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Valerius, whole ; and of St. Jerome, part;
Chrysippus and Tertullian, Oviu's Art,
Solomon's Proverb's, Eloïsa's loves;
And many more than sure the church approves.
More legions were there here of wicked wives,
Than good, in all the Bible and saints' lives.
Who drew the lion vanquish'd? 'twas a man.
But could we women write as scholars can,
Men should stand mark'd with far more wickedness,
Than all the sons of Adam could redress.
Love seldom haunts the breast were learning lies,
And Venus sets ere Mercury can rise.
Those play the scholars, who can't play the men,
And use that weapon which they have, their pen ;
When old, and past the relish of delight,
Then down they sit, and in their dotage write,
That not one woman keeps her marriage vow
(This, by the way, but to my purpose now).
It chanced, my husband, on a winter's night,
Read in this book, aloud, with strange delight,
How the first female (as the Scriptures shew)
Brought her own spouse and all his race to woe.
How Sampson fell; and he whom Dejanire
Wrapp'd in th’ envenom'd shirt, and set on fire.
How cursed Eriphyle her lord betray'd,
And the dire ambush Clytemnestra laid.
But what most pleased him was the Cretan dame,
And husband-bulloh monstrous ! fie for shame!
He had by heart the whole detail of woe
Xantippe made her good man undergo;
How oft she scolded in a day he knew,
How many p-s-pots on the sage she threw,
Who took it patiently, and wiped 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 successively had twined
A sliding noose, and waver'd in the wind.
Wheregrows this plant,' replied the friend, oh where?
For better fruit did never orchard bear:
Give me some slip of this most blissful tree,
And in my garden planted shall it be.'
Then how two wives their lords' destruction prove, Through hatred one, and one through too much love; That for her husband mix'd a poisonous draught, And this for Inst an amorous philtre bought : The nimble juice soon seized his giddy head, Frantic at night, and in the morning dead. How some with swords their sleeping lords have slain, And some have hammer'd nails into their brain, And some have drench'd them with a deadly potion ; All this he read, and read with great devotion.
Long time I heard, and swell’d, and blush'd, and
But when no end of these vile tales I found,[frown'd:
When still he read, and laugh’d, and read again,
And half the night was thus consumed in vain;
Provoked to vengeance, three large leaves I tore,
And with one buffet felld him on the floor.
With that my husband in a fury rose,
And down he settled me with hearty blows:
I groan'd, and lay extended on my side;
• Oh! thou hast slain me for my wealth,' I cried.
Yet I forgive thee-take my last embrace
He wept, kind soul! and stoop'd to kiss my face!
I took him such a box as turn'd him blue,
Then sigh’d, and cried, ' Adieu, my dear, adieu !
But after many a hearty struggle pass'd,
I condescended to be pleased at last.
Soon as he said, “My mistress and my wife,
Do what you list, the term of all your life;'
I took to heart the merits of the cause,
And stood content to rule by wholesome laws;
Received the reins of absolute command,
With all the government of house and land,
And empire o'er his tongue, and o'er his hand.
As for the volume that reviled the dames,
'Twas torn to fragments, and condemn’d to flames.
Now Heaven on all my husbands gone bestow Pleasures above for tortures felt below: That rest they wish'd for, grant them in the grave, And bless those souls my conduct help'd to save !
THE FIRST BOOK OF
STATIUS HIS THEBAIS.
Translated in the Year 1703.
THE ARGUMENT. Edipus king of Thebes, having by mistake slain his father Laïus, and married his mother Jocasta, put out his own eyes, and resigned the realm to his sons, Eteocles and Polynices. Being neglected by them, he makes his prayer to the fury Tisiphone, to sow debate betwixt the brothers. They agree at last to reign singly, each a year by turns, and the first lot is obtained by Eteocles. "Jupiter, in a council of the gods, declares his resolution of punishing the Thebans, and Argives also, by means of a marriage between Polynices and one of the daughters of Adrastus, king of Argos. Juno opposes, but to no effect; and Mercury is sent on a message to the Shades, to the ghost of Laïus, who is to appear to Eteocles, and provoke him to break the agreement. Polynices in the mean time departs from Thebes by night, is overtaken by a storm, and arrives at Argos ; where he meets with Tydeus, who had fled from Calydon, having killed his brother. Adrastus entertains them, having received an oracle from Apollo, that his daughters should be married to a boar and a lion, which he understands to be meant of these strangers, by whom the hides of those beasts were worn, and who arrived at the time when he kept an annual feast in honour of that god. The rise of this solemnity he relates to his guests, the loves of Phoebus and Psamathe, and the story of Chorcebus. He inquires, and is made acquainted with their descent and quality. The sacrifice is renewed, and the book concludes with a hymn to Apollo.
The translator hopes he need not apologize for his choice of this piece, which was made almost in his childhood; but, finding the version better than he expected, he gave it some correction a few years afterward. FRATERNAL rage the guilty Thebes alarms, Th' alternate reign destroy'd by impious arms Demand our song; a sacred fury fires My ravish'd breast, and all the muse inspires. O goddess ! say, shall I deduce my rhymes From the dire nation in its early times, Europa's rape, Agenor's stern decree, And Cadmus searching round the spacious sea ? How with the serpent's teeth he sow'd the soil, And reap'd an iron harvest of his toil? Or how from joining stones the city sprung, While to his harp divine Amphion sung? Or shall I Juno's hate to Thebes resound, Whose fatal rage th' unhappy monarch found? The sire against the son his arrows drew, O'er the wide fields the furious mother flew,
And while her arms a second hope contain,
Sprung from the rocks, and plunged into the main.
But waive whate'er to Cadmus may belong,
And fix, O Muse! the barrier of thy song
At Edipus-from his disasters trace
The long confusions of his guilty race:
Nor yet attempt to stretch thy bolder wing,
And mighty Cæsar's conquering eagles sing;
How twice he tamed proud Ister's rapid flood, [blood;
While Dacian mountains stream'd with barbarous
Twice taught the Rhine beneath his laws to roll,
And stretch'd his empire to the frozen pole:
Or long before, with early valour, strove
In youthful arms t' assert the cause of Jove.
And thou, great heir of all thy father's fame,
Increase of glory to the Latian name!
O bless thy Rome with an eternal reign,
Nor let desiring worlds entreat in vain.
What though the stars contract their heavenly space,
And crowd their shining ranks to yield thee place ;
Though all the skies, ambitious of thy sway,
Conspire to court thee from our world away:
Though Phoebus longs to mix his rays with thine,
And in thy glories more serenely shine;
Though Jove himself no less content would be
To part his throne, and share his heaven with thee;
Yet stay, great Cæsar; and vouchsafe to reign
O'er the wide earth, and o'er the watery main ;
Resign to Jove his empire of the skies,
And people heaven with Roman deities,
The time will come, when a diviner flame
Shall warm my breast to sing of Cæsar's fame:
Meanwhile permit, that my preluding muse
In Theban wars a humbler theme may choose :
Of furious hate surviving death, she sings,
A fatal throne to two contending kings,
And funeral flames, that parting wide in air
Express the discord of the souls they bear:
Of towns dispeopled, and the wandering ghosts
Of kings unburied on the wasted coasts;
When Dirce's fountain blush'd with Grecian blood,
And Thetis, near Ismenos' swelling flood,
With dread beheld the rolling surges sweep,
In heaps, his slaughter'd sons into the deep.
What hero, Clio! wilt thou first relate ?
The rage of Tydeus, or the prophet's fate?
Or how, with hills of slain on every side,
Hippomedon repellid the hostile tide?
Or how the youth, with every grace adorn'd,
Untimely fell, to be for ever mourn'd?
Then to fierce Capaneus thy verse extend,
And sing with horror his prodigious end,
Now wetched Edipus, deprived of sight,
Led a long death in everlasting night;
But while he dwells where not a cheerful ray
Can pierce the darkness, and abhors the day;
The clear reflecting mind presents his sin
In frightful views, and makes it day within ;
Returning thoughts in endless circles roll,
And thousand furies haunt his guilty soul;
The wretch then lifted to th' unpitying skies
Those empty orbs from whence he tore his eyes,
Whose wounds, yet fresh, with bloody hands he strook,
While from his breast these dreadful accents broke:
• Ye gods! that o'er the gloomy regions reign, Where guilty spirits feel eternal pain; Thou, sable Styx! whose livid streams are roll'd Through dreary coasts, which I, though blind, behold: Tisiphone, that oft hast heard my prayer, Assist, if Edipus deserve thy care! If you received me from Jocasta's womb, And nursed the hope of mischiefs yet to come : If, leaving Polybus, I took my way To Cyrrha's temple, on that fatal day, When by the son the trembling father died, Where the three roads the Phocian fields divide : If I the Sphinx's riddles durst explain, Taught by thyself to win the promised reign : If wretched I, by baleful Furies led, With monstrous mixture stain'd my mother's bed, For hell and thee begot an impious brood, And with full lust those horrid joys renew'd; Then, self-condemn'd to shades of endless night, Forced from these orbs the bleeding balls of sight :