The Choice of a Wife
Whene’er, my friend, you chance to find
A female who attracts your mind,
Your choice awhile suspend;
Examine nicely first her heart,
If incorrupt, if free from art;
To that, be sure, attend:
For beauty soon familiar grows,
Or fades, as hourly fades the rose,
Frail tenant of decay!
But virtue, life’s extremest length,
Improving, shines, and grows in strength,
With each succeeding day.
This is the beauty worth your care,
And not the cheek, the lip, the hair,
The eye, the teeth, the mien;
If no deformity disgrace,
You’ll soon think that a lovely face
Where truth and honour reign.
Be then the purpose of her heart,
Whom of yourself you’d make a part,
Confirm’d and well-inform’d;
In all things moral and divine,
The virtues more attractive shine,
By true devotion warm’d.
Those virtues still have least allay,
And best will bear the strict essay
That on religion grow:
Others to fear, or interest yield,
Or shrink, or meanly quit the field,
When storms of passion blow.
Let no vain superstitious fears
Create imaginary cares;
For those, who mean the best,
Who’ve only honest ends in view,
Will carefully those ends pursue,
And leave to heaven the rest.
If gratitude her bosom swell;
If there kind generous pity dwell,
Meekness and manly sense;
If no desire for dress or play
Can lead her steady heart away,
Fear not her innocence.
Fair virtue, honour, candour, truth,
Alone maintain the charms of youth,
Through every stage of life:
These with new lustre ever glow,
And every day new charms bestow
Upon the friend, the wife.
Those light the lamp of pure desire,
These fan the clear celestial fire,
Bright flame of lasting love;
While practis’d looks, and airs, and smiles,
And art, that thoughtless men beguiles,
But flashes—meteors prove.