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The nobleman is he, whose noble mind !
Is filled with inborn worth, unborrowed from his
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 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 formed 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 conjoined
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 showed,
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 repelled 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,
Deigned 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 treasuré 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, *
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
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 withered 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;
Aud therefore of two gifts in my dispose,
Think ere you speak,- I grant you leave to choose :
Would you I should be still deformed and old,
Nauseous to touch, and loathsome 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 sighed the knight, who this long sermon
heard; At length considering all, his heart he cheered, 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; Your's be the care to profit, and to please, And let your subject-servant take his ease. Then thus in peace, quoth she, concludes the
strife, Since I am turned the husband, you the wife:
The matrimonial victory is mine,
Which, having fairly gained, I will resign;
Forgive, if I have said or done amiss,
And seal the bargain with a friendly kiss.
I promised 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 looked, and saw a creature heavenly fair,
In bloom of youth, and of a charming air.
With joy he turned, and seized her ivory arm;
And, like Pygmalion, found the statue warm..
Small arguments there needed to prevail, .'
A storm of kisses poured as thick as hail.
Thus long in mutual bliss they lay embraced,
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 their's be led;
Heaven send the maids young husbands fresh in 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 governed by their wives.