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Of storms at sea, and travels on the shore,
Of prodigies, and portents seen in air,
Of fires and plagues, and stars with blazing hair,
Of turns of fortune, changes in the state,
The falls of favorites, the projects of the great,
Of old mismanagements, taxations new:
All neither wholly false, nor wholly true.

Above, below, without, within, around,
Confused, unnumbered multitudes are found,
Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away;
Hosts raised by fear and phantoms of a day:
Astrologers, that future fates foreshew,
Projectors, quacks, and lawyers not a few;
And priests, and party-zealots, num'rous bands
With home-born lies, or tales from foreign lands;
Each talked aloud, or in some secret place,
And wild impatience stared in ev'ry face.
The flying rumors gathered as they rolled,
Scarce any tale was sooner heard than told;
And all who told it added something new,
And all who heard it, made enlargements too,
In ev'ry ear it spread, on ev'ry tongue it grew.
Thus flying east and west, and north and south,
News travelled with increase from mouth to mouth.
So from a spark, that kindled first by chance,
With gath’ring force, the quick’ning dames advance;
Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire,
And tow’rs and temples sink in floods of fire.

When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung, Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue, Through thousand vents, impatient, forth they flow, And rush in millions on the world below. Fame sits aloft, and points them out their course, Their date determines, and prescribes their force: Some to remain, some to perish soon; Or wane and wax alternate like the moon. Around, a thousand winged wonders fly, [the sky. Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scattered through

There, at one passage, oft you might survey A lie and truth contending for the way; And long 'twas doubtful, both so closely pent Which first should issue through the narrow vent: At last agreed, together out they fly, Inseparable now, the truth and lie;

The strict companions are for ever joined,
And this or that unmixed, no mortal e'er shall find.

While thus I stood, intent to see and hear,"
One came, methought, and whispered in my ear:
“What could thus high thy rash ambition raise ?
Art thou, fond youth, a candidate for praise ?”

“ 'Tis true,” said I, “not void of hopes I came, For who so fond as youthful bards of fame? But few, alas, the casual blessing boast, So hard to gain, so easy to be lost. How vain that second life in other's breath, The estate which wits inherit after death! Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign, (Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine!) The gre .t man’s curse, without the gains, endure, Be e. vied, wretched, and bc flattered, poor; lll luckless wits their enemies profest, Ar 1 all successful, jealous friends at best. Nor fame I slight, nor for her favours call; She comes unlooked for, if she comes at all. But if t':e purchase costs so dear a price, As soothing folly, or exaiting vice: Oh! if the muse must watter lawless sway, And follow still where fortune leads the way; Or if no basis year my rising name, But the fall'n ruins of another's fame; Then teach me, heav'n! to scorn the guilty bays, Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise, Unblemished let me live, or die unknown; Oh grant an honest fame, or gr nt me none !

I The hint is taken from a passage in another part of the third book, but here more naturally made the conclusion, with the addi. tion of a moral to the whole. In Chaucer he only answers, “He ame to see the place;" and the book ends abruptly, with his being surprised at the sight of a man of great authority, and awaking in a tright.-Pope.

466

JANUARY AND MAY;

OR,

THE MERCHANT'S TALE.

FROM CHAUCER.

THERE lived in Lombardy, as authors write,
In days of old, a wise and worthy knight;
Of gentle manners, as of gen’rous race,
Blest with much sense, more riches, and some grace,
Yet led astray by Venus' soft delights,
He scarce could rule some idle appetites:
For long ago, let priests say what they could,
Weak sinful laymen were but flesh and blood.

But in due time, when sixty years were o’er,
He vowed to lead this vicious life no more;
Whether pure holiness inspired his mind,
Or dotage turned his brain. is hard to find:
But his high courage pricked him forth to wed,
And try the pleasures of a lawful bed. ·
This was his nightly dream, his daily care,
And to the heav'nly powers his constant prayer,
Once, ere he died, to taste the blissful life
Of a kind husband, and a loving wife.

These thoughts he fortified with reasons still,
(For none want reasons to confirm their will.)
Grave authors say, and witty poets sing,
That honest wedlock is a glorious thing:
But depth of judgment most in him appears,
Who wisely weds in his maturer years.
Then let him choose a damsel young and fair,
To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir;
To soothe his cares, and free from noise and strife,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life.
Let sinful bachelors their woes deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more:
Unawed by precepts, human or divine,

i This translation was done at sixteen or seventeen years of age, Pope,

Like birds and beasts, promiscuously they join:
Nor know to make the present blessing last,
To hope the future, or esteem the past:
But vainly boast the joys they never tried,
And find divulged the secrets they would hide.
The married man may bear his yoke with ease,
Secure at once himself and heav'n to please;
And pass his inoffensive hours away,
In bliss all night, and innocence all day:
Though fortune change, his constant spouse remains,
Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what so pure, which envious tongues will

spare?
Some wicked wits have libelled all the fair.
With matchless impudence they style a wife
The dear-bought curse, and lawful plague of life;
A bosom-serpent, a domestic evil,
A night-invasion, and a mid-day-devil.
Let not the wife these sland'rous words regard,
But curse the bones of ev'ry lying bard.
All other goods by fortune's hand are giv’n,
A wife is the peculiar gift of heav'n:
Vain fortune's favours, never at a stay,
Like empty shadows, pass and glide away;
One solid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly supplies us all our life:
This blessing lasts, (if those who try, say true)
As long as heart can wish—and longer too.

Our grandsire Adam, ere of Eve possessed,
Alone, and ev’n in Paradise unblessed,
With mournful looks the blissful scenes surveyed,
And wandered in the solitary shade:
The Maker saw, took pity and bestowed
Woman, the last, the best reserved of God.

A wife! ah, gentle deities, can he
That has a wife, e'er feel adversity ?
Would men but follow what the sex advise,
All things would prosper, all the world grow wise.
'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Jacob won
His father's blessing from an elder son:
Abusive Nabal owed his forfeit life
To the wise conduct of a prudent wife:
Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews show,
Preserved the Jews, and slew th’ Assyrian foe;

At Hester's suit, the persecuting sword
Was sheathed, and Israel lived to bless the Lord.

These weighty motives, January the sage
Maturely pondered in his riper age;
And charmed with virtuous joys, and sober life,
Would try that Christian comfort, called a wife.
His friends were summoned on a point so nice.
To pass their judgement, and to give advice,
But fixed before, and well resolved was he;
(As men that ask advice are wont to be.)

“My friends,” he cried (and cast a mournful look
Around the room, and sighed before he spoke:)
“ Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend,
And, worn with cares, am hast’ning to my end;
How I have lived, alas ! you know too well,
In worldly follies, which I blush to tell;
But gracious heav'n has oped my eyes at last,
With due regret I view my vices past,
And as the precept of the Church decrees,
Will take a wife, and live in holy ease.
But since by counsel all things should be done,
And many heads are wiser still than one;
Choose you for me, who best shall be content
When zy i ire's approved by your consent.

“One cautir - yet is needful to be told, To guide your choice; this wife must not be old: There goes a saying, and 'twas shrewdly said, Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed. My soul abhors the tasteless, dry embrace Of a stale virgin with a winter face: In that cold season love but treats his guest With bean-straw, and tough forage at the best. No crafty widows shall approach my bed; Those are too wise for bachelors to wed; As subtle clerks by many schools are made, Twice married dames are mistresses o' the trade: But young and tender virgins ruled with ease, We form like wax, and mould them as we please.

“Conceive me, sirs, nor take my sense amiss; 'Tis what concerns my soul's eternal bliss; Since if I found no pleasure in my spouse As flesh is frail, and who (God help me) knows? Then should I live in lewd adultry, And sink downright to Satan when I die.

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