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Reflecting on Anne Boleyn dead,
Cocksbones I now again do stand
The jolliest bachelor i' th' land.
T. Ah me ! my joys, my hopes, are fled;
My first, my only love, is dead:
With endless grief let me bemoan
Columbo's loss —
S. —Let me go on. As yet my fortune was but narrow, I woo'd my cousin Philly Sparrow, O' th' elder house of Chirping End, From whence the younger branch descend. Well seated in a field of pease She liv'd, extremely at her ease: But, when the honey-moon was past, The following nights were soon o'ercast; She kept her own, could plead the law, And quarrel for a barley-straw : I3oth, you may judge, became less kind, As more we knew each other's mind; She soon grew sullen; I hard-hearted; We scolded, hated, fought, and parted. To London, blessed town I went ; She boarded at a farm in Kent. A magpie from the country fled, And kindly told me she was dead: I prun'd my feathers, cock'd my tail, And set my heart again to sale.
My fourth, a mere coquette, or such I thought her; nor avails it much,
If true or false; our troubles spring
More from the fancy than the thing.
Two staring horns, I often said,
But ill became a sparrow's head;
But then, to set that balance even,
Your cuckold sparrow goes to Heaven.
The thing you fear, suppose it done,
If you inquire, you make it known.
Whilst at the root your horns are sore,
The more you scratch, they ake the more.
But turn the tables, and reflect,
All may not be, that you suspect:
By the mind's eye, the horns we mean
Are only in ideas seen;
'Tis from the inside of the head
Their branches shoot, their antlers spread;
Fruitful suspicions often bear 'em,
You feel them from the time you fear 'em.
Cuckoo! cuckoo! that echoed word
Offends the ear of vulgar bird;
But those of finer taste have found,
There's nothing in't beside the sound;
Preferment always waits on horns,
And household peace the gift adorns;
This way, or that, let factions tend,
The spark is still the cuckold's friend;
This way, or that, let madam roam,
Well pleas'd and quiet she comes home.
Now weigh the pleasure with the pain,
The plus and minus, loss and gain,
And what La Fontaine laughing says,
Is serious truth, in such a case;
“Who slights the evil, finds it least;
And who does nothing, does the best.”
I never strove to rule the roast,
She ne'er refus’d to pledge my toast:
In visits if we chanc'd to meet,
I seem'd obliging, she discreet;
We neither much caress'd nor strove,
But good dissembling pass'd for love.
7. Whate'er of light our eye may know,
'Tis only light itself can show:
Whate'er of love our heart can feel,
'Tis mutual love alone can tell.
S. My pretty, amorous, foolish bird,
A moment's patience! in one word,
The three kind sisters broke the chain,
She died, I mourn'd, and woo'd again.
T. Let me with juster grief deplore
My dear Columbo, now no more;
Let me with constant tears bewail
S. Your sorrow does but spoil my tale.
My fifth, she prov’d a jealous wife,
Lord shield us all from such a life;
'Twas doubt, complaint, reply, chitchat,
'Twas this, to-day; to-morrow, that.
Sometimes, forsooth, upon the brook
I kept a miss; an honest rook
Told it a snipe, who told a steer,
Who told it those who told it her.
One day a linnet and a lark
Had met me strolling in the dark;
The next a woodcock and an owl,
Quick-sighted, grave, and sober fowl,
Would on their corporal oath allege,
I kiss'd a hen behind the hedge.
Well; madam turtle, to be brief,
(Repeating but renews our grief)
As once she watch'd me from a rail,
(Poor soul!) her footing chanc'd to fail,
And down she fell, and broke her hip;
The fever came, and then the pip:
Death did the only cure apply:
She was at quiet, so was I.
T. Could love unmov’d these changes view? His sorrows, as his joys, are true.
S. My dearest dove, one wise man says,
Alluding to our present case,
“We’re here to-day and gone to-morrow:”
Then what avails superfluous sorrow!
Another, full as wise as he,
Adds; that “a married man may see
Two happy hours;”
The first and last, perhaps you’ll say.
'Tis true, when blithe she goes to bed,
And when she peaceably lies dead;
“Women 'twixt sheets are best, 'tis said,
Be they of holland, or of lead.”
Now, cur'd of Hymen's hopes and fears,
And sliding down the vale of years,
I hop'd to fix my future rest,
And took a widow to my nest,
(Ah, turtle! had she been like thee,
Sober, yet gentle; wise, yet free!)
But she was peevish, noisy, bold,
A witch ingrafted on a scold.
Jove in Pandora's box confin'd
A hundred ills, to vex mankind:
To vex one bird, in her bandore,
He had at least a hundred more.
And, soon as time that veil withdrew,
The plagues o'er all the parish flew;
Her stock of borrow'd tears grew dry,
And native tempests arm'd her eye;
Black clouds around her forehead hung,
And thunder rattled on her tongue.
We, young or old, or cock or hen,
All liv'd in AEolus's den;
The nearest her, the more accurst,
Ill far'd her friends, her husband worst.
But Jove amidst his anger spares,
Remarks our faults, but hears our prayers.
In short, she died. Why then she's dead.
Quoth I, and once again I’ll wed.
Would heaven, this mourning year were past!
One may have better luck at last.
Matters at worst are sure to mend,
The devil's wife was but a fiend.
7. Thy tale has rais'd a turtle's spleen,
Uxorious inmate bird obscene !