Изображения страниц

In all these trials I have borne a part:

I was myself the scourge that caused 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; Fives times in lawful wedlock she was join'd, And sure the certain stint was ne'er defined.

'Increase and multiply,' was Heaven'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 Heaven I may have many yet;
For when my transitory spouse, unkind,
Shall die and leave his woful wife behind,
I'll take the next good Christian I can find.

Paul, knowing one could never serve our turn,
Declared '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.
Heaven calls us different ways; on these bestows
One proper gift, another grants to those:
Not every man's obliged 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,
Lived 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 Heaven,
And use the copious talent it has given:
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.
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 loved, 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 smiled, a sudden youth they found,
And a new palsy seized 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 boldy as we women can :

Forswear the fact, though seen with both his eyes, And call your maids to witness how he lies.

[ocr errors]

'Hark, old Sir Paul! ('twas thus I used to say) Whence is our neighbour's wife so rich and gay? Treated, caress'd, where'er she's pleased to roamI sit in tatters, and immured 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,
And ring suspected vessels ere they buy;
But wives, a random choice, untried they take,
They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake;
Then, nor till then, the veil's removed 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 raised, Be sure my fine complexion must be praised. My garments always must be new and gay, And feasts still kept upon my wedding-day. Then must my nurse be pleased, 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 burnished 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 treasure mine? Sir, I'm no fool; nor shall you, by Saint John, Have goods and body to yourself alone.

One you shall quit, in spite of both your eyesI 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

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, And none can long be modest that are gay. The cat, if you but singe her tabby skin, The chimney keeps, and sits content within; But once grown sleek will from her corner run, Sport with her tail, and wanton in the sun : She licks her fair round face, and frisks abroad To show her fur, and to be caterwaul'd.'

Lo thus, my friends, I wrought to my desires
These three right ancient venerable sires.
I told them, Thus you say, and thus you do;
I told them false, but Jenkin swore 'twas true.
I, like a dog, could bite as well as whine,
And first complain'd whene'er the guilt was mine.
I tax'd them oft with wenching and amours, [doors;
When their weak legs scarce dragg'd them out of
And swore the rambles that I took by night
Were all to spy what damsels they bedight:
That colour brought me many hours of mirth;
For all this wit is given us from our birth.
Heaven gave to woman the peculiar grace
To spin, to weep, and cully human race.
By this nice conduct and this prudent course,
By murmuring, wheedling, stratagem, and force,
I still prevail'd, and would be in the right;
Or curtain-lectures made a restless night.
If once my husband's arm was o'er my side,
'What! so familiar with your spouse? I cried :
I levied first a tax upon his need;

Then let him-'twas a nicety indeed!
Let all mankind this certain maxim hold,
Marry who will, our sex is to be sold.
With empty hands no tassels you can lure,
But fulsome love for gain we can endure;

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »