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young and tender virgins rul'd with ease, We form like wax, and mould them as we please.
Conceive me, Sirs, nor take my fenfe amifs 'Tis what concerns my foul's eternal blifs : Since if I found no pleafure 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 blefs the powers above,
And not for pleafure only, or for love.
Think not I doat; 'tis time to take a wife,
When vigorous blood forbids a chaster life:
Those that are bleft with ftore of grace divine,
May live like faints, by heaven's confent and mine.
And fince I fpeak 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 fprings in every part.
Think not my virtue loft, though time has shed
These 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 stand 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:
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 pleafing was his tone): Such prudence, Sir, in all
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,
So may my foul arrive at eafe and reft
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 my Lord affirm'd that black was white,
My word was this, Your honour's in the right.
Th' affuming Wit, who deems himself fo wife,
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 should be so 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, paft all pleasure, damn the joys of fenfe,
With reverend dulnefs, and grave impotence.
Juftin, who filent fat, and heard the man,
Thus, with a philofophic frown, began.
A heathen author of the firft degree,
(Who, though not Faith, had Senfe as well as we)
Bids us be certain our concerns to trust
To thofe of generous principles, and just.
The venture's greater, I'll prefume to fay,
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 chafte or rampant, proud or civil,
Meck as a faint, or haughty as the devil;
Whether an eafy, 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 lefs in womankind;
But, if her virtues prove the larger thare,
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 praifes, 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 blifsful life,
And fwear no mortal's happier in a wife;
Demure and chafte as any veftal Nun,
The meekeft creature that beholds the fun!
But, by th' immortal powers, I feel the pain,
And he that smarts has reafon to complain.
Do what you lift, for me; you must be sage,
And cautious fure; for wifdom 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 afk observance, and exact her dues.
If what I fpeak my noble Lord offend,
My tedious fermon here is at an end.
'Tis well, 'tis wondrous well, the Knight replies,
Moft worthy kinfman, faith you're mighty wife!
We, Sirs, are fools; and muft refign the caufe
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 difputes 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 breaft;
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, pafs
The gliding fhadows o'er the polifh'd glafs.
This Lady's charms the nicest could not blame,
But vile fufpicions had afpers'd her fame;
That was with fenfe, 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 (faid he) infpir'd me first to wed,
Provides a confort worthy of my bed:
Let none oppofe th' election, fince on this
Depends my quiet, and my future blifs.
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 may ferve my turn.