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"Great is the bleffing of a prudent wife,
"Who puts a period to domestic strife.
"One of us two muft rule, and one obey;
"And fince in man right reason bears the sway,
"Let that frail thing, weak woman, have her way.)
"The wives of all my family have rul'd 195
"Their tender husbands, and their paffions cool'd.
"Fie, 'tis unmanly thus to figh and groan;
"What! would you have me to yourself alone?
"Why take me, love! take all and ev'ry part!
"Here's your revenge! you love it at your heart.
"Would I vouchfafe to fell what nature gave, 201
"You little think what cuftom I could have.
“But fee! I'm all your own----nay hold-----for
"What means my dear-----indeed-----you are to
Thus with first three lords I pass'd my life;
A very woman, and a very wife.
What fums from thefe old fpoufes I could raise,
Procur'd young husbands in my riper days.
Though paft my bloom, not yet decay'd was I,
Wanton and wild, and chatter'd like a pye.
In country-dances ftill I bore the bell,
And fung as fweet as ev'ning Philomel.
To clear my quail-pipe, and refresh my foul,
Full oft I drain'd the spicy nut-brown bowl; 214
Rich luscious wines, that youthful blood improve,
And warm the swelling veins to feats of love:
For 'tis as fure as cold engenders hail,
A liqu'rish mouth must have a lech'rous tail;
Wine lets no lover unrewarded go,
As all true gamefters by experience know.
But oh, good gods! whene'er a thought I cast On all the joys of youth and beauty past,
To find in pleafures I have had my part,
Still warms me to the bottom of my heart.
This wicked world was once my dear delight; 225
Now all my conquefts, all my charms good night!
The flour confum'd, the best that now I can,
Is e'en to make my market of the bran.
My fourth dear fpoufe was not exceeding true;
He kept, 'twas thought, a private miss or two:
But all that fcore I paid---as how? you'll fay, 231
Not with my body, in a filthy way:
But I fo drefs'd, and danc'd, and drank, and din'd;
And view'd a friend, with eyes fo very kind,
As ftung his heart, and made his marrow fry, 235
With burning rage, and frantic jealousy.
His foul, I hope, enjoys eternal glory,
For hear on earth I was his purgatory.
Oft, when his fhoe the most severely wrung,
He put on careless airs, and fat and fung.
How fore I gall'd him, only Heav'n could know,
And he that felt, and I that caus'd the woe.
He dy'd, when laft from pilgrimage I came,
With other goflips, from Jerufalem;
And now lies bury'd underneath a rood,
Fair to be feen, and rear'd of honest wood.
A tomb indeed, with fewer fculptures grac'd,
Than that Maufolus' pious widow plac'd,
Or where infhrin'd the great Darius lay;
But coft on graves is merely thrown away.
The pit fill'd up, with turf we cover'd o'er;
So, blefs the good man's foul, I say no more.
Now for my fifth lov'd lord, the last and best,
(Kind heav'n afford him everlasting reft;)
Full hearty was his love, and I can fhew
The tokens on my ribs in black and blue;
Yet, with a knack, my heart he could have won,
While yet the finart was shooting in the bone.
How quaint an appetite in women reigns!
Free gifts we fcorn, and love what cofts us pains:
Let men avoid us, and on them we leap; 261
A glutted market makes provision cheap.
In pure good-will I took this jovial spark,
Of Oxford he, a moft egregious clerk.
He: boarded with a widow in the town,
A trufty goffip, one dame Alifon.
Full well the fecrets of my foul she knew,
Better than e'er our parish-prieft could do.
To her I told whatever could befal;
Had but my husband pifs'd against a wall.
Or done a thing that might have coft his life,
Sh---and my niece---and one more worthy wife,
Had known it all. What most he would conceal,
To thefe I made no fcruple to reveal.
Oft has he blush'd from ear to ear for fhame, 275
That e'er he told a fecret to his dame.
It fo befel, in holy time of Lent,
That oft a-day I to this goffip went;
(My husband, thank my ftars, was out of town):
Froin houfe to house we rambled up and down,
This clerk, myself, and my good neighbour Alfe,
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 ftations duly, and the vigils kept;
Not much we fafted, but fcarce ever flept.
At fermons too I fhone in fcarlet
The wafting moth ne'er spoil'd my best array;
The caufe was this, I wore it ev'ry day.
'Twas when fresh May her early bloffom yields>
This clerk and I were walking in the fields.. 291
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, fhould serve my turn. 295
We straight struck hands, the bargain was agreed;
I ftill 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 fcarce 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,
And dreams foretel, as learned men have shown.
All this I faid: but dreams, Sirs, I had none;
I followed 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.
I tore my gown, I foil'd my locks with duft,
And beat my breafts, as wretched widows---must.
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 borne;
Around, the neighbours, and my clerk too, mourn.
But as he march'd, good gods! he fhow'd a pair
Of legs and feet, fo clear, fo ftrong, so fair! 316
Of twenty winters age he feem'd to be;
I (to fay truth) was twenty more than he;
But vig'rous still, a lively buxome dame;
And had a wond'rous gift to quench a flame. 520
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, 325
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 fcarce pass'd away, With dance and fong we kept the nuptial day. 33° All I poffefs'd I gave to his command,
My goods and chattles, 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;
Hear but the fact, and judge yourselves the cafe.
Stubborn as any lionefs 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. 340
He against this right fagely would advise,
And old examples fet before my eyes;
Tell how the Roman matrons led their life,
Of Gracchus' mother, and Duilius' wife;
And chose the fermon, as befeem'd his wit, 345
With fome grave fentence out of Holy Writ.
Oft would he fay, Who builds his houfe on fands,
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. 350.
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 treatise oft at ev'ning read,