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These thoughts he fortify'd with reasons still,
(For none want reasons to confirm their will.) 20
Grave authors say, and witty poets sing,
That honest wedlock is a glorious thing:
But depth of judgment most in him appears,
Who wisely weds in his maturer years.
Then let him chuse a damsel young and fair, 25
To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir ;
To sooth his cares, and, free from noise and strife,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life.
Let sinful bachelors their woes deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more: 30
Unaw'd by precepts, human or divine,
Like birds and beasts, promiscuously they join ;
Nor know to make the present blessing last,
To hope the future, or esteem the past :
But vainly boast the joys they never try'd,
And find divulg'd the secrets they would hide.
The marry'd man may bear his yoke with ease,
Secure at once himself and Heav'n to please ;
And
pass

his inoffensive hours away,
In bliss all night, and innocence all day :

40 Tho' fortune change, his constant spouse remains, Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.

But what so pure which envious tongues will spare? Some wicked wits have libell'd all the fair.

35

With matchless impudence they style a wife,

45 The dear-bought curse, and lawful plague of life: A bosom serpent, a domestic evil, A night-invasion, and a mid-day devil. Let not the wise these sland'rous words regard, But curse the bones of ev'ry lying bard.

50 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 shadows, pass and glide away ; One solid comfort, our eternal wife

55 Abundantly supplies us all our life: This blessing lasts (if those who try say true) As long as heart can wish—and longer too.

Our grandsire Adam, ere of Eve possest, Alone, and ev'n in paradise unblest,

60 With mournful looks the blissful scenes survey'd, And wander'd in the solitary shade. The Maker saw, took pity, and bestow'd Woman, the last, and best reserv'd of God. A wife! ah gentle deities ! can he

65 That has a wife e'er feel adversity ? Would men but follow what the sex advise, All things would prosper, all the world grow wise. 'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Jacob won His father's blessing from an elder son :

70

75

Abusive Nabal ow'd his forfeit life
To the wise conduct of a prudent wife :
Heroic Judith as old Hebrews show,
Preserv'd the Jews, and slew th’ Assyrian foe :
At Esthers suit the persecuting sword
Was sheath’d, and Israel liv'd to bless the Lord.

These weighty motives January the sage
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 summon'd on a point so nice
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pass their judgment, and to give advice ; But fix'd before, and well resolv'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 sigh'd before he spoke;) 86 Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend, And, worn with cares, am hast’ning to my end : How I have liv'd, alas! you know too well, In worldly follies which I blush to tell;

90 But gracious Heav'n has op'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 : Lut since by counsel all things should be done, 95 And many heads are wiser still than one ;

1

Chuse you for me, who best shall be content
When my desire's approv'd by your consent.

One caution yet is needful to be told
To guide your choice ; this wife must not be old. 100
There goes a saying, and 'twas shrewdly said,
Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed.
My soul 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 shall approach my bed;
Those are too wise for batchelors to wed.
As subtle clerks by many schools are made,
Twice marri'd dames are mistresses o' th' trade:
But young and tender virgins, rul'd with ease, 111
We form like wax, and mould them as we please,

Conceive me, Sirs, nor take my sense amiss ;
"Tis what concerns my soul'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 lewd adultery,
And sink downright to Satan when I die:
Or were I curs'd with an unfruitful bed,
The righteous end were lost for which I wed; 120
To raise np seed to bless the Pow'rs above,
And not for pleasure only, or for love.

Think not I dote : 'tis time to take a wife,
When vigorous blood forbids a chaster life:
Those that are blest with store of grace divine, 125
May live like saints by Heav'n's consent and mine.

And since I speak of wedlock, let me say,
(As thank my stars, in modest truth I may,)
My limbs are active, still I'm sound at heart,
And a new vigour springs in ev'ry part.

130 Think not my virtue lost, though Time has shed These rev'rend honours on my hoary head: These trees are crown'd with blossoms white as snow, The vital sap then rising from below. Old as I am, my lusty limbs appear

135 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 said ; the rest in diff'rent parts divide; The knotty point was urg?d on either side: 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 wondrous positive, and wondrous wise, 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.)

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