Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

Cried one and all, the suppliant should have right, And to the grandame hag adjudged the knight.

In vain he sigh’d, and oft with tears desired, Some reasonable suit might be required. But still the crone was constant to her note; The more he spoke, the more she stretch'd herthroat. In vain he proffer'd all his goods, to save His body, destined to that living grave. The liquorish hag rejects the pelf with scorn, And nothing but the man would serve her turn. Not all the wealth of eastern kings, said she, Has power to part my plighted love, and me: And, old and ugly as I am, and poor, Yet never will I break the faith I swore; For mine thou art by promise, during life, And I thy loving and obedient wife.

My love! nay rather my damnation thou, Said he: nor am I bound to keep my vow; The fiend thy sire has sent thee from below, Else how couldst thou my secret sorrows know? Avaunt, old witch, for I renounce thy bed : The queen may take the forfeit of my head, Ere any of my race so foul a crone shall wed. Both heard, the judge pronounced against the knight; So was he married in his own despite : And all day after hid him as an owl, Not able to sustain a sight so foul. Perhaps the reader thinks I do him wrong, To pass the marriage-feast, and nuptial song : Mirth there was none, the man was a-la-mort, And little courage had to make his court. To bed they went, the bridegroom and the bride : Was never such an ill-pair'd couple tied ! Restless he toss'd, and tumbled to and fro, And rolld, and wriggled further off, for woe. The good old wife lay smiling by his side, And caught him in her quivering arms, and cried,

When you my ravish'd predecessor saw,
You were not then become this man of straw;
Had you been such, you might have ’scaped the

law.
Is this the custom of King Arthur's court?
Are all round-table knights of such a sort ?
Remember I am she who saved

your life,
Your loving, lawful, and complying wife :
Not thus you swore in your unhappy hour,
Nor I for this return employ'd my power.
In time of need I was your faithful friend ;
Nor did I since, nor ever will offend.
Believe me, my loved lord, 'tis much unkind ;
What fury has possess'd your alter'd mind?
Thus on my wedding-night-without pretence-
Come turn this way, or tell me my offence.
If not your wife, let reason's rule persuade;
Name but my fault, amends shall soon be made.-

Amends ! nay that's impossible, said he, What change of age or ugliness can be ? Or could Medea's magic mend thy face, Thou art descended from so mean a race, That neverknight was match'd with such disgrace. What wonder, madam, if I move my side, When, if I turn, I turn to such a bride ?

And is this all that troubles you so sore ?And what the devil couldst thou wish me more ? Ah, Benedicite ! replied the crone : Then cause of just complaining have you none. The remedy to this were soon applied, Would you be like the bridegroom to the bride : but, for you say a long-descended race, And wealth and dignity, and power, and place, Make gentlemen, and that your high degree Is much disparaged to be match'd with me, Know this, my lord, nobility of blood Is but a glittering and fallacious good:

The nobleman is he, whose noble mind
Is fill'd with inborn worth, unborrow'd from his

kind.
The King of Heaven was in a manger laid,
And took his birth but from an humble maid.
Then what can birth, or mortal men, bestow,
Since floods no higher than their fountains flow?
We, who for name and empty honour strive,
Our true nobility from him derive.
Your ancestors, who puff your mind with pride,
And vast estates to mighty titles tied,
Did not your honour, but their own, advance;
For virtue comes not by inheritance.
If you tralineate from your father's mind,
What are you else but of a bastard-kind ?
Do, as your great progenitors have done,
And by their virtues prove yourself their son.
No father can infuse, or wit, or grace;
A mother comes across, and mars the race.
A grandsire or a grandame taints the blood;
And seldom three descents continue good.
Were virtue by descent, a noble name
Could never villanize his father's fame;
But, as the first, the last of all the line,
Would, like the sun, even in descending, shine.
Take fire, and bear it to the darkest house,
Betwixt King Arthur's court and Caucasus,
If you depart, the flame shall still remain,
And the bright blaze enlighten all the plain;
Nor, till the

fuel perish, can decay, By nature form’d on things combustible to prey. Such is not man, who, mixing better seed With worse, begets a base degenerate breed. The bad corrupts the good, and leaves behind No trace of all the great begetter's mind. The father sinks within his son, we see, And often rises in the third degree;

}

If better luck a better mother give,
Chance gave us being, and by chance we live.
Such as our atoms were, even such are we,
Or call it chance, or strong necessity :
Thus loaded with dead weight, the will is free.
And thus it needs must be ; for seed conjoin'd
Lets into nature's work the imperfect kind ;
But fire, the enlivener of the general frame,
Is one, its operation still the same.
Its principle is in itself; while ours
Works, as confederates war, with mingled powers;
Or man or woman, which soever fails;
And, oft, the vigour of the worse prevails.
Æther, with sulphur blended, alters hue,
And casts a dusky gleam of Sodom blue.
Thus, in a brute, their ancient honour ends,
And the fair mermaid in a fish descends :
The line is gone; no longer duke or earl ;
But by himself degraded, turns a churl.
Nobility of blood is but renown
Of thy great fathers by their virtue known,
And a long trail of light, to thee descending down.
If in thy smoke it ends, their glories shine ;
But infamy and villanage are thine.
Then what I said before is plainly show'd,
That true nobility proceeds from God:
Not left us by inheritance, but given
By bounty of our stars, and grace of heaven.
Thus from a captive Servius Tullius rose,
Whom for his virtues the first Romans chose.
Fabricius from their walls repell’d the foe,
Whose noble hands had exercised the plough.
From hence, my lord and love, I thus conclude,
That, though my homely ancestors were rude,
Mean as I am, yet I may have the grace
To make you father of a generous race.

And noble then am I, when I begin,
In virtue clothed, to cast the rags of sin.
If poverty be my upbraided crime, ,
And you believe in heaven, there was a time
When he, the great controller of our fate, .
Deign'd to be man, and lived in low estate;
Which he who had the world at his dispose,
If poverty were vice, would never choose.
Philosophers have said, and poets sing,
That a glad poverty's an honest thing ;
Content is wealth, the riches of the mind,
And happy he who can that treasure find;
But the base miser starves amidst his store,
Broods on his gold, and, griping still at more,
Sits sadly pining, and believes he's poor;
The ragged beggar, though he wants relief,
Has not to lose, and sings before the thief.t
Want is a bitter and a hateful good,
Because its virtues are not understood.
Yet many things, impossible to thought,
Have been, by need, to full perfection brought :
The daring of the soul proceeds from thence,
Sharpness of wit, and active diligence;
Prudence at once, and fortitude, it gives,
And, if in patience taken, mends our lives;
For even that indigence, that brings me low,
Makes me myself, and him above, to know;
A good which none would challenge, few would

.choose,
A fair possession, which mankind refuse.
If we from wealth to poverty descend,
Want gives to know the flatterer from the friend.

* Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator.

JUVENAL, Satire x.

« EdellinenJatka »