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N Days of Old, when Arthur filld
Lands were blown;
And where the jolly Troop had led the Round, The Grass unbidden rose, and mark'd the Ground: Nor darkling did they dance, the Silver Light Of Phæbe serv'd to guide theirSteps aright,[Night. And, with their Tripping pleas’d, prolong'd the. Her Beams they follow'd, where at full she plaid, Nor longer than she shed her Horns they staid, From thence with airy Flight to Foreign Lands
convey'd. Above the rest our Britain held they dear, More solemnly they kept their Sabbaths here, And made more spacious Rings, and revell’d
half the Year. I speak of ancient Times, for now the Swain. Returning late may pass the Woods in vain, And never hope to see the nightly Train: In vain the Dairy now with Mints is dress’d, The Dairy-Maid expects no Fairy Guest, To skim the Bowls, and after pay the Feast. She sighs and shakes her empty Shoes in vain, No Silver Penny to reward her Pain:
For Priests with Pray’rs, and other godly Geer,
It so befel in this King Arthur's Reign, A lusty Knight was pricking o'er the Plain; A Batchelor he was, and of the courtly Train. It happen'd as he rode, a Damsel gay In Russet-Robes to Market took her Way; Soon on the Girl he cast an amorous Eye, So strait the walk'd, and on her Pasterns high: If seeing her behind he lik’d her Pace, Now turning short he better lik'd her Face: He lights in hafte, and, full of youthful Fire, By Force accomplish'd his obscene Desire: This done away he rode, not unespy'd, For swarming at his Back the Country cry'd; And once in view they never lost the Sight, But seiz’d,and pinion'd brought to Court theKnight.
Then Courts of Kings were held in high renown, Ere made the common Brothels of the Town: There, Virgins honourable Vows.receiv’d, But chast as Maids in Monasteries liv'd: The King himself, to Nuptial Ties a Slave, No bad Example to his Poets gave: And they not bad, but in a vicious Age, Had not to please the Prince debauch'd the Stage.
Now what shou'd Arthur do? Helov'd theKnight, But Sovereign Monarchs are the Source of Right: Mov'd by the Damsel's Tears and common Cry, He doom'd the brutal Ravisher to die. But fạir Geneura rose in his Defence, And pray'd so hard for Mercy from the Prince; That to his Queen the King th' Offender gave, And left it in her Pow'r to Kill or Save: This gracious A& the Ladies all approve, Who thought it much a Man shou'd die for Love. And with their Mistress join'd in close Debate, (Covering their Kindness with dissembled Hate;) If not to free him, to prolong his Fate. At last agreed they call’d him by consent Before the Queen and Female Parliament. And the fair Speaker rising from her Chair, Did thus the Judgment of the House declare:
Sir Knight, tho’I have ask'd thy Life, yet still Thy Destiny depends upon my Will: Nor hast thou other Surety than the Grace Not due to thee from our offended Race. But as our Kind is of a softer Mold, And cannot Blood without a Sigh behold,