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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 St. 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 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,
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 caterwau'd.
Lo thus, my friends, I wrought to my desires
These three right ancient venerable sires.
I told 'em Thus you say, and thus you do,
And told 'em 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,
When their weak legs scarce dragg'd'em out of doors;
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 prevailed, 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 tarsels you can lure,
But fulsome love for gain we can endure;
For gold we love the impotent and old,
heave, and pant, and kiss, and cling, for gold.
Yet with embraces, curses oft I mixt,
Then kiss'd again, and chid and railed betwixt.
Well, I may make my will in peace, and die,
For not one word in man's arrears am I.
To drop a dear dispute I was unable,
Even though the pope himself had sat at table.
But when my point was gained, then thus I spoke,
“ Billy, my dear, how sheepishly you look !
Approach, my spouse, and let me kiss thy cheek;
Thou should'st be always thus, resigned and meek!
Of Job's great patience since so oft you preach,
Well should you practise, who so well can teach.
'Tis difficult to do, I must allow,
But I, my dearest, will instruct you how.
Great is the blessing of a prudent wife,
Who puts a period to domestic strife.
One of us two must rule, and one obey;
And since in man right reason bears the sway,
Let that frail thing, weak woman, have her way.
The wives of all my family have ruled
Their tender husbands, and their passions cooled.
Fie, 'tis unmanly thus to sigh and groan;
What! would you have me to yourself alone ?
Why take me, love ! take all and every part !
Here's your revenge! you love it at your heart.
Would I vouchsafe to sell what nature gave,
You little think what custom I could have.
But see! I'm all your own-nay hold--for shame!
What means my dear-indeed-you are to blame.”
Thus with my first three lords I pass'd my life; A very woman, and a very wife. What sums from these old spouses I could raise, Procured young husbands in my riper days. Though past my bloom, not yet decayed was I, Wanton and wild, and chattered like a pie.
In country dances still I bore the bell,
And sung as sweet as evening Philomel.
To clear my quail-pipe, and refresh my soul,
Full oft I drained the spicy nut-brown bowl;
Rich luscious wines, that youthful blood improve,
And warm the swelling veins to feats of love:
For 'tis as sure as cold engenders hail,
A liquorish mouth must have a lecherous tail;
Wine lets no lover unrewarded go,
As all true gamesters by experience know.
But oh, good gods! whene'er a thought I cast
On all the joys of youth and beauty past,
To find in pleasures I have had my part,
Still warms me to the bottom of my heart.
This wicked world was once my dear delight;
Now all my conquests, all my charms, good night
The flour consumed, the best that now I can,
Is even to make my market of the bran.
My fourth dear spouse was not exceeding true; He kept, 'twas thought, a private miss or two: But all that score I paid-as how? you'll say. Not with my body, in a filthy way: But I so dress'd, and danced, and drank, and dined; And view'd a friend, with eyes so very kind, As stung his heart, and made his marrow fry, With burning rage, and frantic jealousy. His soul, I hope, enjoys eternal glory, For here on earth I was his purgatory. Oft, when his shoe the most severely wrung, He put on careless airs, and sat and
sung. How sore I gall’d him, only Heaven could know, And he that felt, and I that caused the woe. He died, when last from pilgrimage I came, With other gossips from Jerusalem; And now lies buried underneath a rood, Fair to be seen, and reared of honest wood. A tomb, indeed, with fewer sculptures graced Than that Mausolus' pious widow placed, Or where enshrined the great Darius lay; But cost on graves is merely thrown away. The pit fill'd up, with turf we covered o'er; So bless the good man's soul, I say no more.
Now for my fifth loved lord, the last and best; (Kind Heaven afford him everlasting rest;)
Full hearty was his love, and I can shew
The tokens on my ribs in black and blue;
Yet, with a knack, my heart he could have won,
While yet the smart was shooting in the bone.
How quaint an appetite in woman reigns !
Free gifts we scorn, and love what costs us pains:
Let men avoid us, and on them we leap;
A glutted market makes provision cheap.
In pure good will I took this jovial spark,
Of Oxford he, a most egregious clerk.
He boarded with a widow
in the town,
A trusty gossip, one damo-Alison:
Full well the secrets of my soul she knew,
Better than e'er our parish priest could do.
To her I told whatever could befall:
Had but my husband piss'd against a wall,
Or done a thing that might have cost his life,
She-and my niece-and one more worthy wife,
Had known it all: what most he would conceal,
To these I made no scruple to reveal.
Oft has he blush'd from ear to ear for shame,
That e'er he told a secret to his dame.
It so befell, in holy time of Lent,
That oft a day I to this gossip went;
(My husband, thank my stars, was out of town ;)
From house to house we rambled up and down,
This clerk, myself, and my good neighbour Alse,
To see, be seen, to tell, and gather tales.
Visits to every church we daily paid,
And march'd in every holy masquerade,
The stations duly and the vigils kept;
Not much we fasted, but scarce ever slept.
At sermons too I shone in scarlet gay,
The wasting moth ne'er spoil'd my best array;
The cause was this, I wore it every day.
'Twas when fresh May her early blossoms yields,
This clerk and I were walking in the fields.
We grew so intimate, I can't tell how,
I pawn'd my honour, and engaged my vow,
If e'er I laid my husband in his urn,
That he, and only he, should serve my turn.
We straight struck hands, the bargain was agreed;
I still have shifts against a time of need:
The mouse that always trusts to one poor hole,
Can never be a mouse of any soul.
I vow'd, I scarce could sleep since first I knew him,
And durst be sworn he had bewitch'd me to him,
If e'er I slept, I dreamed of him alone,
And dreams foretell, as learned men have shown:
All this I said; but dreams, Sirs, I had none:
I followed but my crafty crony's lore,
Who bid me tell this lie--and twenty more.
Thus day by day and month by month we passid:
It pleased the Lord to take my spouse at last.
I tore my gown, I soiled my locks with dust,
And beat my breasts, as wretched widows--must.
Before my face my handkerchief I spread,
To hide the flood of tears I did not shed.
The good man's coffin to the church was borne';
Around, the neighbours, and my clerk, to mourn.
But as he march'd, good gods! he show'd a pair
Of legs and feet, so clean, so strong, so fair !
Of twenty winters' age he seem'd to be;
I (to say truth) was twenty more than he;
But vigorous still, a lively buxom dame;
And had a wondrous gift to quench a flame.
A conjuror once, that deeply could divine,
Assured me, Mars in Taurus was my sign.
As the stars order'd, such my life has been:
Alas, alas, that ever love was sin !
Fair Venus gave me fire, and sprightly grace,
And Mars assurance, and a dauntless face.
By virtue of this powerful constellation,
I followed always my own inclination,
But to my tale: A month scarce pass'd away,
With dance and song we kept the nuptial day.
All I possess’d I gave to his command,
My goods and chattels, money, house, and land:
But oft repented, and repent it still;
He proved a rebel to my sovereign will:
Nay once by Heaven he struck me on the face;
Hear but the fact, and judge yourselves the case.
Stubborn as any lioness was I;
And knew full well to raise my voice on high;
As true a rambler as I was before,
And would be so, in spite of all he swore.