1653
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Wife not made, but bespoken: The Fourth Eglogue.

A Wife, not ready made, but bespoken, by Dicus the Batchelor, and made up for him by his fellow Shepheard Tityrus. In Four Pastorall Eglogues. The Second Edition: Wherein are some things added but nothing amended.

Robert Aylett


A fourth eclogue, on Elizabeth and the political troubles, is added to the three on the topic of marriage which appeared in a 1633. Since no copy of the earlier volume is extent, they make a somewhat odd group.

F. M. Padelford: "The four eclogues of A Wife are in a different vein from the other poems that make up the volume and incline one to wish that Aylett had not so exclusively cultivated Urania as his muse. Married life is the theme, and its pros and cons are discussed with animation and much homely quaintness.... In the fourth eclogue, Dorus proposes that the shepherds sit under a sheltering oak while Tityrus 'Delights our Ears with Pastorall and Song' — whereupon Tityrus responds ... in a style clearly reminiscent of Spenser's ecclesiastical eclogues.... This passage obviously alludes to the efforts of the Scotch, through the Solemn League and Covenant and all that developed in consequence of it, to force the Presbyterian system upon England. The wolves, as in Spenser, are the Roman Catholics, but the fierce mastiffs are the barbaric Scotch. The line, 'They that did covet ours have lost their own,' obviously refers to the thorough subjugation of Scotland, completed in 1652" "Robert Aylett" (1936) 23-24.

The volume is rounded out with a collection of lyrics.



BATTUS, DORUS, TYTERUS.

BATTUS.
This Morn my Wife and I did rise,
Before the Stars set in the skies.

DORUS.
Which made Aurora blush so red,
To see Sun up and she in Bed:
This mornings rednesse certainly declares,
This heat ere night will melt in Flouds of tears;
But whilest our Flocks are feeding here's a bowr,
In this fair Oak will shelter from a showr,
Whilest Tyterus whom I have brought alang,
Delights our Ears with Pastorall and Song.

TYTERUS.
In younger years (which I remember stlll)
I once lay slumbring on Parnassus Hill,
Where surely I a sounder nap had taken,
Had I not been with hideous noise awaken;
I thought of Wolves, but prov'd close by the [ears?],
Fierce Mastifs full of jealousies and fears:
Upon fresh trail they bellow out like thunder,
And all within their dint like lightning plunder;
They cry in Kirk and State for Reformations,
Thereby to make ours their own Habitations;
They this pretend for good of all our Lambs,
Devouring all our Kiddys with their Dams;
God on the dwellings hath his justice shewn,
They that did covet ours have lost their own;
May never such devouring greedy hounds
Uncoupled be again on English grounds:
Be's name to all posterity a scorn,
That first up to this hunt did winde his Horn.

DORUS.
What this to thee? these stirs far North were made,
Thou Tyterus laist safe here under shade.

TYTERUS.
It is my nature, I more inly groan,
For others sufferings, then at mine own:
My bowels yern, my heart within doth bleed,
To hear th' ill brought on them and their Seed.

DORUS.
I fear'd at first, thou out of discontent,
Hadst shot thy Bolt 'gainst present Government.

TYTERUS.
I loathe to make my Governors a mark,
No gentle dog will at his Keeper bark,
They certain that above the Stern do steer,
Great Atlas burthens on their shoulders bear,
I envy not the States that highest be,
Let me enjoy my self and conscience free;
The Pow'rs that are, be by the Heavens ordain'd,
And none but by that Pow'r can be maintain'd:
They feed my Lamb from Wolves and Tigers, I
Can scarce preserve them from the Fox and Fly;
These and the like so heavily me presse,
For Muse scar'd ne're put on comely dresse;
I brake my Pipe, forbear my Lute to string,
So as in tune I have forgot to sing.

DORUS.
Yet Tyterus to ymp the wings of Time
Thou happily remember maist some Rimes
In praise of Wives, for thou hast married three,
For Battus two, too many, three for me,
He hath but one, and would learn how to use her,
I none, and therefore fain would learn to chuse her.

TYTERUS.
We old men most ambitious are to tell,
Of what in youth we think we have done well,
Then give me leave to tell you mine own Story,
Not for mine own but for the praise and glory
Of all good Wives; who from what I relate
May take a Patern mine to imitate:
Most edifying Stories are the Lives
Of Saints and Martyrs, so of all good Wives;
I being young and of my self inclin'd
To add a second body to my minde,
First by the Eyes was catcht, then by the Ears,
For that admir'd sweet consort of the sphears,
To Hers fictitious was; an Angels voice
In Ivory case did ev'n my soul rejoyce;
A Western gale blew me on this good hap
Jove never showr'd gold in a softer lap.
Our wooing was not long, mine and her friends,
Our fancies had dispos'd to self same ends,
So I soon that great Kesars fortune run
I came, I saw her and was overcome.
No sooner I enjoy her but I finde
Her beauteous out-side was unto her minde
No other then a prison, which the rays
Of Light Celestiall all within begays,
To hear her talking was a miracle,
Yet all she uttered was an Oracle;
With sweetest gracefull looks she all would teach,
A good Divine she was yet would not preach;
So pious that mine heart began to faint,
Fearing I for a Wife had got a Saint.

BATTUS.
Is't strange some Wives should be good Preachers seen?
This Land was lately by a Maiden-Queen
In peace maintain'd full fourty years and more,
So Sheba, Carthage, Swedes, and many a score;
Your Abbesses do catechise and preach,
Their Nuns as them rare works and manners teach.

TYTERUS.
Such Halcyon daies nere were nor shall be seen,
As in the Reign of that most glorious Queen.

DORUS.
No fear of that I oft have heard it said,
She-Saints abroad do prove best wives in Bed;
Your strictest Matrons upon such a motion,
We'l cool in zeal and lay by their devotion;
I for most certain will relate a Story,
One took a Sister by the Directory,
Whose Brother dying and she left his Heir,
He wedded her by Book of Common Prayer;
By which is plainly given to understand,
Lesse danger is in losing Wives then Land.

BATTUS.
Fie Dorus, thou art much too blame to clatter,
And tell a Story nothing to the matter;
It argues them of spight and insolence,
To interrupt the good Wives Evidence.

TYTERUS.
Shee free obedience offered me as Head,
Ther all Honour at my board and bed;
She wholsome meat, not costly, made my diet,
My Coat was even a Paradise of quiet:
When 'mongst the shepheardesses she was seen,
All justly her adored as their Queen:
She as dear Sisters them did use and call,
And in sweet humblenesse out-went them all;
When in a round they sate them down to sing,
She treble was and Diamond in the Ring:
My Coats chief Ornament by day by night,
The golden Candlestick whence issues light;
If ought she saw in others worth her heed,
She practis'd, and her patern did exceed,
For she not only knew but practis'd all
The graces grown in her habituall.

BATTUS.
If she transcended so in word and deed,
Why is she gone and left none of her breed?

TYTERUS.
Heavens would not so much for one mortall do
As give him such a Wife and Children too,
A losse not portable, but that we plain
Discern our losse was her immortall gain;
The God of Life when he did her deny
A pow'r to live, most willing made to die.

DORUS.
Fye fit thou art too serious once I win,
I heard thee tell then on a merry pin,
Of managing young Colts and younger wives
By gentle handling; who with either strives,
Against their will, if they at their first taming,
Get but a trick is difficult reclaming;
When thou hadst got within the Stable door,
Thy Colt, thou first his Saddle laidst before
Him in the Manger, then didst it on set
To make him proud, ere thou presumest to get
Up to his back, thou clawd'st him on the breast,
And often clap't and coak'st him on the crest,
And to secure from kicking would'st not fail,
To stroak and softly pull him by the tail;
When thou had'st mann'd him then thy foot
Before thou mount oft in the stirrup put:
Yet softly, lest him suddenly surprising,
Thou shouldst provoke to kicking back or rising;
Thus up thou without stick or spur wouldst prove,
How with thee as one body he could move,
And sitting sure and easie in the Saddle,
Thee jots no more then in a Couch or Cradle,
And prancing under's load takes as great pleasure,
As thou to ride, so thou put on with measure:
So of a kitten teach a Cat to play,
She will be loving to her dying day.
But feed an old one that thou didst not hatch,
She'l churlish grow and by the fingers scratch:
That Wives well learn'd in tongues thereby became
More crafty, as young Foxes bred up tame,
And therefore all young Shepheards didst advise,
To take no Maids from th' Universities,
Which Scholars did with so much Logick fill,
They would by Syllogisms maintain their will,
Nor heir to Land, for they will by their own
Revenues make their will and pleasure known;
Such Emblems home appli'd, would edifie
Us and our Wives,

TYTERUS.
apply't thy self, not I;
Such were the Observations of my youth,
Which now I see are taken up for truth,
To sport with Muses I do oft take leave,
The miseries of old age to deceive,
An ounce of mirth when I the time can spare,
Is better then a pound of grief and care.

DORUS.
This of thy second wife, how proud the first?
Then all for better taken were and worst,

TYTERUS.
That which at first her friends and she did fear,
Was manifest to us within the Year;
A Hectick Feaver her deni'd of breath,
She was unparellel'd in Life and Death.

BATTUS.
What of thy third?

TYTERUS.
My Friend 'tis not the Fashion,
To praise the 'live with Funerall Oration,
Her heart I ought bedew with double tears,
As she with me hath doubled both their years;
If fates require that I shall stay behinde her,
I shall commend of her then as I finde her,
Neat, prudent, frugall, bountifull and grave:

BATTUS.
Sure thou intendest a fourth wife to have.

DORUS.
Soft

BATTUS.
For Tityrus I'le undertake,
He'l never wed another for her sake;
But lo the Sun comes to his Zenith nighest,
And least appears now he is mounted highest:
But I beleeve it with thy wife is noon
Her dinner's drest betime she rose so soon.
Come Tityrus thou must see her daily Feasts,
Where we shall finde more dishes far then guests.

Tityrus.
Two dishes are a plentifull repast.

DORUS.
There will be more then thou canst wish to taste;
But lo, I Westward see the Welkin lowrs,
Before thy wife hath din'd there will be showrs.

BATTUS.
'Tis not the first time I have thus been wet,
Make haste, the Dishes on the Board are set.

DORUS.
Great Pan himself had never such a dinner,
Prepar'd him at the charges of a spinner;
She comes, let's first salute this comely Bride,
Then Tityrus shall sit down by her side:
We with our mirth will make thy Cottage ring,
So will we make this dinner for a King.

[(1653) 13-19]