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Then from your back I might ascend the tree
Do you but stoop, and leave the rest to me.
With all my soul, he thus replied again,
I'd spend my dearest blood to ease thy pain.
With that, his back against the trunk he bent,
She seized a twig, and up the tree she went.
Now prove your patience, gentle ladies all!
Nor let on me your heavy anger fall:
'Tis truth I tell, tho' not in phrase refined:
Tho' blunt my tale, yet honest is my mind.
What feats the lady in the tree might do,
I pass, as gambols never known to you;
But sure it was a merrier fit she swore,
Than in her life she ever felt before.
In that nice moment, lo! the wondering Knight
Look'd out, and stood restored to sudden sight.
Straight on the tree his eager eyes he bent,
As one whose thoughts were on his spouse intent;
But when he saw his bosom-wife so dress'd,
His rage was such as cannot be express'd:
Not frantic mothers when their infants die,
With louder clamours rend the vaulted sky:
He cried, he roar'd, he storm'd, he tore his hair;
Death! hell! and furies! what dost thou do there!
What ails my lord? the trembling dame replied;
I thought your patience had been better tried;
Is this your love, ungrateful and unkind,
This my reward for having cured the blind?
Why was I taught to make my husband see,
By struggling with a man upon a tree?
Did I for this the power of magic prove?
Unhappy wife, whose crime was too much love!
If this be struggling, by this holy light
'Tis struggling with a vengeance! (quoth the Knight)
So Heaven preserve the sight it has restored,
As with these eyes I plainly saw thee whored;
Whored by my slave-perfidious wretch! may hell
As surely seize thee, as I saw too well.
Guard me, good angels! cried the gentle May,
Pray Heaven this magic work the proper way!
Alas, my love! 'tis certain, could you see,
You ne'er had used these killing words to me;
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 the immortal pow'rs it seemed too plain
By all those powers some frenzy seized 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 wiped from either eye The drops (for women, when they list, can cry).
The Knight was touch'd; and in his looks appeared Signs of remorse, while thus his spouse he cheered: Madam, 'tis past, and my short anger o'er! Come down, and vex your tender heart no more ; Excuse me, dear, if aught 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.
Ah, my loved 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, 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 Then, Sir, be cautious, nor too rashly deem; [sight. Heaven knows how seldom things are what they seem! 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 With well-dissembled virtue in her face. He hugg'd her close, and kiss'd her o'er and o'er, Disturb'd with doubts and jealousies no more: Both, pleased and bless'd, renew'd their mutual vows, 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 experienced 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 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 :
Five times in lawful wedlock she was joined;
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 woeful 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 '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.
1 envy not their bliss, if he or she
Think fit to live in perfect chastity;
Pure let them be, and free from taint or 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 assigned 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 toiled 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 flowed 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 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 used to say)
Whence is our neighbour's wife so rich and gay
Treated, caress'd, where'er she's pleased to roam-
I 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 à 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 grey, but soon or late,
She finds some honest gander for her mate.
Horses (thou sayst) 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, not 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, thou 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.