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When their weak legs scarce dragged 'em out of

doors; And swore the rambles that I took by night, Were all to spy what damsels they bedight. That colour brought me many hours of mirth; For all this wit is given us from our birth. Heav'n gave to woman the peculiar grace To spin, to weep, and cully human race. By this nice conduct, and this prudent course, By murmuring, wheedling, stratagem, and force, I still prevailed, and would be in the right, Or curtain-lectures made a restless night. If once my husband's arm was o'er my side, What! so familiar with your spouse ? I cried: I levied first a tax upon his need; Then let him—'twas a nicety indeed! Let all mankind this certain maxim hold, Marry who will, our sex is to be sold. With empty hands no tarsels 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 mixed, Then kissed again, and chid and railed betwixt. Well, I may make my will in peace, and die, For not one word in man's arrears am I. To drop a dear dispute I was unable, Even though the pope himself had sat at table, But when my point was gained, then thus I spoke: “Billy, my dear, how sheepishly you look! Approach, my spouse, and let me kiss thy cheek; Thou shouldst be always thus, resigned and meek! Of Job's great patience since so oft you preach, Well should you practise, who so well can teach. 'Tis difficult to do, I must allow, But I, my dearest, will instruct you how. Great is the blessing of a prudent wife, Who puts a period to domestic strife. One of us two must rule, and one obey; And since in man right reason bears the sway, Let that frail thing, weak woman, have her way. The wives of all my family have ruled Their tender husbands, and their passions cooled. Fie, 'tis unmanly thus to sigh and groan;

What! would you have me to yourself alone?
Why take me, love! take all and every part!
Here's your revenge! you love it at your hear
Would I vouchsafe to sell what nature gave,
You little think what custom I could have.
But see! I'm all your own—nay hold—for shame.
What means my dear-indeed—you are to blame."

Thus with my first three lords I passed my life;
A very woman, and a very wife.
What sums from these old spouses I could raise,
Procured young husbands in my riper days.
Though past my bloom, not yet decay'd was I,
Wanton and wild, and chatter'd like a pie.
In country dances still I bore the bell,
And sung as sweet as evening Philomel.
To clear my quail-pipe, and refresh my soul,
Full oft I drain’d the spicy nut-brown bowl;
Rich luscious wines, that youthful blood improve,
And warm the swelling veins to feats of love:
For 'tis as sure as cold engenders hail,
A liquorish mouth must have a lecherous tail;
Wine lets no lover unrewarded go,
As all true gamesters by experience know.

But oh, good gods! whene'er a thought I cast . On all the joys of youth and beauty past, To find in pleasures I have had my part, Still warms me to the bottom of my heart. This wicked world was once my dear delight; Now all my conquests, all my charms, good night. The flour consumed, the best that now I can, Is even to make my market of the bran.

My fourth dear spouse was not exceeding true; He kept, 'twas thought, a private miss or two: But all that score I paid-as how? you'll say. Not with my body, in a filthy way: But I so dressed, and danced, and drank, and dined; And viewed a friend, with eyes so very kind, As stung his heart, and made his marrow fry, With burning rage, and frantic jealousy. His soul, I hope, enjoys eternal glory, For here on earth I was his purgatory. Oft, when his shoe the most severely wrung, He put on careless airs, and sat and sung. How sore I galled him, only Heaven could know,

And he that felt, and I that caused the woe.
He died, when last from pilgrimage I came,
With other gossips from Jerusalem:
And now lies buried underneath a rood
Fair to be seen, and reared of honest wood.
A tomb, indeed, with fewer sculptures graced
Than that Mausolus' pious widowplaced,
Or where enshrined the great Darius lay;
But cost on graves is merely thrown away.
The pit fill'd up, with turf we covered o'er
So bless the good man's soul, I say no more.

Now for my fifth loved lord, the last and best;
(Kind Heaven afford him everlasting rest!)
Full hearty was his love, and I can shew
The tokens on my ribs in black and blue;
Yet, with a knack, my heart he could have won,
While yet the smart was shooting in the bone.
How quaint an appetite in woman reigns!
Free gifts we scorn, and love what costs us pains:
Let men avoid us, and on them we leap;
A glutted market makes provision cheap.

In pure good will I took this jovial spark, Of Oxford he, a most egregious clerk. He boarded with a widow in the town, A trusty gossip, one dame Allison: Full well the secrets of my soul she knew, Better than e'er our parish priest could do. To her I told whatever could befall: Had but my husband p- d against a wall, Or done a thing that might have cost his life, She-and my nieco—and one more worthy wife, Had known it all: what most he would conceal, To these I made no scruple to reveal. Oft has he blush'd from ear to ear for shame, That e'er he told a secret to his dame.

It so befell, in holy time of Lent, That oft a day I to this gossip went; (My husband, thank my stars, was out of town:) From house to house we rambled up and down, This clerk, myself, and my good neighbor Alse, To see, be seen, to tell, and gather tales. Visits to every church, we daily paid,

: 1 Artemisia, Queen of Caria,

And march'd in every holy masquerade,
The stations duly and the vigils kept;
Not much we fasted, but scarce ever slept.
At sermons too I shone in scarlet gay,
The wasting moth ne'er spoil'd my best array;
The cause was this, I wore it every day.
'Twas when fresh May her early blossoms yields,
This clerk and I were walking in the fields.
We grew so intimate, I can't tell how,
I pawn’d my honour and engaged my vow
If e'er I laid my husband in his urn,
That he, and only he, should serve my turn.
We straight struck hands, tlie bargain was agreed;
I still have shifts against a time of need:
The mouse that always trusts to one poor hole,
Can never be a mouse of any soul.

I vowed I scarce could sleep since first I knew him,
And thus besworn he had bewitch'd me to him,
If e'er I slept, I dreamed of him alone,
And dreams foretell, as learned men have shewn:
All this I said; but dreams, sir, I had none:
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 pass'd: It pleased 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 neighbors, and my clerk, to mourn. But as he march’d, good gods! he shew'd a pair Of legs and feet, so clean, so strong, so fair! Of twenty winters' age he seemed to be; I (to say truth) was twenty more than he; But vig’rous still, a lively buxom dame; And had a wondrous gift to quench a flame. A conjuror once, that deeply could divine, Assured me, Mars in Taurus was my sign. As the stars ordered, 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 followed always my own inclination.

But to my tale: A month scarce passed away,
With dance and song we kept the nuptial day.
All I possessed I gave to his command,
My goods and chattels, inoney, house, and land:
But oft repented, and repented still;
He proved a rebel to my sov’reign 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.
He, against this right sagely would advise,
And old examples set before my eyes;
Tell how the Roman matrons led their life,
Of Gracchus' mother, and Duilius' wife;
And close the sermon, as beseemed his wit,
With some grave sentence out of Holy Writ.
Oft would he say, “ Who builds his house on sands,
Pricks his blind horse across the fallow lands;
Or lets his wife abroad with pilgrims roam,
Deserves a fool's-cap and long ears at home.”
All this availed not; for whoe'er he be
That tells my faults, I hate him mortally:
And so do numbers more, I'll boldly say,
Men, women, clergy, regular and lay.

My spouse (who was, you know, to learning bred) A certain treatise oft at evening read, Where divers authors (whom the devil confound For all their lies!) were in one volume bound. Valerius, whole; and of St. Jerome, part; Chrysippus and Tertullian, Ovid's Art, Solomon's Proverbs, Eloïsa's loves; And many more than sure the Church approves. More legends were there here, of wicked wives, Than good, in all the Bible and saints' lives. Who drew the lion vanquished! 'Twas a man! But could we women write as scholars can, Men should stand mark'd with far more wickedness Than all the sons of Adam could redress. Love seldom haunts the breast where learning lies, And Venus sets ere Murcury can rise. Those play the scholars who can't play the men,

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