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Who now but January exults with joy? The charms of wedlock all his soul employ: Each nymph by turns his wav'ring mind possest, 230 And reigu'd the short-liv'd tyrant of his breast; Whilst Fancy pictur'd ev'ry lively part, And each bright image wander'd o'er his heart. Thus, in some public forum fix'd on high, A mirror shows the figures moving by;
235 Still one by one, in swift succession, pass The gliding shadows o'er the polish'd glass. This lady's charms the nicest could not blame, But vile suspicions had aspers'd her fame; That was with sense, but not with virtue blest; 240 And one had grace, that wanted all the rest. Thus doubting long what nymph he should obey, He fix'd at last upon the youthful May. Her faults he knew not, love is always blind, But ev'ry charm revolv'd within his mind: 245 Her tender age, her form divinely fair, Her easy motion, her attractive air, Her sweet behaviour, her inchanting face, Her moving softness, and majestic grace.
Much in his prudence did our Knight rejoice, 250 And thought no mortal could dispute his choice. Once more in haste he summon'd ev'ry friend, And told them all their pains were at an end.
Heav'n, that (said he) inspir'd me first to wed,
255 Let none oppose th’ election, since on this Depends my quiet, and my future bliss.
A dame there is, the darling of my eyes, Young, beauteous, artless, innocent, and wise; Chaste, though not rich; and, though not nobly born, Of honest parents, and may serve iny turn.
261 Her will I wed, if gracious heav'n so please, To pass my age in sanctity and ease; And thank the Pow'rs, I may possess alone The lovely prize, and share my bliss with none! If you, my friends, this virgin can procure, My joys are full, my happiness is sure.
One only doubt remains: full oft, I've heard, By casuists grave, and deep divines averr’d, That 'tis too much for human race to know 270 The bliss of heav'n above, and earth below: Now should the nuptial pleasures prove so great, To match the blessings of the future state, Those endless joys were ill exchang'd for these; Then clear this doubt, and set my mind at ease. 275
This Justin heard, nor could his spleen control, Touch'd to the quick, and tickled at the soul. Sir Knight, he cry'd, if this be all your dread, Heav'n put it past your doubt whene'er you wed;
And to my fervent pray’rs so far consent, 280
So said, they rose, nor more the work delay'd;
I pass each previous settlement and deed, 305 Too lovg for me to write, or you to read;
Nor will with quaint impertinence display
And now the palace-gates are open'd wide, 315 The guests appear in order, side by side, And, plac'd in state, the bridegroom and the bride. The breathing flute's soft notes are heard around, And the shrill trumpets mix their silver sound; The vaulted roofs with echoing music ring, 320 These touch the vocal stops, and those the trembling
string. Not thus Amphion tun'd the warbling lyre, Nor Joab the sounding clarion could inspire, Nor fierce Theodomas, whose sprightly strain Could swell the soul to rage, and fire the martial train.
Bacchus himself, the nuptial feast to grace, 326 (So poets sing) was present on the place : And lovely Venus, goddess of delight, Shook high her flaming torch in open sight, And danc'd ound, and smil'd on ev'ry knight : Pleas'd her best servant would his courage try, 331 No less in wedlock than in liberty.
Full many an age old Hymen had not spy'd
The beauteous dame sate smiling at the board,
Damian alone, of all the menial train,