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The venture's greater, I'll prefume 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 190
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, 196
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, 200
And fwear no mortal's happier in a wife;
Demure and chaste 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. 205
Do what you lift, for me; you must be fage,
And cautious fure; for wisdom is in Age:
But at thefe years, to venture on the fair;
By him, who made the ocean, earth, and air,
To please a wife, when her occafions call, 210
Would bufy the most vig'rous of us all.
And trust me, Sir, the chafteft you can chuse
Will afk obfervance, and exact her dues.
If what I fpeak my noble Lord offend,
My tedious fermon here is at an end.
"Tis well, 'tis wondrous well, the Knight replies, Moft worthy kinfman, faith you're mighty wife! We, Sirs, are fools; and must resign the cause To heath'nish authors, proverbs, and old faws. He spoke with fcorn, and turn'd another way:--What does my friend, my dear Placebo fay?
I fay, quoth he, by heav'n the man's to blame, To flander wives, and wedlock's holy name. At this the council rofe, without delay;
Each, in his own opinion, went his way;
With full confent, that, all difputes appeas'd,
The knight should marry, when and where he pleas'd. Who now but January exults with joy?
The charms of wedlock all his foul employ:
Each nymph by turns his wav'ring mind poffeft,
And reign'd the short-liv'd tyrant of his breast;
While fancy pictur'dev'ry lively part,
And each bright image wander'd o'er his heart.
Thus, in fome public Forum fix'd on high,
A Mirrour shows the figures moving by;
Still one by one, in swift fucceffion, pafs
The gliding shadows o'er the polish'd glass.
This Lady's charms the nicest could not blame,
But vile fufpicions had afpers'd her fame;
That was with fenfe, but not with virtue, bleft;
And one had grace, that wanted all the rest.
Thus doubting long what nymph he should obey,
He fix'd at last upon the youthful May.
Her faults he knew not, Love is always blind,
But ev'ry charm revolv'd within his mind: 245
Her tender age, her form divinely fair,
Her eafy motion, her attractive air,
Her sweet behaviour, her enchanting face,
Her moving foftness, and majestic grace.
Much in his prudence did our Knight rejoice, And thought no mortal could difpute his choice: Once more in hafte he fummon'd ev'ry friend, And told them all, their pains were at an end.
Heav'n, that (faid he) infpir'd me first to wed, Provides a confort worthy of my bed: 255 Let none oppofe th' election, fince on this Depends my quiet, and my future blifs.
A dame there is, the darling of my eyes,
Young, beauteous, artlefs, innocent, and wife;
Chaste, tho' not rich; and tho' not nobly born, 260
Of honeft parents, and may ferve my turn.
Her will I wed, if gracious heav'n so please ;
To pass my age in fanctity and ease:
And thank the pow'rs, I may poffefs alone
The lovely prize, and fhare my blifs with none!
If you, my friends, this virgin can procure, 266
My joys are full, my happiness is fure.
One only doubt remains: Full oft I've heard, By cafuifts grave, and deep divines averr'd;
That 'tis too much for human race to know 270
The blifs of heav'n above, and earth below.
Now fhould the nuptial pleasures prove
To match the bleffings of the future ftate,
Those endless joys were ill exchang'd for these;
Then clear this doubt, and fet my mind at eafe.
This Juftin heard, nor could his fpleen controul,
Touch'd to the quick, and tickled at the foul.
Sir Knight, he cry'd, if this be all you dread, Heav'n put it paft your doubt, whene'er you wed; And to my fervent pray'rs fo far confent,
That ere the rites are o'er, you may repent!
Good heav'n, no doubt, the nuptial state approves, Since it chaftifes ftill what beft it loves.
Then be not, Sir, abandon'd to despair;
Seek, and perhaps you'll find among the fair, 285
may do your business to a hair
Not ev'n in wish, your happiness delay,
But prove the scourge to lash you on your way:
Then to the skies your mounting foul shall
Swift as an arrow foaring from the bow!
Provided ftill, you moderate your joy,
Nor in your pleasures all your might employ,
Let reafon's rule your ftrong defires abate,
Nor please too lavishly your gentle mate.
Old wives there are, of judgment most acute, 295 Who folve these questions beyond all dispute; Confult with thofe, and be of better chear;
Marry, do penance, and difmifs your fear.
So faid, they rofe, nor more the work delay'd; The match was offer'd, the proposals made. 300