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But told it under matrimonial seal,
With strict injunction never to reveal.
The secret heard, she plighted him her troth,
(And sacred sure is every woman's oath)
The royal malady should rest unknown,
Both for her husband's honor and her own;
But ne'ertheless she pin'd with discontent;
The counsel rumbled till it found a vent.
The thing she knew she was oblig'd to hide;
By interest and by oath the wife was tied;
But if she told it not, the woman died.
Loth to betray a husband and a prince,
But she must burst, or blab: and no pretence
Of honor tied her tongue from self-defence.
A marshy ground commodiously was near,
Thither she ran, and held her breath for fear,
Lest if a word she spoke of any thing,
That word might be the secret of the king.
Thus full of counsel to the fen she went,
Grip'd all the way, and longing for a vent;
Arriv'd, by pure necessity compell'd,
On her majestic marrow-bones she kneel'd:
Then to the water's brink she laid her head,
And, as a bittour bumps within a reed,
“To thee alone, O Lake," she said, "I tell,
(And, as thy queen, command thee to conceal):
Beneath his locks the king my husband wears
A goodly royal pair of ass's ears.
Now I have eas'd my bosom of the pain,
Till the next longing-fit return again."
Thus through a woman was the secret known;
Tell us, and in effect you tell the town.
But to my tale: The knight with heavy cheer,
Wandering in vain, had now consum'd the year:
One day was only left to solve the doubt,
Yet knew no more than when he first set out.
But home he must, and, as th' award had been,
Yield up his body captive to the queen.
In this despairing state he hapt to ride,
As Fortune led him, by a forest side:
Lonely the vale, and full of horror stood,
Brown with the shade of a religious wood;
When full before him at the noon of night,
(The Moon was up, and shot a gleamy light)
He saw a quire of ladies in a round,
That featly footing seem'd to skim the ground:
Thus dancing hand in hand, so light they were,
He knew not where they trod, on earth or air.
At speed he drove, and came a sudden guest,
In hope where many women were, at least,
Some one by chance might answer his request.
But faster than his horse the ladies flew,
And in a trice were vanish'd out of view.
One only hag remain'd: but fouler far Than grandame apes in Indian forests are; Against a wither'd oak she lean'd her weight, Propp'd on her trusty staff, not half upright, And dropp'd an awkward court'sy to the knight. Then said, "What makes you, sir, so late abroad Without a guide, and this no beaten road? Or want you aught that here you hope to find, Or travel for some trouble in your mind? The last I guess; and if I read aright, Those of our sex are bound to serve a knight; Perhaps good counsel may your grief assuage, Then tell your pain: for wisdom is in age." To this the knight: "Good mother, would you know The secret cause and spring of all my woe? My life must with to-morrow's light expire, Unless I tell what women most desire
Now could you help me at this hard essay,
Or for your inborn goodness, or for pay;
Yours is my life, redeem'd by your advice,
Ask what you please, and I will pay the price:
The proudest kerchief of the court shall rest
Well satisfied of what they love the best."
Plight me thy faith," quoth she, "that what I ask,
Thy danger over, and perform'd thy task,
That thou shalt give for hire of thy demand;
Here take thy oath, and seal it on my hand;
I warrant thee, on peril of my life,
Thy words shall please both widow, maid, and wife."
More words there needed not to move the knight,
To take her offer, and his truth to plight.
With that she spread a mantle on the ground,
And, first inquiring whither he was bound,
Bade him not fear, though long and rough the way
At court he should arrive ere break of day;
His horse should find the way without a guide,
She said with fury they began to ride,
He on the midst, the beldam at his side.
The horse, what devil drove I cannot tell,
But only this, they sped their journey well :
And all the way the crone inform'd the knight,
How he should answer the demand aright.
To court they came: the news was quickly spread Of his returning to redeem his head. The female senate was assembled soon, With all the mob of women of the town: 'The queen sate lord chief justice of the hall, And bade the crier cite the criminal. The knight appear'd; and silence they proclaim: Then first the culprit answer'd to his name: And, after forms of law, was last requir'd To name the thing that women most desir'd. Th' offender, taught his lesson by the way, And by his counsel order'd what to say, Thus bold began: "My lady liege," said he, What all your sex desire is sovereignty. The wife affects her husband to command: All must be hers, both money, house, and land. The maids are mistresses ev'n in their name; And of their servants full dominion claim. This, at the peril of my head, I say, A blunt plain truth, the sex aspires to sway, You to rule all, while we, like slaves, obey." There was not one, or widow, maid, or wife, But said the knight had well deserv'd his life. Ev'n fair Geneura, with a blush, confess'd The man had found what women love the best.
Up starts the beldam, who was there unseen: And, reverence made, accosted thus the queen. My liege," said she, "before the court arise, May I, poor wretch, find favor in your eyes, To grant my just request: 'twas I who taught The knight this answer, and inspir'd his thought. None but a woman could a man direct To tell us women, what we most affect. But first I swore him on his knightly troth, (And here demand performance of his oath) To grant the boon that next I should desire; He gave his faith, and I expect my hire: My promise is fulfill'd: I sav'd his life, And claim his debt, to take me for his wife." The knight was ask'd, nor could his oath deny, But hoped they would not force him to comply The women, who would rather wrest the laws Than let a sister-plaintiff lose the cause, (As judges on the bench more gracious are, And more attent, to brothers of the bar,)
Cried one and all, the suppliant should have right, And to the grandame hag adjudg'd the knight.
In vain he sigh'd, and oft with tears desir'd, Some reasonable suit might be requir'd. But still the crone was constant to her note: The more he spoke, the more she stretch'd her throat. In vain he proffer'd all his goods, to save His body destin'd 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,
"Have 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 hath 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 pronounc'd against the
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 à-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 roll'd 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 'scap'd 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 sav'd 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 lov'd 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 never knight 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 disparag'd 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 earth 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 honor 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 honor, 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 th' imperfect kind;
But fire, th' 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, whichsoever fails:
And, oft, the vigor of the worse prevails.
Ether with sulphur blended alters hue,
And casts a dusky gleam of Sodom blue.
Thus, in a brute, their ancient honor 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,
The true nobility proceeds from God:
Nor 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 exercis'd the plow.
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 cloth'd, 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 liv'd 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 want relief,
Has not to lose, and sings before the thief.
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 ev❜n 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.
If I am old and ugly, well for you,
No lewd adulterer will my love pursue;
Nor jealousy, the bane of married life,
Shall haunt you for a wither'd homely wife ;
For age and ugliness, as all agree,
Are the best guards of female chastity.
"Yet since I see your mind is worldly bent,
I'll do my best to further your content.
And therefore of two gifts in my dispose,
Think ere you speak, I grant you leave to choose;
Would you I should be still deform'd and old,
Nauseous to touch, and lothesome to behold;
On this condition to remain for life
A careful, tender, and obedient wife,
In all I can, contribute to your ease,
And not in deed, or word, or thought, displease?
Or would you rather have me young and fair,
And take the chance that happens to your share?
Temptations are in beauty, and in youth,
And how can you depend upon my truth?
Now weigh the danger with the doubtful bliss,
And thank yourself if aught should fall amiss."
Sore sigh'd the knight, who this long sermon
At length, considering all, his heart he cheer'd ;
And thus replied: "My lady and my wife,
To your wise conduct I resign my life:
Choose you for me, for well you understand
The future good and ill, on either hand :.
But if an humble husband may request,
Provide, and order all things for the best;
Yours be the care to profit, and to please:
And let your subject servant take his ease."
Then thus in peace," quoth she, “concludes the
Since I am turn'd the husband, you the wife.
The matrimonial victory is mine,
Which, having fairly gain'd, I will resign,
Forgive if I have said or done amiss,
And seal the bargain with a friendly kiss:
I promis'd you but one content to share.
But now I will become both good and fair.
No nuptial quarrel shall disturb your ease;
The business of my life shall be to please:
And for my beauty, that, as time shall try;
But draw the curtain first, and cast your eye.
He look'd, and saw a creature heavenly fair,
In bloom of youth, and of a charming air.
With joy he turn'd, and seiz'd her ivory arm;
And like Pygmalion found the statue warm.
Small arguments there needed to prevail,
A storm of kisses pour'd as thick as hail.
Thus long in mutual bliss they lay embrac'd,
And their first love continued to the last:
One sun-shine was their life, no cloud between ⚫
Nor ever was a kinder couple seen.
And so may all our lives like theirs be led; Heaven send the maids young husbands fresh .n bed;
May widows wed as often as they can,
And ever for the better change their man;
And some devouring plague pursue their lives,
Who will not well be govern'd by their wives.
THE CHARACTER OF A GOOD PARSON.
A PARISH priest was of the pilgrim-train ;
An awful, reverend, and religious man.
His eyes diffus'd a venerable grace,
And charity itself was in his face.
Rich was his soul, though his attire was poor,
As God had cloth'd his own ambassador,
For such, on Earth, his bless'd Redeemer bore.
Of sixty years he seem'd; and well might last
To sixty more, but that he liv'd too fast;
Refin'd himself to soul, to curb the sense;
And made almost a sin of abstinence.
Yet, had his aspect nothing of severe,
But such a face as promis'd him sincere.
Nothing reserv'd or sullen was to see;
But sweet regards, and pleasing sanctity:
Mild was his accent, and his action free.
With eloquence innate his tongue was arm'd;
Though harsh the precept, yet the people charm'd
For, letting down the golden chain from high,
He drew his audience upward to the sky:
And oft with holy hymns he charm'd their ears,
(A music more melodious than the spheres,)
For David left him, when he went to rest,
His lyre; and after him he sung the best.
He bore his great commission in his look:
But sweetly temper'd awe; and soften'd all he spoke
He preach'd the joys of Heaven, and pains of Hell,
And warn'd the sinner with becoming zeal;
But on eternal mercy lov'd to dwell.
He taught the gospel rather than the law;
And forc'd himself to drive; but lov'd to draw.
For Fear but freezes minds: but Love, like heat,
Exhales the soul sublime, to seek her native seat.
To threats the stubborn sinner oft is hard,
Wrapt in his crimes, against the storm prepar'd;
But when the milder beams of Mercy play,
He melts, and throws his cumbrous cloak away.
Lightning and thunder (Heaven's artillery)
As harbingers before th' Almighty fly:
Those but proclaim his style, and disappear;
The stiller sound succeeds, and God is there.
The tithes, his parish freely paid, he took;
But never sued, or curs'd with bell and book.
With patience bearing wrong; but offering none:
Since every man is free to lose his own.
The country churls, according to their kind,
(Who grudge their dues, and love to be behind,)
The less he sought his offerings, pinch'd the more,
And prais'd a priest contented to be poor.
Yet of his little he had some to spare,
To feed the famish'd, and to clothe the bare:
For mortified he was to that degree,
A poorer than himself he would not see.
True priests, he said, and preachers of the word,
Were only stewards of their sovereign lord;
Nothing was theirs; but all the public store:
Intrusted riches, to relieve the poor.
Who, should they steal, for want of his relief,
He judg'd himself accomplice with the thief.
Wide was his parish; not contracted close
In streets, but here and there a straggling house;
Yet still he was at hand, without request,
To serve the sick; to succor the distress'd:
Tempting, on foot, alone, without affright,
The dangers of a dark tempestuous night.
All this, the good old man perform'd alone,
Nor spar'd his pains; for curate he had none.
Nor durst he trust another with his care;
Nor rode himself to Paul's, the public fair,
To chaffer for preferment with his gold,
Where bishoprics and sinecures are sold.
But duly watch'd his flock, by night and day;
And from the prowling wolf redeem'd the prey :
And hungry sent the wily fox away.
The proud he tam'd, the penitent he cheer'd
Nor to rebuke the rich offender fear'd.
His preaching much, but more his practice wrought,
(A living sermon of the truths he taught,)
For this by rules severe his life he squar'd:
That all might see the doctrine which they heard.
For priests, he said, are patterns for the rest
(The gold of Heaven, who bear the God impress'd :)
But when the precious coin is kept unclean,
The sovereign's image is no longer seen.
If they be foul on whom the people trust,
Well may the baser brass contract a rust.
The prelate, for his holy life he priz'd;
The worldly pomp of prelacy despis'd.
His Savior came not with a gaudy show;
Nor was his kingdom of the world below.
Patience in want, and poverty of mind,
These marks of church and churchmen he design'd,
And living taught, and dying left behind.
The crown he wore was of the pointed thorn:
In purple he was crucified, not born.
They who contend for place and high degree,
Are not his sons, but those of Zebedee.
Not but he knew the signs of earthly power Might well become Saint Peter's successor; The holy father holds a double reign, [plain. The prince may keep his pomp, the fisher must be Such was the saint; who shone with every grace, Reflecting, Moses-like, his Maker's face.
God saw his image lively was express'd,
And his own work, as in creation, bless'd.
The tempter saw him too with envious eye;
And, as on Job, demanded leave to try.
He took the time when Richard was depos'd,
And high and low with happy Harry clos'd.
This prince, though great in arms, the priest with-
Near though he was, yet not the next of blood.
Had Richard, unconstrain'd, resign'd the throne,
A king can give no more than is his own:
The title stood entail'd, had Richard had a son.
Conquest, an odious name, was laid aside,
Where all submitted, none the battle tried.
The senseless plea of right by Providence
Was, by a flattering priest, invented since;
And lasts no longer than the present sway;
But justifies the next who comes in play.
The people's right remains; let those who dare Dispute their power, when they the judges are.
He join'd not in their choice, because he knew Worse might, and often did, from change ensue. Much to himself he thought; but little spoke; And, undepriv'd, his benefice forsook.
Now, through the land, his cure of souls he stretch's And like a primitive apostle preach'd. Still cheerful; ever constant to his call; By many follow'd; lov'd by most, admir'd by all. With what he begg'd, his brethren he reliev'd ; And gave the charities himself receiv'd: Gave, while he taught; and edified the more, Because he show'd, by proof, 'twas easy to be poor. He went not with the crowd to see a shrine; But fed us, by the way, with food divine.
In deference to his virtues, I forbear To show you what the rest in orders were: This brilliant is so spotless, and so bright, He needs no foil, but shines by his own proper light.
Of all the cities in Romanian lands,
The chief, and most renown'd, Ravenna stands,
Adorn'd in ancient times with arms and arts,
And rich inhabitants, with generous hearts.
| But Theodore the brave, above the rest,
With gifts of Fortune and of Nature bless'd,
The foremost place for wealth and honor held,
And all in feats of chivalry excell❜d.
This noble youth to madness lov'd a dame
Of high degree, Honoria was her name;
Fair as the fairest, but of haughty mind,
And fiercer than became so soft a kind.
Proud of her birth (for equal she had none ;)
The rest she scorn'd, but hated him alone;
His gifts, his constant courtship, nothing gain'd;
For she, the more he lov'd, the more disdain'd.
He liv'd with all the pomp he could devise,
At tilts and tournaments obtain'd the prize;
But found no favor in his lady's eyes:
Relentless as a rock, the lofty maid
Turn'd all to poison, that he did or said:
Nor prayers, nor tears, nor offer'd vows, could move,
The work went backward; and the more he strove
T advance his suit, the farther from her love.
Wearied at length, and wanting remedy,
He doubted oft, and oft resolv'd to die.
But Pride stood ready to prevent the blow,
For who would die to gratify a foe?
His generous mind disdain'd so mean a fate;
That pass'd, his next endeavor was to hate.
But vainer that relief than all the rest,
The less he hop'd, with more desire possess'd;
Love stood the siege, and would not yield his breast.
Change was the next, but change deceiv'd his care;
He sought a fairer, but found none so fair.
He would have worn her out by slow degrees,
As men by fasting starve th' untam'd disease:
But present love requir'd a present ease.
Looking he feeds alone his famish'd eyes,
Feeds lingering Death, but looking not he dies.
Yet still he chose the longest way to Fate,
Wasting at once his life and his estate.
His friends beheld, and pitied him in vain,
For what advice can ease a lover's pain!
Absence, the best expedient they could find,
Might save the fortune, if not cure the mind:
This means they long propos'd, but little gain'd
Yet, after much pursuit, at length obtain'd.
Hard you may think it was to give consent,
But struggling with his own desires he went,
With large expense. and with a pompous train,
Provided as to visit France and Spain,
Or for some distant voyage o'er the main.
A thicket close beside the grove there stood, With briers and brambles chok'd, and dwarfish wood;
From thence the noise, which now, approaching near
With more distinguish'd notes invades his ear;
He rais'd his head, and saw a beauteous maid,
With hair dishevell'd, issuing through the shade;
Stripp'd of her clothes, and ev'n those parts reveal'd
Which modest Nature keeps from sight conceal'd.
Her face, her hands, her naked limbs were torn,
With passing through the brakes, and prickly thorn
Two mastiffs gaunt and grim her flight pursu'd,
And oft their fasten'd fangs in blood embru'd;
Oft they came up, and pinch'd her tender side,
Mercy, O mercy, Heaven!" she ran, and cried.
When Heaven was nam'd, they loos'd their hold
Then sprang she forth, they follow'd her amain. Not far behind, a knight of swarthy face, High on a coal-black steed pursu'd the chase : With flashing flames his ardent eyes were fill'd,
He cheer'd the dogs to follow her who fled, And vow'd revenge on her devoted head.
But Love had clipp'd his wings, and cut him short, And in his hand a naked sword he held:
Confin'd within the purlieus of the court.
Three miles he went, nor farther could retreat;
His travels ended at his country-seat:
To Chassis' pleasing plains he took his way,
There pitch'd his tents, and there resolv'd to stay.
The spring was in the prime; the neighboring
Supplied with birds, the choristers of Love:
Music unbought, that minister'd delight
To morning walks, and lull'd his cares by night:
There he discharg'd his friends: but not th' expense
Of frequent treats, and proud magnificence.
He liv'd as kings retire, though more at large
From public business, yet with equal charge;
With house and heart still open to receive:
As well content as Love would give him leave:
He would have liv'd more free; but many a guest,
Who could forsake the friend, pursued the feast.
It hapt one morning, as his fancy led,
Before his usual hour he left his bed;
To walk within a lonely lawn, that stood
On every side surrounded by a wood:
Alone he walk'd, to please his pensive mind,
And sought the deepest solitude to find;
"Twas in a grove of spreading pines he stray'd;
The winds within the quivering branches play'd,
And dancing trees a mournful music made.
The place itself was suiting to his care,
Uncouth and savage, as the cruel fair.
He wander'd on, unknowing where he went,
Lost in the wood, and all on love intent:
The Day already half his race had run,
And summon'd him to due repast at noon,
But Love could feel no hunger but his own.
Whilst listening to the murmuring leaves he stood,
More than a mile immers'd within the wood,
At once the wind was laid; the whispering sound
Was dumb; a rising earthquake rock'd the ground;
With deeper brown the grove was overspread ;
A sudden horror seiz'd his giddy head,
And his ears tinkled, and his color fled.
Nature was in alarm; some danger nigh
Seem'd threaten'd, though unseen to mortal eye.
As Theodore was born of noble kind, The brutal action rous'd his manly mind; Mov'd with unworthy usage of the maid, He, though unarm'd, resolv'd to give her aid, A sapling pine he wrench'd from out the ground, The readiest weapon that his fury found. Thus furnish'd for offence, he cross'd the way Betwixt the graceless villain and his prey.
The knight came thundering on, but, from afar,
Thus in imperious tone forbade the war:
"Cease, Theodore, to proffer vain relief,
Nor stop the vengeance of so just a grief;
But give me leave to seize my destin'd prey,
And let Eternal Justice take the way:
I but revenge my fate, disdain'd, betray'd,
And suffering death for this ungrateful maid."
He said, at once dismounting from the steed;
For now the hell-hounds with superior speed
Had reach'd the dame, and, fastening on her side,
The ground with issuing streams of purple dyed.
Stood Theodore surpris'd in deadly fright,
With chattering teeth, and bristling hair upright;
Yet arm'd with inborn worth, "Whate'er," said he.
"Thou art, who know'st me better than I thee;
Or prove thy rightful cause, or be defied;"
The spectre, fiercely staring, thus replied:
"Know, Theodore, thy ancestry I claim,
And Guido Cavalcanti was my name.
One common sire our fathers did beget,
My name and story some remember yet:
Thee, then a boy, within my arms I laid,
When for my sins I lov'd this haughty maid,
Not less ador'd in life, nor serv'd by me,
Than proud Honoria now is loved by thee.
What did I not her stubborn heart to gain?
But all my vows were answer'd with disdain.
She scorn'd my sorrows, and despis'd my pain
Long time I dragg'd my days in fruitless care;
Then, lothing life, and plung'd in deep despair
To finish my unhappy life, I fell
On this sharp sword, and now am damn'd in Hell.