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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; '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 up 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,
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 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; 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
appears, As plainly proves experience dwells with years! 150
you pursue sage Solomon's advice,
Sir, I have liv'd a courtier all my days,
166 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) Pleasing to God, and should be so to man; At least your courage all the world must praise, 170 Who dare to wed in your dclining days. Indulge the vigour of your mounting blood, And let gray fools be indolently good, Who, past all pleasure, damn the joys of sense, With rey'rend dulness and grave impotence.
Justin, who silent sate, and heard the man, Thus, with a philosophic frown, began.
A Heathen author, of the first degree, (Who, though not faith, had sense as well as we,) Bids us be certain our concerns to trust
180 To those of gen'rous principles and just. The venture's greater, I'll presume to say, To give your person, than your goods away: And therefore, Sir, as you regard your rest, First learn your lady's qualities at least : 185 Whether she's chaste or rampant, proud or civil, Meek as a saint, or haughty as the devil; Whether an easy, fond, familiar fool, Or such a wit as no man e'er can rule. 'Tis true, perfection none must hope to find 190 In all this world, much less in womankind; 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, spite of all his praises, must declare, 196 All he can find is bondage, cost, and care. Heav'n knows I shed full many a private tear, And sigh in silence, lest the world should hear; While all my friends applaud my blissful life, 200 And swear no mortal's happier in a wife;
Demure and chaste as any vestal nun,
216 'Tis well, 'tis wondrous well, the Knight replies; Most worthy kinsman, faith you're mighty wise! We, Sirs, are fools; and must resign the cause To Heath'nish authors, proverbs, and old saws. He spoke with scorn, and turu'd another way: 220 What does my friend, my dear Placebo, say?
I say, quoth he, by heav'n the man's to blame, To slander wives, and wedlock's holy name.
At this the council rose, without delay; Each, in his own opinion, went his way; 225 With full consent, that, all disputes appeas'd, The Knight should marry, when and where he pleas'd.