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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 sword


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 sober life,
Would try that christian comfort, call'd a wife.
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 85 Around the room, and figh'd before he spoke :) 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;

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But gracious heav'n has ope'd my eyes at laft,
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,
And many heads are wifer ftill than one;

Chufe for you


who best shall 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 :100
There goes a faying, and 'twas fhrewdly faid,
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 feason Love but treats his gueft
With bean-ftraw, and tough forage at the best.
No crafty widows fhall approach my bed;
Thofe are too wife for batchelors to wed;
As fubtle clerks by many schools are made,
Twice-marry'd dames are mistreffes o'th'trade: 110
But 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,

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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,
And not for pleasure only, or for love.
Think not I doat; 'tis time to take a wife,
When vig'rous blood forbids a chafter life:


Those that are bleft with ftore of grace divine,


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, ftill I'm found at heart, And a new vigour springs in ev'ry part. Think not my virtue lost, tho' time has shed


These rev'rend honours on my hoary head;

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

Old as I am, my lufty limbs appear


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:


Marriage, the theme on which they all declaim'd,
Some prais'd with wit, and some with reafon blam'd.
Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies,
Each wond'rous pofitive, and wond'rous 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,
As plainly proves, experience dwells with years!
Yet you purfue fage Solomon's advice,

To work by counsel when affairs are nice:

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But, with the wiseman's leave, I must protest,
So may my foul arrive at ease and reft

As ftill 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 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 fo wife,
As his mistaken patron to advise,

Let him not dare to vent his dang'rous thought,
A noble fool was never in a fault.
This, Sir, affects not you, whose ev'ry word
Is weigh'd with judgment, and befits a Lord :
Your will is mine; and is (I will maintain)
Pleafing to God, and fhould be fo to Man




At least, your courage all the world muft praise, 170
Who dare to wed in your declining days.

Indulge the vigour of your mounting blood,
And let grey fools be indolently good,
Who, past all pleasure, damn the joys of sense,
With rev'rend dulnefs and grave impotence.

Juftin, who filent fate, and heard the man,
Thus, with a Philofophic frown, began.

A heathen author, of the first degree, (Who, tho' not Faith, had Senfe as well as we)


Bids us be certain our concerns to truft
To thofe of gen'rous principles, and just.
The venture's greater, I'll presume to say,
To give your person, than your goods away:


And therefore, Sir, as you regard your reft,

First learn your Lady's qualities at least :
Whether she's chafte 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.
'Tis true, perfection none must hope to find
In all this world, much lefs in woman-kind;
But if her virtues prove the larger share,
Bless the kind fates, and think your fortune rare.
Ah, gentle Sir, take warning of a friend,
Who knows too well the state you



thus commend;

And spight of all his praises must declare,
All he can find is bondage, cost, and care.
Heav'n knows, I fhed full many a private tear,
And figh in filence, left the world should hear:
While all my friends applaud my blissful life,
And fwear no mortal's happier in a wife;
Demure and chafte as any veftal Nun,
The meekeft creature that beholds the fun!
But, by th' immortal pow'rs, I feel the pain,
And he that smarts has reafon to complain,




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