Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
An Amorous Dialogue between John and His Mistress
Roxburghe Ballads
 
Being a Complete and True Relation of Some Merry Passages between the Mistris and Her Apprentice, Who Pleased Her So Well, That She Rewarded Him with Fifty Broadpieces for His Pains

 Here by this dialogue you may discern,
While old cats nibble cheese, the young ones learn.


[1572–76]

COME, John, sit thee down, I have somewhat to say,
In my mind I have kept it this many a day,
Your master you know is a Fool, and a Sot,
And minds nothing else but the Pipe and the Pot.
Till twelve or till one he will never come home,        5
And then he’s so drunk that he lies like a Mome:
    Such usage as this would make any one mad,
    But a Woman will have it if ’tis to be had.
 
’Tis true forsooth, mistris, the case is but hard,
That a woman should be of her pleasure debarred:        10
But ’tis the sad fate of a thousand beside,
Or else the whole City is fouly belied:
There is not a man amoung twenty that thrives,
Not ten in fifteen that do lie with their Wives:
    Yet still you had better be merry than sad,        15
    And take it wherever it is to be had.
 
But John, ’tis a difficult matter to find,
A man that is trusty and constantly kind:
An Inns-of-Court Gallant he cringes and bows,
He’s presently known by his Oaths and his Vows,        20
And though both his clothes and his speeches be gay,
Yet he loves you but only a night and away:
    Such usage as this would make any one mad,
    Yet a woman will have it, if ’tis to be had.
 
What think you of one that belongs to the Court,        25
They say they are youthful, and given to sport:
He’ll present you with bracelets, and jewels, and Rings,
With stones that are precious and twenty fine things;
Or if you are not for the Court nor the Town,
What think you forsooth of a man with a Gown?        30
    You must have I gallant, a good or a bad,
    And take it where ever it is to be had.
 
THE SECOND PART
No, John, I confess that not any of these,
Had ever the power my fancy to please;
I like no such blades for a trick that I know,        35
For as soon as they’ve trod they are given to crow;
Plain dealing is best, and I like a man well,
That when he has kissed will be hanged ere he’ll tell:
    My meaning is honest, and thou art the Lad,
    Then give it and take it where ’tis to be had.        40
 
Alas! my dear mistris, it never can be,
That you can affect such a fellow as me:
Yet heaven forbid, since I am but your man,
I should ever refuse to do all I can;
But then if my master should know what we’ve done,        45
We both should be blown up as sure as a Gun:
    For after our joys, he would make us sad,
    For taking it where it ought not to be had.
 
But how should he know it, thou scrupulous Elf,
Do’st think I’m so silly to tell him my self?        50
If we are but so wise our own counsel to keep,
We may laugh and lye down while the sot is asleep:
Some hundreds I know in the city that use
To give to their men what their masters refuse:
    The man is the master, the Prentice the Dad,        55
    For women must take it where ’tis to be had.
 
Some Prentices use it, forsooth, I allow,
But I am a Novice and cannot tell how:
However, I hope that I shall not be blamed,
For to tell you the truth I am somewhat asham’d;        60
I know how to carry your Bible to Church,
But to play with my mistris I’m left in the lurch:
    Yet if you can show me the way good or bad,
    I’ll promise you all that there is to be had.
 
You quickly may learn it, my Johnny, for … Thus,        65
Before you proceed we begin with a buss;
And then you must clasp me about with your arm;
Nay, fear me not Johnny, I’ll do thee no harm;
Now I sigh, now I tremble, now backwards I lie,
And now dear Johnny, ah now I must die:        70
    Oh! who can resist such a mettlesome Lad,
    And refuse such a pleasure when ’tis to be had.
 
Alas, pretty mistris, the pleasure is such,
We never can give one another too much:
If this be the business the way is so plain,        75
I think I can easily find it again:
’Twas thus we began; and … Thus we lye down,
And thus…. Oh thus! that we fell in a swoon:
    Such sport to refuse who was ever so mad,
    I’ll take it where ever it is to be had.        80
 
Now, Johnny, you talk like an ignorant mome,
You can have such pleasures no where but at home,
Here’s fifty broad pieces for what you have done,
But see that you never a gadding do run:
For no new employment then trouble your brains,        85
For here when you work you’ll be paid for your pains:
    But should you deceive me no woman so sad,
    To lose all the pleasure that once she has had.
 
A mistris so noble I never will leave,
’Twere a sin and a shame such a friend to deceive;        90
For my Master’s shop no more will I care,
’Tis pleasanter handling my mistris’s ware:
A fig for Indentures, for now I am made
Free of a Gentler and pleasanter trade:
    I know when I’m well, I was never so mad,        95
    To forsake a good thing when ’tis to be had.
 
 
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