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“So heav'n preserve the sight it has restored,
As with these eyes I plainly saw thee w— ;
W— 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 heav'n, 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, Bui some faint glimm’ring of a doubtful light.”

“What I have said ” (quoth he), “I must maintain, For, by the immortal pow'rs it seemed too plain—”

“By all those pow'rs, 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 expressed 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 touched; and in his looks appeared Signs of remorse, while thus his spouse he cheered: “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 heav'n, I swore but what I thought I saw.”

"Ah, my loved lord! 'twas much unkind” (she “On bare suspicion thus to treat your bride. [cried) But till your sight's established, 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 recov'ring from the shades of night, Your swimming eyes are drunk with sudden light, Strange phantoms dance around, and skim before

your sight. “Then, sir, be cautious, nor too rashly deem; Heaven knows how seldom things are what they seem! 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 leaped into her lord's embrace,
With well-dissembled virtue in her face.
He hugged her close, and kissed her o'er and o'er,
Disturbed with doubts and jealousies no more:
Both pleased and blessed, renewed 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 pleasure of their lives,
To be so well deluded by their wives.

THE WIFE OF BATH.

HER PROLOGUE.

BEHOLD the woes of matrimonial life,
And hear with rev’rence an experienced wife!
To dear-bought wisdom give the credit due,
And think, for once, a woman tells you true.
In all these trials I have borne a part,
I was myself the scourge that caused the smart;
For, since fifteen, in triumph have I led
Five captive husbands from the church to bed.

Christ saw a wedding once, 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 addressed to the Samaritan:
Five times in lawful wedlock she was joined;
And sure the certain stint was ne'er defined..

“Increase and multiply,” was Heaven's command,
And that's a text I clearly understand.
This too, “Let men their sires and mothers leave,
And to their dearer wives for ever cleave.”
Vore 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 woeful wife behind,
I'll take the next good Christian I can find.

Paul, knowing one could never serve our turn,
Declared 'twas better far to wed than burn.
There's danger in assembling fire and tow;
I grant 'em that, and what it means you know.
The same apostle too has elsewhere owned,
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 or 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 obliged to sell his store,
And give up all his substance to the poor;
Such as are perfect, may, I can't deny;
But, by your leaves, divines, so am not I.

Full many a saint, since first the world began,
Lived 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 assigned 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 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 toiled 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 loved, I took no pains to please,
Yet had more pleasure far than they had ease.

Presents flowed in apace: with showers of gold, They made their court, like Jupiter of old.

If I but smiled, a sudden youth they found,

And a new palsy seized them when I frowned.

Ye sovereign wives! give ear, and understand, Thus shall ye speak, and exercise command. For never was it given to mortal man To lie so boldly as we women can: Forswear the fact, though seen with both his eyes, And call your maids to witness how he lies. Hark, old Sir Paul! ('twas thus I used to say,) Whence is your neighbour's wife so rich and gay? Treated, caress'd, where'er she's pleased to roamI sit in tatters, and immured 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 like any fiend! 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.

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,
Freakish when well, and fretful when she's sick.
If fair, then chaste she cannot long abide,
By pressing youth attacked on every side:
If foul, her wealth the lusty lover lures,
Or else her wit some fool-gallant procures,
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 sayest) and asses men may try,
And ring suspected vessels ere they buy:
But wives, a random choice, untried they take,
They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake;
Then, not till then, the veil's removed away,
And all the woman glares in open day.

You tell me, to preserve your wife's good grace,
Your eyes must always languish on my face,
Your tongue with constant flatteries feed my ear,
And tag cach sentence with, My life! my dear!
If by strange chance, a modest blush be raised,

Be sure my fine complexion must be praised.
My garments always must be new and gay,
And feasts still kept upon my wedding-day.
Then must my nurse be pleased, and favourite maid;
And endless treats, and endless visits paid,
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,
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 locked? on what design ? Are not thy worldly goods and treasure mine? 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 eyesI heed not, I, the bolts, the locks, the spies. If you had wit, you'd say, “Go where you will, Dear spouse, I credit not the tales they tell: Take aīl the freedoms of a married life; I know thee for a virtuous, faithful wife.”

Lord! when you have enough, what need you care
How merrily soever others fare?
Though 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,
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;
She licks her fair round face, and frisks abroad,
To shew her fur, and to be caterwau’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,
And told 'em false, but Jenkin swore 'twas true.
I, like a dog, could bite as well as whine,
And first complained, whene'er the guilt was mine.
I taxed them oft with wenching and amours,

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