« PreviousContinue »
Among the laws that pass’d, it was decreed,
That conquer'd Thebes from bondage should be freeds
Reserving homage to th’ Athenian throne,
To which the sovereign summond Palamon.
Unknowing of the cause, he took his way,
Mournful in mind, and still in black array.
The monarch mounts the throne, and, plac’d on highg.
Commands into the court the beauteous Emily,: ,
So callid, she came; the senate rose, and paid
Becoming reverence to the royal maid.
And first fuft whispers through th' assembly went :
With filent wonder then they watch'd th' event:
All hush'd, the king arose with awful grace,
Deep thought was in his breast, and counsel in his face.
At length he figh'd; and, having first prepar'd
Th’ attentive audience, thus his will declar'd.
The Cause and spring of motion, from above,
Hung down on earth the golden chain of love :
Great was th* effect, and high was his iutent,
When peace among the jarring seeds he fent.
Fire, flood, and earth, and air, by this were bound,
And Love, the common link, the new creation crown'do
The chain ftill holds ; for, though the forms decay,
Eternal matter never wears away :
The same first mover certain bounds has placid,
How long those perishable forms shall last :
Nor can they last beyond the time assign'd
By that all-seeing and all-making mind :
Shorten their hours they may; for will is free ;
But never pass th' appointed destiny.
So men oppress’d, when weary of their breath,
Throw off the burden, and suborn their death.
Then, fince those forms begin, and have their end,
On some unalter'd cause they sure depend:
Parts of the whole are we; but God the whole;
Who gives us life and animating foul :
For nature cannot from a part derive
That being, which the whole can only give :
He perfect, stable ; but imperfect we,
Subject to change, and different in degree ;
Plants, heasts, and man; and, as our organs are,
We more or less of his perfection share.
But by a long descent, th' etherial fire
Corrupts; and forms, the mortal part, expire:
As he withdraws his. virtue, fo they pass,
And the same matter makes another mass :
This law th' Omniscient Power was pleas' to give,
That every kind should by succession live :
That individuals die, his will ordains;
The propagated species ftill remains.
The murarch oak, the patriarch of the trees,
Shoots rising up, and spreads by slow degrees ;
Three centuries he grows, and three he stays,
Supreme in Itate, and in three more decays;
So wears the paving pebble in the street,
And towns and towers their fatal period's meet :
So rivers, rapid once, now naked lie,
Forsaken of their fprings ; and leave their channels dry.
So man, at first a drop, dilates with heat,
Then, forin'd, the little heart begins to beat;
Secret he feeds, unknowing in the cell;
At length, for hatching ripe, he breaks the shell,
And struggles into breath, and cries for aid ;
Then, helpless, in his mother's lap is laid.
He creeps, he walks, and, issuing into man,
Grudges their life, from whence his own began :
Reckless of laws, affects to rule alone,
Anxious to reign, and restless on the throne :
First vegetive, then feels, and reasons last;
Rich of three fouls, and lives all three to waste.
Some thus ; but thousands more in flower of age :
For few arrive to run the latter stage.
Sunk in the first, in battle fome are flain,
And others whelm'd beneath the stormy main.
What makes all this, but Jupiter the king,
At whose command we perish, and we spring ?
Then 'tis our best, since thus ordain'd to die,
To make a virtue of necessity.
Take what he gives, since to rebel is vain ;
The bad grows better, which we well sustain ;
And could we chuse the time, and chuse aright,
'Tis heft to die, our honour at the height.
When we have done our ancestors no shame,
But feru'd our friends, and well secur'd our fame;
Then should we with our happy life to close,
And leave no more for fortune to dispose :
So should we make our death a glad relief
From future fhi me, from fickness, and from grief :
Enjoying while we live the present hour,
And dying in our excellence and flower,
Then round our death-bed every friend should run,
And joyous of our conquest early won:
While the malicious world with envious tears
Should grudge our happy end, and wish it theirs.
Since then our Arcite is with honour dead,
Why should we mourn, that he fo foon is freed,
Or call untimely, what the Gods decreed ?
With grief as just, a friend may be deplor'd,
From a foul prison to free air restor'd.
Ought he to thank his kinsmen or his wife,
Could tears recal him into wretched life?
Their forrow hurts themselves; on him is lost;
And, worse than both, offends his happy ghost.
What then remains, but, after past annoy,
To take the good viciffitude of joy?
To thank the gracious Gods for what they gives
Possess our souls, and, while we live, to live?
Ordain we then two sorrows to combine,
And in one point th’ extremes of grief to join ;
That thence resulting joy may be renew'd,
As jarring notes in harmony conclude.
Then I propose that Palamon shall be
In marriage joir'd with beauteous Emily;
For which already I have gain'd th' ailent
Of my free people in full parliament.
Long love to her has borne the faithful knight,
And well deserv’d, had fortune done him right :
'Tis tiine to mend her fault; since Emily
By Arcite's death from former vows is free:
If you, fair filter, ratify th' accord,
And take him for
husband and your lord, 'Tis no difhonour to confer your grace On one descended from a royal race: And were he less, yet years of service past From grateful fouls exact reward at last : Pity is Heaven's and your's; nor can she find A throne so foft as in a woman's mind. He said ; the bluth'd; and, as o'eraw'd by might, Seem'd to give Theseus what she
Then turning to the Theban thus he faid ;
Small arguments are needful to persuade
Your temper to comply with my command ;
And speaking thus, he gave Emilia's hand.
Smild Venus, to behold her own true knight
Obtain the conquest, though he lost the fight ;
And bless’d with nuptial bliss the sweet laborious night.
Eros, and Anteros, on either side,
One fir'd the bridegroom, and one warm'd the bride
And long-attending Hymen from above,
Shower'd on the bed the whole Idalian grove.
All of a tenor was their after-life,
No day discolour'd with domestic ftrife
No jealousy, but mutual truth believ'd,
Secure repose, and kindness undeceiv'd.
Thus Heaven, beyond the compass of his thought,
Sent him the blessing he so dearly bought.
may the Queen of Love long duty bless, And all true lovers find the same success.