This comes to let you know
I’m well, thank God, and hope you’re so:
In Truth, I’m very much perplext,
For something fine to write you next,
So leave this Blank– –for you to fill,
With–even whatsoe’er you will.
According, now, to ancient Use,
From Compliments I come to News:
Then know the Vicar’s Daughter’s marry’d,
And Sister Susan has miscarry’d;
His Worship’s Son has been so wild,
To get the Chamber–Maid with Child,
Which gives his Father such Offence,
He never has been sober since.
As next in Course, on you attends
The just Respect of all your Friends;
Accept of Services by Dozens,
From all your loving Aunts and Cousins:
The Sheet of Paper would not hold ’em,
Or one by one I should have told ’em.
Next, on my Part, in order, comes
My hearty Love to John, and James,
To smiling Kate and buxom Dolly,
Yet not forgetting pretty Molly.
And, now, for want of other Matter,
Wherewith to furnish out my Letter;
To you, Dear Tom, I will unfold
A Story, which for Truth is told;
But whether true or false, no doubt,
Your Judgment, Tom, will soon find out;
And make a proper Application
Of what I give the bare Relation.
Once on a Time (my Story says)
An over–studious Priest there was,
Who to the Age of Fifty three
Had hoarded his Virginity;
Resisting Satan all his Life
In Form of Mistress,–or of Wife.
But when, and where, is not agreed,
(Which let for that Omission plead)
Tho’ what’s material in the Case
Relates to Fact, not Time and Place.
But not to make a long Digression,
According to the Modern Fashion;
Grown weary of a single Life,
He now resolv’d to take a Wife.
The Cause, indeed, is not assign’d,
Which made the Parson change his Mind;
But, if to guess we may be bold,
He found the Winter Nights were cold:
And, if we may go on in guessing,
Thought Nat’ral Heat the most refreshing:
But whether This, or what beside,
We’ll leave the Learned to decide.
Pursuant to this Resolution,
The next Thing was which Way to chuse One:
For, right the Parson did conclude,
Bad some might be, tho’ some were Good:
But, since He no Experience had
How to distinguish Good from Bad,
The only Way he meant to try,
Was taking her would first comply.
For if all Wedlock is a Lottery,
Thinks he, ’tis but a piece of Sottery,
In chusing for to make a Pother,
When one may prove as good as t’other:
And, since kind Fate is still our Guide,
Both to the Halter and the Bride;
Ev’n let’s on that alone rely,
Whether to Marry, or to Die,
And wisely yield to Destiny.
In vain is mortal Wit employ’d,
Or This to gain, or That avoid:
Just when we think to grasp a Joy,
O’er–ruling Fate, which acts unseen,
With Arm–forbidding Steps between,
And does our blooming Hope destroy.
Then let’s on That devolve our Care,
And all our useless Labour spare.
The Doctor (for that He was so
I should have told you long ago;
But for a Poet to forget,
Dear Thomas, is not strange a bit,)
In Sunday Gown and Cambrick Band
Equip’d him for the promis’d Land.
For He imagin’d now, Friend Thomas,
That Wedlock was the Land of Promise,
And fancy’d, He could plainly show,
It did with Milk and Honey flow:
Tho’, if we may pretend to guess,
He found it but the Wilderness.
But to take up the Point in Hand,
Which seems, at present, at a stand;
On Heaven’s Direction he rely’d,
And forth he went to seek a Bride.
Not far the pious Priest had gone,
Before he met with Farmer John:
Neighbour, says he, I think you have
A Daughter, and her Name I crave:
Doctor, cry’d honest John, ’tis true,
I must have one, because I’ve two;
And if you’d know the Names of both,
The one is Sis’ly, t’other Ruth.
Sis’ly, and Ruth? the Doctor cry’d;
Well, one of these must be my Bride:
And, Neighbour, to declare the Truth,
I like, methinks, the Name of Ruth:
The Reason I prefer the same,
Is, ’cause it is a Scripture Name:
For, where the Scripture can decide,
It always ought to be our Guide.
The Farmer gave his free Consent,
And Home with him the Doctor went:
Where, overjoy’d, that he should be
The Father of Divinity;
An ample Can of nappy Ale,
Exceeding strong, and wondrous stale,
The Farmer brought, to drink Success
To their approaching Happiness;
(For John had always understood,
A Bargain dry could not be good.)
And, lastly, to conclude the Matter,
He call’d in Ruth, his youngest Daughter.
Just in the Glory of her Youth,
About sixteen was rosy Ruth.
The Doctor kiss’d her; call’d her Child;
She drop’d a Curt’sy; blush’d, and smil’d:
He ask’d her if she’d change her Life,
And yield to be a Parson’s Wife:
That he was now resolv’d on Marriage:
Lik’d both her Person, and her Carriage,
And in the Morning did design,
That Brother Crape their Hands shou’d joyn.
Ruth told him, he went on too fast,
That she was not in so much Haste,
Nor did, indeed, design to marry,
At soonest, till next January;
That she was Young, but he was Old,
And much she fear’d, exceeding Cold;
(For Dick had given her to guess
How warm a youthful Lover was,
And by Contraries she might know,
An ancient one could not be so.)
In short, he might go seek elsewhere,
A Wife he ne’er should have of her.
Thus having told her full Intent,
A Curt’sy drop’d; and out she went.
The Doctor this with Grief affected,
Who no such Usage had expected;
But trusting to the Proverb still,
That if one won’t another will,
He hop’d to reconcile the Matter,
By taking of the other Daughter:
And looking on the Farmer wistly,
Desir’d he would call in Sis’ly.
About the Age of thirty three,
A Maiden stale was Sisely:
But for her Years let’s not despise her,
As She was older, She was wiser;
And formal Courtship laid aside,
Became at once the Doctor’s Bride.
Their Hands were joyn’d: The Table spread:
The Night came on: They went to Bed:
Where let ’em sleep, and take their Ease:
And freely do–whate’er they please.
Now, Phoebus gave Aurora Warning,
And Whip and Spur drove on the Morning:
When surfeited with Marriage Charms,
The Doctor left his Sis’ly’s Arms,
With different Thoughts of Wedlock quite,
Than he lay down with over–night:
And, truly, I have clear forgot
Whether he did repent, or not;
But whether quite so soon or no,
Thousands there be which have done so:
For Marriage is observ’d to be
A fatal kind of Prodigy;
At Distance wears an Angel’s Charms,
But turns a Devil in One’s Arms.
And, now, the Doctor left his Bride,
To thumb the Books he’d laid aside,
But told her, tho’ she was his Wife,
She must not lead a lazy Life,
Or purpose to be wholly idle,
Whilst he is poring o’er the Bible,
For that same Text is very meet,
Which says, Who works not shall not eat,
And his Desire was, indeed,
That She should spin whilst He should read.
She told him she would still obey
Whate’er Commands he pleas’d to lay,
And make the Business of her Life
To prove a kind obliging Wife.
Now, thus, almost a Month was run,
The Doctor read, and Sis’ly spun:
At last, a Whim came in his Head,
That he (forsooth) would read in Bed,
Till he, for Sleep, could do no more
Than put the Candle out, and snore.
Oft Sis’ly by Perswasion try’d,
To make him lay his Books aside;
But spight of all that she could say
The Doctor still would have his Way.
Night came in vain: She sigh’d, and turn’d:
The Doctor read: The Candle burn’d:
No Comfort did she find in Bed:
The Candle burn’d: The Doctor read.
One Night, she full of Wishes lay,
That he would put his Book away:
But finding it was all in vain,
To sigh, to reason, or complain;
She from his Side did softly steal,
And fetch’d to Bed her Spinning–Wheel.
The Doctor, staring with Surprize,
Could scarce give Credit to his Eyes:
Good God! says he, what is’t you do?
What Tricks are you about to shew?
Was Woman e’er before so mad
To bring a Spinning–Wheel to Bed?
Poor Sis’ly squeez’d the Doctor’s Hand,
And told him, She his wise Command
Had well consider’d, plainly shewing,
That ev’ry One shou’d still be Doing.
The Doctor smiling, guess’d what meant
His blushing Spouse’s Compliment;
And took the Thing by its right Handle,
Laid down his Book: Blow’d out the Candle.
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Based on Keywords: pother, digression, contraries, spinning-wheel, omission, nappy, surfeited, squeez, miscarry, equip, chusing