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EHOLD the woes of matrimonial life,
And hear with rev'rence an experienc'd wife!
To dear-bought wisdom give the credit due,
And think for once, a woman tells you true.

* I have a curious book, entitled, A Commentary upon the Two Tales of our ancient, renowned, and ever-living Poet,


who, for his rich fancy, pregnant invention, and prefent compo. fure, deferved the countenance of a Prince, and of his laureat honours:





Printed by William Godbid, and to be fold by Peter Dring at the Sun, in the Poultry, near the Rofe tavern. 1665.

The Author in the Dedication figns himself R. B.; and in the advertisement fays,

"This comment was an affay whereto the author was importuned by perfons of quality, to compleat with brief, pithy, and proper illufirations, fuitable to the subject !"

It appears from it, that the character of Chaucer was not well understood by the age in which this book was written; as it appears the Comment was undertaken to point out the humourous and truly comic talent of our ancient bard, which was not at the time appreciated. A short specimen will fuffice:


In all these trials I have borne a part,

I was myself the fcourge that caus'd the smart ;
For, fince fifteen, in triumph have I led
Five captive husbands from the church to bed.
Christ faw a wedding once, the Scripture fays,
And faw but one, 'tis thought, in all his days;

"Of five hufbands fcolynge am I
Welcome the fixth whenever he shall dy.




"The thought is taken: all flesh is mortal; but of all flesh she "would have none more mortal than her husband's. She would ever “ have her aged husband's look like Death's head; meantime her


fage admonitions are never wanting to bid him remember his end. "Life is a trouble, but of all others she is most troubled with his "life. Thus dictates the of her husband's pilgrimage; which by "how much the fhorter, it is for her all the better," &c.

However trifling fuch things may appear, I mention them, to fhew the light in which Chaucer's character was held at the time; and I fhall add a few words from the Appendix, to fhew the Author's good fenfe.

“Appendix to Comments.

"After fuch time as the AUTOR, upon the instancy of sundry "perfons of quality, had finished his Comments upon these Two "TALES, the perufal of them begot that influence over the

clear and weighty judgements of the ftricteft and rigidest Cen"fors; as their high approvement of them induced their impor“tunity to the AUTHOR to go on with the reft, as he had fuc"cefsfully done with these two firft: ingeniously protesting,

that they had not read any subject difcourfing by way of IL“LUSTRATION, and running DESCANT, on fuch light, but “HARMLESS fancies, more handsomely couched, or modeftly "fhadowed. All which, though urgently preffed, could make no “impreffion on the AUTHOR, for his definite answer was this "That his age, without any other appellant, might render his apo“logy; and privilege him from COMMENTING ON CONCEPTIONS, "being never fo pregnant, being interveined with levity; faying,

"Of fuch light toys hee'd ta'n a long adieu."

Whence fome infer, whose conscience is too nice,
No pious Chriflian ought to marry twice.

But let them read, and folve me, if they can,
The words addrefs'd to the Samaritan:
Five times in lawful wedlock fhe was join'd;
And fure the certain ftint was ne'er defin'd.

There's danger in affembling fire and tow;
I grant 'em that, and what it means you know.
The fame Apostle too has elfewhere own'd,
No precept for Virginity he found :
'Tis but a counfel-and we women still

"Encrease and multiply," was Heav'n's command, And that's a text I clearly understand.

This too, "Let men their fires and mothers leave,
"And to their dearer wives for ever cleave."
More wives than one by Solomon were try'd,
Or else the wifest of mankind's bely'd.
I've had myself full many a merry
And truft in Heav'n I may have many yet.
For when my tranfitory 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 ferve our turn,
Declar'd 'twas better far to wed than burn.

Take which we like, the counfel, or our will.
I envy not their blifs, if he or she
Think fit to live in perfect chastity;
Pure let them be, and free from taint or vice;
for a few flight spots, am not so nice.





Heav'n calls us diff'rent ways, on these bestows
One proper gift, another grants to those:
Not every man's oblig'd to fell his store,
And give up all his fubftance to the poor;
Such as are perfect, may, I can't deny;
But, by your leaves, Divines, fo am not I.

Full many a Saint, fince first the world began,
Liv'd an unspotted maid, in spite of man :
Let fuch (a God's name) with fine wheat be fed,
And let us honest wives eat barley-bread.

For me, I'll keep the poft affign'd by heav'n,
And use the copious talent it has giv'n:
Let my good spouse pay tribute, do me right,
And keep an equal reck'ning ev'ry night:
His proper body is not his, but mine;

For fo faid Paul, and Paul's a found 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 befide,





And toil'd most piteously to please their bride:
But fince their wealth (the best they had) was mine, 60
The reft, without much lofs, I could refign.
Sure to be lov'd, I took no pains to please,
Yet had more Pleasure far than they had Ease.
Presents flow'd in apace with fhow'rs of gold,
They made their court, like Jupiter of old.


If I but smil❜d, a fudden youth they found, And a new palfy feiz'd them when I frown'd.


Ye fov'reign wives! give ear, and understand,
Thus fhall ye speak, and exercise command.
For never was it giv'n to mortal man,
To lie fo boldly as we women can:
Forfwear the fact, tho' feen with both his eyes,
And call your maids to witness how he lies.


Hark, old Sir Paul! ('twas thus I us'd to fay)
Whence is our neighbour's wife fo rich and gay?
Treated, carefs'd, where'er fhe's pleas'd to roam-
I fit in tatters, and immur'd at home.

Why to her house doft thou so oft repair?
Art thou fo am'rous? and is the fo fair?
If I but fee a coufin or a friend,
Lord! how you fwell, 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 fay) fhe drains her husband's purse;
If rich, fhe keeps her priest, or fomething worse;
If highly born, intolerably vain,

Vapours and pride by turns poffefs her brain,
Now gayly mad, now fourly fplenetic,
Freakish when well, and fretful when she's fick.
If fair, then chafte fhe cannot long abide,
By preffin youth attack'd on ev'ry fide:
If foul, her wealth the lufty lover lures,
Or else her wit fome fool-gallant procures,








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