Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

(Alexander Pope, geboren 1688, geftorben 1724, der fich unter den englischen Dichtern mehrern Gattungen eis nen so ausgezeichneten und gegründeten Ruhm erwarb, ver: fuchte die umarbeitung zweier Erzählungen von Chaucer, der hier abgedruckten, und der Wife of Bath. Wer sie mit ihren Originalen zusammenhält, wird freilich mehr Elegang und Ründung in Dope's Einkleidung dieser komischen Ers zählungen, aber immer noch mehr Naivetåt und Schicklich. keit des Tons zum Inhalt in Chaucer's Vortrage finden. Sehr richtig bemerkt Herr Joreph Warton, in seinem treffs lichen und ungemein lehrreichen Esay on the Genius and Writings of Pope, Vol. II. p. V. daß die Schuld davon vielleicht in der Wahl des in heroischen Gedichten der Engländer ges wdhnlichen, und an fich mehr feierlichen fünffüßigen jambis fchen Sylbenmaaßes, ftatt der von Chaucer oder la fontas ne gewählten Versart ihrer komischen Erzählungen liege. Ues brigens bleiben in pope's Arbeit noch Schånbeiten genug übrig, um, nach dem lorazischen: Vbi plura nitent etc. die hie und da vorkommenden fittlichen, oder vielmehr unfittli chen, Freiheiten minder anft:fig zu machen.)

JANUARY AND MAY:

OR,

THE MERCHANT'S TALE.

FROM CHAUCER.

Τ.

here liv'd in Lonbardy, as authors write,
In days of old, a wife and worthy Knight,
Of gentle manners, and of gen'rous race,
Bless'd with much fenfe, more riches, and some

grace;
Yet led astray by Venus' loft delights,
He scarce could rule some idle appetites,
For long ago, let priests say what they could,
Weak, finful laymen were but flesh and blood.

But

Pope.

[ocr errors][merged small]

But in due time, when fixty years were o'er,
He vow'd to lead this vicious life no more;
Whether pure holiness infpir'd his mind,
Or dotage turn'd his brain, is hard to find.
But his high courage prick'd 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 pow'rs his constant pray'r,
Once, ere he dy'd, to taste the blissful life,
Of a kind husband and a loving wife.

These thoughts he fortify'd with reasons still,
(For none want reasons to confirm their will.)
Grave authors say, and witty poets fing,
That honeft wedlock is a glorious thing;
But depth of judgment most in him appears,
Who wisely weds in his maturer years;
Then let him chufe a damsel young and fair,
To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir;
To footh his cares, and, free from noise and strife,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life.
Let sinful batchelors their woe deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more:
Unaw'd by precepts human or divine,
Like birds and beasts promiscously 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 try'd,
And find divulg'd the secrets they would hide.
The marry'd man may bear his yoke with ease,
Secure, at once himself and Heav'n to please,
And pass his unoffensive hours away
In bliss all night, and innocence all day;
Tho’ fortune change, his constant spouse remains,
Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what so pure, which envious tongues will

fpare?
Some wicked wits have libelled all the fair;
With matchlels impudence they file a wife

[blocks in formation]

pope.

1

The dear-bought curse and lawful plague of life;
A bosom serpent, a domestic evil,
A night-invafion, and a mid-day devil.
Let not the wise these fland'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 folid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly supplies to all our life:
This blessing lasts (if those who try say true)
As long as heart can wish - and longer too.

Our grandfire Adam, ere of Eve possessid,
Alone, and ev’n in Paradise unbless'd
With mournful looks the blissful scene furvey'd,
And wanderd in the solitary shade:
The Maker faw, took pity, and bestow'd
Woman, the last, the best, referv'd 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 wife.
'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Iacob won
His father's blessing from an elder son:
Abusive Nabal ow'd his forfeit lite
To the wife conduct of a prudent wife;
Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews show,
Preservd the Jews, and flew th’ Assyrian foe:
At Hefter's fuit the persecuting sword
Was sheath'd, and Ifrael liy'd to bless the Lord.

These weighty motives January the sage
Maturely ponder'd in his riper age;
And, charm'd with virtuous joys and sober life,
Would try that Christian comfort, called a Wife,
His friends were summond on a point so nice;
To pass their judgment, and to give advice;

But

But fix'd before, and well resolv'd was he,
As men that ask advice are wont to be.

Pope.

.

„My friends," he cry'd, and cast a mournful

look
Around the room, and sigh'd before he spoke;
„Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend,
And, worn with cares, am hast’ning to my end;
How I have livd, alas! you know too well,
In worldly follies, which I blush to tell;
But gracious Heav'n has ope'd my eyes at last,
With dụe 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, Chuse

you
for
me,

who best shall be content When my desire's approv'd by your consent.

One caution 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 batchelors to wed.
As subtle clerks by many shools are made,
Twice marry'd dames are mistreffes o’th trade;
But young and tender virgins, ruld with ease,
We form like wax, and mould them as we please.

Conceive me, Sirs, nor take my fense 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 adultery,
And link downright to Satan when I die;

[merged small][ocr errors]

Or were I curs:d with an unfruitful bed,
The righteous end were lost for which I wed;
To raise up seed to bless the Pow’rs above,
And not for pleasure only, or for love,
Think not I dote; 'tis time to take a wife,
When vig’rous blood forbids a chaster life:
Thofe that are bless'd with store of grace divine,
May live like saints by Heav'n's consent and mine.

And since I speak of wedlock, let me say,
(As, thanks my stars, in modeft truth I may,)
My limbs are active, still I'm found at heart,
And a new vigour spring's in ev'ry part.
Think not my virtue loft, tho. Time has shed
Thele rev'rend honours on my hoary head;
Thus trees are crown'd with blossoms white as

snow,
The vital sap then rising from below.
Old as I am, my lusty limbs appear
Like winter greens that flourish all the year.
Now, Sirs, you know to what I stand inclin'd,
Let ev'ry friend with freedom speak his mind.“

[ocr errors]

He said; the rest in diff'rent parts divide;
The knotty point was urg'd on either side:
Marriage, the theme on which they all declaim'd,
Some prais'd with wit, and some with reason

blam'd;
Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies,
Each wondrous ' positive and wondrous wise,
There fell between his brothers a debate,
Placebo this was callid, and Justin that.

First to the knight Placebo thus begun:
(Mild were his looks, and pleasing was his tone ;)
Such prudence, Sir, in all your words appears,
As plainly proves, experience dwells with years!
Yet you pursue sage Solomon's advice,
To work by counsel, when affairs are nice;

« AnteriorContinuar »