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His foul, 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 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 seen, and rear'd of honest 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 bless the good man's foul, I say no more.
Now for my fifth lov'd Lord, the last and best; (Kind Heav'n afford him everlasting reft)
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 smart was shooting in the bone.
How quaint an appetite in women reigns!
Free gifts we fcorn, and love what cofts us pains:
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 moft egregious clerk.
He boarded with a widow in the town,
A trufty goffip, one dame Alison,
Full well the fecrets of my foul 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 blufh'd from ear to ear for fhame, 275 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 stars, was out of town)
From house to house we rambled up and down,
This clerk, myself, 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 scarce ever flept.
At Sermons too I fhone 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 blossoms yields,
This Clerk and I were walking in the fields.
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, 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 moufe of any foul.
I vow'd, I fcarce could fleep fince first I knew him, And durft be fworn he had bewitch'd me to him, 301 If e'er I flept, I dream'd of him alone,
And dreams foretel, as learned men have shown:
All this I faid; but dreams, Sirs, I had none :
I follow'd but my crafty Crony's lore,
Who bid me tell this lye-and twenty more.
Thus day by day, and month by month we past;
It pleas'd the Lord to take my spouse at last.
I tore my gown, I foil'd my locks with dust,
And beat my breasts, as wretched widows-muft.
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 born;
Around, the neighbours, and my clerk, to mourn.
But as he march'd, good Gods! he fhow'd a pair
Of legs and feet, fo clean, fo ftrong, so fair!
Of twenty winters age he feem'd to be;
I (to say 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'ror once, that deeply could divine,
Affur'd me, Mars in Taurus was my fign.
As the stars order'd, fuch my life has been:
Alas, alas, that ever love was fin!
Fair Venus gave me fire, and fprightly 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 fcarce pafs'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, house, 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 Lionefs 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 fwore.
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 sermon, as befeem'd his wit,
With fome grave fentence out of Holy Writ,
Oft would he fay, who builds his house 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 say,
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 dev❜l 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.
But could we women write as scholars 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 rife.
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 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 husband, on a winter's night,
Read in this book, aloud, with ftrange delight,