Ode on the Nuptials of His Majesty George III
ON THE NUPTIALS OF HIS MAJESTY GEORGE III
BY EDMOND MALONE
Deep in a lonely vale, beneath a bower
By nature formed for sweet recess and ease;
Where every beauty that the eye can please
Conspired to gratify the royal power;
What time the grey-eyed twilight o'er the glade
Spreads all around a glimmering gloomy shade,
In contemplation George was laid;
Long did suspense and doubt his mind possess
Wavering and unresolved, what blooming maid,
What soft associate, with his hands to bless.
When, lo! far off two female forms he spies,
In flowing folds of silver light arrayed;
Beauteous they seemed, of more than human size:
Such have the ancient poets oft pourtrayed.
The one advanced with solemn steps and slow,
With thought and meditation on her brow;
Her air majestic, modest was her mien,
Becoming Wisdom's queen;
A decent veil concealed from human sight,
Those virgin charms that ne'er beheld the light.
In such attire, before the son of Jove,
Virtue appeared, at once commanding awe and love.
Lightly the other moved, nor seemed to touch the ground;
Her every look breathed beauty all around;
Graceful her mien, and winning was her air;
Softer her skin, more delicately fair.
A polished mirror in her hand she bore;
A thin transparent robe of gauze she wore,
Which made her charms more lovely show;
Her eyes shone brighter than the morning dews;
Vermilion dyes her blushing cheeks suffuse;
O'er all her frame an air of health did glow,
Which simple nature only can bestow,
Which more commands and charms the heart,
Than all the tints of art.
In such a dress, in such a gay attire,
She used of old to meet the Trojan hero's sire.
“Can doubt,” said she, “divide thy wavering mind?
In me immortal treasures shalt thou find.
Need I recount my merits or my fame?
Let it suffice that Beauty is my name.
Thy stream of life, if thou but follow me,
Shall peaceful flow from all rude tempest free,
And all shall sunshine be.
What mighty bliss can sober Wisdom give?
What joys, alas! can she impart?
With all her rigid precepts how to live,
With all her vain and boasted art,
She cannot please the eye or glad the heart.
Attend my counsel, hearken to my voice,
And rule by me alone thy future choice;
On thee eternal pleasures I'll bestow,
Pleasures which Wisdom ne'er can know,
Pure and unalloyed with woe.
Such blessings will I shower upon thy head,
Which none but I can give,
If thou wilt with me live,
And take a beauteous consort to thy bed.”
“Cease, cease” (cries Wisdom), “thy delusive tongue;
Heed not, my son, this charming syren's song;
Let not the magic glass that she employs
To throw a mist before thine eyes—
Let not insipid pleasures, empty joys,
Delude thy reason 'gainst my better voice.
Let her not teach thee to despise
What thou alone should prize—
The beauties of a nobler kind,
The graces of the mind;
These, these alone should be thy choice.
What will avail, alas! the skin of snow,
When the scarce-throbbing feeble pulse beats low
Soon will the spring of life be past,
And wintry age will come at last,
Of bloom and beauty that most bitter foe.
But if from me, thy surest guide,
Thou wilt receive thy future bride,
One who will soften every care,
And all thy sorrows kindly share,
At once thy truest joy and pride;
Then bliss refined, and happiness sincere
(The sure rewards of prudence and of truth),
Shall still attend thy youth;
And even at thy latest stage,
Shall gild the evening of thy age.”
At this, slow raising up his thoughtful head,
The youth, pathetic, said:
“What now, alas! avails my royal state?
Hard is my lot, and, oh! severe my fate.
Contending passions now distract my breast:
Is this the boasted fruit of being great,
The loss of peace and rest?
My raptured mind now Fancy sways,
And all my soul her voice obeys.
Now Reason cries, ‘Attend my sober strain.’
Cruel conditions! whichsoe'er I choose,
The want of that which I refuse
Will quite corrode what I retain,
And late, perhaps, I shall repent in vain.”
“Not so, my best beloved, my favoured youth”
(Here interrupted Wisdom's queen),
“For such thy goodness and thy worth has been,
Thy virtue, innocence, and truth,
That thou deserv'st a nobler fate;
Nor e'er shalt thou, my son, too late
Thy conduct past repent;
If beauty of the brightest dye,
If every graceful art
That can attract the heart,
Or charm the lover's nicer eye,
Can give thy soul content.
For lo! to thee I now assign
Charlotte, the favourite of the Nine,
Nor less beloved by me;
Her do I now bestow on thee.
Nor can the Queen of Love refuse
To join thy royal hand,
In the connubial band,
With this sweet daughter of the Muse;
Since even from her earliest year,
She still has been her darling care.”
This said, they iustant vanished from his sight,
And soon were lost in shades of endless night.
Smooth glide my verse, my numbers gently flow,
Nor harshly quick, nor querulously slow.
For see! where hoary Thames' translucent stream,
His rushy-fringèd bank in silence laves,
And all his crystal waves
Refulgent glitter with a silver gleam,
The royal galley wafts her o'er;
The Naiads quit their coral beds,
And raise aloft their azure heads
On the rejoicing shore,
To see the partner of the British crown,
In all the gay and gallant pride
That erst conyeyed th' Egyptian bride
The silver Cydnus down;
The wondering waves subside,
The green-haired sea nymphs round the vessel crowd,
The winds adown the silken streamers glide,
And sing their joy aloud.
The softly sighing gale
With gentle breezes fills the swelling sail;
Now smooth it cuts the watery way,
Now wafts the Princess to th' expecting land.
On either hand
The purple Loves and white-robed Graces play.
The rose-lipp'd cherub Health, with bosom bare
And glowing cheek, was there.
And jocund Youth, fair Beauty's friend,
And meek-eyed Innocence, her steps attend.
And lo! behind the blooming maid,
With ever-verdant olives crowned,
In all her tranquil charms arrayed,
The matron Peace bestrews the ground.
Hark! now admiring thousands sing
(While all the shores responsive ring),
“Long may Britannia's laughing plain
Proclaim that George and Charlotte reign.”
Even Nature's self her homage gladly pays,
And joins the voice of universal praise.