Imatges de pÓgina
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Excuse me, dear, if aught amiss was said,

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For, on my foul, amends shall soon be made:
Let my repentance your forgiveness draw,
By heav'n, Í swore but what I thought I saw.

Ah my lov'd lord ! 'twas much unkind (the cry'd)
On bare suspicion thus to treat your bride.

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But till your fight'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 fight:
Then, Sir, be cautious, nor too rashly deem;
Heav'n knows how seldom things are what they seem ! 805
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,

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With well-diffembled virtue in her face.
He hug'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 wife husbands hence example take ;
And pray, to erown the pleasure of their livesy
To be so well deluded by their wives.

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THE

Τ Η Ε

WIFE of B AT H.

From CHAU CE R.

BEHOLD the

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woes of matrimonial life,
And hear with rev'rence an experienc'd wife !
To dear-bought wisdom give the credit due,
And think, for once, a woman tells you true,
In all these trials I have born a part,

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I was myself the scourge that caus’d the sinart;
For, since fifteen, in triumph have I led
Five captive husbands from the church to bed.

Christ saw a wedding once, the scripture says, And saw but one, 'tis thought, in all his days; Whence some infer, whose conscience is too nice, No pious christian ought to marry twice.

But let them read, and solve me, if they can,
The words address'd to the Samaritan :
Five times in lawful wedlock she was join'd; 15
And sure the certain stint was ne'er defin'd.

Encrease and multiply was heav'n's command,
And that's a text I clearly understand.
This too, “Let men their fires and mothers leave,
“ And to their dearer wives for ever cleave."

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More wives than one by Solomon were try'd,
Or else the wisest of mankind's bely'd,
I've had myself full many a merry
And trust in heav'n I may have many yet,
For when my transitory spouse, unkind,
Shall die, and leave his woeful wife behind,
I'll take the next good christian I can find,
B b 2

Paul,

fit ;

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Paul, knowing one could never serve our turn,
Declar'd 'twas better far to wed, than burn.
There's danger in assembling fare and tow;
I grant 'em that, and what it means you know.
The same apostle too has elsewhere own'd,
No precept for virginity he found :
'Tis but a counsel—and we women still
Take which we like, the counsel, or our will.

I envy not their bliss, if he or she
Think fit to live in perfect chastity;
Pure let them be, and free from taint of vice;
I, for a few slight spots, am not so nice.
Heav'n calls us diff'rent ways, on these bestows.
One

proper gift, another grants to those :
Not ev'ry man's oblig'd to sell his store,
And give up all his substance to the poor;
Such as are perfect, may, I can't deny ;
But, by your leaves, divines, so am not I.

Full many a saint, since first the world began,
Liv'd an unspotted maid, in spite of man:
Let such (a God's name) with fine wheat be fed,
And let us honest wives eat barley bread.
For me, I'll keep the post assign’d by heav'n,
And use the copious talent it has giv’n :
Let my good spouse pay tribute, do me right,
And keep an equal reck’ning ev'ry night :
His proper body is not his, but mine;
For so said Paul, and Paul's a sound divine.

Know then, of those five husbands I have had,
Three were just tolerable, two were bad.
The three were old, but rich and fond beside,
And toil'd most piteously to please their bride :
But since their wealth (the best they had) was mine,
The rest, without much loss, I could refign.
Sure to be lov’d, I took no pains to please,
Yet had inore pleasure far than they had ease.

Presents flow'd in apace : with show'rs of gold,
They made their court, like Jupiter of old,

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If I but smild, a sudden youth they found,
And a new pally seiz'd them when I frown'd.

Ye sov'reign wives! give ear, and understand ;
Thus shall ye speak, and exercise command,
For never was it giv’n to mortal man,

70 To lie so boldly as we women can. Forswear the fact, tho’ seen with both his

eyes, And call your maids to witness how he lies.

Hark, old Sir Paul! ('twas thus I us’d to say) Whence is our neighbour's wife so rich and gay? 75 Treated, caress’d, wherëter she's pleas'd to roamI fit in tatters, and immur'd at home. Why to her house dost thou so oft repair ? Art thou so am'rous ? and is she fo fair? If I but see a cousin, or a friend,

8 Lord! how you swell, and rage like any fiend!

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But you reel home, a drunken beastly bear,
Then preach till midnight in your easy chair,
Cry, wives are false, and ev'ry woman evil,
And give up all that's female to the devil.

If poor (you say) she drains her husband's purse;
If rich, she keeps her priest, or something worse ;
If highly born, intolerably vain,
Vapours and pride by turns possess her brain,
Now gayly mad, now sourly' splenetic,
Freakish when well, and fretful when she's sick.
If fair, then chafte she cannot long abide,
By pressing youth attack'd on ev'ry side.
If foul, her wealth the lusty lover lures,
Or else her wit some fool-gallant procures,

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Or else she dances with becoming grace,
Or hape excuses the defects of face.
There swims no goose so grey, but, foon or late,
She finds fome honest gander for her mate.

Horses (thou say'st) and asses, men may try,
And ring suspected vessels e'er they buy :
But wives, a random choice, untry'd they take,
They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake :

Then,

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Then, nor till then, the veil's remov'd away,
And all the woman glares in open day.

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You tell me, to preserve your wife's good grace,
Your eyes must always languish on my face,
Your tongue with conftant flatt'ries feed my ear,
And tag each sentence with, my life ! my dear!
If, by strange chance, a modest blush be rais'd,
Be sure my fine complexion must be prais’d.
My garments always must be new and gay,
And feasts still kept upon my wedding-day.
Then must my nurse be pleas'd, and fav’rite maid;
And endless treats, and endless visits paid,

115 To a long train of kindred, friends, allies; All this thou say'ft, and all thou say'st are lies.

On Jenkin too you cast a squinting eye : What can your 'prentice raise your jealousy? Fresh are his ruddy cheeks, his forehead fair, 120 And like the burnish'd gold his curling hair. But clear thy wrinkled brow, and quit thy sorrow, I'd scorn your ’prentice, should you die to-morrow.

Why are thy chefts all lock'd? on what defiga? Are not thy worldly goods and treasure mine?

125 Sit, I'm no fool : nor shall you, by St. John, Have goods and body to yourself alone. One you shall quit, in spite of both your eyes I heed not I, the bolts, the locks, the spies. If you had wit, you'd say, “Go where you will,

139 Dear spouse, I credit not the tales they tell : « Take all the freedoms of a married life; * I know thee for a virtuous, faithful wife.”

Lord ! when you have enough, what need you care How merrily foever others fare?

135 Tho' all the day I give and take delight, Doubt not, fufficient will be left at night. *Tis but a juft and rational desire, To light a taper at a neighbour's fire.

There's danger too, you think, in rich array, 140 And none can long be modest that are gay: 5

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