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HERE liv'd in Lombardy, as Authors write,
In days of old, a wife and worthy knight;
Of gentle manners, as of gen'rous race,
Bleft with much fenfe, more riches, and fome grace.
Yet, led aftray by Venus' foft delights,
He scarce could rule fome idle appetites:
For long ago, let Priefts fay what they cou'd,
Weak finful laymen were but flesh and blood.
But in due time, when fixty years were o'er,
He vow'd to lead this vitious life no more;
Whether pure holiness infpir'd his mind,
Or dotage turn'd his brain, is hard to find;
But his high courage prick'd him forth to wed,
And try the pleasures of a lawful bed.
This was his nightly dream, his daily care,
And to the heav'nly pow'rs his conftant pray'r,
JANUARY AND MAY.] This Translation was done at fixteen or feventeen years of Age, P.
Once ere he dy'd, to taste the blissful life
Of a kind husband and a loving wife.
Thefe thoughts he fortify'd with reafons ftill, (For none want reasons to confirm their will.) Grave authors fay, and witty poets fing, That honeft wedlock is a glorious thing : But depth of judgment most in him appears, Who wifely weds in his maturer years. Then let him chuse a damfel young and fair, To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir; To footh his cares, and free from noise and strife, Conduct him gently to the verge of life. Let finful batchelors their woes deplore, Full well they merit all they feel, and more: Unaw'd by precepts human or divine, Like birds and beafts promifcuously they join: Nor know to make the present bleffing last, To hope the future, or esteem the past : But vainly boaft the joys they never try'd, And find divulg'd the fecrets they would hide. The marry'd man may bear his yoke with ease, Secure at once himself and heav'n to please ; And pafs his inoffenfive hours away, In bliss all night, and innocence all day : Tho' fortune change, his conftant spouse remains, Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what fo pure, which envious tongues will spare! Some wicked wits have libell'd all the fair.
With matchless impudence they style a wife
The dear-bought curfe, and lawful plague of life;
A bofom-ferpent, a domeftic evil,
A night-invafion, and a mid-day devil.
Let not the wife thefe fland'rous words regard,
But curfe 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 fhadows, pafs, and glide way;
One folid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly fupplies 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 unbless'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 beft referv'd of God.
A Wife! ah gentle deities, can he
That has a wife, e'er feel adverfity?
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 fon :
Abufive Nabal ow'd his forfeit life
To the wife conduct of a prudent wife :
Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews fhow,
Preferv'd the Jews, and flew th' Affyrian foe:
At Hefter's fuit, the perfecuting fword
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 that christian comfort, call'd a wife.
His friends were summon'd on a point so 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 85
Around the room, and figh'd before he spoke :)
Beneath the weight of threescore 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 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 wiser ftill 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 :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 ftale virgin with a winter face:
In that cold season 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 mistreffes o'th' trade: 110
But young and tender virgins, rul'd with ease,
We form like wax, and mold them as we please.
Conceive me, Sirs, nor take my sense amifs;
'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 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 store of grace divine, 125
May live like faints, by heav'n's confent, and mine.
And fince I speak of wedlock, let me fay,
(As, thank my stars, in modest truth I may)