Spoken in the Character of Lady Townley, in "The Provok'd Husband"

by John Cunningham

John Cunningham

A LADY — let me recollect — whose night is't?
No matter — at a circle the politest,
Taste summons all the satire she is able,
And canvasses my conduct to the table.
" A wife reclaim'd, and by a husband's rigour,
A wife with all her appetites in vigour;
Lard! she must make a lamentable figure!
Where was her pride? Of every spark divested,
To mend, because a prudish husband press'd it!
What! to prefer his dull domestic quiet,
To the dear scenes of hurricane and riot?
Parties disclaim'd, the happy rout rejected,
Because at ten she's by her spouse expected?
Oh hideous! how immensely out of nature!
Don't you, my dears, despise the servile creature: "
Prudence, although the company be good,
Is often heard, and sometimes understood.
Suppose, to justify my reformation,
She'd give the circle this concise oration: —
" Ye giddy group of fashionable wives,
That in continued riot waste your lives;
Did ye but see the demons that descend,
The cares convulsive that on cards attend;
The midnight spectres that surround your chairs,
(Rage reddens here — there Avarice despairs)
You'd rush for shelter where contentment lies,
To the domestic blessings you despise.
Or if you've no regard to moral duty,
('Tis trite but true) — Quadrille will murder Beauty. "
Taste is abash'd, (the culprit!) I'm acquitted,
They praise the character they lately pity'd;
They promise to reform — relinquish play,
So break the tables up at — break-of-day.

Last updated January 14, 2019