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But since the sacred leaves to all are free,

And men interpret texts, why should not we?
By this no more was meant, than to have shewn,
That sov'reign goodness dwells in him alone. 680
Who only Is, and is but only One.

But grant the worst; shall women then be weigh'd
By ev'ry word that Solomon has said?

What tho' this King (as ancient story boasts)
Built a fair temple to the Lord of Hosts;
He ceas'd at last his Maker to adore,
And did as much for idol gods, or more.
Beware what lavish praises you confer
On a rank leacher and idolater;

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Whose reign indulgent God, says Holy Writ, 690
Did but for David's righteous sake permit ;
David, the monarch after Heav'n's own mind,
Who lov'd our sex, and honour'd all our kind.

Well, I'm a Woman, and as such must speak;
Silence would swell me, and my heart would break.
Know then, I scorn your dull authorities,
Your idle wits, and all their learned lies.

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By Heav'n, those authors are our sex's foes,
Whom, in our right, I must and will oppose.
Nay (quoth the King), dear Madam, be not

wroth:

I yield it up; but since I gave my oath,

That this much-injur'd Knight again should see;
It must be done-I am a King, said he,
And one, whose faith has ever sacred been-

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And so has mine (she said)-I am a Queen: 705 Her answer she shall have, I undertake;

And thus an end of all dispute I make.·

Try when you list; and you shall find, my lord,
It is not in our sex to break our word.

We leave them here in this heroic strain, 710
And to the Knight our story turns again;
Who in the garden, with his lovely May,
Sung merrier than the Cuckoo or the Jay:
This was his song; “Oh kind and constant be,
Constant and kind I'll ever prove to thee."
Thus singing as he went, at last he drew

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By easy steps, to where the Pear-tree grew:
The longing dame look'd up, and spy'd her Love,
Full fairly perch'd among the boughs above.
She stopp'd, and sighing: Oh good Gods, she cry'd,
What pangs, what sudden shoots, distend
my side?
O for that tempting fruit, so fresh, so green; 721
Help, for the love of heav'n's immortal Queen!
Help, dearest lord, and save at once the life
Of thy poor infant, and thy longing wife!

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Sore sigh'd the Knight to hear his Lady's cry, But could not climb, and had no servant nigh: ł Old as he was, and void of eye-sight too,

What could, alas! a helpless husband do?

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And must I languish then, she said, and die, 730 Yet view the lovely fruit before my eye?

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At least, kind Sir, for charity's sweet sake,
Vouchsafe the trunk between your arms to take; I
Then from your back I might ascend the tree;
Do you but stoop, and leave the rest to me 735
With all my soul, he thus reply'd again,
I'd spend my dearest blood to ease thy pain.
With that, his back against the trunk he bent,
She seiz'd a twig, and up the tree she went. A

Now prove your patience, gentle ladies all! 740 Nor let on me your heavy anger fall: "Tis truth I tell, tho' not in phrase refin'd; Tho' blunt my tale, yet honest is my mind. What feats the lady in the tree might do, I pass, as gambols never known to you; But sure it was a merrier fit, she swore, Than in her life she ever felt before.

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In that nice moment, lo! the wond'ring Knight Look'd out, and stood restor❜d to sudden sight. Straight on the tree his eager eyes he bent, As one whose thoughts were on his spouse intent; But when he saw his bosom-wife so dress'd, His rage was such as cannot be express'd : Not frantic mothers when their infants die, With louder clamours rend the vaulted sky: 755 He cry'd, he roar'd, he storm'd, he tore his hair; Death! hell! and furies! what dost thou do there?

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What ails my Lord? the trembling dame reply'd; I thought your patience had been better try'd; Is this your love, ungrateful and unkind, This my reward for having cur'd the blind?.. Why was I taught to make my husband see, By struggling with a man upon a tree? Did I for this the pow'r of magic prove? Unhappy wife, whose crime was too much love! If this be struggling, by this holy light, 'Tis struggling with a vengeance (quoth the Knight); So Heav'n preserve the sight it has restor❜d, As with these eyes I plainly saw thee whor'd, Whor'd by my slave-perfidious wretch! may hell As surely seize thee, as I saw too well.

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Guard me, good angels! cry'd the gentle May, Pray Heav'n, this magic work the proper way! Alas, my love! 'tis certain, could you see,

You ne'er had us'd these killing words to me: 775
So help me, fates, as 'tis no perfect sight,
But some faint glimm'ring of a doubtful light.
What I have said (quoth he) I must maintain,
For by th' immortal pow'rs it seem'd too plain-
By all those pow'rs, some frenzy seiz'd your
mind,
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(Reply'd the dame) are these the thanks I find?
Wretch that I am, that e'er I was so kind!
She said; a rising sigh express'd her woe,
The ready tears apace began to flow,
And as they fell she wip'd from either eye
The drops (for women, when they list, can cry).
The Knight was touch'd; and in his looks ap-

pear'd

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Signs of remorse, while thus his spouse he cheer'd:
Madam, 'tis
past, and my short anger o'er !

Come down, and vex your tender heart no more;
Excuse me, dear, if aught amiss was said,
For, on my soul, amends shall soon be made:
Let my repentance your forgiveness draw,
By Heaven, I swore but what I thought I saw.

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Ah my lov'd lord! 'twas much unkind (she cry'd)

On bare suspicion thus to treat your bride.
But till your sight's establish'd, for a while,
Imperfect objects may your sense beguile.
Thus when from sleep we first our eyes display,
The balls are wounded with the piercing ray,
And dusky vapours rise, and intercept the day:

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So just recov'ring from the shades of night,

Your swimming eyes are drunk with sudden light, Strange phantoms dance around, and skim before your sight.

Then, Sir, be cautious, nor too rashly deem;

Heav'n knows how seldom things are what they

seem;

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Consult your reason, and you soon shall find
'Twas you were jealous, not your wife unkind:
Jove ne'er spoke oracle more true than this,
None judge so wrong as those who think amiss.
With that she leap'd into her Lord's embrace
With well-dissembled virtue in her face.
He hugg'd her close, and kiss'd her o'er and o'er,
Disturb'd with doubts and jealousies no more:
Both, pleas'd and bless'd, renew'd their mutual vows,
A fruitful wife, and a believing spouse.
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Thus ends our tale, whose moral next to make,
Let all wise husbands hence example take;
And pray, to crown the pleasure of their lives,
To be so well deluded by their wives.

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