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THERE liv'd in Lombardy, as Authors write,
In days of old, a wife and worthy Knight;
Of gentle manners, as of generous race,
Bleft with much fenfe, more riches, and fome grace;
Yet, led aftray by Venus' foft delights,
He scarce could rule fome idle appetites :
For long ago, let Priests say what they cou'd,
Weak finful laymen were but flesh and blood.
But in due time, when fixty years were o'er,
He vow'd to lead this vicious life no more;
Whether pure holiness infpir'd his mind,
Or dotage turn'd his brain, is hard to find;
But his high courage prick'd him forth to wed,
And try the pleasures of a lawful bed.
This was his nightly dream, his daily care,
And to the heavenly powers his constant prayer,
Once ere he dy'd, to tafte the blissful life
Of a kind husband and a loving wife.
These thoughts he fortify'd with reafons ftill, (For none want reasons to confirm their will.)
Grave authors fay, and witty poets fing,
That honest wedlock is a glorious thing:
But depth of judgment most in him appears,
Who wifely weds in his maturer years.
Then let him chufe a damfel young and fair,
To blefs his age, and bring a worthy heir;
To footh his cares, and, free from noise and ftrife,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life.
Let finful batchelors their woes deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more:
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 fecrets they would hide.
The marry'd man may bear his yoke with ease,
Secure at once himself and heaven to please;
And pafs his inoffenfive hours away,
In bliss all night, and innocence all day :
Though fortune change, his conftant spouse remains,
Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what so pure, which envious tongues will spare? Some wicked wits have libel'd all the fair.
With matchless impudence they style a wife
The dear-bought curfe, and lawful plague of life;
A bofom-ferpent, a domestic evil,
A night-invafion, and a mid-day devil.
Let not the wife these flanderous words regard,
But curfe the bones of every lying bard.
All other goods by fortune's hand are given,
A wife is the peculiar gift of heaven.
Vain fortune's favours, never,at a stay,
Like empty shadows, pafs, and glide away;
One folid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly fupplies us all our life:
This bleffing lafts (if those who try fay true)
As long as heart can wish-and longer too.
Our grandfire Adam, ere of Eve poffest,
Alone, and ev'n in Paradise unblefs'd,
With mournful looks the blissful scenes furvey'd,
And wander'd in the folitary shade:
The Maker faw, took pity, and bestow'd
Woman, the laft, the best referv'd of God.
A Wife! ah gentle deities, can he
That has a wife, e'er feel adversity?
Would men but follow what the fex advise,
All things would profper, all the world
'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Jacob won
His father's bleffing from an elder fon :
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.
His friends were fummon'd on a point fo 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 85
Around the room, and figh'd before he spoke :)
Beneath the weight of threefcore years I bend,
And worn with cares, and haftening to my end;
How I have liv'd, alas! you know too well,
In worldly follies, which I blush to tell;
But gracious heaven 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,
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 faid,
Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed.
My foul abhors the tastelefs, dry embrace
Of a stale virgin with a winter face:
In that cold feafon Love but treats his guest
With bean-ftraw, 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 miftreffes o' th' trade:
But young and tender virgins rul'd with ease,
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 blifs :
Since if I found no pleasure in my spouse,
As flesh is frail, and who (God help me) knows?
Then should I live in lewd 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 powers above,
And not for pleasure only, or for love.
Think not I doat; 'tis time to take a wife,
When vigorous blood forbids a chafter life:
Those that are bleft with store of grace divine,
May live like faints, by heaven's confent and mine.
And fince I speak 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 springs in every part.
Think not my virtue loft, though time has shed
Thefe reverend honours on my hoary head;
Thus trees are crown'd with bloffoms white as fnow,
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 every friend with freedom speak his mind.
He faid; the reft in different parts divide ;
The knotty point was urg'd on either fide: