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These thoughts he fortify'd with reasons still,
his inoffensive hours away,
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.
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 :
Abusive Nabal ow'd his forfeit life
These weighty motives January the sage
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 ;
Chuse you for me, who best shall be content
One caution yet is needful to be told
Conceive me, Sirs, nor take my sense amiss ;
Think not I dote : 'tis time to take a wife,
And since I speak of wedlock, let me say,
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.)