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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 cheerd;
And thus reply'd : “ 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
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 sunshine 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 in
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.
CHARACTER OF A GOOD PARSON.
A PARISH priest was of the pilgrim-train ;
An awful, reverend, and religious man.
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'dawe; 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,
Wrapp'd 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 mortify'd 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 succour 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 Saviour 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
withstood : 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