The first dated mention of Sir Thomas Overbury’s poem ‘A Wife’ (also referred to as ‘The Wife’) is in December 1613, when it was entered at the Stationers’ Registers; the poem was first published, with no additional material, in 1614. By 1664, it had gone through eighteen editions – ten in the years before 1618 alone. With each new printing, more material was added, including the Characters, various elegies for the deceased knight, as well as other bits and bobs of prose and poetry. Most of this material has little relation to the other items with which it was published, and rather less redeeming literary value; even at its best it should perhaps be considered an example of the organic nature of publishing at the period.
I have taken the liberty of numbering the stanzas for ease of reference, though they were not so marked in the original.