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Some to remain, and some to perish soon;
Or wane and wax alternate like the moon.
Around, a thousand winged wonders fly, [sky.
Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd through the
There, at one passage, oft you might survey,
A lie and truth contending for the way;
And long 'twas doubtful, both so closely pent,
Which first should issue through the narrow vent:
At last agreed, together out they fly,
Inseparable now, the truth and lie;
The strict companions are for ever join'd,
And this or that unmix’d, no mortal e'er shall find.
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear, One came, methought, and whisper'd in my ear: What could thus high thy rash ambition raise } Art thou, fond youth, a candidate for praise?
'Tis true, said I, not void of hopes I came, For who só fond as youthful bards of Fame But few, alas! the casual blessing boast, So hard to gain, so easy to be lost. How vain that second life in others' breath, The estate which wits inherit after death! Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign, (Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine!) The great man's curse, without the gains, endure, Be envied, wretched ; and be flatter'd, poor; All luckless wits their enemies profess'd, And all successful, jealous friends at best. Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call; She comes unlook'd for, if she comes at all. But if the purchase costs so dear a price, As soothing folly, or exalting vice: Oh! if the muse must flatter lawless sway, And follow still where fortune leads the way; Or if no basis bear my rising name, But the fallen ruins of another's fame; Then teach me, Heaven! to scorn the guilty bays, Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise; Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown; Oh! grant an honest fame, or grant me none!
THERE lived in Lombardy, as authors write,
In days of old, a wise and worthy knight;
Of gentle manners, as of generous race,
Blest with much sense, more riches, and some grace
Yet led astray by Venus' soft delights,
He scarce could rule some idle appetites:
For long ago, let priests say what they could,
Weak sinful laymen were but flesh and blood.
But in due time, when sixty years were o'er,
He vow'd to lead this vicious life no more;
Whether pure holiness inspired 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 died, to taste the blissful life
Of a kind husband and a loving wife.
These thoughts he fortified with reasons still,
(For none want reasons to confirm their will.).
Grave authors say, and witty poets sing,
That honest wedlock is a glorious thing:
But depth of judgment most in him appears,
Who wisely weds in his maturer years,
Then let him choose a damsel young and fair,
To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir;
To soothe his cares, and free from noise and strife,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life. .
Let sinful bachelors their woes deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more;
Unawed 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 tried,
And find divulged the secrets they would hido.
The married man may bear his yoke with ease,
Secure at once himself and Heaven to please;
And pass his inoffensive hours away,
In bliss all night, and innocence all day:
Though fortune change, his constant spouse remains,
Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what so pure, which envious tongues will spare ?
Some wicked wits have libell'd all the fair.
With matchless impudence they style a wife
The dear-bought curse, and lawful plague of life;
A bosom-serpent, a domestic evil,
A night invasion, and a mid-day devil.
Let not the wise these slanderous wordu regard,
But curse the bones of every lying bard;
All other goods by fortune's hand are giveri,
A wife is the peculiar gift of Heaven,
Vain fortune's favours, never at a stay,
Like empty shadows, pass, and glide away;
One solid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly supplies us all our life:
This blessing lasts (if those who try, say true)
As long as heart can wish-and longer too.
Our grandsire Adam, ere of Eve possess’d,
Alone, and even in Paradise unbless'd,
With mournful looks the blissful scenes survey'd,
And wander'd in the solitary shade:
The Maker saw, took pity, and bestow'd
Woman, the last, the best reserved 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 grow wise.
'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Jacob won
His father's blessing from an elder son:
Abusive Nabal owed his forfeit life
To the wise conduct of a prudent wife:
Preserved the Jews, and slew the Assyrian foe:
At Hester's suit, the persecuting sword
Was sheathed, and Israel lived to bless the Lord.
These weighty motives, January the sage
Maturely pondered 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 summon’d on a point so nice,
To pass their judgment, and to give advice;
But fix'd before, and well resolved was he;
(As men that ask advice are wont to be.)
My friends, he cried (and cast a mournful look
Around the room, and sigh'd before he spoke),
Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend,
And, worn with cares, am hastening to my end;
How have I lived, 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 since by counsel all things should be done,
And many heads are wiser still than one;
Choose you for me, who best shall be content
When my desire's approved 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 said, 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 With bean-straw and tough forage at the best. No crafty widows shall approach my bed; Those are too wise for bachelors to wed. As subtle clerks by many schools are made, Twice-married dames are mistresses o'th' trade: But young and tender virgins, ruled with ease, We form like wax, and mould 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, As flesh is frail, and who (God help me) knows? Then should I live in lewd adultery, And sink downright to Satan when I die. Or were I cursed with an unfruitful bed, The righteous end were lost for which I wed; To raise up seed to bless the powers above, And not for pleasure only, or for love. Think not I dote; 'tis time to take a wife, When vigorous blood forbids a chaster life;
Those that are blest with store of grace divine,
May live like saints by Heaven's consent, and mine
Åud since I speak of wedlock, let me say,
(As, thank my stars, in modest truth I may)
My limbs are active, still I'm sound at heart,
And a new vigour springs in every part.
Think not my virtue lost, tho' time has shed
These reverend honours on my hoary head:
Thus trees are crown'd with blossoms white as snow,
The vital sap then rising from below,
Old as I am, my lusty limbs appear
Like winter greens, that flourish all the
year. Now, Sirs, you know to what I stand inclined, Let every friend with freedom speak his mind.
He said; the rest in different parts divide;
The knotty point was urged on either side:
Marriage, the theme on which they all declaim'd;
with wit, and some with reason blamed.
Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies,
Each wondrous positive, and wondrous wise,
There fell between his brothers a debate,
Placebo this was called, 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 sage Solomon's advice,
To work by counsel when affairs are nice:
But, with the wise man's leave, I must protest,
So may my soul arrive at ease and rest,
As still I hold your own advice the best.
Sir, I have lived a courtier all my days,
And studied men, their manners, and their ways;
And have observed 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.”
The assuming wit, who deems himself so wise
As his mistaken patron to advise,
Let him not dare to vent his dangerous thoughty
A noble 'fool was never in a fault.
This, Sir, affects not you, whose every word
Is weigh'd with judgment, and befits a lord: