22 AprA Fable for a Regency Romance Era Maiden

HYMEN AND DEATH.
Sixteen, d’ye say? Nay, then ’tis time;
Another year destroys your prime.
But stay—The settlement? “That’s made?”
Why then’s my simple girl afraid?
Yet hold a moment, if you can,
And heedfully the fable scan.

The shades were fled, the morning blush’d,
The winds were in their caverns hush’d,
When HYMEN, pensive and sedate,
Held o’er the fields his musing gait,
Behind him, thro’ the green-wood shade,
Death’s meagre form the GOD survey’d,
Who quickly with gigantic stride,
Out-went his pace, and join’d his side.
The chat on various subjects ran,
Till angry HYMEN thus began:

“Relentless DEATH, whose iron sway
Mortals reluctant must obey,
Still of thy pow’r shall I complain,
And thy too partial hand arraign?
When CUPID brings a pair of hearts,
All over struck with equal darts,
Thy cruel shafts my hopes deride,
And cut the knot that HYMEN ty’d.

“Shall not the bloody, and the bold,
The miser, hoarding up his gold,
The harlot, reeking from the stew,
Alone thy fell revenge pursue?
But must the gentle, and the kind,
Thy fury, undistinguish’d find?”

The monarch calmly thus reply’d:
‘Weigh well the cause, and then decide.
That friend of your’s, you lately nam’d,
CUPID, alone, is to be blam’d;
Then let the charge be justly laid;
That idle boy neglects his trade,
And hardly once in twenty years
A couple to your temple bears.
The wretches, whom your office blends,
Silenus now, or PLUTUS sends;
Hence care, and bitterness, and strife,
Are common to the nuptial life.

‘Believe me; more than all mankind,
Your vot’ries my compassion find.
Yet cruel am I call’d, and base,
Who seek the wretched to release;
The captive from his bonds to free,
Indissoluble, but for me.

‘’Tis I entice him to the yoke;
By me your crowded altars smoke;
For mortals boldly dare the noose,
Secure, that DEATH will set them loose.’

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