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Or where enshrin’d the great Darius lay ;
But cost on graves is merely thrown away.
The pit fill’d up, with turf we cover'd o'er;
So bless the good man's soul! I say no more.
Now for my fifth lov'd lord, the last and best;
(Kind beaven afford him everlasting rest!)
Full hearty was his love, and I can show
The tokens on my ribs in black and blue;
Yet with a knack my heart he could have won,
While yet the smart was shooting in the bone.
How quaint an appetite in woman reigns !
Free gifts we scorn, and love what costs us pains:
Let men avoid us, and on them we leap;
A glutted market makes provision cheap.
In pure goodwill I took this jovial spark, Of Oxford he, a most egregious clerk. He boarded with a widow in the town, A trusty gossip, one dame Alison; Full well the secrets of my soul she knew, Better than e'er our parish priest could do. To her I told whatever could befall : Had but my husband piss'd against a wall, Or done a thing that might have cost his life, She—and my niece—and one more worthy wife, Had known it all : what most he would conceal, To these I made no scruple to reveal. Oft has he blush'd from ear to ear for shame That e'er he told a secret to his dame.
It so befell, in holy time of Lent, That oft a day I to this gossip went;
(My husband, thank my stars, was out of town)
From house to house we rambled up and down,
This clerk, myself, and my good neighbour Alse,
To see, be seen, to tell, and gather tales.
Visits to every church we daily paid,
And march'd in every holy masquerade ;
The stations duly and the vigils kept ;
Not much we fasted, but scarce ever slept.
At sermons, too, I shone in scarlet gay:
The wasting moth ne'er spoil'd my best array;
The cause was this, I wore it every day.
'Twas when fresh May her early blossoms yields,
This clerk and I were walking in the fields.
We grew so intimate, I can't tell how.
I pawn'd my honour, and engag'd my vow,
If e'er I laid my husband in his urn,
That he, and only he, should serve my turn.
We straight struck hands, the bargain was agreed;
I still have shifts against a time of need.
The mouse that always trusts to one poor
hole Can never be a mouse of any
soul. Ivow'd I scarce could sleep since first I knew him, And durst be sworn he had bewitch'd me to him ; If e'er I slept I dream'd of him alone, And dreams foretell, as learned men have shown: All this I said ; but dreams, sirs, I had none : I follow'd but my crafty crony's lore, Who bid me tell this lie—and twenty more.
Thus day by day, and month by month we past; It pleas’d the Lord to take my spouse at last.
1 tore my gown, I soild my locks with dust,
And beat my breasts, as wretched widows-must.
Before my face my handkerchief I spread,
To hide the flood of tears I did-not shed.
The good man's coffin to the church was borne;
Around the neighbours and my clerk too mourn;
But as he march’d, good gods! he show'd a pair
Of legs and feet so clean, so strong, so fair !
Of twenty winters' age he seem'd to be;
I (to say truth) was twenty more than he;
But vigorous still, a lively buxom dame,
And had a wondrous gift to quench a flame.
A conjurer once, that deeply could divine,
Assur’d me Mars in Taurus was my sign.
As the stars order'd, such my life has been :
Alas, alas ! that ever love was sin !
Fair Venus gave me fire and sprightly grace,
And Mars assurance and a dauntless face.
By virtue of this powerful constellation,
I follow'd always my own inclination.
But to my tale:-A month scarce pass'd away,
With dance and song we kept the nuptial day.
All I possess'd I gave to his command,
My goods and chattels, money, house, and land;
But oft repented, and repent it still ;
He prov'd a rebel to my sovereign will ;
Nay, once, by heaven! he struck me on the face;
Hear but the fact, and judge yourselves the case.
Stubborn as any lioness was I,
And knew full well to raise my voice on high ;
As true a rambler as I was before,
And would be so in spite of all he swore.
He against this right sagely would advise,
And old examples set before my eyes ;
Tell how the Roman matrons led their life,
Of Gracchus' mother, and Duilius' wife;
And close the sermon, as beseem'd his wit,
With some grave sentence out of Holy Writ.
Oft would he say, 'Who builds his house on sands,
Pricks his blind horse across the fallow lands;
Or lets his wife abroad with pilgrims roam,
Deserves a fool's cap and long ears at home.'
All this avail'd not, for whoe'er he be
That tells my faults, I hate him mortally!
And so do numbers more, I'll boldly say,
Men, women, clergy, regular, and lay.
My spouse (who was, you know, to learning bred)
A certain treatise oft at evening read,
Where divers authors (whom the devil confound
For all their lies) were in one volume bound :
Valerius whole, and of St. Jerome part;
Chrysippus and Tertullian, Ovid's Art,
Solomon's Proverbs, Eloisa's loves,
And many more than sure the church approves.
More legends were there here of wicked wives
Than good in all the Bible and saints' lives.
Who drew the lion vanquish'd ? 'Twas a man:
But could we women write as scholars can,
Men should stand mark'd with far more wickedness
Than all the sons of A Jam could redress.
Love seldom haunts the breast where learning lies,
And Venus sets ere Mercury can rise.
Those play the scholars who can't play the men,
And use that weapon which they have, their
When old, and past the relish of delight,
Then down they sit, and in their dotage write
That not one woman keeps her marriage-vow.
(This by the way, but to my purpose now :)
It chanc'd my husband, on a winter's night,
Read in this book aloud with strange delight,
How the first female (as the Scriptures show)
Brought her own spouse and all his race to woe;
How Samson fell; and he whom Dejanire
Wrapp'd in th' envenom'd shirt, and set on fire;
How curs'd Eriphyle her lord betray'd,
And the dire ambush Clytemnestra laid ;
But what most pleas'd him was the Cretan dame
And husband-bull-Oh, monstrous ! fye, for
shame! He had by heart the whole detail of woe Xantippe made her good man undergo; How oft she scolded in a day he knew, How many pisspots on the sage she threw, Who took it patiently, and wip'd his head : · Rain follows thunder,' that was all he said.
He read how Arius to his friend complain'd A fatal tree was growing in his land, On which three wives successively had twin'd A sliding noose, and waver'd in the wind. • Where grows this plant,' replied the friend, oh!