Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
Advice to Bachelors
(From Merry Drollery, 1691)

HE that intends to take a Wife,
I’ll tell him what a kind of life
    He must be sure to lead;
If she’s a young and tender heart,
Not documented in Love’s Art,        5
    Much teaching she will need.
But where there is no path, one may
Be tired before he finds the way,
    Nay, when he’s at his treasure,
The gap perhaps will prove so straight,        10
That he for entrance long may wait,
    And make a toil of’s pleasure.
Or if one old, and past her doing,
He will the Chamber-maid be wooing,
    To buy her ware the cheaper,        15
But if her choose one most formose,
Ripe for’t, she’ll prove libidinous,
    Argus himself shan’t keep her.
For when those things are neatly drest.
They’ll entertain each wanton guest,        20
    Nor for their honour care,
If any give their pride a fall,
Th’ have learned a trick to bear withal,
    So you their charges bear.
So if you chance to play your game        25
With a dull, fat, gross, heavy Dame,
    Your riches to encrease,
Alas! she will but jeer you for’t;
Bid you to find out better sport,
    Lie with a pot of grease.        30
If meager —— be thy delight,
She’ll conquer in venerial fight,
    And waste thee to the bones:
Such kind of girls, like to your Mill,
The more you give, the more crave they will,        35
    Or else they’ll grind the stones.
If black, ’tis odds she’s dev’lish proud,
If short, Xantippe like, too loud,
    If long, she’ll lazy be,
Foolish (the Proverb saith) if fair,        40
If wise and comely, danger’s there,
    Lest she do cuckold thee.
If she bring store of money, such
Are like to domineer too much,
    Prove Mistris, no good wife,        45
And when they cannot keep you under,
They’ll fill the house with scolding thunder
    What worse than such a life;
But if her Dowry only be
Beauty, farewell felicity,        50
    Thy fortunes cast away.
Thou must be sure to satisfy her
In belly, and in back-desire,
    To labour night and day.
And rather than her pride give o’er,        55
She’ll turn perhaps an honoured whore,
    And thou’lt Acteon’d be,
Whilst like Acteon thou mayst weep,
To think thou forced art to keep
    Such as devour thee.        60
If being noble thou dost wed
A servile Creature, basely bred,
    Thy Family it defaces;
If being mean, one nobly born,
She’ll swear t’ exalt a Courtlike horn,        65
    Thy low descent it graces.
If one tongue be too much for any,
Then he who takes a wife with many,
    Knows not what may betide him;
She whom he did for learning honour,        70
To scold by book will take upon her,
    Rhetorically chide him.
If both her Parents living are,
To please them you must take great care,
    Or spoil your future fortune,        75
But if departed they are this life,
You must be parent to your wife,
    And father all, be certain.
If bravely drest, fair faced and witty,
She’ll oft be gadding to the City,        80
    Nor may you say her nay,
She’ll tell you (if you her deny)
Since women have Terms, she knows not why,
    But they still keep them may.
If you make choice of Country ware,        85
Of being Cuckold there’s less fear,
    But stupid honesty
May teach her how to sleep all night;
And take a great deal more delight
    To milk the Cows than thee.        90
Concoction makes their blood agree
Too near, where’s consanguinity;
    Then let no kin be chosen:
He loseth one part of his treasure,
Who thus confineth all his pleasure        95
    To th’ arms of his first Cousin.
He’ll never have her at command,
Who takes a wife at second hand;
    Then choose no widowed mother:
The first cut, of that bit you love,        100
If others had, why mayn’t you prove
    But taster to another?
Besides, if she bring children many,
’Tis like by thee she’ll not have any,
    But prove a barren Doe;        105
Or if by them, she ne’er had one,
By thee ’tis likely she’ll have none,
    Whilst thou for weak back go.
For there where other Gard’ners have been sowing
Their seed, but ne’er could find it growing,        110
    You must expect so too;
And where the Terra Incognita
S’ o’erplow’d, you must it fallow lay,
    And still for weak back go.
Then trust not to a maiden face,        115
Nor confidence in widow’s place,
    Those weaker vessels may
Spring-leak, or split against a rock,
And when your Fame’s wrapt in a smock,
    ’Tis easily cast away.        120
Yet be she fair, foul, short, or tall,
You for a time may love them all,
    Call them your soul, your life,
And one by one them undermine,
As Courtizan, or Concubine,        125
    But never as married wife.
He who considers this, may end the strife,
Confess no trouble like unto a Wife.

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