A Wife not made but bespoken: The Third Eglogue.

A Wife not made but bespoken.

Robert Aylett

The third eclogue considers marriage under the rubric of its culinary attractions. The fourth eclogue, added in 1653, has a wholly different and more serious character.

Restituta or ... English Literature Revived: "The Eglogues contain much pro and con argumentation on the married and single life; in which the former seems to carry the palm" 4 (1816) 39.


Good day, my Friend, how frolick dost thou fare?
Fresh chearfull Gallant free from worldly care,
As thou wert beaverd up with Ale and Cakes,
And fed with healing Flesh of Indian Snakes,
Wedlock abates the flesh, and fils the purse,
Sure thou hast got a Loving tender Nurse.

My Wife so she may keep the Purse,
Is sure a sweet indulgent Nurse,
And for me every Meal provides,
Twelve Dishes with good Sauce besides,
Four Fowl, four fruit, and four of Fish,
Come fuming on her Chafing-dish;
Her Woodcock, Bitter, Quail and Rail,
No season of the year do fall;
Her Carps, her Gudgeon, Lump and Pout,
She carves to all the Board about;
Her Fruit as Fish are ay in season,
Crab, Medlar, Artichoak, Small Reason,
Besides Green Sallets neatly drest,
Of which she Pursline liketh best;
And though I with such chear am fed,
I oft go supperlesse to bed:
Where she for me alone unshown
Preserves a warm bit of her own,
To take for my best health and ease,
Ev'n, Morning, Midnight, as I please;
And if I Flesh refrain, her zeal
Boils up for me a Salmon-Peal:
Me trust, this is a true Relation,
No Bachelor hath such accomodation.

Sure thou dost live a gallant Lord-like life,
With such a curious Cater, Cook, and Wife;
Who raw, boil'd, bak't, she still with so small costs
Provides, and never fails to rule the Rost:
I could not think a Shepherds Swain were able
To furnish with such rarities his Table.

Batchelors get exceedings now and then,
But not such constant Meals as Married men,
They seldome have them in due time and place,
Or to them, after, or before say grace,
Fall to My Friends, be merry, do not spare,
You'l finde few married men have better Fare;
Who for his Friend prepares a costly Feast,
Himself harms more by half then good his Guest.

If as thou saist this be a Husbands diet,
Give me a dinner of green Herbs with quiet,
I better like one dish with single life,
Then all these choicest dainties with a Wife.
An Herd-boys life precedes a Ladies Page,
Give me full Flight, I hate a guilded Cage.

Ploughmen prefer their Pudding to a Banquet.
The Sow you well know what before a Pan-cake;
Bachelors have good things but oft misguided,
A Wife is neat and never unprovided:
Besides you take your Meals most what by halves,
And boast that change of Pasture makes fat calfs:
But certain 'tis a Beast thrives best of all
Put off the Common to the severall:
A good Wife surely is a greater treasure,
Then all the choise and costly Dames of pleasure.

And I esteem my Phillida with measure
Above her thou dost count so rich a treasure:
Yet let it not my Friend to thee seem strange
Men are as Women often given to change,
A bone of Fish makes Flesh a better meal,
The changes alwayes is the sweetest peal;
A Pearch or Gudgion puld up by my hook
Tasts sweeter then a Pullet from the coop;
A Rook scarce fledg tak'n new out of the neast
Eats tend'rer then a Pheasant at a feast:
'Tis good advice to young men given to tarry,
And to an old man not at all to marry:
Certes my friend 'twould vex me to the life,
A Cuckold to be made by mine own Wife,
Whereof I by the Curtesie must stand
Seis'd for my term of Life as of her Land.
Wives are as Haggards, which Men lure at ease,
But they'l come in or lye out as they please:
We must be alwayes subject to their check,
And if wee'l stand in grace must come at beck;
Not sit up late at night not rise too soon,
Must sure come home at dinner just at noon,
Which hour she keeps, as Cynthia firm and steddy,
That is as soon as she is up and ready.
If she Recuse, to Church she must not come;
If shee'l to Church he must not stay at home;
And if the Fit or humour on her come,
Shee'l neither go to Church nor stay at home:
One bed holds both so long as they be One:
If out, th' whole house too streight's for her alone.
When 'tis her pleasure to go out and play,
New clothes must on and all keep Holy day;
And when she home returns I'le do her right,
Shee'l make her maids sit up and work all night.
If thou alone into thy Study look,
She must come in and be thy only Book;
To be mine Almanack I well could bear,
So should I have a new one every year.
We of a certain Man do read, but no man
Did ever tell us of a certain Woman;
Yet this I do advertise all good fellowes,
To shun the fainting Fit they call the yellowes,
For which (besides it Men objects to scorn)
Wives know no eure but drink out of a Horn.

Upon my Oath our Justice without hearing,
For this would binde thee to thy good abearing,
His Wife for not reforming such a fault
Will never trust him more to grind her malt:
Now fie I am asham'd to hear thee preach
Of things which are so far above thy reach;
Like our Jack-daw, who when his News do fail
To his good Dames doth on his betters rayl,
Clay lands breeds whitest wheat so you it till,
That Wife is good that's not extremely ill;
Thou talk'st of Robinhood, thou dost not know
Nor ever yet shotst shaft out of his bow,
Why shouldst thou thy great Grandams Daughter snib,
Thou moulded art of durt, she of a rib,
Themselves their Husbands and their meat they dresse well,
Worst you can say, They are the weaker vessell;
Some praise, some blame the, much adoe's about the.
Few men can well live with them, none without the.

Let me this story for our Teacher borrow,
To tell it at our meeting place to morrow,
For though he by th' whole hower can homely pray,
He little or nothing to his Text can say:
Set prayer he abhors as works of merit,
And method is too costive for his spirit;
This matter's to his purpose who contrives
To be a powrefull man with all your Wives:
But lo the Sun clad in a scarlet gown
Looks biggest at us at his going down;
The Birds that early with his light arose,
Do wanting use of eyes their eye lids close.

If Sun sets in a cloud we shall have rain;
Look all our flocks are scattered on the plain.

Sweet Battus, prove it fair or rainy weather,
Lets fould our flocks though not our heads together,
Ile home and sleep in cottage void of strife.

And I in th' Arms of my sweet loving Wife.

To morrow I will come and see her Feast,

And welcome in good earnest or in jest;
But if thou would'st continue in her favour,
See thou be constant to thy good behaviour.

But what if I bring Tyterus along?

He can us sing a pastorall sweet Song.

In youth he could both caroll, dance and play,
But with his head, his wit begins to gray;
Like skillfull Lech his Patient he can please,
Yet be in open war with his disease:
Malignant humours purg'd by golden Pill
Improve a Wife by giving her her will.

When his Grand-master Melibaus died,
His Freaks and Frolicks all were laid aside.

Such mirth is most extreamly good at Feasts,
Some Fools are cur'd by precepts some by jests:
His labours vain against the stream that strives,
Good Husbands only know to make good wives.

[(1653) 8-13]