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HERE liv'd in Lombardy, as Authors write,
In days of old, a wife and worthy Knight; Of gentle manners, as of gen'rous race, Bleit with much fenfe, more riches, and some grace; Yet, led aftray by Venus' foft delights,
5 He scarce could rule fome idle appetites : For long ago, let Priests say what they cou'd, Weak sinful laymen were but flesh and blood.
But in due time, when fixty years were o’er, He vow'd to lead this vitious life no more ;
These thoughts he fortify'd with reafons fill,
NOT E-s. JANUARY AND MAY. This Transation was done at sixteen er seventeen j ears of Age.
But depth of judgment moft in him appears,
40 Tho' 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-ferpent, a domestic evil, A night-invasion, and a mid-day devil. Let not the wise these sland'rous words regard, But curse the bones of ev'ry lying bard.
50 All other goods by fortune's hand are giv'n, A wife is the peculiar gift of heav'n. Vain fortune's favours, never at a stay, Like empty shadows, pass, and glide away; One folid comfort, our eternal wife,
35 Abundantly supplies us all our life:
This blefing lafts (if those who try fay true)
Our grandfire Adam, ere of Eve poffeft,
60 With mournful looks the blissful scenes survey'd, And wander'd in the folitary shade : The Maker faw, took pity, and bestow'd Woman, the last, the best reserv'd of God. A Wife! ah gentle deities, can he
65 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 ow'd his forfeit life To the wise conduct of a prudent wife : Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews show, Preserv'd the Jews, and flew th’ Assyrian foe: At Hester's suit, the persecuting sword
75 Was Theath'd, and Israel 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. 80 His friends were summon’d on a point so nice, To pass their judgment and to give advice ; But fix'd before, and well resolu'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 sigh'd before he spoke :) Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend, And worn with cares, am halt’ning to my end ; How I have liv'd, alas ! you know too well, In worldly follies, which I blush to tell;
But gracious heav'n has ope'd my eyes at last,
One caution yet is needful to be cold,
Conceive me, Sirs, nor take my sense amiss;
were I curs’d with an unfruitful bed,
Those that are bleft with store of grace divine,
125 May live like saints, by heav'n's consent, and mine.
And since I speak of wedlock, let me say, (As, thank my stars, in modest truth I may) My limbs are active, still I'm found at heart, And a new vigour springs in ev'ry part. 130 Think not my virtue loft, tho'time has shed ] hese rev'rend honours on my hoary head ; Thus trees are crown'd with blossoms white as snow, The vital fap then rifing from below: Old as I am, my lusty limbs appear
135 Like winter greens, that flourish all the year. Now, Sirs, you know to what I stand inclin'd, Let ev'ry friend with freedom speak his mind.
He said; the rest in diff'rent parts divide; The knotty point was urg'd on either side : 140 Marriage, the theme on which they all declaim'd, Some prais'd with wit, and some with reason blam'd. Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies, Each wondrous positive, and wond'rous wife, There fell between his brothers a debate,
145 Placebo this was callid, and Justin that.
First to the Knight Placebo thus begun
foul arrive at ease and rest