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But oft repented, and repent it ftill;
He prov'd a rebel to my fov'reign will:
Nay once by Heav'n he ftruck me on the face; 335
Hear but the fact, and judge yourselves the cafe.
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 fagely would advise,
And old examples fet before my eyes;
Tell how the Roman matrons led their life,
Of Gracchus' mother, and Duilius' wife;
And close the fermon, as befeem'd his wit,
With fome grave fentence out of Holy Writ.
Oft would he fay, who builds his house on fands,
Pricks his blind horse across the fallow lands,
Or lets his wife abroad with pilgrims roam,
Deferves a fool's-cap and long ears at home.
All this avail'd not; for whoe'er he be
That tells my faults, I hate him mortally :
And fo 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 ev'ning read,
Where divers Authors (whom the dev❜l confound
For all their lies) were in one volume bound.
Valerius, whole; and of St. Jerome, part;
Chryfippus and Tertullian, Ovid's Art,
Solomon's Proverbs, Eloïfa's loves;
And many more than fure the Church approves.
More legends were there here, of wicked wives,
Than good, in all the Bible and Saints-lives.
Who drew the Lion vanquifh'd? 'Twas a Man.
But could we women write as scholars can,
Men should stand mark'd with far more wickedness
Than all the fons of Adam could redrefs.
Love feldom haunts the breast where Learning lies,
And Venus fets ere Mercury can rife.
Those play the scholars who can't play the men,
And use that weapon which they have, their pen;
When old, and past the relish of delight,
Then down they fit, and in their dotage write,
That not one woman keeps her marriage-vow. 375
(This by the way, but to my purpose now.)
It chanc'd my husband, on a winter's night,
Read in this book, aloud, with ftrange delight,
How the first female (as the Scriptures show)
Brought her own spouse and all his race to woe.
How Samfon fell; and he whom Dejanire
Wrap'd in th' invenom'd shirt, and set on fire.
How curs'd Eryphile her lord betray'd,
And the dire ambush Clytemnestra laid.
But what most pleas'd him was the Cretan dame, 385
And husband-bull-oh monftrous! fie for fhame!
He had by heart, the whole detail of woe Xantippe made her good man undergo;
How oft she scolded in a day, he knew,
How many piss-pots on the fage fhe threw ;
Who took it patiently, and wip'd his head;
"Rain follows thunder :" that was all he said.
He read, how Arius to his friend complain'd,
A fatal Tree was growing in his land,
On which three wives fucceffively had twin'd
A fliding noose, and waver'd in the wind.
Where grows this plant (reply'd the friend) oh where?
For better fruit did never orchard bear.
Give me some flip of this most blissful tree,
And in my garden planted shall it be.
Then how two wives their lords' destruction prove, Through hatred one, and one through too much love; That for her husband mix'd a pois'nous draught, And this for luft an am'rous philtre bought: The nimble juice foon feiz'd his giddy head, Frantic at night, and in the morning dead.
How some with swords their fleeping lords have flain,
And some have hammer'd nails into their brain,
And fome have drench'd them with a deadly potion;
All this he read, and read with great devotion. 410
Long time I heard, and fwell'd, and blufh'd, and
But when no end of thefe vile tales I found,
When still he read, and laugh'd, and read again,
And half the night was thus consum'd in vain;
Provok'd to vengeance, three large leaves I tore,
And with one buffet fell'd him on the floor.
With that my husband in a fury rose,
And down he fettled me with hearty blows,
I groan'd, and lay extended on my fide;
wealth (I cry'd) 420
Oh! thou haft flain me for my
Yet I forgive thee-take my laft embrace-
He wept, kind foul! and ftoop'd to kiss my face;
I took him fuch a box as turn'd him blue,
Then figh'd and cry'd, Adieu, my dear, adieu!
But after many a hearty struggle past,
I condefcended to be pleas'd at last,
Soon as he faid, My mistress and
Do what you lift, the term of all
I took to heart the merits of the cause,
And stood content to rule by wholesome laws; 430 Receiv'd the reins of abfolute command,
With all the government of house and land,
And empire o'er his tongue, and o'er his hand.
As for the volume that revil'd the dames,
434 'Twas torn to fragments, and condemn'd to flames. hufbands gone, bestow Now Heav'n, on all my
Pleasures above, for tortures felt below:
That reft they wish'd for, grant them in the grave,
And blefs thofe fouls my conduct help'd to fave!
THE lines of Pope, in the piece before us, are fpirited and eafy, and have, properly enough, a free colloquial air. One paffage I cannot forbear quoting, as it acquaints us with the writers who were popular in the time of Chaucer. The jocofe old woman fays, that her husband frequently read to her out of a volume that contained
"Valerius whole; and of Saint Jerome part;
Cryfippus and Tertullian, Ovid's Art,
Solomon's Proverbs, Eloifa's loves :
With many more than fure the Church approves."
Pope has omitted a stroke of humour; for, in the original, fhe naturally mistakes the rank and age of St. Jerome; the lines muft be transcribed,
"Yclepid Valerie and Theophrast,
At which boke he lough alway full faft;
And eke there was a clerk fometime in Rome,
A cardinal, that hightin St. Jerome,
That made a boke agenft Jovinian,
In which boke there was eke Tertullian,
Chryfippus, Trotula, and Helowis,
That was an abbefs not ferr fro Paris,
And eke the Parables of Solomon,
Ovid' is art, and bokis many a one."
In the library which Charles V. founded in France, about the year 1376, among many books of devotion, aftrology, chemistry, and romance, there was not one copy of Tully to be found, and no Latin poet but Ovid, Lucan, and Boethius; fome French tranflations of Livy, Valerius Maximus, and St. Auftin's City of God. He placed these in one of the towers, called The Tower of the Library. This was the foundation of the prefent magnificent royal library at Paris.
The tale, to which this is the prologue, has been verfified by Dryden, and is supposed to have been of Chaucer's own inven