William Hayley, “A Charm for Ennui: A Matrimonial Ballad”

[WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ.]

 “A CHARM FOR ENNUI: A Matrimonial Ballad”

 Ye couples, who meet under Love’s smiling star,
Too gentle to skirmish, too soft e’er to jar,
Tho’ cover’d with roses from joy’s richest tree,
Near the couch of delight lurks the daemon Ennui.

Let the Muses’ gay lyre, like Ithuriel’s bright spear,                                          5
Keep this fiend, ye sweet brides, from approaching your ear;
Since you know the squat toad’s infernal esprit,
Never listen, like Eve, to the devil Ennui.

Let no gloom of your hall, no shade of your bower,
Make you think you behold this malevolent power;                                        10
Like a child in the dark, what you fear you will see;
Take courage, away flies the phantom Ennui.

O trust me, the powers both of person and mind
To defeat this sly foe full sufficient you’ll find;
Should your eyes fail to kill him, with keen repartee                                       15
You can sink the flat boat of th’invader Ennui.

If a cool non-chalance o’er your sposo should spread,
For vapours will rise e’en on Jupiter’s head,
O ever believe it, from jealousy free,
A thin passing cloud, not the fog of Ennui.                                                          20

Of tender complainings though love be the theme,
O beware, my sweet friends, ’tis a dangerous scheme;
And tho’ often ‘tis try’d, mark the pauvre mari
Thus by kindness inclos’d in the coop of Ennui.

Let confidence, rising such meanness above,                                                   25
Drown the discord of doubt in the music of love;
Your duette shall thus charm in the natural key,
No sharps from vexation, no flats from Ennui.

But to you, happy husbands, in matters more nice,
The Muse, tho’ a maiden, now offers advice;                                                    30
O drink not too keenly your bumper of glee,
Ev’n ecstasy’s cup has some dregs of Ennui.

Though Love for your lips fill with nectar his bowl,
Though his warm bath of blessings inspirit your soul,
O swim not too far on rapture’s high sea,                                                          35
Lest you sink unawares in the gulph of Ennui.                          

Impatient of law, Passion oft will reply,
“Against limitations I’ll plead till I die;”
But Chief Justice Nature rejects the vain plea,
And such culprits are doom’d to the gaol of Ennui.                                           40

When husband and wife are of honey too fond,
They’re like poison’d carp at the top of a pond,
Together they gape o’er a cold dish of tea,
Two muddy sick fish in the net of Ennui.

Of indolence most ye mild couples beware,                                                     45
For the myrtles of Love often hide her soft snare;
The fond doves in their net from his pounce cannot flee,
But the lark in the morn ’scapes the daemon Ennui.

Let chearful good-humour, that sun-shine of life,
With smiles in the maiden, illumine the wife,                                                   50
And mutual attention, in equal degree,
Keep Hymen’s bright chain from the rust of Ennui.

To the Graces together O fail not to bend,
And both to the voice of the Muses attend,
So Minerva for you shall with Cupid agree,                                                       55
And preserve your chaste flame from the smoke of Ennui.                 

NOTES:

 5 Ithuriel’s bright spear From John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667). The Angel Ithuriel touches Satan (disguised as a toad) with his spear “which ‘no falsehood can endure,'” and his true form thus revealed, Satan is cast out of the Garden of Eden (Oxford Dictionary of Reference and Allusion).

7 esprit Spirit.

17 sposo Spouse.

18 Jupiter Roman god of sky and thunder. Leader of the Roman gods.

23 pauvre mari Poor husband. (Oxford French-English Dictionary).

27 duette Duet.

40 gaol Jail.

52 Hymen Greek god of marriage.

55 Minerva Roman goddess of wisdom.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 53 (April 1783), pp. 693-94.

 Edited by Megan Kwong


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