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All other goods by fortune's hand are given,
A wife is the peculiar gift of heaven.
Vain fortune's favours, never,at a stay,
Like empty shadows, pafs, and glide away;
One folid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly fupplies us all our life :

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This bleffing lafts (if those who try fay true)
As long as heart can wish-and longer too.
Our grandfire Adam, ere of Eve poffeft,

Alone, and ev'n in Paradise unblefs'd,

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With mournful looks the blissful scenes furvey'd,

And wander'd in the solitary shade:

The Maker faw, took pity, and bestow'd
Woman, the last, the best referv'd of God.

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A Wife! ah gentle deities, can he

That has a wife, e'er feel adverfity?
Would men but follow what the fex 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 fon :
Abufive Nabal ow'd his forfeit life

To the wife conduct of a prudent wife :
Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews show,

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Preferv'd the Jews, and flew th' Affyrian foe :
At Hefter's fuit, the perfecuting fword

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Was fheath'd, and Ifrael liv'd to blefs 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 Christian comfort, call'd a wife.

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His

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 caft a mournful look
Around the room, and figh'd before he spoke :)
Beneath the weight of threefcore years I bend,
And worn with cares, and hastening to my end;
How I have liv'd, alas! you know too well,
In worldly follies, which I blush to tell;
But gracious heaven 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 counfel all things should be done,
And 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,

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To guide your choice; this wife must not be old: 100
There goes a faying, and 'twas fhrewdly faid,

Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed.
My foul abhors the tastelefs, dry embrace
Of a stale virgin with a winter face:

In that cold feafon Love but treats his guest
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 miftreffes o' th' trade:

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But

Bat young and tender virgins rul'd with ease,
We form like wax, and mould them as we please.
Conceive me, Sirs, nor take my sense amiss;
'Tis what concerns my foul's eternal blifs :
Since if I found no pleasure in my spouse,

As flesh is frail, and who (God help me) knows?
Then should I live in lewd 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 powers above,
And not for pleasure only, or for love.
Think not I doat; 'tis time to take a wife,
When vigorous blood forbids a chafter life :
Those that are blest with store of grace divine,
May live like faints, by heaven's confent and mine.
And fince I speak of wedlock, let me fay,
(As, thank my stars, in modest truth I may)
My limbs are active, still I'm found at heart,
And a new vigour springs in every part.

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Think not my virtue loft, though time has shed

These reverend honours on my hoary head;

Thus trees are crown'd with bloffoms white as fnow,
The vital fap then rifing from below:

Old as I am, my lufty limbs appear

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Like winter greens, that flourish all the year.
Now, Sirs, you know to what I stand inclin'd,
Let every friend with freedom speak his mind.
He faid; the reft in different parts divide ;
The knotty point was urg'd on either side:

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Marriage,

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 wondrous pofitive, and wondrous wife,
There fell between his brothers a debate,
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,

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As plainly proves, experience dwells with years! 150 Yet you purfue fage Solomon's advice,

To work by counfel when affairs are nice :

But, with the Wife Man's leave, I must protest,
So may my foul arrive at ease and rest

As ftill hold your own advice the best.

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Sir, I have liv'd a Courtier all my days,
And study'd men, their manners, and their ways;
And have obferv'd this useful maxim ftill,
To let my betters always have their will.
Nay, if my Lord affirm'd that black was white,
My word was this, Your honour's in the right.
Th' affuming Wit, who deems himself so wife,
As his mistaken patron to advise,

Let him not dare to vent his dangerous thought,
A noble fool was never in a fault.

This, Sir, affects not you, whofe every word
Is weigh'd with judgment, and befits a Lord:
Your will is mine; and is (I will maintain)
Pleafing to God, and should be so to man!
At least, your courage all the world must praise,
Who dare to wed in your declining days.

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Indulge the vigour of your mounting blood,
And let grey fools be indolently good,

Who, past all pleasure, damn the joys of fenfe,
With reverend dulnefs, and grave impotence.
Juftin, who filent fat, and heard the man,
Thus, with a philofophic frown, began.

A heathen author of the first degree,

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(Who, though not Faith, had Senfe as well as we)
Bids us be certain our concerns to truft
To thofe of generous principles, and just.
The venture's greater, I'll prefume to say,

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To give your person, than your goods away :
And therefore, Sir, as you regard your rest,
First learn your lady's qualities at least :
Whether she's chaste or rampant, proud or civil,
Meek as a faint, or haughty as the devil;
Whether an easy, fond, familiar fool,
Or fuch a wit as no man e'er can rule.

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'Tis true, perfection none must hope to find In all this world, much less in womankind; But, if her virtues prove the larger share,

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Bless the kind fates, and think your fortune rare.
Ah, gentle Sir, take warning of a friend,

Who knows too well the ftate you thus commend; 195
And, fpite of all his praises, muft declare,

All he can find is bondage, cost, and care.
Heaven knows, I fhed full many a private tear,
And figh in filence, left the world fhould hear!
While all my friends applaud my blissful life,
And swear no mortal's happier in a wife;

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Demure

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