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Marriage, the theme on which they all declaim'd,
Some prais'd with wit, and fome with reafon blam'd,
Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies,
Each wondrous pofitive, and wondrous wife,
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 words appears,
As plainly proves, experience dwells with years! 150 Yet you purfue fage Solomon's advice,
To work by counfel when affairs are nice :
But, with the Wife Man's leave, I must protest, foul arrive at ease and rest
So may my
As ftill I hold your own advice the best.
Sir, I have liv'd a Courtier all my days,
And study'd men, their manners, and their ways;
And have obferv'd this useful maxim ftill,
To let my betters always have their will.
Nay, if 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 dangerous thought,
A noble fool was never in a fault.
This, Sir, affects not you, whofe every word
Is weigh'd with judgment, and befits a Lord:
Your will is mine; and is (I will maintain)
Pleafing to God, and fhould be fo to man!
At least, your courage all the world must praise,
Who dare to wed in your declining days.
Indulge the vigour of your mounting blood,
And let grey fools be indolently good,
Who, past all pleasure, damn the joys of sense,
With reverend dulness, and grave impotence.
Juftin, who filent fat, and heard the man,
Thus, with a philofophic frown, began.
A heathen author of the first degree,
(Who, though not Faith, had Senfe as well as we)
Bids us be certain our concerns to truft
To thofe of generous principles, and just.
The venture's greater, I'll prefume to say,
To give your perfon, than your goods away :
And therefore, Sir, as you regard your reft,
First learn your lady's qualities at least :
Whether fhe's chaste or rampant, proud or civil,
Meek as a faint, or haughty as the devil;
Whether an easy, fond, familiar fool,
Or fuch a wit as no man e'er can rule.
'Tis true, perfection none must hope to find
In all this world, much less in womankind;
But, if her virtues prove the larger share,
Blefs the kind fates, and think your fortune rare.
Ah, gentle Sir, take warning of a friend,
Who knows too well the ftate you thus commend; 195
And, fpite of all his praises, muft declare,
All he can find is bondage, coft, and care.
Heaven knows, I fhed full many a private tear,
And figh in filence, left the world should hear!
While all my friends applaud my blissful life,
And swear no mortal's happier in a wife;
Demure and chaste as any vestal Nun,
The meekeft creature that beholds the fun!
But, by th' immortal powers, I feel the pain,
And he that smarts has reason to complain.
Do what you lift, for me; you must be sage,
And cautious fure; for wisdom is in age:
But at these years, to venture on the fair;
By him who made the ocean, earth, and air,
To please a wife, when her occafions call,
Would bufy the most vigorous of us all.
And truft me, Sir, the chafteft you can chuse
Will ask observance, and exact her dues.
If what I speak my noble Lord offend,
My tedious fermon here is at an end.
"Tis well, 'tis wondrous well, the Knight replies,
Most worthy kinfman, faith you're mighty wife!
We, Sirs, are fools; and muft refign the cause
To heathenish authors, proverbs, and old faws.
He spoke with fcorn, and turn'd another way :-
What does my friend, my dear Placebo, fay?
I fay, quoth he, by heaven the man's to blame,
To flander wives, and wedlock's holy name.
At this the council rofe, without delay;
Each, in his own opinion, went his way;
With full confent, that, all disputes appeas'd,
The knight should marry, when and where he pleas'd.
Who now but January exults with joy?
The charms of wedlock all his foul employ;
Each nymph by turns his wavering mind poffeft, 210
And reign'd the short-liv'd tyrant of his breast;
While fancy pictur'd every lively part,
And each bright image wander'd o'er his heart.
Thus, in fome public Forum fix'd on high,
A Mirrour shows the figures moving by ;
Still one by one, in fwift fucceffion, pass
The gliding fhadows o'er the polish'd glass.
This Lady's charms the niceft could not blame,
But vile suspicions had aspers'd her fame;
That was with sense, but not with virtue, bleft;
And one had grace, that wanted all the rest.
Thus doubting long what nymph he should obey,
He fixt at last upon the youthful May.
Her faults he knew not, Love is always blind,
But every charm revolv'd within his mind:
Her tender age, her form divinely fair,
Her eafy motion, her attractive air,
Her fweet behaviour, her enchanting face,
Her moving foftnefs, and majeftic grace.
Much in his prudence did our knight rejoice, And thought no mortal could difpute his choice: Once more in hafte he fummon'd every friend, And told them all, their pains were at an end. Heaven, that (said he) inspir’d me first to wed, Provides a confort worthy of my bed:
Let none oppose th' election, fince on this
Depends my quiet, and my future bliss.
A dame there is, the darling of my eyes,
Young, beauteous, artlefs, innocent, and wife;
Chafte, though not rich; and, though not nobly born,
Of honeft parents, and ferve may
Her will I wed, if gracious Heaven so please;
To pass my age in fanctity and ease:
And thank the powers, I may poffefs alone
The lovely prize, and share my blifs with none !
If you, my friends, this virgin can procure,
My joys are full, my happiness is fure.
One only doubt remains: Full oft I've heard,
grave, and deep divines averr'd;
That 'tis too much for human race to know
The blifs of heaven above, and earth below.
Now should the nuptial pleasures prove fo great,
To match the bleffings of the future state,
Those endless joys were ill-exchang'd for these;
Then clear this doubt, and set my mind at ease.
This Juftin heard, nor could his fpleen control,
Touch'd to the quick, and tickled at the foul.
Sir Knight, he cry'd, if this be all you dread,
Heaven put it past your doubt, whene'er you wed;
And to my fervent prayers fo far confent,
That, ere the rites are o'er, you may repent!
Good Heaven, no doubt, the nuptial state approves,
Since it chaftifes ftill what beft it loves.
Then be not, Sir, abandon'd to despair;
Seek, and perhaps you'll find among the fair,
One that may do your business to a hair;
Not ev'n in wish, your happiness delay,
But prove the fcourge to lash you on your way:
Then to the skies your mounting soul shall go,
Swift as an arrow foaring from the bow!