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'Tis too apparent, argue what you can, The treachery you women use to man: A thousand Authors have this truth made out,
And fad experience leaves no room for doubt. 630 Heav'n reft thy fpirit, noble Solomon,
A wiser monarch never faw the fun :
All wealth, all honours, the fupreme degree
Of earthly blifs, was well bestow'd on thee!
For fagely haft thou faid: Of all mankind,
One only juft, and righteous, hope to find:
But should'st thou search the spacious world around
Yet one good woman is not to be found.
Thus fays the King who knew
The fon of Sirach teftifies no less.
fome wildfire on your bodies fall,
Or fome devouring plague confume you
As well you view the leacher in the tree,
And well this honourable Knight you
But fince he's blind and old (a helpless cafe)
His Squire fhall cuckold him before your face. 645
Now by my own dread majesty I swear,
And by this awful fceptre which I bear,
No impious wretch fhall 'fcape unpunish'd long,
That in my presence offers fuch a wrong.
I will this inftant undeceive the Knight,
And, in the very act, restore his fight:
And fet the ftrumpet here in open view,
A warning to thefe Ladies, and to you,
And all the faithlefs fex, for ever to be true.
And will you fo, reply'd the Queen, indeed, 655
Now, by my mother's foul it is decreed,
She fhall not want an answer at her need.
For her, and for her daughters, I'll engage,
And all the fex in each fucceeding age;
Art fhall be theirs to varnish an offence,
And fortify their crimes with confidence.
Nay, were they taken in a strict embrace,
Seen with both eyes, and pinion'd on the place;
All they fhall need is to protest and swear,
Breathe a soft sigh, and drop a tender tear;
Till their wife husbands, gull'd by arts like thefe,
Grow gentle, tractable, and tame as geese.
What tho' this fland'rous Jew, this Solomon,
Call'd women fools, and knew full many a one;
The wiser wits of later times declare,
How constant, chaste, and virtuous women are:
Witness the martyrs, who refign'd their breath,
Serene in torments, unconcern'd in death;
And witness next what Roman authors tell,
How Arria, Portia, and Lucretia fell.
But fince the facred leaves to all are free,
And men interpret texts, why fhould not we?
By this no more was meant, than to have shown,
That fov'reign goodness dwells in him alone
Who only Is, and is but only One.
But grant the worst; fhall women then be weigh'd
By ev'ry word that Solomon has faid?
What tho' this King (as ancient story boasts)
Built a fair temple to the Lord of Hofts;
He ceas'd at last his Maker to adore,
And did as much for Idol gods, or more.
Beware what lavish praises you confer
On a rank leacher and idolater;
Whose reign indulgent God, fays Holy Writ,
Did but for David's righteous fake permit;
David, the monarch after Heav'n's own mind,
Who lov'd our fex, and honour'd all our kind.
Well, I'm a Woman, and as fuch muft fpeak; Silence would fwell me, and my heart would break. Know then, I fcorn your dull authorities, 695 Your idle wits, and all their learned lies. By Heav'n, those authors are our fex's foes, Whom, in our right, I muft and will oppofe. Nay (quoth the King) dear Madam, be not wroth: I yield it up; but fince I gave my oath, That this much-injur'd Knight again fhould fee; It must be done-I am a King, faid he,
And one, whofe faith has ever facred been-
And fo has mine (fhe faid)-I am a Queen:
Her answer the fhall have, I undertake;
And thus an end of all difpute I make.
Try when you lift; and you fhall find, my Lord,
It is not in our fex to break our word.
We leave them here in this heroic ftrain, And to the Knight our ftory turns again;
Who in the garden, with his lovely May,
Sung merrier than the Cuckoo or the Jay:
This was his fong; "Oh kind and conftant be,
"Constant and kind I'll ever prove to thee."
Thus finging as he went, at last he drew
By eafy steps, to where the Pear-tree grew :
The longing dame look'd up, and spy'd her Love,
Full fairly perch'd among the boughs above.
She stopp'd, and fighing: Oh good Gods, fhe cry'd,
What pangs, what fudden fhoots diftend my fide?
O for that tempting fruit, fo fresh, so green;
Help, for the love of heav'n's immortal Queen!
Help, dearest lord, and fave at once the life
Of thy poor infant, and thy longing wife!
Sore figh'd the Knight to hear his Lady's cry, 725
But could not climb, and had no servant nigh:
Old as he was, and void of eye-fight too,
What could, alas! a helpless husband do?
And muft I languish then, fhe faid, and die,
Yet view the lovely fruit before my eye?
At least, kind Sir, for charity's fweet fake,
Vouchfafe the trunk between your arms to take;
Then from back I might afcend the tree;
Do you but stoop, and leave the reft to me.
With all my foul, he thus reply'd again,
I'd spend my dearest blood to eafe thy pain.
With that, his back against the trunk he bent,
She feiz'd a twig, and up the tree she went.
Now prove your patience, gentle Ladies all!
Nor let on me your heavy anger fall:
'Tis truth I tell, tho' not in phrase refin'd;
Tho' blunt my tale, yet honest is my mind.
What feats the lady in the tree might do,
I pass, as gambols never known to you;
But fure it was a merrier fit, she swore,
Than in her life fhe ever felt before.
In that nice moment, lo! the wond'ring Knight Look'd out, and stood restor❜d to fudden fight. Straight on the tree his eager eyes he bent, As one whofe thoughts were on his spouse intent; But when he faw his bofom-wife fo drefs'd, His rage was such as cannot be exprefs'd: Not frantic mothers when their infants die, With louder clamours rend the vaulted sky: He cry'd, he roar'd, he ftorm'd, he tore his hair; Death! hell! and furies! what doft thou do there!
What ails my Lord? the trembling dame reply'd; I thought your patience had been better try'd; Is this your love, ungrateful and unkind, This my reward for having cur'd the blind? Why was I taught to make my husband fee, By struggling with a man upon a Tree? Did I for this the pow'r of Magic prove? Unhappy wife, whofe crime was too much love!