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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,
I've had myself full many a merry fit,
Paul, knowing one could never serve our turn,
"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;
Full many a saint, since first the world began,
For so said Paul, and Paul's a sound divine.
The three were old, but rich, and fond beside,
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 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;
Freakish when well, and fretful when she's sick :
'Horses (thou say'st) and asses men may try,
"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,
'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
Then let him-'twas a nicety indeed!