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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
'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 sober life,
Would try that christian comfort, call'd a wife. 80
His friends were fummon'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 cast a mournful look
Around the room, and figh'd before he spoke :) 86
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 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 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 faying, and 'twas fhrewdly said,
Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed.
My foul abhors the tasteless, dry embrace
Of a stale virgin with a winter face:


In that cold season Love but treats his guest 105
With bean-straw, 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 mistresses o' th' trade :
But young and tender virgins, rul'd with ease, III
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 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 ftore of grace divine, 125
May live like faints, by heav'n's consent, and mine.

And fince I fpeak of wedlock, let me fay, (As, thank my stars, in modest truth I may) My limbs are active, ftill I'm found at heart, And a new vigour fprings in ev'ry part. Think not my virtue loft, tho' time has fhed Thefe 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
Like winter greens, that flourish all the year.
Now, Sirs, you know to what I ftand inclin'd,
Let ev'ry friend with freedom fpeak 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 some with reason blam'd.

Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies, Each wond'rous pofitive, and wond'rous wife, 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 purfue fage Solomon's advice,

151 To work by counsel when affairs are nice : But, with the wife man's leave, I must protest, So may my foul arrive at ease and rest, As still I hold your own advice the best. 155.

Sir, I have liv'd a Courtier all my days, And study'd men, their manners, and their ways; And have observ'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,

Let him not dare to vent his dang'rous thought, A noble fool was never in a fault. 165

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 must praise,
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. 175

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 Sense as well as we) Bids us be certain our concerns to truft 180 To those of gen'rous principles, and just. The venture's greater, I'll prefume to say, To give your perfon, than your goods away : And therefore, Sir, as you regard your reft, First learn your Lady's qualities at least : 185 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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