Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 328 pages of information about Tales.
From tongues envenom’d, and from arms unseen;
A thousand eyes were fix’d upon the place,
That, if she fell, she might not fly disgrace: 
But malice vainly throws the poison’d dart,
Unless our frailty shows the peccant part;
And Arabella still preserved her name
Untouch’d, and shone with undisputed fame;
Her very notice some respect would cause,
And her esteem was honour and applause. 
   Men she avoided; not in childish fear,
As if she thought some savage foe was near;
Not as a prude, who hides that man should seek,
Or who by silence hints that they should speak;
But with discretion all the sex she view’d,
Ere yet engaged pursuing or pursued;
Ere love had made her to his vices blind,
Or hid the favourite’s failings from her mind. 
   Thus was the picture of the man portray’d,
By merit destined for so rare a maid;
At whose request she might exchange her state,
Or still be happy in a virgin’s fate:  —
He must be one with manners like her own,
His life unquestion’d, his opinions known;
His stainless virtue must all tests endure,
His honour spotless, and his bosom pure;
She no allowance made for sex or times,
Of lax opinion—­crimes were ever crimes;
No wretch forsaken must his frailty curse,
No spurious offspring drain his private purse;
He at all times his passions must command,
And yet possess—­or be refused her hand. 
   All this without reserve the maiden told,
And some began to weigh the rector’s gold;
To ask what sum a prudent man might gain,
Who had such store of virtues to maintain? 
   A Doctor Campbell, north of Tweed, came forth,
Declared his passion, and proclaim’d his worth;
Not unapproved, for he had much to say
On every cause, and in a pleasant way;
Not all his trust was in a pliant tongue,
His form was good, and ruddy he, and young: 
But though the doctor was a man of parts,
He read not deeply male or female hearts;
But judged that all whom he esteem’d as wise
Must think alike, though some assumed disguise;
That every reasoning Brahmin, Christian, Jew,
Of all religions took their liberal view;
And of her own, no doubt, this learned Maid
Denied the substance, and the forms obey’d: 
And thus persuaded, he his thoughts express’d
Of her opinions, and his own profess’d: 
“All states demand this aid, the vulgar need
Their priests and prayers, their sermons and their creed;
And those of stronger minds should never speak
(In his opinion) what might hurt the weak: 
A man may smile, but still he should attend
His hour at church, and be the Church’s friend,
What there he thinks conceal, and what he hears commend.” 
   Frank was the speech, but heard with high disdain,
Nor had the doctor leave to speak again;
A man who own’d, nay gloried in deceit,
“He might despise her, but he should not cheat.” 
   The Vicar Holmes appear’d: 
Project Gutenberg
Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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