46, afterwards 50 Prior stanzas — a mock epic adapted and expanded from the prose fable in Joseph Addison's Guardian No. 152. The Prior stanza, still relatively uncommon, was presumably chosen as appropriate for an allegory intended as Spenserian. Though Samuel Wesley does not imitate Spenser's mannerisms, his allegorical characters display considerable familiarity with the Faerie Queene. Little known today, Wesley's Battle of the Sexes (originally published anonymously) became one of the most frequently-reprinted Spenser imitations of the eighteenth century; indeed it was the first imitation of the Faerie Queene to achieve real popularity.
The early editions of The Battle of the Sexes were anonymous, and may have appeared without the author's knowledge or consent — the work was published by Thomas Cooke, who obtained the manuscript from a "Gentleman of Worth" who had met with it "by accident" p. 3. The poet was an usher at Westminster School.
Preface by Thomas Cooke: "As to the Verse, 'tis in Imitation of Spencer, as is much of his Stile; which they that have read both will easily perceive.... To conclude; if the noblest Way of Wit consists in Description; and if that Description is to be set off by a just Propriety of Words and Thoughts, in Subjects capable of being enliven'd by Imagination or Fancy, all which serve at once both for the Improvement and Delight of Mankind: Then this Author must be allow'd to have attained the great End of Poetry" pp. 5, 8.
James Hervey: "Did you ever see a Shilling Poem, entitled, The Battle of the Sexes? 'Tis wrote in the Spirit of Spenser, and is indeed one of the prettiest Things I ever met with. — But it is very evident, that the Author has taken his Plan from Fletcher's Purple Island. The celebrated [Christopher] Pitt of New College, who translated Virgil and Vida, has wrote a complimentary Copy of Verses, which are prefixed" ca. 1757; in Collection of Letters of James Hervey (1760) 2:256.
Walter Scott: "To [Todd's Life of Spenser] is subjoined a list of the editions of Spenser, and of his professed imitators. To the latter might have been added the unknown author of the Battle of the Sexes, an allegorical poem, in the manner of Spenser, which, though now forgotten, contains some very striking passages" Review of Todd's Spenser in Edinburgh Review 7 (October 1805) 213.
Richmond P. Bond describes the poem as "too serious for burlesque" English Burlesque Poetry (1932) 158n.
There is little plot, the poem consisting for mostly of allegorical characters of the various passions. Male Pride is subdued by female Beauty (alluding to Britomart and Artegal in Faerie Queene 4.6.19); he is assisted by Wisdom, who in turn is matched by female Cunning. The battle widens as male Patience squares off against feminine Scorn (a formidable figure, modelled on Belphoebe) whom he eventually overcomes. Lust, accustomed to conquer (and who bears a formidable device on his shield) is met by Modesty. When Modesty falls to Lust ("Disguis'd like Love") she is ridiculed by the embattled Prudes, who fall in turn. Honor, their chief, holds out until nightfall shrowds her actions. In a night action the aged Reason is likewise overcome by Lust. Surveying the carnage by the light of dawn, both sides recognize Lust as a common enemy and appeal to Divine Religion, who bears the red cross on her shield. At the sight of this device Lust is compelled to retreat, while Marriage and Love enter the field from the ranks of the neutral party. At the the sight of this pair "In sudden Peace the jarring Kinds agree, | With Reconcilement dear, and cordial Amity" p. 34. The poem concludes with a celebration of the powers of Love, and a warning that contentions between the sexes are unlikely to cease.
See Christopher Pitt, To the Unknown Author of the Battle of the Sexes: "Who sees thy Lines so visibly express | The Soul herself in such a pleasing Dress; | May from thy Labours be convinc'd and taught, | How Spenser would have Sung, and Plato Thought" Poems (1727) 81.
In 1759 a 45-stanza anonymous version of the poem was reprinted in the Scots Magazine "from a manuscript which either was never published, or is not now to be met with in print." There are considerable variations in later editions, including changes to the preface. A copy of the Battle of the Sexes appears in the catalogue of the 1731 sale of Elijah Fenton's library, where it was evidently filed next to Pope's Rape of the Lock; see A. N. L. Munby, Sale Catalogues of Libraries of Eminent Persons (1972) 2:83. The Battle of the Sexes is quoted in a brief essay on female authors in the London Chronicle (29 December 1759) 622.
For a sense of Wesley's political views, see "An Elegy on Dr. Francis Atterbury" in Westminster Magazine 1 (December1774) 653-55.
Thou, for whose View these Numbers were design'd,
A while with Favour, patiently attend,
Smile, and begin not now to be unkind,
But tho' the Poet please not, spare the Friend.
And thou, dear Object of my growing Love,
Whom now I must not, or I dare not name,
Approve my Verse, which shines if you approve;
Let giddy Madmen court delusive Fame;
Let your Acceptance sweet o'erpay my Toil;
Let Age and Rigour frown, so Youth and Beauty smile.
Of Arms, which erst contending Sexes bore,
I sing; and Wars for Fame and Empire made.
Despotick Man rul'd with tyrannick Pow'r,
Obey'd, but with Reluctance still obey'd;
With Words his long-disputed Cause he tries,
But Woman's equal Wit disdains to yield:
At length to Arms ungen'rously he flies,
As quick the Female takes the proffer'd Field;
Each their superior Merit to maintain,
For Man was learn'd, and proud; and Woman fair, and vain.
A Plain there was, call'd Life, extended wide,
To which a single painful Passage led,
With num'rous Outlets plac'd on ev'ry Side;
Scenes smiling fair the Prospect overspread;
Flourets, and Myrtles fragrant, seem'd to rise.
All was at Distance sweet, but near at Hand
The gay Deceit mock'd the desiring Eyes,
With Thorns, and desart Heath, and barren Sand.
Severest Change afflicts th' uncertain Air,
Expos'd to Summer Suns, to Blasts of Winter bare.
'Twas here each Sex their Field of Battle chose,
The narrow Entrance by Consent they past;
But enter'd, soon their Enmity disclose,
And to their different Standards march with Haste.
Brigades of crafty Neuters hov'ring lay
Camp'd on the Margin of the spacious Plain,
To wait the doubtful Fortune of the Day;
And publick Loss improve to private Gain.
Here Marriage chaste, there Love the Conqu'ror lies;
Adverse to ranging Lust; and groveling Avarice.
The Women first, quick to Revenge, were seen
In shining rich enamell'd Arms t' advance;
Like antient Spartans, o'er the level Green,
To breathing Flutes they trod a measur'd Dance.
Strait the Male Banners wave, unfurl'd in Air,
While sounding Trumpets delib'rate Valour breathe,
Kindling in martial Breasts stern Love of War,
And Thirst of Vengeance, and Contempt of Death.
Furious they charge, while Fortitude, their Guide,
Conspicuous in the Van, his Female Foes defy'd.
In freshest Pride of Life, and Strength of Years,
(The Male Battalions worthy to command)
In Times of Danger unappall'd with Fears,
A Chieftain swift of Foot, and strong of Hand;
Nor tir'd with Labours, nor dismay'd with Pains,
Arm'd at all Points, a stranger to Despair;
He dreads not Treason, and he Force disdains;
In bitter Taunts he thus accosts the Fair.
By Women charg'd, shall Warriors back recoil?
Sharp Swords and pointed Spears shall feeble Distaffs foil?
Beauty, great Gen'ral of the Female War,
Sprung from the Front with Fortitude t' engage;
Too slight for Toils her tender Limbs appear,
Yet stoutest Heroes trembled at her Rage.
Stiff Ribs of Whale her Coat of Mail compos'd;
Compos'd with Art, her taper Waist to show.
A Beaver wrought with black her Helmet clos'd,
Which by th' name of Mask the Moderns know.
Each Step, each Motion, shot an artless Grace;
She seem'd of Conquest sure, sure e'en without her Face.
The warlike Virgin, and the Heroe, chose
In diff'rent Ways to wage an equal Fight;
With Giant Strength he heaps redoubled Blows;
Of Force inferior, she depends on Flight;
Eluding furious Strokes by quick Retreat,
Long Time she wards, and wary shifts her Place;
At length her Helm his Sword descending met,
And of her sable Vizard cut the Lace;
Millions of sudden Charms discover'd lye,
Her Skin, her Hair, her Brows, her Cheek, her Lip, her Eye.
Disdainful Frowns and Smiles alternate rise,
Swift to her Cheeks the lovely Crimson streams,
While kindling Rage darts Lightning from her Eyes,
And adds new Brightness to their native Beams;
Nor shalt thou boast, th' undaunted Virgin said,
Nor am I yet defenceless, and o'erthrown.
His forward foot the shrinking Warrior stay'd,
Damp'd with resistless Fear, 'till then unknown.
Th' inchanting Voice his utmost Nerves unstrung,
And what her Eyes began, she perfects with her Tongue.
But Wisdom next slow-marching to his aid,
In heavy Armour took th' uncertain Field;
Temper'd his Helm, by wondrous Magick made;
And proof to Witchcraft was his pondrous Shield.
Calm without Fear, and fervent without Rage,
In Action quick, but tardy to advise;
He seem'd advanc'd to more than middle Age,
For when had Youth the Leisure to be wise?
Valiant to charge, but not too proud to fly;
Resolv'd his lifted Arm, and quick his piercing Eye.
Now Beauty small avails, for Wisdom knows
How soon her transitory Glories fail,
That Age brings languid Eyes, and wither'd Brows,
Her Hairs all hoary, and her Face all pale.
The more he view'd, he view'd with less Applause;
Whom Rage distorted, and whom Pride deform'd:
Sternly his unrelenting Sword he draws,
Nor by her Looks, nor by her Language warm'd.
Scarce could frail Beauty stand his awful View,
When timely to her Aid deep-mining Cunning flew.
Artful her Bosom heav'd, her rolling Eyes
Allur'd with Glances whom in Heart she scorn'd;
Sweet flow'd her Words with ever-pleasing Lies,
An Infant Lisp her double Tongue adorn'd.
Her Feet half dancing, negligently pac'd;
Her Motion, nay, her Rest was all Design;
Her Arms a Scarf and Ribband Bridle grac'd,
Whose Colours glorious in the Sun-beams shine,
Their Hue still varying with the changing Place,
Yet each alternate Dye was suited to her Face.
The Springs and Passions of the secret Mind,
The wily Sorceress could surely move;
Now cruel false, now seeming faithful kind,
With well-dress'd Hate, and well-dissembled Love:
Fast fell her Tears, obedient to her Will,
A side-long Glance her ogling Eyes would throw;
Simple in Shew, and innocent of Skill,
Observing most what least she seem'd to know:
Then farthest off when most approaching near,
Was never Fraud so deep, in Semblance so sincere.
A fierce and dubious Conflict now began;
Cunning, great Engineer of Womankind,
Wisdom, main Champion for contending Man,
Met wondring, each their Match in Arms to find;
Equal the Fight, while both their Station held;
While neither Chief the adverse Camp invades,
But furious Onsets either part repell'd,
By warlike Wiles, and viewless Ambuscades:
Their Safety not in Strength, but flying stood;
They conquer'd who retir'd, they yielded who pursued.
Mean Time, far to the Left great Patience fought,
Experienc'd Vet'ran, harden'd in Alarms;
His Mail seem'd Proof 'gainst mortal Fury wrought,
Yet Furrows deep indent his battered Arms,
Loss with persisting Diligence he retriev'd,
Arm'd by his present Ills for future Wars;
Leader of Men, Wounds had he oft' receiv'd,
Nobly deform'd with honourable Scars;
A branching Palm the Chieftain's Target bore,
Whose Boughs the more opprest, superior rise the more.
Him Scorn oppos'd, an Amazonian Fair,
Whose haughty Eyes were ever glanc'd askew;
Her Neck writh'd backward with disdainful Air,
As some distasteful Sight offends her View.
That silly Maid incur'd her steady Hate,
That could to Man, tyrannick Fawner, bow.
At distance let the menial Spaniel wait,
Or cringing at her Feet his duty know.
Studious of Flight, she fear'd to trust her Feet,
But rode a Courser bay, than Eastern Winds more fleet.
Tho' Man as trodden Dirt her Soul despis'd,
Yet ill her Habit, and her Words agree;
A manlike Hunter's Dress her Form disguis'd,
Shafts at her Back, and Buskins to her Knee.
She fought, like antient Parthians, flying fast,
And frequent stop'd her swift Pursuers Speed,
Still as she shot redoubling strait her Haste,
Quick born far distant by her light-foot Steed;
E'er on her Cask, her Foe Man's Sword descends;
Who 'gainst impassive Air his idle Fury bends.
At length oft wounded by her backward Dart,
Dismounted Patience headlong greets the Plain;
The boastful Conqu'ress glories in his Smart,
Stops, and alights, to view and mock his Pain.
The seeming breathless Champion light arose,
By Wounds unweaken'd, fiercer for his Fall;
Nor could astonish'd Scorn his Force oppose,
Debar'd of wonted Flight, a sudden Thrall:
So dear th' unwary short-liv'd Brav'ry cost;
What Hours with Toil preserv'd, with Ease a Moment lost.
But now the neutral Troops to move began,
Threatning the weary'd Hosts with fatal War;
Led by their Chieftain Lust a Giant Man,
With boastful Voice, loud shouting from afar;
Like Mountain-Torrents swell'd by Winter-Show'rs,
Resistless, fierce he sweeps along the Plain:
His lep'rous Mouth a Flame infectious pours,
Darting slow Death, and Strength-consuming Pain;
His ever-rolling Eyes like Beacons glare,
Shagg'd as the Goat his Limbs, and black his bristling Hair.
Still to new Conquest eager he aspir'd,
Leaving with Scorn whom he subdu'd in Fight;
'Gainst all Repulses steel'd, nor ever tir'd
With toilsome Day, or ill-succeeding Night.
Active whene'er the lucky Moment call'd;
And least Advantage obstinate to press:
His harden'd Front unblushing, unappall'd,
Laugh'd at Reproaches, and enjoy'd Disgrace;
Sporting with Oaths, unmov'd with Parent's Moans,
With rifled Virgin's Shrieks, or Infant's dying Groans.
His Shield was painted with lascivious Lies,
Whoredom's Device, devis'd to veil his Shame;
Of Jove the Thund'rer, and of Phoebus wise,
The Bull, the Goat, the Serpent, and the Flame.
There Prude Diana too, by Day-light chaste,
Asleep lay pictur'd in Endymion's Arms;
There Bacchus' Feasts and Venus' Rites were plac'd:
With Philtres base, and Lust-compelling Charms.
A Crest obscene o'ershades the Monster's Head;
A Jove in Eagle's Form, with ravish'd Ganymede.
'Gainst Lust the rash Coquets their Forces bent,
But sunk beneath the Fury of the Storm.
When Modesty from the main Army sent
T' oppose his Rage advanc'd her Angel Form;
Skilful with Darts to wage an equal Fight,
Her Arm resists not, but prevents the Blow;
A guiltless Blush crimsons her snowy White;
Her Voice reserv'dly soft, and sweetly low.
No Woman Chief did like Perfection share,
Scarce Cunning more of Might, or Beauty self more fair.
The Championess quick seiz'd a rising Ground,
Where Ramparts high by Parent Hands were wrought,
Whose Fence the Giant traversing around,
Now here, now there, in vain an Entrance sought.
Upwards he press'd with unavailing speed,
Ardent in equal Fight his Foe t' assail;
Her ready Lance meets his aspiring Head,
Strongly rebuff'd he tumbling strikes the Vale;
But undismay'd, up-starting from the Plain,
Again he rises fierce, disgrac'd to fall again.
Stunn'd with the shock, the scarcely conqu'ring Fair
Now wisely meditates a distant Blow;
A pond'rous Stone hurl'd through the whistling Air,
Prevents the grappling of her stronger Foe;
Full on his Helm the rocky Fragment fell,
And soil'd in humble Dust his lofty Crest;
But Wounds on Wounds his Course in vain repel,
For ten-fold Fury fires his stubborn Breast;
His glaring Eyes shot red revengeful Flame;
He roar'd, and would have blush'd, if capable of Shame.
His Fraud (th' Artificer of Falshood) try'd
In borrow'd Shape t' elude her wary Eye;
His Shield, and well-known Casket thrown aside,
Disguis'd like Love, he march'd as an Ally.
With unsuspicious Faith the Maid believ'd,
'Till now the Rampart's Top the Foe had gain'd;
Too late the lurking Treason she perceiv'd,
Surpriz'd un'wares, she scarce his Force sustain'd;
Courage her Heart, and Strength her Arm forsook;
Weak, sinking by Degrees; faint, yielding to the Shock.
The self-sufficient Prudes embattled stood
Near Hand, but none t' assist the vanquish'd flies;
Their neighbour Ranks they saw with Joy subdu'd,
With spiteful Mirth triumphant in their Eyes;
With Scoffs, and sage Reproaches they upbraid
Those that o'erpower'd for Help or Pity call;
And can they yield to Lust, in Rage they said,
Unaided, friendless, let the Wretches fall.
Themselves were now attack'd, the rest o'erthrown,
And Weakness scorn'd so late, too soon became their own.
At length the Chieftain Prude obstructs his Speed;
(By Mortals Honour call'd, by Angels Pride)
On lowly Earth her Foot disdain'd to tread,
High in a martial Carr she chose to ride:
The Load six dappled Coursers proudly drew,
Their Harness bright with Tinsel overcast;
Still as she rode a conscious Glance she threw,
To mark what Gazers view'd her as she past.
Studded with burnish'd Brass the Chariot shin'd,
And drag'd with useless Pomp six glittering Slaves behind.
She clanks her rattling Arms, and shouts aloud,
Strengthen'd by num'rous Troops that gaz'd around;
While Lust, half-faint, amidst the thronging Croud,
Himself on Foot a Match unequal found:
He leaves the Field, as desp'rate of Success,
But with recruited Rage and Strength returns,
Drawn by Eight Steeds, he breaks the wond'ring Press;
With Spokes of burnish'd Gold the Chariot burns.
Pride turn'd her Reins, soon as his Carr she view'd;
Fast fled the frightened Dame, the Frighter Knight pursu'd.
Now sable-mantled Night advancing nigh,
Colours, distinct before, confus'dly blends,
While far from either Host the Chariots fly,
'Till Honour tir'd, to Parley condescends,
Deigns to submit her haughty Crest to lower;
For Privacy she deems her Shame will screen:
No more defying, striking now no more,
Since nor her Vaunts are heard, nor Prowess seen:
She yields a willing Captive to his Might,
Obscur'd in guilty Clouds of all-concealing Night.
From yielded Honour, Lust returning flew,
Where camp'd in Rest the Male Battalions lay,
And rous'd their wearied Host with Battle new,
With Rage still fiercest when remote from Day.
Not all the Noontide Heat and Toil of War,
Equal'd the Dangers of this Midnight Hour;
The Cent'ry sink, unnerv'd with sudden Fear,
And Groans of Wretches speak the Victor's Pow'r;
'Till spread from Rank to Rank th' Alarm was heard,
Where Reason, wakeful Chief, his utmost Tent uprear'd.
Stranger to Noise, to his lov'd Rest retir'd,
Rev'rend his hoary Head, in Counsel sage;
Scorn'd in Extremes, and in Extremes admir'd;
Decry'd in Youth, and idoliz'd in Age;
His Voice was small, and still, and rarely known
Where direful Trumpets vex the troubled Air;
He starts from Earth where arm'd his Limbs were thrown,
His Squadrons Fate or to revenge, or share.
Your enter'd Camp from swift Destruction keep,
Or instant rouz'd awake, or slain for ever sleep.
He spake; they rise obedient to his Call,
Who near their Chief their ready Tents had plac'd;
Yet baffled soon the Conqu'rors Prey they fall,
Their Leader standing but to yield the last.
A while successful prov'd his aged Arm,
A while his Fortune hung in equal Scale.
He sunk, enfeebled as he grew more warm;
But Lust press'd on, accustom'd to prevail,
With Strength unbated by laborious Sweat;
Greatest when most oppos'd, increasing with his Heat.
Now ruddy Morn purpled the glowing East,
And show'd the Waste the Monster's Rage had made;
Whose Force nor Floods, nor Mountains could resist,
Nor Brass, nor Di'mond Barriers, could have stay'd.
At length both shatter'd Hosts their Counsels bent
How surest to revenge their common Foil;
Made wise by Smart, a Championess they sent,
Whose Arm alone was equal to the toil;
Sometimes on Earth by Virtue's Title fam'd,
But by th' Angelick Host Divine Religion nam'd.
Mild, sweet, serene, and chearful was her Mood;
Nor grave with Sternness, nor with Lightness free;
Against Example resolutely good;
Fervent in Zeal, and warm in Charity:
Who ne'er forsook her Faith for love of Peace,
Nor sought with Fire and Sword to show her Zeal;
Duteous to Princes, when they most oppress;
Patient in bearing ill, and doing well;
In Pray'rs, and Tears, she found her sole Defence,
Nor rais'd rebellious Arms to strengthen Providence.
Her prudent Care was fix'd on Heaven's Height,
Yet by her Steps on Earth that Care was shewn.
Fearless of Harm in Darkness, as in Light;
Fearful of Sin at Midnight, as at Noon:
A bloody Cross was pourtray'd on her Shield,
Whose Sight the Monster scarcely could sustain;
Feeble to keep, yet loth to quit the Field;
Blasted and Thunder-struck with chilling Pain;
When 'gainst his Head her sacred Arms she bent,
Strict Watch, and Fast severe, and Prayer omnipotent.
Murm'ring he fled, yet backward turn'd his Face,
Whom Step by Step th' Angelick Maid pursued;
Yet oft, as slack'ning he observ'd her Pace,
He stay'd his Speed, and Battle vain renew'd.
Mean while the yet-remaining neutral Bands,
Advanc'd with open Look, and friendly Mind;
Whose March a great and well-known Pair command,
Marriage, and Love; unhappy when disjoyn'd;
Who over Lust the surest Triumph gain'd;
Friends to Religion firm, by Wisest God ordain'd.
Love, the most general Conqu'ror here below,
Whose subtle Nature hard is to be told;
Whom all can feel, but few aright can know;
Who cheats the crafty, and who fools the old.
He seem'd of jarring Contraries compos'd,
To Day sharp-sighted, and to Morrow blind;
His Beavour lifted up his Face disclos'd,
Where simple Faith, and winning Sweetness shin'd.
High on his Crest sat perch'd a Gall-less Dove,
Emblem of changeless Truth, of Chastity, and Love.
Th' immortal Glories of the Nutbrown Maid,
Emblazon'd lively on his Shield appear;
The various Parts which shifting Henry play'd;
The Test for humane Frailty too severe.
Wealth, Ease, and Fame, and Sex she cast behind;
True to his Woes, and Consort of his Ill:
Not Falshood's self could shake her steady Mind
Tho' base, and perjur'd, yet she loves him still.
All but her Virtue, she for HENRY leaves;
Love stands the sore Assault, tho' rival'd Woman grieves.
Sometimes more fleet the swift-foot Pow'r would go
Than Light, or Thought, or Time itself could fly;
Sometimes with stealing Motion, silent, slow;
Unseen, unmark'd, but by the jealous Eye:
Dauntless, resolv'd, mindless of Perils past,
Rewarded in an Hour for Years of Pain;
Trembles his Eye, with modest Awe down-cast,
Faulters his Tongue, scarce daring to complain;
Yet when grown bold their moving Force he tries,
Manna is on his Tongue, and Witchcraft in his Eyes.
Of winged Boys a num'rous Troop they led,
Who sent their Shafts with never-erring Aim,
Whose Wounds not Pain, but tickling Pleasure bred;
Still were the loudest, and the fiercest tame.
Forgetting Feuds, they long to be ally'd,
And softer Passions on the Sexes seize:
Down from their Hands their wrathful Weapons slide,
Chang'd is their Rancour for Desire to please;
In sudden Peace the jarring Kinds agree,
With Reconcilement dear, and cordial Amity.
Transform'd by magick Love the Males appear,
New cast their Natures in a finer Mould;
Prudent the Fool, well-natur'd the Severe,
The Wise grew humble, and the Coward bold;
Nor less his friendly Darts improve the Fair;
Was none or loosely free, or coyly rude;
The gay Coquet now liv'd not to ensnare;
To meekest passive Woman sunk the Prude:
Nor could the brave resist, or fearful run,
For Heav'n made Man to win, and Woman to be won.
Next close to Love, well suited Marriage came,
Who Hand in Hand their social Steps advance,
Kindly as Warmth of Life, her even Flame
Not Fevers heat, nor flutt'ring Spirits dance;
Who Pleasure tasted with reflecting Thought,
Not Life upbraided for avoidless Pains
Entail'd on Mortal State; but wisely sought
Too flitting Love with long-enduring Chains,
Of Int'rest and of Duty fast to bind;
Fountain of chaste Delight, great Parent of Mankind.
Where faithful Love had joyn'd the Sexes Hands,
And grants an holier, and a nearer Tye:
For Death alone could disunite her Bands,
Nor less than Life true Love could satisfy:
While thus she joyn'd the Pair, the Matron spoke;
Attend, ye Sexes, and my Words approve,
My Doom nor Male nor Female shall revoke;
Since Nature form'd the Kinds for mutual Love:
Vain your Disputes, vain is your Anger shown,
For more distinguish'd Hate meer Dotage shall atone.
Tho' Man shall awful Rule o'er Woman bear,
Not sprung from greater Worth, but Right Divine;
Yet She shall in her Turn Dominion share,
E'er to His Will her Empire she resign:
But, while She reigns, her Mercy let her show,
And well employ the quickly-fleeting Time;
Not unrewarded shall her Mercy go,
And strictest Justice shall o'ertake her Crime.
Gently shall those be rul'd, who gently sway'd;
Abject shall those obey, who haughty were obey'd.
Ambition proud, and sordid Avarice,
Disguis'd like Love himself attended nigh,
And each sometimes the Place of Love supplies;
While partial Age compell'd them to comply.
Such Pairs were soon distinguish'd by th' Event;
Unkind Reproach, too biting to endure,
Pining Distrust, and brawling Discontent,
Curs'd Jealousy, which Heaven alone can cure.
Foul perjur'd Guilt, sad Causer of Divorce;
And late Repentance vain, of Hell it self the Source.
Forgive the Voice that useful Fiction sings;
Not impious Tales of Deities impure,
Not Faults of breathless Queens, or living Kings,
In downright Treason, or in Hints obscure.
What here I write, each knowing Eye must see;
What here I write, to all Men must belong:
Still will the Sexes jar, and still agree;
And each Days Truth shall moralize my Song.
Still will each Sex for Sov'reignty contend:
Wars with the World begun, with that alone shall end.