"But turn the Tables and reflect, / All may not be, that you suspect: / By the Mind's Eye, the Horns, we mean, / Are only in Ideas seen, / 'Tis from the inside of the Head / Their Branches shoot, their Antlers spread; / Fruitful Suspicions often bear them, / You feel 'em from the Time you fear 'em."
— Prior, Matthew (1664-1721)
I thought her, nor avails it much,
If true or false, our Troubles spring
More from the Fancy than the Thing.
Two staring Horns, I often said,
But ill become a Sparrow 's Head;
But then, to set that Balance even,
Your Cuckold-Sparrow goes to Heaven.
The Thing you fear, suppose it done,
If you enquire, you make it known.
Whilst at the Root your Horns are sore,
The more you scratch, they ake the more.
But turn the Tables and reflect,
All may not be, that you suspect:
By the Mind's Eye, the Horns, we mean,
Are only in Ideas seen,
'Tis from the inside of the Head
Their Branches shoot, their Antlers spread;
Fruitful Suspicions often bear them,
You feel 'em from the Time you fear 'em.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! that Echo'd word,
Offends the Ear of Vulgar Bird;
But those of finer Taste have found
There's nothing in't beside the sound.
Preferment always waits on Horns,
And Houshold Peace the Gift adorns:
This Way, or That, let Factions tend,
The Spark is still the Cuckold's Friend;
This Way, or That, let Madam roam,
Well pleas'd and quiet she comes home.
Now weigh the Pleasure with the Pain,
The plus and minus , Loss and Gain,
And what La Fontaine laughing says,
Is serious Truth, in such a Case;
Who slights the Evil, finds it least,
And who does Nothing, does the best.
I never strove to rule the Roast,
She ne'er refus'd to pledge my Toast:
In Visits if we chanc'd [t]o meet,
I seem'd obliging, she discreet;
We neither much caress'd, nor strove,
But good Dissembling pass'd for Love.
(ll. 295-340, pp. 538-9)