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Sore sigh'd the knight to hear his lady's cry,
But could not climb, and had no servant nigh:
Old as he was, and void of eye-sight too,
What could, alas! a helpless husband do?
• And must I languish then,' she said, and die,
Yet view the lovely fruit before my eye?
At least, kind sir, for charity's sweet sake,
Vouchsafe the trunk between your arms to take,
Then from your back I might ascend the tree;
Do you but stoop, and leave the rest to me.'
With all my soul,' he thus replied again,
I'd spend my dearest blood to ease thy pain.'
With that, his back against the trunk he bent,
She seiz'd a twig, and up the tree she went.
Now prove your patience, gentle ladies all!
Nor let on me your heavy anger fall:
'Tis truth I tell, though not in phrase refin'd;
Though blunt my tale, yet honest is my mind.
What feats the lady in the tree might do,
I pass, as gambols never known to you; But sure it was a merrier fit, she swore, Than in her life she ever felt before.
In that nice moment, lo! the wond'ring knight Look'd out, and stood restor❜d to sudden sight, Straight on the tree his eager eyes he bent, As one whose thoughts were on his spouse intent; But when he saw his bosom-wife so dress'd, His rage was such as cannot be express'd: Not frantic mothers when their infants die, With louder clamours rend the vaulted sky: He cried, he roar'd, he storm'd, he tore his hair; Death! hell! and furies! what dost thou do there?'
What ails my lord?' the trembling dame replied; I thought your patience had been better tried: Is this your love, ungrateful and unkind, This my reward for having cur'd the blind? Why was I taught to make my husband see, By struggling with a man upon a tree?
Did I for this the power of magic prove? Unhappy wife, whose crime was too much love!' 'If this be struggling, by this holy light, 'Tis struggling with a vengeance,' quoth the knight, 'So Heaven preserve the sight it has restor'd, As with these eyes I plainly saw thee whor'd; Whor'd by my slave-perfidious wretch! may hell As surely seize thee, as I saw too well!'
Guard me, good angels!' cried the gentle May, 'Pray Heaven, this magic work the proper way! Alas, my love! 'tis certain, could you see, You ne'er had us'd these killing words to me: So help me, Fates, as 'tis no perfect sight, But some faint glimmering of a doubtful light.'
What I have said,' quoth he, I must maintain, For by th' immortal powers it seem'd too plain'By all those pow'rs, some frenzy seiz'd your mind,'
Replied the dame: are these the thanks I find?'
Wretch that I am, that e'er I was so kind?
She said; a rising sigh express'd her woe,
The ready tears apace began to flow,
And, as they fell, she wip'd from either eye
The drops (for women when they list, can cry).
The knight was touch'd, and in his looks appear'd
Signs of remorse, while thus his spouse he cheer'd:
Madam, 'tis past, and my short anger o'er;
Come down, and vex your tender heart no more:
Excuse me, dear, if aught amiss was said,
For, on my soul, amends shall soon be made:
Let my repentance your forgiveness draw,
By Heaven, I swore but what I thought I saw.'
'Ah, my lov'd lord! 'twas much unkind,' she cried,
'On bare suspicion thus to treat your bride.
But, till your sight's establish'd for awhile,
Imperfect objects may your sense beguile.
Thus when from sleep, we first our eyes display,
The balls are wounded with the piercing ray,
And dusky vapours rise, and intercept the day.
So, just recovering from the shades of night,
Your swimming eyes are drunk with sudden light,
Strange phantoms dance around, and skim before
Then, sir, be cautious, nor too rashly deem:
Heav'n knows how seldom things are what they
Consult your reason, and you soon shall find
'Twas you were jealous, not your wife unkind:
Jove ne'er spoke oracle more true than this,
None judge so wrong as those who think amiss.'
With that she leap'd into her lord's embrace,
With well-dissembled virtue in her face.
He hugg'd her close, and kiss'd her o'er and o'er,
Disturb'd with doubts and jealousies no more:
Both, pleas'd and bless'd, renew'd their mutual vows,
A fruitful wife, and a believing spouse.
Thus ends our tale! whose moral next to make,
Let all wise husbands hence example take;
And pray, to crown the pleasures of their lives,
To be so well deluded by their wives.
BEHOLD the woes of matrimonial life,
And hear with reverence an experienc'd wife! To dear-bought wisdom give the credit due, And think for once a woman tell you true. In all these trials I have borne a part, I was myself the scourge that caus'd the smart ; For, since fifteen, in triumph have I led Five captive husbands from the church to bed. Christ saw a wedding ouce, the Scripture says, And saw but one, 'tis thought, in all his days; Whence some infer, whose conscience is too nice, No pious Christian ought to marry twice.
But let them read, and solve me, if they can,
The words address'd to the Samaritan:
Five times in lawful wedlock she was join'd;
And sure the certain stint was ne'er defin'd.
'Increase and multiply,' was Heaven's command And that's a text 1 clearly understand.
This too, Let men their sires and mothers leave,
And to their dearer wives for ever cleave.'
More wives than one by Solomon were tried,
Or else the wisest of mankind's belied.
I've had myself full many a merry fit,
And trust in Heaven, I may have many yet,
For when my transitory spouse, unkind,
Shall die, and leave his woful wife behind,
I'll take the next good Christian I can find.
Paul, knowing one could never serve our turn,
Declar'd 'twas better far to wed than burn.
There's danger in assembling fire and tow;
I grant them that, and what it means you know.
The same apostle too has elsewhere own'd,
No precept for virginity he found:
'Tis but a counsel--and we women still
Take which we like, the counsel, or our will.
I envy not their bliss, if he or she
Think fit to live in perfect chastity;
Pure let them be, and free from taint of vice;
I, for a few slight spots, am not so nice.
Heaven calls us different ways, on these bestows
One proper gift, another grants to those:
Not every man's oblig'd to sell his store,
And give up all his substance to the poor;
Such as are perfect may, 1 can't deny;
But, by your leaves, divines, so am not I.
Full many a saint, since first the world began,
Liv'd an unspotted maid, in spite of man :
Let such (a-God's name) with fine wheat be fed,
And let us honest wives eat barley bread.
For me, I'll keep the post assign'd by Heaven,
And use the copious talent it has given:
Let my good spouse pay tribute, do me right,
And keep an equal reckoning every night.
His proper body is not his, but mine;
For so said Paul, and Paul's a sound 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 beside,
And toil'd most piteously to please their bride:
But since their wealth (the best they had) was mine,
The rest, without much loss, I could resign.
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 showers of gold,
They made their court, like Jupiter of old.
If I but smil'd, a sudden youth they found,
And a new palsy seiz'd them when I frown'd.
Ye sovereign wives! give ear and understand,
Thus shall ye speak, and exercise command.