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Tho' fortune change, his conftant spouse remains,
Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what fo pure, which envious tongues will
Some wicked wits have libell'd all the fair.
With matchless impudence they style a wife 45
The dear-bought curfe, and lawful plague of life;
A bofom-ferpent, a domestic evil,
A night-invasion, and a mid-day-devil.
Let not the wife these fland'rous words regard,
But curse the bones of ev'ry lying bard.
All other goods by fortune's hand are giv'n,
A wife is the peculiar gift of heav'n.
Vain fortune's favours, never at a stay,
Like empty shadows, pafs, and glide away;
One folid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly supplies us all our life:
This bleffing lafts (if those who try, fay true)
As long as heart can wish---and longer too.
Our grandfire Adam, ere of Eve poffefs'd,
Alone, and ev'n in Paradife unblefs'd,
With mournful looks the blissful scenes furvey'd
And wander'd in the folitary fhade.
The Maker faw, took pity, and bestow'd
Woman, the laft, the best referv'd of God.
A Wife! ah gentle deities, can he That has a wife, e'er feel adversity? Would men but follow what the sex advise, All things would profper, all the world grow wife. 'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Jacob won His father's bleffing from an elder son: Abufive Nabal ow'd his forfeit life To the wife conduct of a prudent wife : Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews show, Preferv'd the Jews, and flew th' Affyrian foe: At Hefter's fuit, the perfecuting fword Was fheath'd, and Ifrael liv'd to bless the Lord. These weighty motives, January the fage Maturely ponder'd in his riper age;
And charm'd with virtuous joys, and fober life,
Would try that chriftian comfort, call'd a wife. 80
His friends were fummon'd on a point fo nice,
To pass their judgment, and to give advice;
But fix'd before, and well refolv'd was he;
(As men that ask advice are wont to be.)
My friends, he cry'd (and cast a mournful look
Around the room, and figh'd before he spoke :) 86
Beneath the weight of threefcore years I bend,
And, worn with cares, am haft'ning to my end;
How I have liv'd, alas! you know too well,
In worldly follies, which I blush to tell;
But gracious heav'n has ope'd my eyes at last,
With due regret I view my vices past,
And, as the precept of the Church decrees,
Will take a wife, and live in holy ease.
But fince by counsel all things should be done, 95 And many many heads are wiser still than one;
Chufe you for me, who beft fhall be content
When my defire's approv'd by your confent.
One caution yet is needful to be told,
To guide your choice; this wife must not be old:
There goes a saying, and 'twas fhrewdly said,
Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed.
My foul abhors the tasteless, dry embrace
Of a ftale virgin with a winter face:
In that cold season Love but treats his guest 105
With bean-ftraw, and tough forage at the best.
No crafty widows fhall approach my bed;
Those are too wife for batchelors to wed.
As fubtle clerks by many schools are made,
Twice marry'd dames are mistreffes o' th' trade:
and tender virgins, rul'd with ease, III
We form like wax, and mould them as we please.
Conceive me, Sirs, nor take my fense amiss;
"Tis what concerns my foul's eternal bliss;
Since if I found no pleasure in my spouse, 115
As flesh is frail, and who (God help me) knows?
Then should I live in leud adultery,
And fink downright to Satan when I die.
Or were I curs'd with an unfruitful bed,
The righteous end were loft, for which I wed;
To raise up feed to bless the pow'rs above, 121
And not for pleasure only, or for love.
Think not I doat; 'tis time to take a wife,
When vig'rous blood forbids a chaster life :
Those that are bleft with store of grace divine, 125
May live like faints, by heav'n's confent, and mine.
And fince I fpeak of wedlock, let me say, (As, thank my stars, in modest truth I may) My limbs are active, still I'm found at heart, And a new vigour fprings in ev'ry part. Think not my virtue loft, tho' time has shed These rev'rend honours on my hoary head: Thus trees are crown'd with bloffoms white as
The vital fap then rifing from below.
Old as I am, my lufty limbs appear 135
Like winter greens, that flourish all the year.
Now, Sirs, you know to what I stand inclin'd,
Let ev'ry friend with freedom speak his mind.
He faid; the reft in diff'rent parts divide; The knotty point was urg'd on either fide: 140
Marriage, the theme on which they all declaim'd, Some prais'd with wit, and fome with reafon blam'd.
Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies, Each wond'rous pofitive, and wond'rous wise, There fell between his brothers a debate, 145 Placebo this was call'd, and Justin that.
First to the Knight Placebo thus begun, (Mild were his looks, and pleasing was his tone) Such prudence, Sir, in all your words appears, As plainly proves, experience dwells with years! Yet you pursue fage Solomon's advice, 151 To work by counsel when affairs are nice : But, with the wife man's leave, I must proteft, So may my foul arrive at ease and rest, As still I hold your own advice the best.
Sir, I have liv'd a Courtier all my days, And study'd men, their manners, and their And have obferv'd this useful maxim still, To let my betters always have their will. Nay, if my lord affirm'd that black was white,160 My word was this, "Your honour's in the right." Th' affuming Wit, who deems himself so wise, As his mistaken patron to advise,