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Well, rest her bones! quoth I, she's gone; 247
But must I therefore lie alone.
What! am I to her memory tied;
Must I not live, because she died!
And thus I logically said
('Tis good to have a reasoning head!)
Is this my wife? Probatur, not;
For death dissolved the marriage-knot;
She was, concedo, during life;
But, is a piece of clay a wife?
Again; if not a wife d'ye see,
Why then no kin at all to me;
And he, who general tears can shed
For folks that happen to be dead, 260
May even with equal justice mourn
For those who never yet were born.
T. Those points indeed you quaintly prove:
But logic is no friend to love.
S. My children then were just pen-feathered:
Some little corn for them I gathered,
And sent them to my spouse's mother;
So left that brood, to get another;
And, as old Harry whilom said,
Reflecting on Anne Boleyn dead, 270
Cocksbones! I now again do stand
The jollyest bachelor in the land.
T. Ah me! my joys, my hopes are fled;
My first, my only love, is dead.
With endless grief let me bemoan
S. —Let me go on.
As yet my fortune was but narrow,
I wooed my cousin Philly Sparrow,
Of the elder house of Chirping End, 230
Well seated in a field of pease
She lived, extremely at her ease:
But, when the honey-moon was passed,
The following nights were soon o'ercast;
She kept her own, could plead the law,
And quarrel for a barley-straw;
Both, you may judge, became less kind,
As more we knew each other's mind;
She soon grew sullen; I hard-hearted; 230
We scolded, hated, fought, and parted. |
From whence the younger branch descend. 2s.
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 pruned my feathers, cocked 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 300
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 ache the more.
But turn the tables, and reflect, 310
All may not be, that you suspect.
By the mind's eye, the horns we mean
Are only in ideas seen;
Their branches shoot, their antlers spread; 815
Fruitful suspicions often bear them,
You feel them from the time you fear them.
Cuckoo! cuckoo! that echoed word
Offends the ear of vulgar bird;
But those of finer taste have found, 320
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 pleased 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, 330
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 refused to pledge my toast;
In visits if we chanced to meet,
I seemed obliging, she discreet;
We neither much caressed nor strove,
But good dissembling passed for love.
T. Whate'er of light our eye may know, 340
"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 mourned, and wooed again,
T. Let me with juster grief deplore
My dear Columbo, now no more; 349
Let me with constant tears bewail;
S. Your sorrow does but spoil my tale.
My fifth, she proved 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 360
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 kissed a hen behind the hedge.
Well, madam turtle, to be brief,
(Repeating but renews our grief)
As once she watched me from a rail,
(Poor soul!) her footing chanced to fail,
And down she fell, and broke her hip; 370
The fever came, and then the pip:
Death did the only cure apply:
She was at rest, and so was I.
T. Could love unmoved 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, 3S)
Adds; that “a married man may see
Two happy hours;' and which are they;
The first and last, perhaps you’ll say! 383
'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, cured of Hymen's hopes and fears,
And sliding down the vale of years,
I hoped to fix my future rest, 390
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 confined
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, 400
The plagues o'er all the parish flew;
Her stock of borrowed tears grew dry,
And native tempests armed her eye;
Black clouds around her forehead hung,
And thunder rattled on her tongue.
We, young or old, or cock or hen,
All lived in AEolus's den;
The nearest her, the more accursed,
Ill fared her friends, her husband worst.
But Jove amidst his anger spares, 410
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
One may have better luck at last.