Obrazy na stronie

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 heav'nly pow’rs his constant pray’r,
Once ere he died, 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.) 20 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


of life, Let sinful bachelors their woes deplore, Full well they merit all they feel, and more: 30

: 25

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Were it for holinesse or for dotage,
I cannot sain, but swiche a gret corage
Hadde this knight to ben a wedded man,
That day and night he doth all that he can
To espien, wher that he might wedded be;
Praying our Lord to granten him, that he
Mighte ones knowen of that blisful lif,
That is betwix an husband and his wif;
And for to live under that holy bond,
With which God firste man and woman bond.
Non other lif (said he) is worth a bene;
For wedlock is so esy and so clene,
That in this world it is a paradise.
Thus saith this olde knight, that was so wise.

And certainly, as soth as God is king,
To take a wif, it is a glorious thing,

Unaw'd 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 try'd, 35
And find divulg’d the secrets they would hide.
The marry'd man may bear his yoke with ease,
Secure at once himself and heav'n to please ;

his inoffensive hours away,
In bliss all night, and innocence all day : 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 45 The dear-bought curse, and lawful plague of life; A bosom-serpent, a domestic evil, A night-invasion, and a mid-day-devil.

And namely whan a man is old and hore,
Than is a wif the fruit of his tresore;
Than shuld he take a yong wif and a faire,
On which he might engendren him an heire,
And lede his lif in joye and in solas,
Wheras thise bachelors singen alas,
Whan that they finde any adversitee
In love, which n'is hut childish vanitee.
And trewely it sit wel to be so,
That bachelors have often peine and wo:
On brotel ground they bilde, and brotelnesse
They finden, whạn they wenen sikernesse :
They live but as a bird or as a beste,
In libertee and under non areste;

Let not the wise these sland'rous words regard,
But curse the bones of ev'ry lying bard.

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 solid comfort, our eternal wife,

55 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 ev’n in Paradise unbless'd,

60 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 resery'd of God. A Wife ! ah gentle deities, can he

65 That has a wife, e'er feel adversity ?.

Ther as a wedded man in his estat
Liveth a lif blisful and ordinat,
Under the yoke of mariage ybound :
Wel may his herte in joye and blisse abound.
For who can be so buxom as a wif?
Who is so trewe and eke so ententif
To kepe him, sike and hole, as is his make ?
For wele or wo she n'ill him not forsake :
She n'is not wery him to love and serve,
Though that he lie bedrede til that he sterve.

And yet som clerkes sain, it is not so.
Of which he Theophrast is on of tho : 1
What force though Theophrast list for to lie?
Ne take no wif, quod he, for husbondrie,
As for to spare in household they dispence:
A trewe servant doth more diligence

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 :

70 Abusive Nabal owd his forfeit life To the wise conduct of a prudent wife : Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews shew, Preserv'd the Jews, and slew th’ Assyrian foe : At Esther's suit, the persecuting sword

75 Was sheath’d, and Israel liv'd to bless the Lord.

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. 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 resolv'd was he; (As men that ask advice are wont to be.) 84

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Thy good to kepe, than doth thin owen wif,
For she wol claimen half past al hise lif,
And if that thou be sike, so God me save,
Thy veray frendes or a trewe knave
Wol kepe thee bet than she, that waiteth ay
After thy good, and hath don many a day.
This sentence, and an hundred thinges werse
Writeth this man ther God his bones curse.
But take no kepe of al swiche vanitee,
Defieth Theophrast, and herkeneth me.

A wif is goddes yefte veraily :
All other maner yeftes hardely,
As londes, rentes, pasture, or commune,
Or mebles, all ben yeftes of fortune,
That passen as a shadow on the wall;
But drede thou not, if plainly speke I shal,

My friends (he cry'd, and cast a mournfuh look: Around the room, and sigh'd before he spoke), in Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend, 3 l And worn with cares, am hast’ning to my end; How I have liv’d, alas ! you know too well, a :'n In worldly follies, which I blush to tell;

90 But gracious heav'n has ope'd my eyes at last," :)1 With due regret I view my vices past,

i LA
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, 951
And many heads are wiser still than one.;


who best shall be content When my desire's approv?d by your consent u wind

One caution yet is needful to be told, 199. To guide your choice ; this wife must not be old :aA


A wif wol last and in thin hous endure,
Wel lenger than thee list peraventure.
Mariage is a ful gret sacrament;
He which that hath no wif I hold him shent;
He liveth helples, and all desolat:
(I speke of folk in secular estat)
And herkneth why, I say not this for nought,
That woman is for mannes helpe ywrought.
The highe God, whan he had Adam maked,
And saw him al alone belly naked,
God of his grete goodnesse saide then,
Let us now make an helpe unto this man
Like to himself, and than he made him Eve.
Here may ye see, and hereby may ye preve, s
That a wif is mannes helpe and his comfort,
His paradis terrestre and his disport:
So buxom and so vertuous is she,
They mosten nedes live in unitee:

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