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No impious wretch shall 'scape unpunish'd long,
And will you so,' replied the queen,ʻindeed ?
What though this slanderous Jew, this Solomon Call'd women fools, and knew full many a one; The wiser wits of later times declare, HIow constant, chaste, and virtuous, women are. Witness the martyrs, who resign'd their breath, Serene in torments, unconcern'd in death, And witness next what Roman authors tell, How Arria, Portia, and Lucretia fell.
“But, since the sacred leaves to all are free, And men interpret texts, why should not we? By this no more was meant, than to have shown, That sovereign goodness dwells in him alone Who only is, and is but only One. But grant the worst; shall women then ve weigh'd By every word that Solomon has said ? What though this king (as ancient story boasts) Built a fair temple to the Lord of Hosts ; He ceased at last his Maker to adore, And did as much for idol-gods, or more
Beware what lavish praises you confer
"Well, I'm a woman, and as such must speak;
"Nay,' quoth the king, 'dear madam, be not wroth I yield it up; but since I gave my oath, That this much-injured knight again should see, It must be done-I am a king,' said he, * And one, whose faith has ever sacred been.' * And so has mine,' said she,-'I am a queen; Her answer she shall have, I undertake; And thus an end of all dispute I make. Try when you list; and you shall find, my lord. It is not in our sex to break our word.'
We leave them here in this heroic strain,
Thus singing as he went, at last he drew
Sore sigh'd the knight to hear his lady's cry,
And must I languish then,' she said, “and die,
.With all my soul,' he thus replied again :
Now prove your patience, gentle ladies all!
In that nice moment, lo! the wondering knight
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 cured 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 ?
was too muca love! • If this be struggling, by his holy light, Tis struggling with a vengeance,' quoth the knight So Heaven preserve the sight it has restored, As with these eyes I plainly saw thee whored; Whored 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 used 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 the immortal powers it seem'd too plain.'
By all those powers, some frenzy seized 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 wiped 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 cheerd: • Madam, 'tis pass'd, 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 loved lord ! 'twas much unkind,' she crieda On bare suspicion thus to treat your bride. But, till your sight 's establish’d, for a while, 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,
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, pleased and bless'd, renew'd their mutual vowe, 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 pleasure of their lives, To be so well deluded by their wives.
THE WIFE OF BATH.
BenoLD the woes of matrimonial life,
Christ saw a wedding once, the Scripture says,