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JANUARY AND MAY.
There lived in Lombardy, as authors write,
But in due time, when sixty years were o'er,
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 sooth his cares, and, free from noise and strife, Conduct him gently to the verge of life.
Let sinful bachelors their woes deplore,
his inoffensive hours away,
But what so pure which envious tongues will
Some wicked wits have libell'd all the fair.
Our grandsire Adam, ere of Eve possessid,
The Maker saw, took pity, and bestow'd
A wife! ah, gentle deities! can he
These weighty motives January the sage 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. 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 I have lived, alas! you know too well, In worldly follies which I blush to tell; But gracious Heaven has oped my eyes at last, With due regret 1 view my 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,
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; These are too wise for bachelors to wed. As subtle clerks by many schools are made, Twice married dames are mistresses o' the trade: But
young and tender virgins, ruled with ease, We form like wax, and mould them as we please.
Conceive me, sirs, por 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
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 bless'd with store of grace divine, May live like saints by Heaven'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 sound at heart, And a new vigour springs in every part.
Think not my virtue lost, though Time has shed
He said; the rest in different parts divide;
First to the knight Placebo thus begun,
soul arrive at ease and rest, As still I own 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,