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We strait struck hands, the bargain was agreed;
I still have shifts against a time of need:
The moufe that always trufts to one poor hole,
Can never be a mouse of any foul.
I vow'd, I scarce could sleep fince first I knew him,
And durst be fworn he had bewitch'd me to him;
If e'er I flept, I dream'd of him alone,
And dreams foretell, as learned men have shown:
All this I faid; but dream, firs, 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 paft;
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 breasts, as wretched widows-must.
Before my face my handkerchief I fpread,
To hide the flood of tears I did not fhed.
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 pair315
Of legs and feet, so clean, so strong, so fair!
Of twenty winters age he seem'd to be;
I (to fay 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 ftars order'd, fuch: my
life has been:
Alas, alas, that ever love was fin!
Fair Venus gave me fire, and sprightly grace,
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. 330
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 ftruck me on the face; 335
Hear but the fact, and judge yourselves the cafe.
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 swore,
He, against this right fagely would advise,
And old examples set before my eyes,
Tell how the Roman matrons led their life,
Of Gracchus' mother, and Duilius' wife;
And chose the sermon, as beseem'd his wit,
With fome 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,
Deferves a fool's-cap and long ears at home. 359
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,
Men, women, clergy, regular, and lay.
My spouse (who was, you know, to learning bred) A certain treatife oft at ev'ning read, 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, 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 vanquifh'd? 'Twas a Man. 365 But could we women write as fcholars can, Men should stand 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.
Those play the scholars who can't play the men,
And use that weapon which they have, their pen;
When old, and paft the relish of delight,
Then down they fit, 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.380
How Samfon fell; and he whom Dejanire,
Wrap'd in th' envemon'd shirt, and set on fire.
How curs'd Eryphile her lord betray'd,
And the dire ambush Clytemnestra laid.
But what moft pleas'd him was the Cretan dame,385
And husband-bull - oh monftrous, fie for fhame!
He had by heart, the whole detail of woe
Xantippe made her good man undergo;
How oft fhe fcolded 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 said.
He read, how Arius to his friend complain'd, A fatal Tree was growing in his land, 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.
Give me fome flip of this most blissful tree,
And in my garden planted shall it be.
Then how two wives their lord's deftruction prove Thro' hatred one, and one thro' too much love; That for her husband mix'd a pois'nous draught, And this for luft an am'rous philtre bought: The nimble juice foon feiz'd his giddy head, 405 Frantic at night, and in the morning dead.
How fome with fwords their fleeping lords have
And fome have hammer'd nails into their brain,
And fome have drench'd them with a deadly potion;
All this he read, and read with great devotion. 410
Long time I heard, and fwell'd, and blufh'd, and
But when no end of these vile tales I found,
When ftill he read, and laugh'd, and read again,
And half the night was thus confum'd in vain ;
Provok'd to vengeance, three large leaves I tore,415
And with one buffet fell'd him on the floor.
With that my husband in a fury rose,
And down he fettled me with hearty blows.
I groan'd, and lay extended on my fide;
Oh! thou haft flain me for my wealth (I cry'd) 420
Yet I forgive thee-take my laft embrace-
He wept, kind foul! and ftoop'd to kiss my face.
I took him fuch a box as turn'd him blue,
Then figh'd and cry'd, Adieu, my dear, adieu!
But after many a hearty struggle past,
I condefcended to be pleas'd at laft.
Soon as he faid, My miftrefs and my wife,
Do what you lift, the term of all
I took to heart the merits of the cause,
And food content to rule by wholefome laws; 430
Receiv'd the reins of abfolute command,
With all the government of house and land,
And empire o'er his tongue, and o'er his hand.