|A Quiet Life and a Good Name|
by Jonathan Swift  /  poetry  /  29 Oct 2007
TO A FRIEND WHO MARRIED A SHREW. 1724
NELL scolded in so loud a din,
That Will durst hardly venture in:
He mark'd the conjugal dispute;
Nell roar'd incessant, Dick sat mute;
But, when he saw his friend appear,
Cried bravely, "Patience, good my dear!"
At sight of Will she bawl'd no more,
But hurried out and clapt the door.
Why, Dick! the devil's in thy Nell,
(Quoth Will,) thy house is worse than Hell.
Why what a peal the jade has rung!
D--n her, why don't you slit her tongue?
For nothing else will make it cease.
Dear Will, I suffer this for peace:
I never quarrel with my wife;
I bear it for a quiet life.
Scripture, you know, exhorts us to it;
Bids us to seek peace, and ensue it.
Will went again to visit Dick;
And entering in the very nick,
He saw virago Nell belabour,
With Dick's own staff, his peaceful neighbour.
Poor Will, who needs must interpose,
Received a brace or two of blows.
But now, to make my story short,
Will drew out Dick to take a quart.
Why, Dick, thy wife has devilish whims;
Ods-buds! why don't you break her limbs?
If she were mine, and had such tricks,
I'd teach her how to handle sticks:
Z--ds! I would ship her to Jamaica,
Or truck the carrion for tobacco:
I'd send her far enough away----
Dear Will; but what would people say?
Lord! I should get so ill a name,
The neighbours round would cry out shame.
Dick suffer'd for his peace and credit;
But who believed him when he said it?
Can he, who makes himself a slave,
Consult his peace, or credit save?
Dick found it by his ill success,
His quiet small, his credit less.
She served him at the usual rate;
She stunn'd, and then she broke his pate:
And what he thought the hardest case,
The parish jeer'd him to his face;
Those men who wore the breeches least,
Call'd him a cuckold, fool, and beast.
At home he was pursued with noise;
Abroad was pester'd by the boys:
Within, his wife would break his bones:
Without, they pelted him with stones;
The 'prentices procured a riding,
To act his patience and her chiding.
False patience and mistaken pride!
There are ten thousand Dicks beside;
Slaves to their quiet and good name,
Are used like Dick, and bear the blame.
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