In life oft ills from self-imprudence spring;
As proof, Candaules’ story we will bring;
In folly’s scenes the king was truly great:
His vassal, Gyges, had from him a bait,
The like in gallantry was rarely known,
And want of prudence never more was shown.
My friend, said he, you frequently have seen
The beauteous face and features of the queen;
But these are naught, believe me, to the rest,
Which solely can be viewed when quite undressed.
Some day I’ll let you gratify your eyes;
Without her knowledge I’ll means devise;
But on condition:—you’ll remember well
What you behold, to no one you will tell,
In ev’ry step most cautiously proceed,
And not your mind with silly wishes feed;
No sort of pleasure surely I could take,
To see vain passion you her lover make.
You must propose, this charming form to view,
As if mere marble, though to nature true;
And I’m convinced you’ll readily declare,
Beyond nor art can reach, nor thought prepare;
Just now I left her in the bath at ease:
A judge you are, and shall the moment seize;
Come, witness my felicity supreme;
You know her beauties are my constant theme.
Awaythey went, and Gyges much admired;
Still more than that: in truth his breast was fired;
For when she moved astonishment was great,
And ev’ry grace upon her seemed to wait.
Emotion to suppress howe’er he tried,
Since he had promised what he felt to hide;
To hold his tongue he wished, but that might raise
Suspicions of designs and mystick ways.
Exaggeration was the better part,
And from the subject he would never start,
But fully praised each beauty in detail,
Without appearing any thing to veil.
Gods! Gyges cried, how truly, king, you’re blessed;
The skin how fair—how charming all the rest!
Thisam’rous conversation by the queen
Was never heard, or she’d enraged have been;
In ancient days of ignorance, we find,
The sex, to show resentment, much inclined;
In diff’rent light at present this appears,
And fulsome praises ne’er offend their ears.
Ourarch observer struggled with his sighs
Those feelings much increased, so fair the prize:
The prince, in doubt, conducted him away;
But in his heart a hundred arrows lay;
Each magick charm directed pointed darts;
To flee were useless: Love such pain imparts,
That nothing can at times obstruct its course;
So quick the flight: so truly great the force.