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The Judgment of Paris.

William Congreve. 

Note: this Renascence Editions text was transcribed by Risa S. Bear, June 2001, from the 1923 Nonesuch Press type facsimile of the 1700 libretto. Any errors that have crept into the transcription are the fault of the present publisher. The text is in the public domain. Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 2001 the editor and The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only. Send comments and corrections to the Publisher.


A Masque.

Vincis utramque Venus.
                                             Ov. Art. Am. L. 1.
Set severally to Musick, by Mr. John Eccles,
Mr. Finger, Mr. Purcel, and Mr. Weldon.
Invitat pretiis animos, & praemia ponit. Virg. Æn. 5.
Nemo ex hoc numero--non donatus abibit. Ibid.


The Scene is a Landskip of a beautiful Pasture supposed on Mount Ida. The Shepherd Paris is seen seated under a Tree, and playing on his Pipe; his Crook and Scrip, &c. lying by him. While a Symphony is playing, Mercury descends with his Caduceus in one Hand, and an Apple of Gold in the other: After the Symphony he sings.


ROM high Olympus, and the Realms above,

      Behold I come the messenger of Jove;
      His dread Commands I bear:
        Shepherd, arise and hear;
      Arise, and leave awhile thy rural Care:
  Forbear thy woolly Flock to feed,
  And lay aside thy tuneful Reed;
For thou to greater Honours art decreed.
Par. O Hermes, I thy Godhead know,
        By thy winged Heels and Head,
        By thy Rod that wakes the Dead,
        And guides the Shades below. 
Say wherefore dost thou seek this humble Plain,
        To greet a lowly Swain?
What does the mighty Thunderer ordain?
Mer. This Radiant Fruit behold,
More bright then burnish'd Gold;
Three goddesses for this Contend:
        See now they descend,
        And this way they bend.
Shepherd, take the Golden Prize,
Yield it to the brightest Eyes.

[Juno, Pallas and Venus are seen at a Distance descending in seueral Machines.
  Par. O Ravishing Delight!
What Mortal can support the Sight?
        Alas! too weak is Human Brain,
        So much Rapture to Sustain.
I faint, I fall! O take me hence,
Ere Ecstasie invades my aking Sense:
        Help me, Hermes, or I dye,
        Save me from Excess of Joy.
Mer. Fear not, Mortal: none shall harm thee;
With my Sacred Rod I'll charm thee;
        Freely gaze and view all over,
        Thou may'st ev'ry Grace discover.
Though a thousand Darts fly round thee,
Fear not, Mortal, none shall wound thee.
For two parts.


Happy thou of Human Race,
Gods with thee would change their Place,
With no God I'd change my Place,
Happy I of Human Race.


[Mercury ascends.

[While a Symphony is playing, Juno descends from her Machine; 
after the Symphony she sings.
  Juno. Saturnia, Wife of Thundring Jove, am I,
Belov'd by him, and Empress of the Sky;
Shepherd, fix on me thy wondring Sight,
Beware, and view me well, and judge aright.
[Symphony for Pallas.
  Pal. This way, Mortal, bend thy Eyes,
Pallas claims the golden Prize;
A Virgin Goddess free from Stain,
And Queen of Arts and Arms I reign.
[Symphony for Venus.
  Ven. Hither turn thee, gentle Swain,
Let not
Venus sue in vain;
Venus rules the Gods above,
Love rules them, and she rules Love.
        Hither turn thee gentle Swain.
Pal. Hither turn to me again.
Juno. Turn to me, for I am she.
Ven. Hither turn thee, gentle Swain.
Juno and Pal. She will deceive thee.
Ven. They will deceive thee, I'le never leave thee.
Chorus of
All 3.
Hither turn to me again,
To me, to me, for I am she;
Hither turn thee, gentle Swain.


Distracted I turn, but I cannot decide;
So equal a Title sure never was try'd. 
United, your Beauties so dazle the Sight,
        That lost in Amaze, 
        I giddily gaze,
Confus'd and o'erwhelm'd with a Torrent of Light.


Apart let me view then each heav'nly Fair,
For three at a time there's no Mortal can bear;
And since a gay Robe an ill Shape may disguise,
        When each is undrest
        I'll judge of the best,
For 'tis not a Face that must carry the Prize.

Juno sings.

Let Ambition fire thy Mind,
Thou wert born o're Men to reign,
Not to follow Flocks design'd;
Scorn thy Crook, and leave the Plain.


Crowns I'le throw beneath thy Feet,
Thou on necks of Kings shalt tread,
Joys in Circles Joys shall meet,
Which way e're thy fancy's Lead.


Let not Toils of Empire fright,
(Toils of Empire pleasures are;
Thou shalt only know Delight,
All the Joy, but not the Care.


Shepherd, if thou'lt yield the Prize,
For the Blessings I bestow,
Joyful I'le ascend the Skies,
Happy thou shalt reign below.


Let Ambition fire thy Mind,
Thou wert born o're Men to Reign,
Not to follow Flocks design'd;
Scorn thy Crook, and leave the Plain.

Pallas Sings alone.

Awake, awake, thy Spirits raise,
Waste not thus thy youthful Days,
        Pipeing, toying,
        Nymps decoying,
Lost in wanton and inglorious Ease.


Hark, hark! the glorious Voice of War
Calls aloud, for Arms prepare:
        Drums are beating, 
        Rocks repeating,
Martial Music charms the joyful air.
Pallas Sings.
Oh what Joys does Conquest yield!
When returning from the Field,
        O how glorious 'tis to see
The Godlike Hero crown'd with Victory!
        Lawrel Wreaths his Head surrounding.
        Banners waveing in the Wind,
Fame her golden Trumpet sounding,
        Every Voice in Chorus Joyn'd.
To me, kind Swain, the Prize resign,
And Fame and Conquest shall be thine.


        O how glorious 'tis to see
The Godlike Hero crown'd with Victory!
Venus Sings alone.
Stay, lovely Youth, delay thy Choice;
Take heed lest empty Names enthrall thee;
Attend to
Cytherea's voice;
Lo! I who am Love's Mother call thee.

        Far from thee be anxious Care,
        And racking Thoughts that vex the Great:
        Empire's but a guilded Snare,
        And fickle is the Warriour's Fate,
One only Joy Mankind can know,
And Love alone can that bestow.


One only Joy, etc.

Venus Sings.

Nature fram'd thee sure for Loving,
Thus adorn'd with every Grace;
Venus' self thy Form approving,
Looks with Pleasure on thy Face.


Happy Nymph who shall enfold thee,
Circled in her yielding Arms!
Should bright
Hellen once behold thee, 
She'd surrender all her Charms.

Fairest she, all Nymphs transcending,
That the Sun himself has seen,
Were she for the Crown contending,
Thou would'st own her beautie's Queen.


Gentle Shepherd, if my Pleading 
Can from thee the Prize obtain,
Love himself thy Conquest aiding,
Thou that Matchless Fair shalt gain.
Par. I yield, I yield, O take the Prize,
And cease, O cease, th'incarnating Song;
All Love's Darts are in thy Eyes,
And Harmony falls from thy Tongue.
        Forbear, O Goddess of Desire,
        Thus my ravish'd Soul to move;
        Forbear to fan the raging Fire,
        And be propitious to my Love.

Here Paris gives to Venus the Golden Apple. Several Cupids descend, the three Graces alight from the Chariot of Venus, they call the Howrs, who assemble; with all the Attendants on Venus. All joyn in a Circle round her, and sing the last grand Chorus, while Juno and Pallas ascend.

Grand Chorus.

        Hither all ye Graces, all ye Loves,
        Hither all ye
Hours resort;
        Billing Sparrowes, Cooing Doves;
        Come all the Train of
Venus Court.
        Sing all the great
Cytherea's Name;
        Over Empire, over Fame,
        Her Victory proclaim.
Sing, and spread the joyful News around,
The Queen of Love, is Queen of Beauty Croun'd.

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