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Their daughter safe, take 'vantage of their own,
Praise Hymen’s valour much, nothing bestown,
Hymen must leave the virgins in a grove
Far off from Athens, and go first to prove,
If to restore them all with fame and life,
He should enjoy his dearest as his wife.
This told to all the maids; the most agree :
The riper sort knowing what 'tis to be
The first mouth of a news so far deriv'd,
And that to hear and bear news brave folks liv'd,
As being a carriage special hard to bear
Occurrents, these occurrents being so dear,
They did with grace protest, they were content
T'accost their friends with all their compliment,
For Hymen's good : but to incur their harm,
There he must pardon them. This wit went warm
To Adolesche's brain, a nymph born high,
Made all of voice and fire, that upwards fly:
Her heart and all her forces' nether train,
Climb'd to her tongue, and thither fell her brain,
Since it could go no higher : and it must go,
All powers she had, even her tongue did so.
In spirit and quickness she much joy did take,
And lov'd her tongue, only for quickness' sake,
And she would haste and tell. The rest all stay : -
Hymen goes one, the nymph another way:
And what became of her I'll tell at last :-
Yet take her visage now :-moist lipp’d, long fac'd,
Thin like an iron wedge, so sharp and tart,
As 'twere of purpose made to cleave Love's heart.
Well were this lovely beauty rid of her.
And Hymen did at Athens now prefer
His welcome suit, which he with joy aspir'd:
A hundred princely youths with him retir'd
To fetch the nymphs : chariots and music went,
And home they came: Heaven with applauses rent.
The nuptials straight proceed, whilst all the town,
Fresh in their joys, might do them most renown.
First gold-lock'd Hymen did to church repair,
Like a quick off 'ring burn'd in flames of hair.
And after, with a virgin firmament,
The godhead-proving bride attended went
Before them all, she look'd in her command,
As if form-giving Cypria's silver hand
Gript all their beauties, and crush'd out one flame;
She blush'd to see how beauty overcame
The thoughts of all men. Next before her went
Five lovely children, deck'd with ornament
Of her sweet colours, bearing torches by,
For light was held a happy augury
Of generation, whose efficient right
Is nothing else but to produce to light.
The odd disparent number they did choose,
To show the union married loves should use,
Since in two equal parts it will not sever,
But the midst holds one to rejoin it ever,
As common to both parts : men therefore deem,
That equal number gods do not esteem,
Being authors of sweet peace and unity,
But pleasing to th' infernal empery,
Under whose ensigns Wars and Discords fight,
Since an even number you may
In two parts equal, nought in middle left,
To reunite each part from other reft:
And five they hold in most especial prize,
Since 'tis the first odd number that doth rise
From the two foremost numbers' unity,
That odd and even are; which are two and three,
For one no number is : but thence doth flow
The powerful race of number. Next did go
A noble matron, that did spinning bear
A housewife's rock and spindle, and did wear
A wether's skin, with all the snowy fleece,
To imitate that e'en the daintiest piece,
And noblest born dame should industrious be;
That which does good disgraceth no degree.
And now to Juno's temple they are come, Where her grave priest stood in the marriage
room: On his right arm did hang a scarlet veil, And from his shoulders to the ground did trail, On either side, ribbands of white and blue; With the red veil he hid the bashful hue Of the chaste bride, to show the modest shame, In coupling with a man, should grace a dame. Then took he the disparent silks, and tied The lovers by the waists, and side to side, In token that thereafter they must bind In one self sacred knot each other mind.
Before them on an altar he presented
Both fire and water, which was first invented,
Since to ingenerate every human creature,
And every other birth produc'd by nature,
Moisture and heat must mix; so mau and wife
For human race must join in nuptial life.
Then one of Juno's birds, the painted jay,
He sacrific'd, and took the gall away;
All which he did behind the altar throw,
In sign no bitterness of hate should grow,
'Twixt married loves, nor any least disdain.
Nothing they spake, for 'twas esteemed too plain
For the most silken mildness of a maid,
To let a public audience hear it said
She boldly took the man: and so respected
Was bashfulness in Athens, it erected
To chaste Agneia, which is shamefacedness,
A sacred temple, holding her a goddess.-
And now to feasts, masks, and triumphant shows,
The shining troops return'd, e'en till earth's throes
Brought forth with joy the thickest part of night,
When the sweet nuptial song that us'd to cite
All to their rest, was by Phemonæ sung:
First Delphian prophetess, whose graces sprung
Out of the Muses :-well she sung before
The bride into her chamber, at which door
A matron and a torch-bearer did stand:
A painted box of comfits in her hand
The matron held, and so did other some
That compass'd round the honour'd nuptial room.
The custom was that every maid did wear,
During her maidenhead, a silken sphere
About her waist, above her inmost weed,
Knit with Minerva's knot, and that was freed
By the fair bridegroom on the marriage night,
With many ceremonies of delight:
And yet eternis'd Hymen's tender bride,
To suffer it dissolv'd, so sweetly cry'd.
The maids that heard, so lov'd and did adore her,
They wish'd with all their hearts to suffer for her.
So had the matrons, that with comfits stood,
About the chamber, such affectionate blood,
And so true feeling of her harmless pains,
That every one a shower of comfits rains.
For which the bride-youths scrambling on the
In noise of that sweet hail her cries were drown'd.
And thus bless'd Hymen joy'd his gracious bride,
And for his joy was after deified.
The saffron mirror by which Phæbus' love,
Green Teilus, decks her, now he held above
The cloudy mountains : and the noble maid,
Sharp-visag'd Adolesche, that was stray'd
Out of her way, in hasting with her news,
Not till this hour th’ Athenian turrets views;
And now brought home by guides, she heard by all,
That her long kept occurrents would be stale,
And how fair Hymen's honours did excel
Far those rare news, which she came short to tell.