Images de page

So help me, fates! as 'tis no perfect sight, But some faint glimmering 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 (Replied 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 appear'd 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: 790 Excuse me, dear, if ought amiss was said, For, on my soul, amends shall soon be made: Let my repentance your forgiveness draw; By heav'n, I swore but what I thought I saw." 66 Ah, my lov'd lord! 'twas much unkind (she cried) 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, 800 And dusky vapours rise, and intercept the day; So just recovering from the shades of night, Your swimming eyes are drunk with sudden light, Strange phantoms dance around, and skim before your sight.

[ocr errors]




Then, sir, be cautious, nor too rashly deem;
Heav'n knows how seldom things are what they

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." 810
With that she leap'd into her lord's embrace,
With well-dissembled virtue in her face.

[blocks in formation]

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

A fruitful wife, and a believing spouse.


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.






BEHOLD the woes of matrimonial life,
And hear with reverence 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 borne a part:

I was myself the scourge that caus'd the smart;
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;
And sure the certain stint was ne'er defin'd.




"Increase and multiply" was Heav'n's command, And that's a text I clearly understand:

This too, "Let men their sires and mothers leave,
And to their dearer wives for ever cleave."
More wives than one by Solomon were tried,
Or else the wisest of mankind's belied.


I've had myself full many a merry fit,
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.
Paul, knowing one could never serve our turn,
Declar'd 'twas better far to wed than burn.
There's danger in assembling fire and tow;
I grant them 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 different ways; on these bestows 40
One proper gift, another grants to those:
Not every 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 reckoning every night;
His proper body is not his, but mine;
For so said Paul, and Paul's a sound divine.

[ocr errors]



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 resign;


Sure to be lov'd, I took no pains to please,
Yet had more pleasure far than they had ease.
Presents flow'd in apace: with showers of gold
They made their court, like Jupiter of old:
If I but smil'd a sudden youth they found,
And a new palsy seiz'd them when I frown'd.
Ye sovereign wives! give ear, and understand:
Thus shall ye speak, and exercise command;
For never was it given to mortal man
To lie so boldly as we women can:

Forswear the fact, though 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, where'er she's pleas'd to roamI sit in tatters, and immur'd at home.

Why to her house dost thou so oft repair?
Art thou so amorous? and is she so fair?
If I but see a cousin or a friend,

Lord! how you swell and rage like any fiend!
But you reel home, a drunken beastly bear,
Then preach till midnight in your easy chair;
Cry wives are false, and every 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 gaily mad, now sourly splenetic,

Freakish when well, and fretful when she's sick;
If fair, then chaste she cannot long abide,
By pressing youth attack'd on every side;
If foul, her wealth the lusty lover lures,
Or else her wit some fool-gallant procures,
Or else she dances with becoming grace,
Or shape excuses the defects of face.

There swims no goose so gray, but soon or late,
She finds some honest gander for her mate.



"Horses (thou say'st) and asses men may try, 100 And ring suspected vessels ere they buy;

But wives, a random choice, they take;

They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake;
Then, nor till then, the veil's remov'd away,
And all the woman glares in open day.



"You tell me, to preserve your wife's good grace, Your eyes must always languish on my face. Your tongue with constant flatteries 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 complexien 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 favourite maid; And endless treats and endless visits paid To a long train of kindred, friends, allies: All this thou say'st, 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, 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 chests all lock'd? on what design? Are not thy worldly goods and treasures mine? Sir, 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, 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 soever others fare?

Though all the day I give and take delight,

Doubt not sufficient will be left at night.

'Tis but a just 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.

« PrécédentContinuer »