The Beggar's Opera


John Gay



'Tis Woman that seduces all Mankind,
By her we first were taught the wheedling Arts:
Her very Eyes can cheat; when most she's kind,
She tricks us of our Money with our Hearts.
For her, like Wolves by Night we roam for Prey,
And practise ev'ry Fraud, to bribe her Charms;
For suits of Love, like Law, are won by Pay,
And Beauty must be fee'd into our Arms.

A Fox may steal your Hens, Sir,
A Whore your Health and Pence, Sir,
Your Daughter rob your Chest, Sir,
Your Wife may steal your Rest, Sir.
A Thief your Goods and Plate.
But this is all but picking,
With Rest, Pence, Chest and Chicken;
It ever was decreed, Sir,
If Lawyer's Hand is fee'd, Sir,
He steals your whole Estate.
The Lawyers are bitter Enemies to those in our Way. They don't care that any
body should get a clandestine Livelihood but themselves.

Man may escape from Rope and Gun;
Nay, some have outliv'd the Doctor's Pill;
Who takes a Woman must be undone,
That Basilisk is sure to kill.
The Fly that sips the Treacle is lost in the Sweets,
So he that tastes Woman, Woman, Woman,
He that tastes Woman, ruin meets.

What Gudgeons are we Men!
Ev'ry Woman's easy Prey.
Though we have felt the Hook, agen
We bite and they betray.
The Bird that hath been trapt,
When he hears his calling Mate,
To her he flies, again he's clapt
Within the wiry Grate.

When a Wife's in her Pout,
(As she's sometimes, no doubt;)
The good Husband as meek as a Lamb,
Her Vapours to still,
First grants her her Will,
And the quieting Draught is a Dram.
Poor Man!
And the quieting Draught is a Dram.

Thus I stand like the Turk, with his Doxies [harem girls] around;
From all Sides their Glances his Passion confound;
For Black, Brown, and Fair, his Inconstancy burns,
And different Beauties subdue him by turns:
Each calls forth her Charms, to provoke his Desires;
Though willing to all, with but one he retires.
But think of this Maxim, and put off your Sorrow,
The Wretch of To-day, may be happy To-morrow.