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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 heav'n,
And use the copious talent it has giv'n:
Let my good spouse pay tribute, do me right,
And keep an equal reck’ning ev'ry night :
His proper body is not his, but mine;
For so said Paul, and Paul's a sound divine. 55

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 : 61
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 show'rs of gold They made their court, like Jupiter of old : 65 If I but smil'd, a sudden youth they found, And a new palsy seiz'd them when I frown'd.

Ye sov'reign Wives! give ear, and understand, Thus shall ye speak, and exercise command; For never was it giv'n to mortal man

70 To lie so boldly as we women can; Forswear the fact, tho' seen with both his eyes, And call your maids to witness how he lies.


Hark, old Sir Paul! ('twas thus I us'd to say,)
Whence is our neighbour's wife so rich and gay? 75
Treated, caress’d, where'er she pleas'd to roam....
I sit in tatters, and immur'd at home.
Why to her house dost thou so oft repair ?
Art thou so am'rous? and is she so fair?
If I but see a cousin or a friend,
Lord! how you swell and rage


But you reel home, a drunken beastly bear,
Then preach till midnight in your easy chair :
Cry Wives are false, and ev'ry woman evil,
And give up all that's female to the devil. 85

If poor (you say) she drains her husband's purse; If rich, she keeps her priest, or something worse; If highly born, intolerably vain, Vapours and pride by turns possess her brain; Now gaily mad, now sourly splenetic,

90 Freakish when well, and fretful when she's sick; If fair, then chaste she cannot long abide, By pressing youth attack'd on ev'ry side; If foul, her wealth the lusty lover lures, Or else her wit some fool-gallant procures, 95 Or else she dances with becoming grace, Or shape excuses the defects of face. There swims no goose so gray, but soon or late, She finds some honest gander for her mate.

Horses (thou say'st) and asses men may try,

100 And ring suspected vessels ere they buy; But wives, a random choice, untry'd they take ; They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake; Then, nor till then, the veil is mov'd away, And all the woman glares in open day.

105 You tell me, to preserve your wife's good grace, Your eyes must always languish on my face, Your tongue with constant flatt’ries feed my ear, And tag each sentence with My life! my dear! If by strange chance a modest blush be rais'd, 110 Be sure my fine complexion must be prais'd. My garments always must be new and gay, And feasts still kept upon my wedding day; Then must my nurse be pleas'd, and fav’rite maid; And endless treats and endless visits paid 115 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 cheeks, his forehead fair, 120 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 treasures mine? 125

Sir, I'm no fool; nor shall you, by St. John, Have goods and body to yourself alone. One you shall quit in spite of both your eyes.... I heed not, I, the bolts, the locks, the spies. If you had wit, you'd say, “Go where you will, 130 “ Dear spouse! I credit not the tales they tell: “ Take all the freedoms of a marry'd life; “ I know thee for a virtuous faithful wifey

Lord! when you have enough, what need you care How merrily soever others fare?

135 Tho' 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.

There's danger too, you think, in rich array, 140 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 :

145 She licks her fair round face, and frisks abroad To shew her fur, and to be caterwaul'd.

Lo thus, my friends, I wrought to my desires
These three right ancient venerable sires.
I told 'em, Thus you say and thus you do;

150 I told 'em 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,
When their weak legs scarce dragg'd them out of

And swore the rambles that I took by night

156 Were all to spy what damsels they bedight: That colour brought me many hours of mirth; For all this wit is giv'n us from our birth. Heav'n

gave to woman the peculiar grace 160 To spin, to weep, and cully human race. By this nice conduct and this prudent course, By murm’ring, wheedling, stratagem, and force, I still prevail'd, and would be in the right, Or curtain-lectures made a restless night.

166 If once my husband's arm was o'er my side, What! so familiar with your spouse! I cry'd: I levy'd first a tax upon his need; Then let him....'twas a nicety indeed! Let all mankind this certain maxim hold, 170 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, And heave, and pant, and kiss, and cling, for gold. Yet with embraces curses oft I mixt,

176 And kiss'd again, and chid, and rail'd betwixt.

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