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Nor Fame I flight, nor for her favours call;
She comes unlook'd-for, if fhe comes at all.
But if the purchase costs fo dear a price
As foothing Folly, or exalting Vice:
Oh! if the Muse must flatter lawless sway,
And follow still where fortune leads the way;
Or if no bafis bear my rifing name,
But the fall'n ruins of another's fame;
Then, teach me, heaven! to fcorn the guilty bays,
Drive from my breast that wretched luft of praise,
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
Oh grant an honeft fame, or grant me none!
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 inspir'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 taste the blissful life
Of a kind husband and a loving wife.
These thoughts he fortify'd with reasons still, (For none want reasons to confirm their will.)
Grave authors fay, and witty poets fing,
That honeft 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 strife,
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 promifcuously they join:
Nor know to make the present bleffing last,
To hope the future, or esteem the paft:
But vainly boaft 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 pass his inoffenfive hours away,
In blifs all night, and innocence all day:
Though fortune change, his constant spouse remains, Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what fo pure, which envious tongues will fpare? Some wicked wits have libel'd all the fair.
With matchless impudence they ftyle a wife
The dear-bought curse, 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 fhadows, pafs, and glide away;
One folid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly fupplies us all our life:
This bleffing lafts (if those who try say true)
As long as heart can wish-and longer too.
Our grandfire Adam, ere of Eve poffeft,
Alone, and ev'n in Paradife unblefs'd,
With mournful looks the blissful scenes furvey'd,
And wander'd in the folitary fhade:
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 adverfity?
Would men but follow what the fex advise,
All things would profper, all the world grow wife.
'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 fhow,
Preferv'd the Jews, and flew th' Affyrian foe:
At Hefter's fuit, the perfecuting fword
Was fheath'd, and Ifrael liv'd to blefs the Lord.
These weighty motives, January the fage
Maturely ponder'd in his riper age;
And, charm'd with virtuous joys and fober life,
Would try that Christian comfort, call'd a wife.
His friends were fummon'd on a point so nice,
To pafs 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 caft a mournful look 85
Around the room, and figh'd before he spoke :)
Beneath the weight of threescore 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 wifer ftill 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: roo
There goes a faying, and 'twas fhrewdly faid,
Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed.
My foul abhors the taftelefs, dry embrace
Of a stale virgin with a winter face:
In that cold feafon Love but treats his gueft
With bean-straw, and tough forage at the best.
No crafty widows shall approach my bed;
Those are too wife for batchelors to wed;
As fubtle clerks by many schools are made,
Twice-marry'd dames are mistreffes o' th' trade: