EPILOGUE TO "THE COUNTRY WIFE"
by: William Wycherley (1641-1715)
- OW you the vigorous, who daily
- O'er vizard-mask in public domineer,
- And what you'd do to her, if in place where:
- Nay, have the confidence to cry, Come out!
- Yet, when she say, Lead on! you are not stout;
- But to your well-dress'd brother straight turn round,
- And cry, Pox on her, Ned, she can't be sound!
- Then slink away, a fresh one to engage,
- With so much seeming heat and loving rage,
- You'd frighten listening actress on the stage;
- Till she at last has seen you puffing come,
- And talk of keeping in the tiring-room,
- Yet cannot be provoked to lead her home.
- Next, you Falstaffs of fifty, who beset
- Your buckram maidenheads, which your friends get;
- And whilst to them you of achievements boast,
- They share the booty, and laugh at your cost.
- In fine, you essenced boys, both old and young,
- Who would be thought so eager, brisk, and strong,
- Yet do the ladies, not their husbands wrong;
- Whose purses for your manhood make excuse,
- And keep your Flander's mares for show not use;
- Encouraged by our woman's man to-day,
- A Horner's part may vainly think to play:
- And may intrigues so bashfully disown,
- That they may doubted be by few or none;
- May kiss the cards at picquet, ombre, too,
- And so be taught to kiss the lady too;
- But, gallants, have a care, faith, what you do.
- The world, which to no man his due will give,
- You by experience know you can deceive,
- And men may still believe you vigorous,
- But then we women--there's no cozening us.
POEMS BY WILLIAM WYCHERLEY
"Epilogue to 'The Country Wife'"
is reprinted from Poetica Erotica. Ed. T.R. Smith. New
York: Crown Publishers, 1921.