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And where they play'd their rerry pranks before,
Have sprinkled holy water on the floor :
And friars that through the wealthy regions run,
Thick as the motes that twinkle in the sun,
Resort to fariners rich, and bless their halls,
And exorcise the beds, and cross the walls :
This makes the fairy quires forsake the place,
When once 'tis hallow'd with the rites of
But in the walks where wicked elves have been,
The learning of the parish now is seen,
The midnight parfon posting o'er the green,
With gown tuck'd up, to wakes, for Sunday next,
With humming ale encouraging his text;
Nor wants the holy leer to country-girl betwixt.
From fiends and imps he sets the village free,
There haunts not any incubus but he.
The maids and women need no danger fear
To walk by night, and sanctity so near :
For by some haycock, or some thady thorn,
He bids his beads both even song and morn.
It so befel in this king Arthur's reign,
A lusty kniglit was pricking o'er the plain.;
A bachelor he was, and of the courtly train.
It happen'd, as he rode, a damfel gay
In russet robes to market took her way :
Soon on the girl he cast an amorous eye,
So straight the walk’d, and on her pafterns high :
If seeing her behind he lik’d her pace,
Now turning short, be hetter likes her face.
He lights in haste, and, full of youthful fire,
By force accomplish'd his obscene desire :
This done, away he rode, not unespy'd,
For swarming at his back the country cry'd:
And once in view they never lost the fight,
But seiz'd, and pinion'd brought to court the knight.
Then courts of kings were held in high renown,
Ere made the common brothels of the town:
There, virgins honourable vows receiv'd,
But chaste as maids in monasteries liv'd :
The king himself, to nuptial ties a llave,
No bad example to his poets gave :
And they, not bad, but in a vicious age,
Had not, to please the prince, debauch'd the stage.
Now what should Arthur do ? He lov'd the knight,
But sovereign monarchs are the source of right :
Mov'd by the damsel's tears and common cry,
He doom'd the brutal ravisher to die.
But fair Geneura rose in his defence,
And pray'd fo hard for mercy from the prince,
That to his queen the king th' offender gave,
And left it in her power to kill or save :
This gracious act the ladies all approve,
Who thought it much a man should die for love;
And with their mistress join'd in close debate
(Covering their kindness with dissembled hate),
If not to free him, to prolong his fate.
At last agreed they call'd him by consent
Before the queen and female parliament.
And the fair speaker rising from the chair,
Did thus the judgment of the house declare.
Sir knight, though I have ask'd thy life, yet still Thy destiny depends upon my
Nor halt thou other surety than the grace
Not due to thee from our offended race.
But as our kind is of a softer mold,
And cannot blood without a sigh behold,
I grant thee life; reserving still the power
To take the forfeit when I see my hour :
Unless thy answer to my next demand
Shall set thee free from our avenging hand.
The question, whole solution I require,
Is, What the sex of women most desire ?
In this dispute thy judges are at strife ;
Beware ; for on thy wit depends thy life.
Yet (left, surpriz'd, unknowing what to say,
Thou damn thyself) we give thee farther day :
is thine to wander at thy will ;
And learn froin others, if thou want'st the skill.
But, not to hold our proffer turn'd in fcorn,
Good fureties will we have for thy return;
That at the time prefix'd thou shalt obey,
And at thy pledge's peril keep thy day.
Woe was the knight at this severe command; But well he knew 'twas bootless to withstand : The terms accepted as the fair ordain, He put in bail for his return again, And promis’d answer at the day assign'd, The best, with heaven's aslistance, he could find.
His leave thus taken, on his way
With heavy heart, and full of discontent,
Misdoubting much, and fearful of th' event.
'Twas hard the truth of such a point to find,
As was not yet agreed among the kind.
Thus on he went ; still anxious more and more,
Alk'd all he met, and knock'd at every
Enquir’d of men; but made his chief request
To learn from women what they lov’d the best.
They answer'd each according to her mind
To please herself, not all the female kind.
One was for wealth, another was for place :
Crones, old and ugly, with'd a better face.
The widow's wish was oftentimes to wed ;
The wanton maids were all for sport a-bed.
Some faid the sex were pleas’d with handsome lies,
And some gross flattery lov’d without disguise :
Truth is, says one, he seldom fails to win
Who flatters well; for that 's our darling sin
But long attendance, and a duteous mind,
Will work ev’n with the wisest of the kind.
One thought the sex's prime felicity
Was from the bonds of wedlock to be free :
Their pleasures, hours, and actions, all their own,
And uncontrol'd to give account to none.
Some with a husband-fool ; but fuch are curst,
For fools perverse of husbands are the worst:
All women would be counted chaite and wise,
Nor should our spouses see, but with our eyes;
Tor'fools will prate; and though they want the wit
To find close faults, yet open blots will hit :
Though better for their ease to hold their tongue,
For woman-kind was never in the wrong.
So noise ensues, and quarrels last for life ;
The wife abhoi's the fool, 'the fool the wife.
And some men say that great delight have we,
To be for truth extoll'd, and secrecy :
And constant in one purpose still to dwell;
And not our husbands counsels to reveal.
But that's a fäble: for our fex is frail,
Inventing rather than not tell a tale.
Like leaky fieves no secrets we can hold :
Witness the famous tale that Ovid told.
Midas the king, as in his book appears,
By Phoebus was endow'd with ass's ears,
Which under his long locks he well conceald,
(As monarchs vices must not be revealid)
For fear the people have them in the wind,
Who long ago were neither dumb nor blind :
Nor apt to think from heaven their title springs,
Since Jove and Mars left off begetting kings.
This Midas knew : and durft communicate
To none but to his wife his ears of state :
One must be trusted, and he thought her fit,
As paffing prudent, and a parlous wit.
To this sagacious confessor he went,
And told her what a gift the Gods had sent :
But told it under matrimonial seal,
With stridt injunction never to reveal.