Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
 
A Lover’s Chronicle
By Abraham Cowley (1618–1667)
 
MARGARITA first possessed,
If I remember well, my breast—
  Margarita first of all;
But awhile the wanton maid
With my restless heart had play’d,        5
  Martha took the flying ball.
 
Martha soon did it resign
To the beauteous Catharine.
  Beauteous Catharine gave place
(Though loth and angry she to part        10
With the possession of my heart)
  To Eliza’s conquering face.
 
Eliza till this hour might reign,
Had she not evil counsels ta’en;
  Fundamental laws she broke,        15
And still new favourites she chose,
Till up in arms my passions rose,
  And cast away her yoke.
 
Mary, then, and gentle Anne,
Both to reign at once began;        20
  Alternately they sway’d;
And sometimes Mary was the fair,
And sometimes Anne the crown did wear,
  And sometimes both I obey’d.
 
Another Mary then arose,        25
And did rigorous laws impose;
  A mighty tyrant she!
Long, alas! should I have been
Under that iron-sceptred queen,
  Had not Rebecca set me free.        30
 
When fair Rebecca set me free,
’Twas then a golden time with me:
  But soon those pleasures fled;
For the gracious princess died,
In her youth and beauty’s pride,        35
  And Judith reignéd in her stead.
 
One month, three days, and half an hour,
Judith held the sovereign power:
  Wondrous beautiful her face!
But so weak and small her wit,        40
That she to govern was unfit,
  And so Susanna took her place.
 
But when Isabella came,
Arm’d with a resistless flame,
  And th’ artillery of her eye;        45
Whilst she proudly march’d about,
Greater conquests to find out,
  She beat out Susan by-the-by.
 
But in her place I then obey’d
Black-eyed Bess, her viceroy-maid;        50
  To whom ensued a vacancy:
Thousand worse passions then possess’d
The interregnum of my breast;
  Save me from such an anarchy!
 
Gentle Henrietta then        55
And a third Mary, next began;
  Then Joan, and Jane, and Audria;
And then a pretty Thomasine,
And then another Catharine,
  And then a long et-cetera.        60
 
But should I now to you relate
The strength and riches of their state;
  The powder, patches, and the pins,
The ribbons, jewels, and the rings,
The lace, the paint, and warlike things,        65
  That make up all their magazines;
 
If I should tell the politic arts
To take and keep men’s hearts;
  The letters, embassies, and spies,
The frowns, and smiles, and flatteries,        70
The quarrels, tears, and perjuries,
  (Numberless, nameless mysteries!)
 
And all the little lime-twigs laid
By Machiavel, the waiting-maid,
  I more voluminous should grow        75
(Chiefly if I, like them, should tell
All change of weathers that befell)
  Than Holinshed or Stow.
 
But I will briefer with them be,
Since few of them were long with me.        80
  An higher and a nobler strain
My present Empress doth claim,
Heleonora, first o’ th’ name;
  Whom God grant her long to reign!
 
 
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