The Inquisitive Bridegroom

by William Somervile

William Somervile

FRANK Plume , a spark about the Town,
Now weary of intriguing grown,
Thought it advisable to wed,
And choose a partner of his bed,
Virtuous and chaste — Aye, right — but where
Is there a nymph that's chaste as fair?
A blessing to be priz'd, but rare:
For continence penurious Heav'n
With a too-sparing hand has giv'n;
A plant but seldom to be found,
And thrives but ill on British ground.
Should our adventurer haste on board,
And see what foreign soils afford,
Where watchful dragons guard the prize,
And jealous dons have Argus' eyes,
Where the rich casket, close immur'd,
Is under lock and key secur'd?
No — Frank, by long experience wise,
Had known these forts took by surprise;
Nature, in spite of art, prevail'd,
And all their vigilance had fail'd.
The youth was puzzled — Should he go
And scale a convent? would that do?
Is nun's flesh always good and sweet?
Fly-blown sometimes, not fit to eat.
Well — he resolves to do his best,
And prudently contrives this test:
" If the last favour I obtain,
And the nymph yield, the case is plain;
Married, she'll play the same odd prank
With others — she's no wife for Frank.
But could I find a female heart
Impregnable to force or art,
That all my batteries could withstand,
The sap, and ev'n sword in hand,
Ye gods! how happy should I be,
From each perplexing thought set free,
From cuckoldom and jealousy!"
The project pleas'd: he now appears,
And shines in all his killing airs,
And every useful toy prepares.
New opera tunes, and billet-doux,
The clouded cane, and red-heel'd shoes;
Nor the clock-stocking was forgot,
The' embroider'd coat and shoulder-knot;
All that a woman's heart might move,
The potent trumpery of love.
Here importunity prevails,
There tears in floods, or sighs in gales:
Now, in the lucky moment tried,
Low at his feet the fair-one died,
For Strephon would not be denied:
Then, if no motives could persuade,
A golden show'r debauch'd the maid,
The mistress truckled, and obey'd.
To modesty a sham pretence
Gain'd some, others impertinence,
But most plain downright impudence.
Like Caesar, now he conquer'd all;
The vassal sex before him fall;
Where'er he march'd slaughter ensued;
He came, he saw, and he subdued.
At length a stubborn nymph he found,
For bold Camilla stood her ground,
Parry'd his thrusts with equal art,
And had him both in tierce and quart:
She kept the hero still in play,
And still maintain'd the doubtful day.
Here he resolves to make a stand,
Take her, and marry out of hand.
The jolly priest soon tied the knot,
The luscious tale was not forgot,
Then emptied both his pipe and pot.
The posset drunk, the stocking thrown,
The candles out, the curtains drawn,
And Sir and Madam all alone;
" My dear," said he, " I strove, you know,
To taste the joys you now bestow,
All my persuasive arts I tried,
But still, relentless, you denied;
Tell me, inexorable fair!
How could you, thus attack'd, forbear?" —
" Swear to forgive what's past," she cried;
" The naked truth sha'nt be denied."
He did; the baggage thus replied:
" Deceiv'd so many times before
By your false sex, I rashly swore
To trust deceitful man no more."

Last updated October 28, 2017