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The Maker faw, took pity, and bestow'd
Woman, the last, the best reserv'd of God.

A Wife! ah gentle deities, can he
That has a wife, e'er feel adversity?
Would men but follow what the sex advise,
All things would prosper, all the world


'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Jacob won
His father's blessing from an elder son: 70
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 flew th’ Assyrian foe:
At Hester's suit, the persecuting sword 75
Was Theath'd, and Israel 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 summon'd on a point so nice,
To 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 figh'd before he spoke :)



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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 ;

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 since by counsel all things should be done, 95

heads are wiser still than one;


for me, who best shall be content

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:
There goes a saying, and 'twas shrewdly faid, 101
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,

109 Twice-marry'd dames are mistresses o'th' trade:




But young and tender virgins, rul’d with ease, We form like wax, and mold 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 leud 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; To raise


seed 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 store of grace divine, 125 May live like faints, 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, ftill I'm sound at heart, And a new vigour springs in ev'ry part. 130 Think not my virtue lost, tho' time has shed These rev'rend honours on my hoary head; Thus trees are crown'd with blossoms white as snow, The vital fap.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 fome with reason blam'd, Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies, Each wond'rous positive, and wond'rous 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) Such prudence, Sir, in all your words appears, As plainly proves, experience dwells with years ! Yet you pursue fage Solomon's advice,

151 To work by counsel when affairs are nice: But with the wiseman's leave, I must protest,

foul arrive at ease and rest As still I hold your old advice the best. 155

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

So may my

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,
My word was this, Your honour’s in the right.
Th' assuming 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) Pleasing to God, and should be so to Man

; At least, your courage all the world must praise, Who dare to wed in your declining days. 171 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 dulness and grave impotence. . 175

Justin, who silent sate, and heard the man, Thus, with a Philosophic frown, began.

A heathen author of the first degree, (Who, tho' not Faith, had Sense as well as we) Bids us be certain qur concerns to trust 189 To those of gen'rous principles, and just.

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