solitude:—consider well your years. I HAVE, and feel convinced they do you wrong, Who think no virtue can to such belong; White crows and phoenixes do not abound; But lucky lovers still are sometimes found; And though, as these famed birds, not quite so rare, The numbers are not great that favours share; I own my works a diff'rent sense express, But these are tales:—mere tales in easy dress.
To beauty's wiles, in ev'ry class, I've bowed; Fawned, flattered, sighed, e'en constancy have vowed What gained? you ask—but little I admit; Howe'er we aim, too oft we fail to hit. My latter days I'll now devote with care, To guard the sex from ev'ry latent snare. Tales I'll detail, and these relate at ease: Narrations clear and neat will always please; Like me, to this attention criticks pay; Then sleep, on either side, from night till day. If awkward, vulgar phrase intervene, Or rhymes imperfect o'er the page be seen, Condemn at will; but stratagems and art, Pass, shut your eyes, who'd heed the idle part? Some mothers, husbands, may perhaps be led, To pull my locks for stories white or red; So matters stand: a fine affair, no doubt, And what I've failed to do—my book makes out.
THE FAIR my pages safely may pursue, And this apology they'll not refuse. What recompense can I presume to make? A tale I'll give, where female charms partake, And prove resistless whatsoe'er assail: Blessed BEAUTY, NATURE ever should prevail.
HAD Fate decreed our YOUTH, at early morn, To view the angel features you adorn, The captivating pow'rs AURORA bless, Or airy SPRING bedecked in beauteous dress, And all the azure canopy on high Had vanished like a dream, once you were nigh. And when his eyes at length your charms beheld, His glowing breast with softest passion swelled; Superior lustre beamed at ev'ry view; No pleasures pleased: his soul was fixed on you. Crowns, jewels, palaces, appeared as naught. 'Twas solely beauteous woman now he sought.
A WOOD, from earliest years, his home had been, And birds the only company he'd seen, Whose notes harmonious often lulled his care, Beguiled his hours, and saved him from despair; Delightful sounds! from nightingale and dove Unknown their tongue, yet indicant of love.
THIS savage, solitary, rustick school, The father chose his infancy to rule. The mother's recent death induced the sire, To place the son where only beasts retire; And long the forest habitants alone Were all his youthful sight had ever known.
TWO reasons, good or bad, the father led To fly the world:—all intercourse to dread Since fate had torn his lovely spouse from hence; Misanthropy and fear o'ercame each sense; Of the world grown tired, he hated all around:— Too oft in solitude is sorrow found. His partner's death produced distaste of life, And made him fear to seek another wife. A hermit's gloomy, mossy cell he took, And wished his child might thither solely look.
AMONG the poor his little wealth he threw, And with his infant son alone withdrew; The forest's dreary wilds concealed his cell; There Philip (such his name) resolved to dwell.
BY holy motives led, and not chagrin, The hermit never spoke of what he'd seen; But, from the youth's discernment, strove to hide, Whate'er regarded love, and much beside, The softer sex, with all their magick charms, That fill the feeling bosom with alarms. As years advanced, the boy with care he taught; What suited best his age before him brought; At five he showed him animals and flow'rs, The birds of air, the beasts, their sev'ral pow'rs; And now and then of hell he gave a hint, Old Satan's wrath, and what might awe imprint, How formed, and doomed to infamy below; In childhood FEAR 's the lesson first we know!
THE years had passed away, when Philip tried, In matters more profound his son to guide; He spoke of Paradise and Heav'n above; But not a word of woman,—nor of LOVE. Fifteen arrived, the sire with anxious care, Of NATURE'S works declaimed,—but not the FAIR: An age, when those, for solitude designed, Should be to scenes of seriousness confined, Nor joys of youth, nor soft ideas praised The flame soon spreads when Cupid's torch is raised.
AT length, when twenty summers time had run, The father to the city brought his son; With years weighed down, the hermit scarcely knew His daily course of duty to pursue; And when Death's venomed shaft should on him fall; On whom could then his boy for succour call? How life support, unknowing and unknown? Wolves, foxes, bears, ne'er charity have shown; And all the sire could give his darling care, A staff and wallet, he was well aware Fine patrimony, truly, for a child! To which his mind was no way reconciled. Bread few, 'twas clear, the hermit would deny, And rich he might have been you may rely; When he drew near, the children quickly cried Here's father Philip—haste, the alms provide; And many pious men his friends were found, But not one female devotee around: None would he hear; the FAIR he always fled Their smiles and wiles the friar kept in dread.
OUR hermit, when he thought his darling youth; Well fixed in duty and religious truth, Conveyed him 'mong his pious friends, to learn How food to beg, and other ways discern. In tears he viewed his son the forest quit, And fain would have him for the world unfit.
THE city's palaces and lofty spires, Our rustick's bosom filled with new desires. The prince's residence great splendour showed, And lively pleasure on the youth bestowed. What's here? said he; The court, his friends replied:— What there?—The mansions where the great reside:— And these?—Fine statues, noble works of art: All gave delight and gratitude his heart. But when the beauteous FAIR first caught his view, To ev'ry other sight he bade adieu; The palace, court, or mansions he admired, No longer proved the objects he desired; Another cause of admiration rose, His breast pervaded, and disturbed repose. What's this, he cried, so elegantly neat? O tell me, father; make my joy complete!
WHAT gave the son such exquisite delight, The parent filled with agonizing fright. To answer, howsoe'er he'd no excuse, So told the youth—a bird they call a goose.
O BEAUTEOUS bird, exclaimed th' enraptured boy, Sing, sound thy voice, 'twill fill my soul with joy; To thee I'd anxiously be better known; O father, let me have one for my own! A thousand times I fondly ask the boon; Let's take it to the woods: 'tis not too soon; Young as it is, I'll feed it morn and night, And always make it my supreme delight.
IN ev'ry age, at Naples, we are told, Intrigue and gallantry reign uncontrolled; With beauteous objects in abundance blessed. No country round so many has possessed; Such fascinating charms the FAIR disclose, That irresistibly soft passion flows.
'MONG these a belle, enchanting to behold, Was loved by one, of birth and store of gold; Minutolo (and Richard) was his name, In Cupid's train a youth of brilliant fame: 'Tween Rome and Paris none was more gallant, And num'rous hearts were for him known to pant.
CATELLA (thus was called our lady fair,) So long, howe'er, resisted Richard's snare, That prayers, and vows, and promises were vain; A favour Minutolo could not gain. At length, our hero weary, coldness showed, And dropt attendance, since no kindness flowed; Pretended to be cured:—another sought, And feigned her charms his tender heart had caught: Catella laughed, but jealousy was nigh; 'Twas for her friend that now He heaved the sigh.
THESE dames together met, and Richard too, The gay gallant a glowing picture drew, Of certain husbands, lovers, prudes, and wives; Who led in secret most lascivious lives. Though none he named, Catella was amazed; His hints suspicions of her husband raised; And such her agitation and affright, That, anxious to procure more certain light, In haste she took Minutolo aside, And begged the names he would not from her hide, With all particulars, from first to last:— Her ardent wish to know whate'er had passed.
SO long your reign, said Richard, o'er my mind, Deny I could not, howsoe'er inclined; With Mrs. Simon often is your spouse; Her character no doubt your spleen will rouse; I've no design, observe to give offence, But, when I see your int'rest in suspense, I cannot silent keep; though, were I still A slave, devoted wholly to your will, As late I moved, I would not drop a word Mistrust of lovers may not be absurd; Besides, you'd fancy other motives led To tell you of your husband what was said; But heav'n be praised, of you I nothing want; My object's plain—no more the fond gallant.
I'VE lately certain information had, Your spouse (I scarcely thought the man so bad,) Has with the lady an appointment made; At Jack's nice bagnio he will meet the jade.
NOW clearly Jack's not rich, and there's no doubt; A hundred ducats give, and—ALL will out; Let him but have a handsome sum in view, And any thing you wish, be sure he'll do; You then can manage ev'ry way so well, That, at the place assigned to meet his belle, You'll take this truant husband by surprise;— Permit me in this nice affair to advise.
THE lady has agreed, you will remark, That in a room where ev'ry part is dark, (Perhaps to 'scape the keeper's prying sight, Or shame directs exclusion of the light,) She will receive your gay inconstant spouse; Now, take her place; the case deceit allows; Make Jack your friend; nor haggle at the price; A hundred ducats give, is my advice; He'll place you in the room where darkness reigns; Think not too fast, nor suffer heavy chains; Do what you wish, and utter not a word; To speak, assuredly would be absurd; 'Twould spoil the whole; destroy the project quite; Attend, and see if all things be not right.
THE project pleased Catella to the soul; Her wrath, no longer able to controul, She Richard stopt; enough, enough, she cried; I fully understand:—leave me to guide; I'll play the fellow and his wanton lass A pretty trick-shall all their art surpass, Unless the string gives way and spoils my scheme; What, take me for a nincompoop?—they dream.
THIS said, she sought excuse to get away, And went in quest of Jack without delay. The keeper, howsoe'er, a hint had got; Minutolo had schooled him for the plot; Oft cash does wonders, and, if such the case In France or Britain, when conferred a grace, The bribe is taken, and the truth abused, In Italy it will not be refused; There this sole quiver Cupid useful finds,—
A purse well stored—all binds, gunlocks, or blinds: Jack took the pelf from Richard and the dame; Had Satan offered—'twould have been the same. In short, Minutolo had full success, All came about, and marked the spark's address.
THE lady had at first some warm dispute To many questions Jack was even mute; But when he saw the golden charms unmasked, Far more he promised than Catella asked.
THE time of rendezvous arrived, our spark To Jack's repaired, and found the room quite dark; So well arranged, no crevice could he find, Through which the light might hurt what he designed.
NOT long he waited, ere our jealous dame, Who longed to find her faithless husband, came, Most thoroughly prepared his ears to greet. Jack brought the couple presently to meet. The lady found, howe'er, not what she sought: No guilty spouse, nor Mrs. Simon caught; But wily Richard, who, without alarms, In silence took Catella in his arms. What further passed between the easy pair, Think what you will, I mean not to declare; The lover certainly received delight The lady showed no terror nor affright; On neither side a syllable was dropt With care Minutolo his laughter stopt; Though difficult, our spark succeeded well; No words of mine can Richard's pleasure tell. His fav'rite beauteous belle he now possessed, And triumphed where so oft he'd been repressed, Yet fondly hoped her pardon he should get, Since they together had so gaily met.
AT length, the fair could no longer contain: Vile wretch, she cried, I've borne too much 'tis plain; I'm not the fav'rite whom thou had'st in view: To tear thy eyes out justly were thy due, 'Tis this, indeed, that makes thee silent keep, Each morn feign sickness, and pretend to sleep, Thyself reserving doubtless for amours:— Speak, villain! say, of charms have I less stores? Or what has Mrs. Simon more than I? A wanton wench, in tricks so wondrous sly! Where my love less? though truly now I hate; Would that I'd seen thee hung, thou wretch ingrate!
MINUTOLO, while thus Catella spoke, Caressed her much, but silence never broke; A kiss e'en tried to gain, without success; She struggled, and refused to acquiesce; Begone! said she, nor treat me like a child; Stand off!—away!—thy taction is defiled; My tears express an injured woman's grief; No more thy wife I'll be, but seek relief; Return my fortune—go:—thy mistress seek; To be so constant:—How was I so weak? It surely would be nothing more than right, Were Richard I to see this very night, Who adoration constantly has paid:— You much deserve to be a cuckold made; I'm half inclined, I vow, to do the worst. At this our arch gallant with laughter burst. What impudence!—You mock me too? she cried Let's see, with blushes if his face be dyed? When from his arms she sprang, a window sought; The shutters ope'd, and then a view she caught; Minutolo, her lover! * * * what surprise! Pale, faint, she instant grew, and closed her eyes: Who would have thought, said she, thou wert so base? I'm lost! * * * for ever sunk in dire disgrace!
WHO'LL, know it? Richard earnestly replied; In Jack's concealment we may both confide; Excuse the trick I've played and ne'er repine; Address, force, treachery, in love combine; All are permitted when intrigue 's the word; To hold the contrary were quite absurd. Till stratagem was used I naught could gain, But looks and darts from eyes, for all my pain. I've paid myself;—Would you have done it?—No; 'Tis all as might be wished;—come, smiles bestow; I'm satisfied, the fault was not with you. In this, to make you wretched, naught I view; Why sigh and groan?—What numbers could I name, Who would be happy to be served the same.
HIS reas'ning yet could not the belle appease; She wept, and sought by tears her mind to ease; Affliction highly added to her charms; Minutolo still gave her new alarms; He took her hand, which she at once withdrew: Away, she cried; no longer me pursue; Be satisfied; you surely don't desire That I assistance from the house require, Or rouse the neighbours with my plaintive cries I'll ev'ry thing declare without disguise.
SUCH folly don't commit, replied the spark; Your wisest plan is nothing to remark: The world at present is become so vile, If you the truth divulge, they'll only smile; Not one a word of treachery would believe, But think you came—and money to receive: Suppose, besides, it reached your husband's ears; Th' effect has reason to excite your fears; 'Twould give displeasure and occasion strife: Would you in duels wish to risk his life? Whatever makes you with him disagree, At all events, I'm full as bad as he.
THESE reasons with Catella greatly weighed Since things, continued he, are thus displayed; And cannot be repaired, console your mind; A perfect being never was designed. If, howsoe'er you will * * * but say no more; Such thoughts for ever banish, I implore. 'Mid all my perseverance, zeal, and art, I nothing got but frowns that pierced the heart: 'Twill now on you depend if pleasure prove This day imperfect, ere from hence we move. What more remains to do? the worst is past; 'Tis step the first that costs, however classed.
So well Minutolo preferred his suit, The lady with him more would not dispute, With downcast eyes she listened to his prayer, And looked disposed to tranquilize his care; From easy freedom soon he 'gan to soar; A smile received:—a kiss bestowed and more: At length, the lady passed resistance by, And all conceded, e'en without a sigh.
OUR hero felt a thousand times more blessed Than when he first the beauteous fair caressed; For when a flame reciprocal is raised, The bliss redoubles, and by all is praised.
THUS Richard pleasantly employed his time, Contented lived, concentring joys sublime. A sample, now, we have given of his pow'rs, And who would wish for more delightful hours? O grant, kind heav'n! that I the like may meet, And ever prove so wary and discreet.
THE MONKS OF CATALONIA
TO you, my friends, allow me to detail, The feats of monks in Catalonia's vale, Where oft the holy fathers pow'rs displayed, And showed such charity to wife and maid, That o'er their minds sweet fascination reigned, And made them think, they Paradise had gained.
SUCH characters oft preciously advise, And youthful easy female minds surprise, The beauteous FAIR encircle with their net, And, of the feeling heart, possession get: Work in the holy vineyard, you may guess, And, as our tale will show, with full success.
IN times of old, when learning 'mong the FAIR, Enough to read the testament, was rare, (Times howsoe'er thought difficult to quote,) A swarm of monks of gormandizing note, Arrived and fixed themselves within a town, For young and beauteous belles of great renown, While, of gallants, there seemed but very few, Though num'rous aged husbands you might view.
A NOBLE chapel soon the fathers raised, To which the females ran and highly praised, Surveyed it o'er and confidently thought, 'Twas there, of course, salvation should be sought. And when their faith had thoroughly been proved, To gain their point the monks the veil removed.— Good father Andrew scorned to use finesse, And in discourse the sex would thus address.
IF any thing prevent your sov'reign bliss, And Paradise incautiously you miss, Most certainly the evil will arise, From keeping for your husbands large supplies, Of what a surplus you have clearly got, And more than requisite to them allot, Without bestowing on your trusty friends, The saving that to no one blessings lends.
PERHAPS you'll tell me, marriage boons we shun; 'Tis true, and Heav'n be praised enough is done, Without those duties to require our share You know from direful sin we guard the FAIR. Ingratitude 's declared the height of crimes, And God pronounced it such in early times; For this eternally was Satan curst; Howe'er you err, be careful of the worst. Return to Heav'n your thanks for bounteous care, And then to us a tithe of surplus spare, Which costs you nothing worth a moment's thought; And marks the zeal with which our faith is taught, A claim legitimate our order opes, Bestowed, for holy offices, by popes, No charitable gift, but lawful right: Priests well supported are a glorious sight. Four times a year, exactly to a day, Each wife this tithe should personally pay Our holy saint requires that you submit: 'Tis founded on decrees of holy writ. All Nature carefully the law reveres, That gratitude and fealty endears.
NOW marriage works we rank as an estate, And tithe is due for that at any rate. We'll take it patiently, whate'er the toil: Nor be o'er nice about the justful spoil. Our order have not, you must surely know, By many comforts, what we wish below.
'TIS right, however, that I now suggest, Whatever passes must not be expressed; But naught to husbands, parents, friends, reveal; From ev'ry one the mysterious conceal. Three words th' apostle taught: be these your care; FAITH, CHARITY, and PRUDENCE learn to share.
THE holy father, by his fine discourse, Delivered with the most impressive force, Gave wonderous satisfaction and surprise, And passed with all for Solomon the wise; Few slept while Andrew preached, and ev'ry wife, His precepts guarded as she would her life; And these not solely treasured in the mind, But showed to practise them the heart inclined, Each hastened tithe to bring without delay, And quarrelled who should be the first to pay; Loud murmurs rang, and many city dames, Were forced to keep till morn the friar's claims, And HOLY CHURCH, not knowing what to do, Such numbers seemed to be in paying cue, At length was forced, without restraint, to say, The Lord commands that, till a future day, You give us time to breathe:—so large the lot, To serve for present we enough have got; Too much the whole at once, but by degrees, Your tithe we'll take and all contrive to please. With us arrange the hour you would be here, And some to-day:—to-morrow more we'll cheer; The whole in order, and you'll clearly see, That SOFTLY with FAIRLY best agree.
THE sex inclined to follow this advice; About receipts however they were not nice; The entertainment greatly was admired, And pure devotion all their bosoms fired, A glass of cordial some apart received; Good cheer was given, may be well believed; Ten youthful dames brisk friar Fripart took, Gay, airy, and engaging ev'ry look, Who paid with pleasure all the monk could wish; Some had fifteen:—some twelve to taste their dish; Good friar Rock had twenty for his share, And gave such satisfaction to the FAIR, That some, to show they never grudged the price, And proved their punctuality,—paid twice.
So much indeed, that satiated with ways, That six long months engaged their nights and days: They gladly credit would have given now, But found the ladies would not this allow, Believing it most positively wrong, To keep whate'er might to the church belong. No tithe arrears were any where around, So zealous were the dames in duty found, They often in advance paid holy dues, How pure the monks!—how just the ladies views! The friars used despatch alone with those, That for their fascinating charms they chose, And sent the sempiternals to bestow, The tribute they had brought on those below, For in the refuse tithes that were their lot, The laicks oft pleasant pickings got. In short 'twas difficult to say, What charity was shown from day to day.
IT happened that one night a married dame, Desirous to convey the monks their claim, And walking with her spouse just by the spot, Where dwelled the arch contrivers of the plot, Good Heavens! said she, I well remember now, I've business with a friar here, I vow; 'Twill presently be done if you'll but wait; Religious duties we must ne'er abate. What duties? cried the husband with surprise; You're surely mad:—'tis midnight I surmise; Confess yourself to-morrow if required; The holy fathers are to bed retired. That makes no difference, the lady cried.— I think it does, the husband straight replied, And thither I'll not let you go to-night:— What heinous sins so terribly affright, That in such haste the mind you wish to ease? To-morrow morn repair whene'er you please:
YOU do me wrong, rejoined the charming fair; I neither want confession nor a prayer, But anxiously desire what is due to pay; For if incautiously I should delay, Long time 'would be ere I the monk should see, With other matters he'll so busy be. But what can you the holy fathers owe? To which the lady said:—what don't you know? A tithe, my dear, the friars always claim.— What tithe? cried he; it surely has a name. Not know! astonishingly, replied the wife.— To which the husband answered:—On my life, That women friars pay is very strange; Will you particulars with me arrange? How cunningly, said she, you seem to act; Why clearly you're acquainted with the fact? 'Tis Hymeneal works:—What works? cried he— Lord! said the dame, assuredly you see, Why I had paid an hour ago or more And you've prevented me when at the door; I'm sure, of those who owe, I'm not the worst, For I, in paying, always was the first.
THE husband quite astonished now appeared; At once a hundred diff'rent ills he feared; But questioning his wife howe'er, he found, That many other dames who lived around, Like her; in paying tithes, the monks obeyed, Which consolation to his breast conveyed. Poor innocent! she nothing wished to hide; Said she, not one but tithe they make provide; Good friar Aubrey takes your sister's dues; To father Fabry Mrs. B's accrues; The mayoress friar William likes to greet, A monk more handsome scarcely you will meet; And I to friar Gerard always go; I wished this night to pay him all I owe.
ALAS! when tongues unbridled drop disguise, What direful ills, what discords oft arise! The cunning husband having thus obtained, Particulars of what the fathers gained, At first designed in secret to disclose, Those scenes of fraud and matrimonial woes: The mayor and citizens should know, he thought; What dues were paid: what tithes the friars sought; But since 'twas rather difficult to place, Full credence, at the first, in such a case, He judged it best to make the fellow speak, To whom his wife had shown herself so weak.
FOR father Gerard in the morn he sent, Who, unsuspecting, to the husband went, When, in the presence of the injured wife, He drew his sword and swore he'd take his life, Unless the mystery he would disclose, Which he reluctantly through terror chose. Then having bound the friar hand and foot, And in another room his lady put, He sallied forth his hapless lot to tell, And to the mayor exposed the wily spell; The corporation next; then up and down, The secret he divulged throughout the town.
A CRY for vengeance presently was heard; The whole at once to slaughter, some preferred While others would the place with fire surround, And burn the house with those within it found. Some wished to drown them, bound within their dress; With various other projects you may guess; But all agreed that death should be their lot, And those for burning had most voices got.
WITHOUT delay they to the convent flew; But when the holy mansion came in view, Respect, the place of execution changed; A citizen his barn for this arranged; The crafty crew together were confined, And in the blaze their wretched lives resigned, While round the husbands danced at sound of drum, And burnt whatever to their hands had come; Naught 'scaped their fury, monks of all degrees, Robes, mantles, capuchins, and mock decrees: All perished properly within the flames; But nothing more I find about the dames; And friar Gerard, in another place, Had met apart his merited disgrace.
NEAR Rome, of yore, close to the Florence road, Was seen a humble innkeeper's abode; Small sums were charged; few guests the night would stay; And these could seldom much afford to pay. A pleasing active partner had the host Her age not much 'bove thirty at the most; Two children she her loving husband bore; The boy was one year old: the daughter more; Just fifteen summers o'er her form had smiled; In person charming, and in temper mild.
IT happened that Pinucio, young and gay, A youth of family, oft passed the way, Admired the girl, and thought she might be gained, Attentions showed, and like return obtained; The mistress was not deaf, nor lover mute; Pinucio seemed the lady's taste to suit, Of pleasing person and engaging air; And 'mong the equals of our youthful fair, As yet, not one a pref'rence had received; Nor had she e'er in golden dreams believed; But, spite of tender years, her mind was high, And village lads she would not let come nigh.
COLUTTA, (such her name,) though much admired; And many in the place her hand desired, Rejected some, and others would not take, And this most clearly for Pinucio's sake. Long conversations she could rarely get, And various obstacles the lovers met; No interviews where they might be at ease, But ev'ry thing conspired to fret and teaze. O parents, husbands! be advised by me; Constraint with wives or children won't agree; 'Tis then the god of love exerts his art, To find admittance to the throbbing heart.
PINUCIO and a friend, one stormy night, The landlord's reached and would in haste alight; They asked for beds, but were too late they found: You know, sir, cried the host, we don't abound; And now the very garrets we have let: You'd better elsewhere try your wish to get, And spite of weather, further on pursue At best, our lodging is unfit for you.
HAVE you no truckle bed? the lover cried; No corner left?—we fain would here abide: Why, truly, said the host, we always keep Two beds within the chamber where we sleep; My wife and I, of course, take one of these; Together lie in t'other if you please. The spark replied, this we will gladly do; Come, supper get; that o'er, the friends withdrew: Pinucio, by Coletta's sage advice, In looking o'er the room was very nice; With eagle-eyes particulars he traced, Then 'tween the clothes himself and friend he placed. A camp-bed for the girl was on the floor; The landlord's, 'gainst the wall and next the door; Another opposite the last was set, And this, to guests, at certain times was let; And 'tween the two, but near the parents' best, A cradle for the child to rest its head, From which a pleasant accident arrived, That our gallant's young friend of rest deprived.
WHEN midnight came, and this gay spark supposed The host and hostess' eyes in sleep were closed, Convinced the time appointed was at hand, To put in execution what was planned, He to the camp-bed silently repaired, And found the belle by Morpheus not insnared; Coletta taught a play that mortals find Fatigues the body more than plagues the mind: A truce succeeded, but 'twas quickly o'er: Those rest not long who pilfer Cupid's store.
AGAIN, when to the room the hostess came, And found the cradle rested not the same, Good heav'ns! cried she, it joins my husband's head: And, but for that, I truly had been led To lay myself unthinkingly beside The strangers whom with lodging we provide; But, God be praised, this cradle shows the place Where my good husband's pillow I must trace. This said, she with the friend was quickly laid, Without suspecting what mistake she'd made.
BETWEEN the lovers all was blithe and gay, When suddenly the friend, though far from day, Was forced to rise ('twas plain a pressing case,) And move the infant's cradle from its place, To ope the door, and lest he noise might make, Or any way by chance the child should wake, He set it carefully beside his bed, And (softly treading) to the garden sped.
ON his return he passed the cradle by; To place it as before he would not try, But went to sleep; when presently a sound, From something that had tumbled, rang around, Awoke his wife, who ran below, That what had happened she might clearly know. No fool in such adventures was our Wight: The opportunity he would not slight, But played the husband well: no, no, I'm wrong; He played it ill:—too oft, too much, too long; For whosoe'er would wish to do it well, Should softly go:—the gentle most excel.
IN truth, the wife was quite surprised to find Her spouse so much to frolicking inclined; Said she, what ails the man, he's grown so gay? A lad of twenty's not more fond of play. Well! let's enjoy the moments while we can; God's will be done, since life is but a span!
THE words were scarcely said, when our gallant Renewed his fun, and nothing seemed to want; Indeed, the hostess still her charms possessed, And, on occasion, well might be caressed.
MEANWHILE Coletta, dreading a surprise, Prevailed upon her paramour to rise; 'Twas nearly break of day when he withdrew, But, groping to his place the way anew, Pinucio, by the cradle too, was led To miss his friend's and take the landlord's bed. No sooner in than with an under voice, (Intriguers oft too eagerly rejoice,) Said he, my friend, I wish I could relate The pleasure I've received; my bliss is great; To you, I'm sorry, Fortune proves so cold; Like happiness I'd fain in you behold; Coletta is a morsel for a king; Inestimable girl!—to me she'll cling. I've many seen, but such a charming fair, There's not another like her any where.
WITH softest skin, delightful form and mien; Her ev'ry act resembles BEAUTY's queen; In short, before we'd ended with our fun, Six posts (without a fiction) we had run. The host was struck with what the spark averred, And muttered something indistinctly heard.
THE hostess whispered HIM she thought her spouse:— Again, my dear, such sparks let's never house; Pray don't you hear how they together chat?— Just then the husband raised himself and sat; Is this your plan? said he with mighty rage; Was it for THIS you would my house engage? You understand me, but I'll seek redress; Think you so very cheap to have success? What, would you ruin families at will, And with our daughters take at ease your fill? Away, I say! my house this moment quit; And as for You, abominable chit, I'll have your life: this hour you breathe your last; Such creatures only can with beasts be classed.
PINUCIO heard the lecture with dismay, At once was mute, and grew as cold as clay; A moment's silence through the room prevailed; Coletta trembled, and her lot bewailed. The hostess now, on ev'ry side perceived Her peril great, and for the error grieved. The friend, howe'er, the cradle called to mind, Which caused the many ills we've seen combined, And instantly he cried:—Pinucio! strange You thus allow yourself about to range; Did I not tell you when the wine you took, 'Twould make many sad misfortunes hook? Whene'er you freely drink, 'tis known fall well, Your sleep's disturbed, you walk, and nonsense tell. Come, come to bed: the morning soon will peep; Pinucio took the hint, pretended sleep, And carried on so artfully the wile, The husband no suspicion had of guile. The stratagem our hostess likewise tried, And to her daughter's bed in silence hied, Where she conceived her fortress was so strong, She presently began to use her tongue, And cried aloud:—Impossible the fact; Such things he could not with Coletta act; I've with her been in bed throughout the night, And she, no more than I, has swerved from right; 'Twere mighty pretty, truly, here to come; At this the host a little while was dumb; But in a lower tone at length replied I nought with your account I'm satisfied.
THE party rose; the titter circled round; And each sufficient reason for it found; The whole was secret, and whoe'er had gained, With care upon the subject mute remained.
ST. JULIAN'S PRAYER
TO charms and philters, secret spells and prayers, How many round attribute all their cares! In these howe'er I never can believe, And laugh at follies that so much deceive. Yet with the beauteous FAIR, 'tis very true, These WORDS, as SACRED VIRTUES, oft they view; The spell and philter wonders work in love Hearts melt with charms supposed from pow'rs above!
MY aim is now to have recourse to these, And give a story that I trust will please, In which Saint Julian's prayer, to Reynold D'Ast, Produced a benefit, good fortune classed. Had he neglected to repeat the charm, Believed so thoroughly to guard from harm, He would have found his cash accounts not right, And passed assuredly a wretched night.
ONE day, to William's castle as he moved. Three men, whose looks he very much approved, And thought such honest fellows he had round, Their like could nowhere be discovered round; Without suspecting any thing was wrong, The three, with complaisance and fluent tongue, Saluted him in humble servile style, And asked, (the minutes better to beguile,) If they might bear him company the way; The honour would be great, and no delay; Besides, in travelling 'tis safer found, And far more pleasant, when the party's round; So many robbers through the province range, (Continued they) 'tis wonderfully strange, The prince should not these villains more restrain; But there:—bad MEN will somewhere still remain.
TO their proposal Reynold soon agreed, And they resolved together to proceed. When 'bout a league the travellers had moved, Discussing freely, as they all approved, The conversation turned on spells and prayer, Their pow'r o'er worms of earth, or birds of air; To charm the wolf, or guard from thunder's roar, And many wonderful achievements more; Besides the cures a prayer would oft produce; To man and beast it proves of sov'reign use, Far greater than from doctors e'er you'll view, Who, with their Latin, make so much ado.
IN turn, the three pretended knowledge great, And mystick facts affected to relate, While Reynold silently attention paid To all the words the honest fellows said:— Possess you not, said one, some secret prayer To bring you aid, when dangers round you stare? To this our Reynold seriously replied, Myself, on secret spells, I do not pride; But still some WORDS I have that I repeat, Each morn I travel, that I may not meet A horrid lodging where I stop at night; 'Tis called SAINT JULIAN'S PRAYER that I recite, And truly I have found, that when I fail To say this prayer, I've reason to bewail. But rarely I neglect so good a thing, That ills averts, and may such blessings bring. And have you clearly said it, sir, to day? Cried one of those he met upon his way. Yes, Reynold answered. Well, replied the Wight; I'll wage, I'm better lodged than you to-night.