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In pure good will I took this jovial fpark,
Of Oxford he, a moft egregious clerk.
He boarded with a widow in the town,
A trufty goffip, one dame Alison.
Full well the fecrets of my foul she knew,
Better than e'er our parish Prieft 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 coft his life,

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She and my niece- and one more worthy wife,

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Had known it all: what most he would conceal,

To these I made no fcruple to reveal.

Oft has he blufh'd from ear to ear for fhame, 275 That e'er he told a secret to his dame.

It fo befel, in holy time of Lent,

That oft a day I to this goffip went ;

(My husband, thank my stars, was out of town)
From houfe to houfe we rambled up and down, 280
This clerk, myself, and my good neighbour Alse,
To fee, be feen, to tell, and gather tales.

Vifits to ev'ry Church we daily paid,
And march'd in ev'ry holy Masquerade,
The Stations duly, and the Vigils kept;
Not much we fafted, but fcarce ever flept.
At Sermons too I fhone in fcarlet gay,
The wafting moth ne'er spoil'd my best array;
The cause was this, I wore it ev'ry day.

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'Twas when fresh May her early bloffoms yields, This Clerk and I were walking in the fields. We grew fo 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.

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We ftrait ftruck hands, the bargain was agreed;

I still have shifts against a time of need:
The mouse that always trufts to one poor hole,
Can never be a mouse of any foul.

I vow'd, I scarce could fleep fince first I knew him,
And durft be fworn he had bewitch'd me to him;
If e'er I flept, I dream'd of him alone,

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And dreams foretel, as learned men har e shown.
All this I faid; but dream, Sirs, I had none :
I follow'd but my crafty Crony's lore,
Who bid me tell this lye—and twenty more.
Thus day by day, and month by month we past;
It pleas'd the Lord to take my spouse at last,
I tore my gown, I foil'd my locks with duft,
And beat my breafts, as wretched widows-muft.310
Before my face my handkerchief I fpread,

To hide the flood of tears I did not shed.

The good man's coffin to the Church was born;

Around, the neighbours, and my clerk too, mourn. But as he march'd, good Gods! he show'd a pair 315 Of legs and feet, fo clean, so strong, fo fair!

Of twenty winters age he feem'd to be;

I (to say truth) was twenty more than he;
But vig'rous ftill, a lively buxom dame;
And had a wond'rous gift to quench a flame.
A Conj'rer once, that deeply could divine,
Affur'd me, Mars in Taurus was my fign.
As the stars order'd, fuch my life has been:
Alas, alas, that ever love was fin!

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Fair Venus gave me fire, and sprightly grace,

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And Mars affurance, and a dauntless face,

By virtue of this pow'rful conftellation,

I follow'd always my own inclination.

But to my tale: A month scarce pass'd away, With dance and fong we kept the nuptial day.

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All I poffefs'd I gave to his command,

My goods and chattels, money, house, and land:

But oft repented, and repent it ftill;

He prov'd a rebel to my fov'reign will:

Nay once by heav'n he struck me on the face;

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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 fo, in spite of all he fwore.
He, against this right fagely would advise,
And old examples fet before my eyes,

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Tell how the Roman matrons led their life,

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Of Gracchus' mother, and Duilius' wife;
And chofe the fermon, as befeem'd his wit,
With fome grave fentence out of holy writ.
Oft would he say, who builds his house on sands,
Pricks his blind horfe across the fallow lands,
Or lets his wife abroad with pilgrims roam,
Deferves 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 fo do numbers more, I'll boldly say,

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Men, women, clergy, regular, and lay.

My spouse (who was, you know, to learning bred) A certain treatise oft at ev'ning read,

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Where divers Authors (whom the dev❜l confound

For all their lyes) were in one volume bound.
Valerius, whole; and of St. Jerome, part;

Chryfippus and: Tertullian, Ovid's Art,

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Solomon's proverbs, Eloïfa's loves;

And many more than fure 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. 365
But could we women write as scholars can,
Men fhould ftand mark'd with far more wickedness
Than all the fons of Adam could redress.

Love feldom haunts the breast where Learning lies,
And Venus fets ere Mercury can rise.

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Those play the scholars who can't play the men,
And use that weapon which they have, their pen;
When old, and past the relish of delight,

Then down they fit, and in their dotage write, That not one woman keeps her marriage-vow. 375 (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 fhow)
Brought her own spouse and all his race to woe. 38e
How Samfon fell; and he whom Dejanire
Wrap'd in th'envenom'd shirt, and set on fire.
How curs'd Eryphile her lord betray'd,
And the dire ambush Clytæmnestra laid.

But what moft pleas'd him was the Cretan dame,
And husband-bulloh monftrous! fie for fhame!
He had by heart, the whole detail of woe
Xantippe made her good man undergo;
How oft fhe scolded in a day, he knew,
How many pifs-pots on the fage fhe threw;
Who took it patiently, and wip'd his head;
Rain follows thunder, that was all he faid.

He read, how Arius to his friend comptain'd,
A fatal Tree was growing in his land,

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On which three wives fucceffively had twin'd

A fliding noofe, and waver'd in the wind.

Where grows this plant (reply'd the friend) oh where?

For better fruit did never orchard bear.

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