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But all that score I paid as how? you'll fay,
Not with my body, in a filthy way :
But I fo drefs'd, and danc'd, and drank, and din'd;
And view'd a friend, with eyes fo very kind,
As ftung his heart, and made his marrow fry,
With burning rage, and frantic jealousy.
His foul, I hope, enjoys eternal glory,
For here on earth I was his Purgatory.
Oft, when his fhoe the most severely wrung,
He put on careless airs, and fat and fung.
How fore I gall'd him, only heav'n could know,
And he that felt, and I that caus'd the woe.
He dy'd, when laft from pilgrimage I came,
With other goffips, from Jerufalem;
And now lies buried underneath a Rood,
Fair to be feen, and rear'd of honeft wood.
A tomb indeed, with fewer fculptures grac'd,
Than that Maufolus' pious widow plac'd,
Or where infhrin'd the great Darius lay ;
But coft on graves is merely thrown away.
The pit fill'd up, with turf we cover'd o'er;
So blefs the good man's foul, I fay no more.
Now for my fifth lov'd Lord, the last and best;
(Kind heav'n afford him everlasting rest)
Full hearty was his love, and I can fhew
The tokens on my ribs in black and blue;
Yet, with a knack, my heart he could have won,
While yet the fmart was shooting in the bone.
How quaint an appetite in women reigns!
Free gifts we fcorn, and love what cofts us pains : 260
Let men avoid us, and on them we leap;
A glutted market makes provifion 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 trufty goflip, one dame Alifon.
Full well the fecrets of my foul fhe 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 blufh'd from ear to ear for fhame,
That e'er he told a fecret to his dame.
It fo befel, in holy time of Lent,
That oft a day I to this goffip went;
(My husband, thank my ftars, was out of town)
From house to house we rambled up and down,
This clerk, myfelf, and my good neighbour Alfe,
To fee, be feen, to tell, and gather tales.
Vifits to ev'ry Church we daily paid,
And march'd in ev'ry holy Masquerade,
The Stations duly, and the Vigils kept;
Not much we fafted, but fcarce ever flept.
At Sermons too I faone in fcarlet gay;
The wafting moth ne'er fpoil'd my best array;
The caufe was this, I wore it ev'ry day.
'Twas when fresh May her early bloffom yields, 290 This Clerk and I were walking in the fields. We grew fo intimate, I can't tell how,
I pawn'd my honour and engag'd my vow,
If e'er I laid my husband in his urn,
That he, and only he, fhould ferve my turn.
We ftraight ftruck hands, the bargain was agreed;
I ftill have shifts against a time of need:
The mouse that always trufts to one poor hole,
Can never be a mouse of
I vow'd, I fcarce could fleep fince first I knew him, And durft be fworn he had bewitch'd me to him; It e'er I flept, I dream'd of him alone,
And dreams foretell, as learned men have shown.
All this I faid; but dreams, firs, I had none:
I follow'd but my crafty Crony's lore,
Who bid me tell this lie - and twenty more.
Thus day by day, and month by month we past ; It pleas'd the Lord to take my fpoufe at laft. I tore my gown, I foil'd my locks with duft, And beat my breafts, as wretched widows-muft. 310 Before my face my handkerchief I fpread,
To hide the flood of tears I did not fhed.
The good man's coffin to the Church was borne ; Around, the neighbours, and my Clerk too, mourn.
But as he march'd, good Gods! he fhow'd a pair 315
Of legs and feet, fo clean, fo ftrong, fo fair!
Of twenty winters age he feem'd to be;
I (to fay truth) was twenty more than he;
But vig'rous ftill, a lively buxom dame;
And had a wond'rous gift to quench a flame.
A Conj'rer once, that deeply could divine,
Affur'd me, Mars in Taurus was my fign.
As the ftars order'd, fuch my life has been:
Alas, alas, that ever love was fin!
Fair Venus gave me fire, and sprightly grace,
And Mars affurance, and a dauntless face.
By virtue of this pow'rful conftellation,
I follow'd always my own inclination.
But to my tale: A month scarce pass'd away, With dance and fong we kept the nuptial day. 330 All I poffefs'd I gave to his command,
My goods and chattels, money, houfe, and land:
But oft repented, and repent it ftill;
He prov'd a rebel to my fov'reign will:
Nay once, by Heav'n, he ftruck me on the face; 335
Hear but the fact, and judge yourselves the cafe.
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 fo, in fpite of all he swore.
He, against this right fagely would advise,
And old examples fet before my eyes,
Tell how the Roman matrons led their life,
Of Gracchus' mother, and Duilius' wife;
And close the fermon, as befeem'd his wit,
With fome grave fentence out of Holy Writ.
Oft would he fay, who builds his houfe on fands,
Pricks his blind horfe across the fallow lands,
Or lets his wife abroad with pilgrims roam,
Deferves a fool's-cap and long ears at home.,
All this avail'd not; for whoe'er he be
That tells my faults, I hate him mortally:
And fo do numbers more, I'll boldly fay,
Men, women, clergy, regular, and lay.
My spouse (who was, you know, to learning bred) A certain Treatife oft at ev'ning read, Where divers Authors (whom the devil confound For all their lies) were in one volume bound. Valerius, whole; and of St. Jerome, part; Chryfippus and Tertullian, Ovid's Art, Solomon's Proverbs, Eloïfa's Loves And many more than fure the Church approves. More legends were there here of wicked wives, Than good, in all the Bible and Saints lives. Who drew the Lion vanquish'd? 'Twas a Man. 365 But could we women write as fcholars can,
Men should stand mark'd with far more wickedness, Than all the fons of Adam could redrefs.
Love feldom haunts the breaft where Learning lies,
And Venus fets ere Mercury can rise.
Thofe play the scholars, who can't play the men,
And ufe that weapon which they have, their pen;
When old, and paft the relish of delight,
Then down they fit, and in their dotage write,
That not one woman keeps her marriage vow.
(This by the way, but to my purpose now.)
It chanc'd my hufband, on a winter's night,
Read in this book, aloud, with strange delight,
How the firft female (as the Scriptures show)
Brought her own spouse and all his race to woe.
How Samfon fell; and he whom Dejanire
Wrap'd in th' envenom'd shirt, and set on fire.
How curs'd Eryphile her lord betray'd,
And the dire ambush Clytemneflra laid.
But what most pleas'd him was the Cretan Dame, 385
And Hufband-bull oh monftrous, fie for fhame!
He had by heart the whole detail of woe
Xantippe made her good man undergo;
How oft fhe fcolded in a day, he knew,
How many pifs-pots on the Sage she threw ;
Who took it patiently, and wip'd his head;
"Rain follows thunder," that was all he said.
He read, how Arius to his friend complain'd,
A fatal Tree was growing in his land,
On which three wives fucceffively had twin'd
A fliding noofe, and waver'd in the wind.
Where grows this plant (reply'd the friend) oh where ?
For better fruit did never orchard bear.
Cive me fome flip of this moft blissful tree,
And in my garden planted fhall it be.
Then how two wives their lords' destruction
Thro' hatred one, and one thro' too much love;