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Eros and Anteros, on either side,
One fired the bridegroom, and one warm'd the
And long-attending Hymen from above [bride;
Shower'd on the bed the whole Idalian grove.
All of a tenor was their after-life,
No day discolour'd with domestic strife;
No jealousy, but mutual truth believed,
Secure repose, and kindness undeceived.
Thus Heaven, beyond the compass of his thought,
Sent him the blessing he so dearly bought.
So may the queen of Love long duty bless,
And all true lovers find the same success!
SIGISMONDA AND GUISCARDO.
WHILE Norman Tancred in Salerno reign'd,
The title of a gracious prince he gain'd;
Till turn'd a tyrant in his latter days,
He lost the lustre of his former praise;
And from the bright meridian where he stood,
Descending, dipp'd his hands in lovers' blood.
This prince, of fortune's favour long possess'd,
Yet was with one fair daughter only bless'd;
And bless'd he might have been with her alone:
But oh! how much more happy, had he none !
She was his care, his hope, and his delight,
Most in his thought, and ever in his sight:
Next, nay beyond his life, he held her dear;
She lived by him, and now he lived in her.
For this, when ripe for marriage, he delay'd
Her nuptial bands, and kept her long a maid;
As envying any else should share a part
Of what was his, and claiming all her heart.
At length, as public decency required,
And all his vassals eagerly desired,
With mind averse, he rather underwent
His people's will, than gave his own consent :
So was she torn, as from a lover's side,
And made, almost in his despite, a bride.
Short were her marriage joys; for in the prime Of youth, her lord expired before his time: And to her father's court, in little space Restored anew, she held a higher place; More loved, and more exalted into grace.
This princess fresh, and young, and fair, and wise,
The worshipp'd idol of her father's eyes,
Did all her sex in every grace exceed,
And had more wit beside than woman need. Youth, health, and ease, and most an amorous mind,
To second nuptials had her thoughts inclined;
And former joys had left a secret sting behind.
But, prodigal in every other grant,
Her sire left unsupplied her only want;
And she, betwixt her modesty and pride,
Her wishes, which she could not help, would hide.
Resolved at last to lose no longer time,
And yet to please herself without a crime,
She cast her eyes around the court, to find
A worthy subject suiting to her mind,
To him in holy nuptials to be tied,
A seeming widow, and a secret bride.
Among the train of courtiers, one she found
With all the gifts of bounteous nature crown'd;
Of gentle blood, but one whose niggard fate
Had set him far below her high estate;
Guiscard his name was call'd, of blooming age,
Now squire to Tancred, and before, his page:
To him, the choice of all the shining crowd,
Her heart the noble Sigismonda vow'd.
Yet hitherto she kept her love conceal'd,
And with close graces every day beheld
The graceful youth; and every day increased
The raging fire that burn'd within her breast;
Some secret charm did all his acts attend,
And what his fortune wanted, hers could mend:
Till, as the fire will force its outward way,
Or, in the prison pent, consume the prey,
So long her earnest eyes on him were set,
At length their twisted rays together met;
And he, surprised, with humble joy survey'd
One sweet regard, shot by the royal maid:
Not well assured, while doubtful hopes be nursed,
A second glance came gliding like the first;
And he, who saw the sharpness of the dart,
Without defence received it in his heart.
In public though their passion wanted speech,
Yet mutual looks interpreted for each:
Time, ways, and means of meeting were denied ;
But all those wants ingenious love supplied.
The' inventive god, who never fails his part,
Inspires the wit, when once he warms the heart.
When Guiscard next was in the circle seen,
Where Sigismonda held the place of queen,
A hollow cane within her hand she brought,
But in the concave had inclosed a note:
With this she seem'd to play, and, as in sport,
Toss'd to her love, in presence of the court:
Take it,' she said, and when your needs require,
This little brand will serve to light your fire.'
He took it with a bow, and soon divined
The seeming toy was not for nought design'd:
But when retired, so long with curious eyes
He view'd the present, that he found the prize.
Much was in little writ; and all convey'd
With cautious care, for fear to be betray'd
By some false confidant, or favourite maid.
The time, the place, the manner how to meet,
Were all in punctual order plainly writ:
But since a trust must be, she thought it best
To put it out of laymen's power at least,
And for their solemn vows prepared a priest.
Guiscard (her secret purpose understood) With joy prepared to meet the coming good; Nor pains nor danger was resolved to spare, But use the means appointed by the fair.
Next the proud palace of Salerno stood
A mount of rough ascent, and thick with wood:
Through this a cave was dug with vast expense;
The work it seem'd of some suspicious prince,
Who, when abusing power with lawless might,
From public justice would secure his flight.
The passage, made by many a winding way,
Reach'd even the room in which the tyrant lay.
Fit for his purpose, on a lower floor
He lodged, whose issue was an iron door,
From whence, by stairs descending to the ground,
In the blind grot a safe retreat he found.
Its outlet ended in a brake o'ergrown
With brambles, choked by time, and now unknown.
A rift there was, which from the mountain's height
Convey'd a glimmering and malignant light,
A breathing place to draw the damps away,
A twilight of an intercepted day.
The tyrant's den, whose use, though lost to fame,
Was now the' apartment of the royal dame:
The cavern, only to her father known,
By him was to his darling daughter shown.
Neglected long, she let the secret rest,
Till love recall'd it to her labouring breast,
And hinted as the way by heaven design'd
The teacher, by the means he taught, to blind.
What will not women do, when need inspires
Their wit, or love their inclination fires!
Though jealousy of state the' invention found,
Yet love refined upon the former ground;