In the Golden Age
In Saturn's reign, at Nature's early birth, There was that thing called chastity on earth; When in a narrow cave, their common shade, The sheep, their shepherds and their gods were laid:
When reeds and leaves, and hides of beasts were spread
By mountain huswives for their homely bed,
And mossy pillows raised, for the rude husband's head.
Unlike the niceness of our modern dames
(Affected nymphs with new affected names),
The Cynthias and the Lesbias of our years,
Who for a sparrow's death dissolve in tears,
Those first unpolished matrons, big and bold,
Gave suck to infants of gigantic mould;
Rough as their savage lords who ranged the wood,
And fat with acorns belched their windy food.
For when the World was buxom, fresh, and young,
Her sons were undebauched, and therefore strong;
And whether born in kindly beds of earth,
Or struggling from the teeming oaks to birth,
Or from what other atoms they begun,
No sires they had, or if a sire the Sun.
Some thin remains of chastity appeared
Ev'n under Jove, but Jove without a beard;
Before the servile Greeks had learned to swear
By heads of kings; while yet the bounteous year
Her common fruits in open plains exposed,
Ere thieves were feared, or gardens were enclosed.
At length uneasy Justice upwards flew,
And both the sisters to the stars withdrew;
From that old era whoring did begin,
So venerably ancient is the sin.
Adult'rers next invade the nuptial state,
And marriage-beds creaked with a foreign weight;
All other ills did Iron times adorn;
Yet thou, they say, for marriage dost provide: Is this an age to buckle with a bride? They say thy hair the curling art is taught, The wedding-ring perhaps already bought: A sober man like thee to change his life! What fury would possess thee with a wife? Art thou of ev'ry other death bereft, No knife, no ratsbane, no kind halter left (For every noose compared to hers is cheap)? Is there no city bridge from whence to leap? Would'st thou become her drudge, who dost enjoy A better sort of bedfellow, thy boy?
He keeps thee not awake with nightly brawls, Nor with a begged reward thy pleasure palls; Nor with insatiate heavings calls for more, When all thy spirits were drained out before. But still Ursidius courts the marriage bait, Longs for a son, to settle his estate, And takes no gifts though every gaping heir Would gladly grease the rich old bachelor. What revolution can appear so strange, As such a lecher such a life to change? A rank, notorious whoremaster, to choose To thrust his neck into the marriage noose! He who so often in a dreadful fright Had in a coffer 'scaped the jealous cuckold's sight, That he, to wedlock dotingly betrayed, Should hope, in this lewd town, to find a maid! The man's grown mad: to ease his frantic pain, Run for the surgeon; breathe the middle vein; But let a heifer with gilt horns be led To Juno, Regent of the Marriage-bed, And let him every deity adore, If his new bride prove not an arrant whore, In head and tail, and every other pore. On Ceres' feast, restrained from their delight, Few matrons, there, but curse the tedious night: Few whom their fathers dare salute, such lust Their kisses have, and come with such a gust. With ivy now adorn thy doors, and wed; Such is thy bride, and such thy genial bed. Think'st thou one man is for one woman meant? She sooner with one eye would be content.
And yet, 'tis noised, a maid did once appear In some small village, though fame says not where: 'Tis possible; but sure no man she found; 'Twas desert, all, about her father's ground: And yet some lustful god might there make bold; Are Jove and Mars grown impotent and old? Many a fair nymph has in a cave been spread, And much good love, without a feather-bed.
breathe] lance, open up
The Book-learned Wife
But of all plagues, the greatest is untold, The book-learned wife in Greek and Latin bold, The critic-dame, who at her table sits, Homer and Virgil quotes, and weights their wits; And pities Dido's agonizing fits. She has so far th'ascendant of the board, The prating pedant puts not in one word, The man of law is nonplussed, in his suit; Nay every other female tongue is mute. Hammers, and beating anvils, you would swear, And Vulcan with his whole militia there. Tabours and trumpets cease; for she alone Is able to redeem the lab'ring moon. Ev'n wit's a burthen, when it talks too long: But she, who has no continence of tongue, Should walk in breeches, and should wear a beard; And mix among the philosophic herd.
0 what a midnight curse has he, whose side Is pestered with a mood and figure bride! Let mine, ye Gods (if such must be my fate) No logic learn, nor history translate;
But rather be a quiet, humble fool:
1 hate a wife, to whom I go to school,
Who climbs the grammar-tree, distinctly knows Where Noun, and Verb, and Participle grows, Corrects her country neighbour; and, abed, For breaking Priscian's, breaks her husband's head.
The gawdy gossip, when she's set agog, In jewels dressed, and at each ear a bob, Goes flaunting out, and, in her trim of pride, Think all she says or does, is justified.
mood and figure bride] one who is adept in the 'moods' and 'figures' of logic breaking Priscian's [head]] violating the rules of grammar
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