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THE MAD-DOG, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: A prude, at morn and ev'ning pray'r
Last Line: And that this member ne'er lyes still.]
Subject(s): Passion; Promiscuity


A Prude, at morn and ev'ning pray'r,
Had worn her velvet cushion bare;
Upwards she taught her eyes to roll,
As if with them she wing'd her soul;
And when devotion warm'd the croud,
None sung, or smote their breasts, so loud.
Pale Penitence had mark'd her face
With all the meagre signs of grace;
Her mass-book was compleatly lin'd
With painted Saints of ev'ry kind:
But when in ev'ry page she view'd
Fine Ladys who the flesh subdu'd,
As quick her beads she counted o'er,
And cry'd -- Such wonders are no more!
She chose not to delay confession;
To bear at once a year's transgression,
But ev'ry week set all things even,
And ballanc'd her accounts with heaven.
Behold her now in humble guise,
Upon her knees, with downcast eyes
Before the Priest: She thus begins,
And sobbing, blubbers forth her sins;
"Who could that tempting man resist?
"My virtue languish'd, as he kiss'd;
"Istrove, -- till could strive no longer,
"How can the weak resist the stronger?"
The Father ask'd her, where and when?
How many times? What sort of men?
By what degrees her blood was heated?
How oft' the failing was repeated?
Thus have I seen a pregnant wench
All flush'd with guilt, before the bench;
The Judges (wak'd by wanton thought)
Dive to the bottom of her fault;
They leer, they simper at her shame,
And make her call all things by name.
And now to sentence he proceeds,
Prescribes how oft' to tell her beads,
Shows her what Saints could do her good,
Doubles her fasts to cool her blood.
Eas'd of her sins, and light as air,
Away she trips; perhaps to pray'r.
'Twas no such thing. -- Why then this haste?
The clock has struck, the hour is past,
And on the spur of inclination,
She scorn'd to bilk her assignation.
Whate'er she did, next week she came,
And piously confess'd the same;
The Priest, who female frailties pity'd,
First chid her, then her crimes remitted.
But did she now her crimes bemoan
In penitential sheets alone?
And was no bold, no beastly fellow
The nightly partner of her pillow?
No, none, -- for next time, in the grove,
A bank was conscious of her love.
Confession day was come about,
And now again it all must out;
She seems to wipe her twinkling eyes;
What now, my child, the father crys;
Again, says she! -- with threatning looks,
He thus the prostrate dame rebukes.
"Madam, I own there's something in it,
"That virtue has th' unguarded minute;
"But pray now tell me, what are whores,
"But women of unguarded hours?
"Then you must sure have lost all shame;
"What! ev'ry day, and still the same!
"And no fault else! 'Tis strange to find
"A woman to one sin confin'd!
"Pride is this day her darling passion,
"The next day slander is in fashion;
"Gaming succeeds; if fortune crosses,
"Then virtue's mortgaged for her losses;
"By use her fav'rite vice she loaths,
"And loves new follies like new cloaths:
"But you! beyond all thought unchaste,
"Have all sin center'd near your waste!
"Whence is this appetite so strong?
"Say, Madam, did your mother long?
"Or is it lux'ry or high diet
"That won't let virtue sleep in quiet?"
She tells him now with meekest voice,
That she had never err'd by choice;
Nor was there known a virgin chaster,
'Till ruin'd by a sad disaster.
That she a fav'rite lap-dog had,
Which, (as she stroak'd and kiss'd) grew mad,
And on her lip a wound indenting,
First set her youthful blood fermenting.
The Priest reply'd with zealous strain,
"You should have sought the means to gain;
"Doctors by various ways, we find,
"Treat these distempers of the mind.
"Let gaudy ribbands be deny'd
"To her, who raves with scornful pride;
"And if religion rack her notions,
"Lock up her volumes of devotions;
"But if for man her rage prevail,
"Barr her the sight of creatures male.
"Or else to cure such venom'd bites,
"And set the shatter'd thoughts to rights,
"They send you to the ocean's shore,
"And plunge the Patient o'er and o'er.
"The dame reply'd, Alas! in vain
"My kindred forc'd me to the Main;
"Naked, and in the face of day;
"(Look not, ye fishermen, this way!)
"What virgin had not done as I did?
"My modest hand, by nature guided,
"Debarr'd at once from human eyes
"The place where female honour lyes,
"And tho' thrice dipt from top to toe,
"I still secur'd the post below;
"And cover'd it with Gripe so fast
"Not one drop through my fingers past;
"Thus owe I to my bashful care,
"That all the rage is settled there."
[Weigh well the projects of mankind;
Then tell me, Reader, canst thou find
The man from madness wholly free?
They all are mad -- save you and me.
Do not the statesman, fop and wit
By daily follies prove they're bit?
And when the briny cure they try'd,
Some part still kept above the tide?
Some men (when drench'd beneath the wave)
High o'er their heads their fingers save:
Those hands by mean extortion thrive
Or in the pocket lightly dive:
Or more expert in pilf'ring vice,
They burn and itch to cog the dice.
Plunge in a courtier; strait his fears
Direct his hands to stop his ears.
And now truth seems a grating noise,
He loves the sland'rer's whisp'ring voice;
He hangs on flatt'ry with delight,
And thinks all fulsome praise is right.
All women dread a watry death:
They shut their lips to hold their breath,
And though you duck them ne'er so long,
Not one salt drop e'er wets their tongue;
'Tis hence they scandal have at will,
And that this member ne'er lyes still.]

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