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You tell me, to preserve your wife's good grace, Your eyes must always languish on my face, Your tongue with constant flatteries feed my ear, And tag each sentence with “My life! my dear!” If by strange chance a modest blush be raised, Be sure my fine complexion must be praised. My garments always must be new and gay, And feasts still kept upon my wedding-day. Then must my nurse be pleased, and favourite maid, And endless treats and endless visits paid To a long train of kindred, friends, allies : All this thou say’st, and all thou say’st are lies.
' On Jenkin, too, you cast a squinting eye: What! can your 'prentice raise your jealousy? Fresh are his ruddy eheeks, his forehead fair, And like the burnish”d gold his curling hair. But clear thy wrinkled brow, and quit thy sorrow, I'd scorn your prentice should you die to-morrow,
“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 Saint 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 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.
[care • 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 caterwauld.
Lo thus, my friends, I wrought to my desires These three right ancient venerable sires. I told them, Thus you say, and thus you do; I told them 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, [doors; When their weak legs scarce dragg’d them out of 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 prevail'd, 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 tassels you can lure, But fulsome love for gain we can endure;
For gold we love the impotent and old,
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
But oh, good gods! whene'er a thought I cast
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; Butso I 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 galld him only Heaven could know,
Now for my fifth loved lord, the last and best;
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 dame Allison ; 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.