Necessary to the Happiness of the Married State.
1 THE lady thus address'd her spouse —
2 What a mere dungeon is this house,
3 By no means large enough, and was it,
4 Yet this dull room and that dark closet,
5 Those hangings with their worn out graces,
6 Long beards, long noses, and pale faces,[Page 348]
7 Are such an antiquated scene,
8 They overwhelm me with the spleen.
9 — Sir Humphrey shooting in the dark,
10 Makes answer quite beside the mark.
11 No doubt, my dear, I bade him come,
12 Engag'd myself to be at home,
13 And shall expect him at the door
14 Precisely when the clock strikes four.
15 You are so deaf, the lady cried,
16 (And rais'd her voice and frown'd beside)
17 You are so sadly deaf, my dear,
18 What shall I do to make you hear?
19 Dismiss poor Harry, he replies,
20 Some people are more nice than wise,
21 For one slight trespass all this stir?
22 What if he did ride, whip and spur,
23 'Twas but a mile — your fav'rite horse
24 Will never look one hair the worse.
25 Well, I protest 'tis past all bearing —
26 Child! I am rather hard of hearing —[Page 349]
27 Yes, truly — one must scream and bawl,
28 I tell you you can't hear at all.
29 Then with a voice exceeding low,
30 No matter if you hear or no.
31 Alas! and is domestic strife,
32 That forest ill of human life,
33 A plague so little to be fear'd,
34 As to be wantonly incurr'd;
35 To gratify a fretful passion,
36 On ev'ry trivial provocation?
37 The kindest and the happiest pair,
38 Will find occasion to forbear,
39 And something ev'ry day they live
40 To pity, and perhaps, forgive.
41 But if infirmities that fall
42 In common to the lot of all,
43 A blemish, or a sense impair'd,
44 Are crimes so little to be spar'd,
45 Then farewel all that must create
46 The comfort of the wedded state,[Page 350]
47 Instead of harmony, 'tis jar
48 And tumult, and intestine war.
49 The love that cheers life's latest stage,
50 Proof against sickness and old age,
51 Preserv'd by virtue from declension,
52 Becomes not weary of attention,
53 But lives, when that exterior grace
54 Which first inspir'd the flame, decays.
55 'Tis gentle, delicate and kind,
56 To faults compassionate or blind,
57 And will with sympathy endure
58 Those evils it would gladly cure.
59 But angry, coarse, and harsh expression
60 Shows love to be a mere profession,
61 Proves that the heart is none of his,
62 Or soon expels him if it is.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): MUTUAL FORBEARANCE, Necessary to the Happiness of the Married State.
Author: William Cowper
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