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Where Poverty her blasting progress bends, Now, goddess, ent'ring, view the dome of state !
Do thou inform, and give me to relate;
(Which known, could sure find no admittance here.) Bright Purity, with firm unalter'd cheek,
Amid the buzzing, busy, idle crowd,
See, Treason smiles, a suitor to his king,
See, Promise futters on a cypress wing;
Her pinion like autumnal foliage falls,
And on the pavement Disappointment crawls,
Beneath applause, deep lurking Envy glooms;
And in the patriot's zeal Dissention glows.
Oppression there with gently winning grace,
And Pride with mortify'd and Christian guise,
Lo, there Ambition, from his height elate !
On these the pageantry of pomp attends ;
The poor, the rich, the peasant, and the peer,
But changing with alternate light and shade,
Vain as the cloudy meteor of the morn,
Lust, Rapine, Violence, and Slanghter, claim;
And though essential happiness is due,
For toys the wise, for toys the virtuous sue.
Nor be the poor alone thy fav’rite care; Dire lurking deaths behind ambition lie
The poison'd goblet, and the bosom'd steel!
Smiles to undo, and in destruction shines;
The strong she withers, and the steel'd disarms.
Imagination, specious handmaid, waits,
And serves a pomp of visionary cates :
The sorceress still essays the fresh repasts;
Around her couch unnumber'd votaries meet,
And wish to share th' imaginary treat;
And all thy frendes Aeen fro thee, alas!
O riche marchants, ful of wele ben ye,
Ye seken lond and see for your winninges,
As wise folk ye knowen all th' estat
Of regnes, ye ben fathers of tidinges,
And tales, both of pees and of debat:
I were right now of tales desolat,
N'ere that a marchant, gon is many a yere,
Devour each morsel with desiring ere,
The Tiber now their spumy keels divide, And for large draughts of fancy'd nectar sigh: And stem the flow of his descending tide. A thousand nymphs of wanton sprightly mien, To Rome, imperial Rome, the traders came; Trip round the sofa, and amuse their queen; Rome heard the voice of their preceding fame : With transport she surveys the darling train, Free mart and splendid mansion she affords ;. All daughters of her light fermenting brain : Joy crown'd their nights, and elegance their boards. Here laughter, mirth, and dalliance unite,
With mutual chat they gratify desire, Illusive joy, and volatile delight,
What 's curious now relate, and now inquire; Conceits, sports, gambols, titillations gay,
Alike for knowledge and for wealth they trade, Hopes that allure, and projects that betray. And are with usury in both repaid. Prime sister of th' nessential bands,
But Fame surpris'd them with a wonder new, Erect, persuasive Expectation stands;
Beyond what times of brightest record drew, On each pursuit she fourishes with grace,
The poet's fancy, or the lover's tongue; And gives a butterfly to lead the chase;
And thus the darling excellence she sung. Or wafts a bubble on the parting gale,
“ To crown our monarch's age with fond delight, And bids surrounding multitudes assail;
His cares alleviate, and his toils requite, With sweets the fond pursuit alone is fraught, Beyond wbate'er paternal wish could crave, The game still vanishes, when once it ’s caught ; Indulgent Heav'n a peerless infant gave: Vain is the joy - but not the anguish vain;
The softer sex her beauteous body forms, And empty pleasure gives essential pain :
Bat her bright soul each manly virtue warms; Couch'd as a tiger, watchful to surprise,
Youth without folly, greatness without pride, Grim death beneath the false enchantress lies; And all that 's firm to all that 's sweet ały'd. The fiends around invisibly engage,
Rich as the land by sacred promise bless'd, Guilt stings, pains rack, and disappointments rage; Lies the fair vale of her expanded breast; Aches, asthmas, cholics, gouts, convulsions, rheums, Mild on a parian pillar turns her head, Remorse that gnaws, and languor that consumes. Her front, like Lebanon, divinely spread;
Far other train, apparent queen! you lead; There sit the chaste, the placid, and the meek, True bliss attends, though arduous toils precede: And morn smiles fresh upon her open cheek. Serene thy bosom, though thy brow severe; Babes learn distinction at Constantia's sight, Pain points thy path, but Heav'n is in thy rear. And wither'd age revives to strange delight; Wondrous th' influence thy power supplies,
Tumult'ous wishes breathe along her way, Where triumphs only from oppression rise ;
Hands rise, tongues bless, and cent'riug eyes survey; Peace springs from passion, and from weakness All run to bend the voluntary knee, might;
The blind to hear her, and the deaf to see.
Now fell it, that the maisters of that sort
Han shapen hem to Rome for to wende, You, Virtue! truly, though severely, bless;
Were it for chapmanhood or for disport, Through each tradition, each recorded page,
Non other message wold they thider sende, Through ev'ry nation, and through ev'ry age,
But comen hemself to Rome, this is the ende: From purpled monarchs to the rural hind,
And in swiche place as thought hem avantage By pain you purify'd, by toil refin'd :
For hir entente, they taken hir herbergage.
A certain time, as fell to hir plesance:
And so befell, that the excellent renoun
Of the emperoure's doughter dame Custance
Reported was, with evrey circumstance,
Unto these Surrien marchants, in swiche wise
Fro day to day, as I shal you devise,
This was the commun vois of every man:
“Our emperor of Rome, God him se, Wide, with their namne, their reputation grew,
A doughter hath, that sin the world began, And to their mart concurring chapmen drew.
To reken as wel hire goodnesse as beaute, The lure of novelty, and thirst of gain,
N'as never swiche another as is she:
I pray to God in honour hire sustene,
In Surrie whilom dwelt a campagnie
“ In hire is high beaute withouten pride,
And now with wealthy manufacture stow'd, More wonders typical impress the sky, Lanch'd on the tide their freighted vessels rode; Than e'er was trac'd with astrologic eye! The pendants vainly point the fav’ring gale, There haply, ere his natal hour express'd, Court the weigh'd anchor, and th' opening sail, First burn'd the flame that glow'd within his breast: Till first the fair perfection they beheld,
There might the nymph with previous beauty bloom, Who all report, in fatal hour, excell'd:
With previous languishment the youth cousume; For Syria then they ply the lab'ring oar,
Expire the victim of successless care; And the crook'd keels divide their native shore. Die ere he liv'd, and ere he lov'd despair.
Exulting now they touch the fav'rite land, There the dear friendly stream, ere Julius bled, Unlade, and moor along the yielding strand. Great Brutus to his dearer country shed; Now duteous, on their youthful sultan wait, With destin'd tyranny there pride enslaves, Unfold new treasures, and new tales relate. With destin'd virtue there the patriot saves; With usual grace, and curious ear he hears; There Pompey glow'd for freedom and for fame, With usual courtesy and bounty cheers;
There Socrates, of Greece the pride and shame: The strange, the wondrous narrative admires, Alcides there each horrid monster slew; And all that 's foreign, all that 's new requires. There triumph'd Sampson, the heroic Jew;
Ah, hapless prince, thy further search restrain; There all, or doom'd to save, or to destroy, Couch'd in the tale, death lurks to entertain! The chiefs who fought at Thebes, or fought at Troy! Constantia'scharms their raptur'd tongues disclose; Long mourn'd the youth, with secret woe opIn ev'ry word some kindling beauty glows;
press'd; Her form, her features, mien, and soul they breathe, The latent vulture prey'd within his breast : Unpraise all praise, and leave all terms beneath. Constrain'd at length, nor able to sustain
Strong eloquence can picture to the blind, The wasting malady, and mental pain; Create new forms, and people all the mind; The sage the bearded pillars of his state Can pain or mitigate, can heal or wound,
He calls, and privily unfolds his fate: Enchant with sentences, and kill with sound. “ No mean," he cries, “ my cruel stars assign; The fancy'd sweets his ear impatient drinks; Swift death, or else Constantia must be mine!» Deep on his soul the imag'd beauty sinks; (reigns, Alternate, each their hopes or fears disclose, Through all his thoughts, his powers, she lives, she Invent, reject, and now again propose ; Pants in each pulse, and thrills along his veins. While some, with mystic rites of wondrous art,
Sure, through the tracts of yon celestial maze, Engage to gain the sympathetic heart; Where mystic planets dance, and glories blaze; By philter'd science, and infernal charms,
To win the bright perfection to his arms :
Th’abhorrent scheme his gen'rous thoughts disdain, And al this vois was soth, as God is trewe,
Resolved to die, or justly to obtain; But now to purpos let us turn agein.
And all their arguments, howe'er renew'd, These marchants han don fraught hir shippes newe,
In rites of nuptial sanctitude conclude. And whan they han this blisful maiden sein,
But here again new obstacles appear'd, Home to Surrie ben they went ful fayn,
And much for this their latest hope they fear'd; And don hir nedes, as they han don yore,
Feard that diversity of faith might prove And liven in wele, I can say you no more.
Alike diversity, and breach in love;
Nor the fair Christian e'er consent to wed
The deth ; but mennes wittes ben so dull,
That no wight can wel rede it at the full.
This Soudan for his prive councel sent,
And shortly of this matere for to pace, These marchants han him told of dame Custance
He hath to hem declared his entent, So gret noblesse, in ernest seriously,
And sayd hem certain, but he might have grace That this Soudan hath caught so gret plesance
To han Custance, within a litel space, To han hire figure in his remembrance,
He n'as but ded, and charged him in hie That all his lust, and all his besy cure
To shapen for his lif some remedie. Was for to love hire, while his lif may dure.
Diverse men, diverse thinges saiden; Paraventure in thilke large book,
They arguinentes casten up and doun; Which that men clepe the Heven, ywriten was
Many a subtil reson forth they laiden ; With sterres, whan that he his birthe took,
They speken of magike, and abusion; That he for love shuld han his deth, alas !
But finally, as in conclusion, For in the sterres, clerer than is glas,
They cannot seen in that non avantage,
Ne in non other way, save mariage.
Than saw they therin swiche difficultee
By way of reson, for to speke all plain, Of Pompey, Julius, or they were born;
Because ther was swiche diversitee The strif of Thebes; and of Hercules,
Betwene bir bothe lawes, that they sayn, Of Sampson, Turnus, and of Socrates
They trowen that no Cristen prince wold fayn VOL. XVII.
The monarch then, “ Ah! wherefore doubt my At length the day, the woful day arrives, friends;
And ev'ry face of wonted cheer deprives; Why yet dispute where love and life depends? The fatal hour admits no fond delay, That faith must sure have most prevailing charms, That shall the joy from ev'ry heart convey. That gives Constantia to my circling arms: Ye men of Rome! your parting glory mourn; No obstacles shall bar, no doubts deter;
Far from your sight your darling shall be torn; Nor will I think that she was form'd to err."
No more the morn with usual smiles arise, The voice determin'd, and imperial eye,
Or with Constantia bless your longing eyes, Leave no pretence for courtiers to reply :
Of ev'ry tongue, of ev'ry pen the theme, With the fond speed of love's impatience warm’d, The daily subject, and the nightly dream! Now embassies are sent, and treaties form'd.
But, o Constantia! say, thou fair distress'd, All zealous to promote the cause divine,
What woes that hour thy lovely soul possess'd ? The pope, the church, and Christian powers com Its native cheek the bright carnation fled, The royal long-reluctant parents yield, [bine; And charg'd with grief, reclin'd thy beauteous head; And contracts are by mutual proxy seal’d.
To lands unknown those limbs must now repair, High was the trust the regal writings bore, Nurs'd in the down of fond paternal care. And solemn th' attesting parties swore,
Peace spread thy nightly couch to sweet repose, That the young Syrian, and his barons bold, Delight around thy smiling form arose; Each sex and state, the infant and the old,
Each scene familiar to thy eye appear'd, Should all Messiah's hallow'd faith embrace, And custom long thy native soil endear'd; And bright Constantia be the bond of grace. Eas'd by thy bounty, at thy sight exil'd,
We list not here of pompous phrase to say, Grief was no more, or in thy presence smil'd; What order'd equipage prepares the day; (train, Each rising wish thy glad attendants seiz'd; Grooins, prelates, peers, and nymphs, a shining To give thee pleasure, ev'ry heart was pleas'd: To wait the beauteous victim o'er the main :
But now to strange, to foreign climes convey'd, All Rome attend in wish the lovely maid;
Strange objects must thy loathing sense invade, And Heav'n their universal vows invade.
Strange features to thy weeping eyes appear,
The gilded slave of insolence and pride,
Perhaps of form uncouth, and temper base, That us was yeven by Mahound our prophete.
Thy lord shall clasp thee with abhorr'd embrace.
Thus sad the fair revolv'd; soft sorrows flow, And he answered: “ Rather than I lese
And all her sighing soul was loos’d to woe: Custance, I wol be cristened douteles :
“ Father!" she cried, “your fond, your wretched I mote ben bires, I may non other chese,
child! I pray you hold your arguments in pees, Saveth my lif, and beth not reccheles
And you, my mother! you, my mother mild !To geten hire that hath my lif in cure,
My parents dear, beneath whose kindly view,
Bless'd by whose looks, your cherish d infant grew; For in this wo I may not long endure." What nedeth greter dilatation ? I say, by tretise and ambassatrie,
The day is comen of hire departing, And by the popes mediation,
I say the woful day fatal is come, And all the chirche, and all the chevalrie,
That ther may be no longer tarying, That in destruction of Maumetrie,
But forward they hem dressen all and some. And in encrese of Cristes lawe dere,
Custance, that was with sorwe all overcome, They ben accorded so as ye may here;
Ful pale arist, and dresseth hire to wende,
For wel she seth ther n'is non other ende.
Alas! what wonder is it though she wept?
That shal be sent to straunge nation And certain gold, I n'ot what quantitee,
Fro frendes, that so tenderly hire kept, And hereto fuden suffisant sureteé.
And to be bounde under subjection The same accord is sworne on eyther side;
Of on, she knoweth not his condition. Now, fair Custance, Almighty God thee gide.
Housbondes ben all good, and han ben yore,
That knowen wives, I dare say no more.
“ Fader,” she said, “thy wretched child Custance,
Over all thing, (out taken Crist on loft) As was arraied for so high a cause.
Custance your child hire recommendeth oft
Unto your grace; for I shal to Surrie,
" Alas! unto the Barbare nation And notified is thurghout al the toun,
I muste gon, sin that it is your will: That every wight with great devotioun
But Crist, that starfe for our redemption, Should prayen Crist, that he this mariage
Su yeve me grace his hestes to fulfill, Receive in gree, and spede this viage.
I wretched womau no force though I spill;
When far, O far from your embraces torn, She turn'd, and with an aching wistful look,
Her lanching bark the mournful notes pursue, These eyes shall never, never, never see!
And echoing hills return, “Adieu ! Adieu !” For ever parted by the rolling ma'n,
Here let us leave the virgin on the main, I now must feel a lordly husband's chain;
With all her peerage, and her pompous train; From every friend, from every joy remove,
To Syria let the swifter Muse repair, And the rough yoke of rude barbarians prove: And say what cheer prepares her welcome there. But so may Heav'n the precious issue bless,
The dame, from whom his birth the prince deAnd all find happiness through my distress! Imperial dowager, had yet surviv'd: [riv'd, Woman was doom'd, ere yet the world began, Ambitious, greedy of supreme control, The prey of sorrow, and the slave of man.” And born with all the tyrant in her soul,
She could no more; her voice by sobs suppress’d, At filial government she long repin'd, And tears, pour'd forth in anguish, told the rest. Nor yet the reins of secret rule resign'd. Wide through the crowd the sad contagion flew; Her savage sentiments her sex belied, Each hoary beard is drench'd with mournful dew; And vers d in wiles with deepest statesmen vied; In shortening throbs ten thousand bosoms rise, Yet o'er her soft'ning tongue, and soothing face, Grief showers its tempest from ten thousand eyes; The subtle varnish spread with easy grace: Along the shore the deepening groans extend, The sage discern’d, but still confessid her sway; And louder shrieks the cloudy concave rend: And whom their hearts detest, their fears obey. Not through old Rome when desolation reign'd, Tenacious zeal her prophet's lore reverd, And bleeding senators her forum stain'd;
The practice scorn'd, but to the text adherd; Not in the wreck of that all dismal night,
And far as faith with fury could inflame, When Ihion tumbled from her tow'ry he ght; She was indeed a most religions dame. Such utter ng plaints the deep despair betray'd, When she her son's determin'd bent perceiv'd, As now attend the dear departing maid.
Her breast with cruel agitation heav’d;
When dire, amid the dusky throng she rose,
“ Ye peers, ye pillars of our falling state! Women arn borne to thraldom and penance, Too faithful subjects of a prince ingrate; And to ben under mannes governance.”
A son, whom these detesting breasts have fed, I trow at Troye whan Pirrus brake the wall, A serpent grown, to your destruction bred ! Or Ilion brent, or Thebes the citee,
Say, shall a single hand such patriots awe? Ne at Rome for the harm thurgh Hanniball,
Insult your prophet, and supplant your law? That Romans hath venqueshed times three,
First, Heav'n! be all the bonds of Nature broke, N'as herd swiche tendre weping for pitee,
Ere I assume the curs'd, the Christian yoke: As in the chambre was for hire parting,
For, what import these innovating rites, But forth she mote, wheder she wepe or sing.
But here a living death of all delights ?
Such threats as penitence can ne'er appease, O firste moving cruel firmament, With thy diurnal swegh that croudest ay,
The body's penance, and the mind's discase ? And hurtlest all from est til occident, That naturally wold hold another way;
And forth I let hire sayle in this manere,
And turne I wol againe to my matere.
The mother of the Soudan, well of vices,
Espied hath hire sones pleine entente, Of which the lord is helpeles fall, alas!
How he wol lete his olde sacrifices: Out of his angle into the derkest hous.
And right anon she for her conseil sente, O Mars, O Atyzar, as in this cas;
And they ben comen, to know what she mente, O feble Mone, unhappy ben thy pas,
And whan assembled was this folk in fere, Thou knittest thee ther thou art not received, She set hire doun, and sayd as ye shul here. 'Ther thou were wel fro thennes art thou weived.
“ Lordes,” she sayd, “ye knowen everich on, Imprudent emperour of Rome, alas !
How that my sone in point is for to lete Was ther no philosophre in al thy toun?
The holy lawes of our Alkaron, Is no time bet than other in swiche cas ?
Yeven by Goddes messager Mahomete: Of viage is ther non electioun,
But on avow to grete God I hete, Namely to folk of high conditioun,
The lif shal rather ont of my body sterte,
Than Mahometes lawe out of myn herte.
« What shuld us tiden of this newe lawe Solempnely, with every circumstance:
But tbraldom to our bodies and penance, “ Now Jesu Crist be with you all," she said. And afterward in Helle to ben drawe, Ther n'is no more, but “farewel fair Custance.” For we reneied Mahound our creance? She peineth hire to make good countenance, But, lordes, wol ye maken assurance,