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He boarded with a widow in the town,
Had but my husband piss'd against a wall,
Oft has he blush'd from ear to ear for shame,
That oft a day I to this gossip went
(My husband, thank my stars, was out of town);
The wasting moths ne'er spoil'd my best array;
'Twas when fresh May her early blossoms yields,
I pawn'd my honour, and engag'd my vow,
That he, and only he, should serve my turn.
We straight struck hands, the bargain was agreed;
The mouse that always trusts to one poor hole,
I vow'd I scarce could sleep since first I knew him, And durst be sworn he had bewitch'd me to him; If e'er I slept, I dream'd of him alone,
And dreams foretel, as learned men have shown.
I follow'd but my crafty crony's lore,
Who bid me tell this lie--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 soil'd my locks with dust, And beat my breasts, as wretched widows---must. Before my face my handkerchief I spread, To hide the flood of tears I did--not shed. The good man's coffin to the church was borne; Around, the neighbours, and my clerk too, mourn. But as he march'd, good gods! he show'd a pair Of legs and feet, so clean, so strong, so fair! Of twenty winters age he seem'd to be, I (to say truth) was twenty more than he; But vigorous still, a lively buxom dame; And had a wondrous gift to quench a flame. A conjuror once, that deeply could divine, Assur'd me, Mars in Taurus was my sign. As the stars order'd, such my life has been: Alas, alas, that ever love was sin! Fair Venus gave me fire and sprightly grace, And Mars assurance and a dauntless face. By virtue of this powerful constellation, I follow'd always my own inclination.
But to my tale: A month scarce pass'd away, With dance and song we kept the nuptial day. All I possess'd I gave to his command,
My goods and chattels, money, house and land: But oft repented, and repent it still;
He prov'd a rebel to my sovereign will:
Nay once, by Heaven, he struck me on the face; Hear but the fact, and judge yourselves the case. Stubborn as any lioness was I;
And knew full well to raise my voice on high;
As true a rambler as I was before,
And would be so, in spite of all he swore.
And close the sermon, as beseem'd his wit,
Oft would he say, Who builds his house on sands,
My spouse (who was, you know, to learning
A certain treatise oft at evening read,
Where divers authors (whom the devil confound
And many more than sure the church approves.
Men should stand mark'd with far more wicked
Than all the sons of Adam could redress.
Love seldom haunts the breast where learning lies,
Those play the scholars, who can't play the men,
It chanc'd my husband, on a winter's night,
How curs'd Eryphile her lord betray'd,
But what most pleas'd him was the Cretan Dame,
On which three wives successively had twin'd
'Where grows 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 lord's destruction
Through hatred one, and one through too much
That for her husband mix'd a poisonous draught, And this for lust an amorous philtre bought:
The nimble juice soon seiz'd 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
All this he read, and read with great devotion. Long time I heard, and swell'd, and blush'd, and frown'd:
But when no end of these vile tales I found, When still he read, and laugh'd, and read again, And half the night was thus consum'd in vain : Provok'd to vengeance, three large leaves I tore,
And with one buffet fell'd him on the floor.
And down he settled me with hearty blows.
Oh! thou hast slain me for my wealth,' I cried,
I condescended to be pleas'd at last.
Soon as he said, My mistress and my wife,
'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!