Ada Cambridge

Lord Nevil's Advice

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"Friend," quoth Lord Nevil, "thou art young
To face the world, and thou art blind
To subtle ways of womankind;
The meshes thou wilt fall among.

"Take an old married man's advice;
Use the experience I have earned;
Watch well where women are concerned,--
They're not all birds of paradise!

"Be circumspect, or thou mayst fall;
Abjure a blind faith--nay, trust none--
Till thou hast chosen, proven one;
Then trust her truly--trust in all.
"Keep a calm brain and quiet eye,
And watch. The doll of powder and paint,
The flirt, the artificial saint,
The loud man-woman pass them by.

"The innocent one, who craves thy cares
To shield her from life's fret and fray;
Lad, watch her--maybe she'll betray
Some doubtful knowledge, unawares.

"The pensive one, who droops and sighs--
Wait till her dreaming comes to test;
Be gentle, yet be wary, lest
'Tis but a graceful grey disguise.

"The world-wise husband-hunter--she
Who knows no love but love of gold,
And lands and titles--empty, cold,--
Pity her, lad, and let her be.
"And the rich heiress--let her pass.
Belike she's stupid, drugged with wealth,
And just enjoys her life and health
As some fat cow in clover grass.

"Or insolent with prosperity,
Unsharpened, shallow, unrefined;--
And thou art poor, and thou wilt mind
That proud blood cometh down to thee.

"The gushing gossip--she who rains
Incessant chatter in thine ears;--
She may be worth thy keenest fears,
She may be simply lacking brains,

"And lacking grace and modesty.
She will make mischief, at the best;
She may be wily, like the rest;
Keep thy tongue still when she is by.
"They that would master thee, if they could,
In brain and muscle--flaring lights--
The clamorous for false woman's rights;--
Snub them, my friend--it does them good--

"And do not think of them for wives.
Fit mates for such seem somewhat rare;
But when two odd ones make a pair,
They spoil at least four precious lives.

"But shouldst thou chance to meet a girl
With brave, bright eyes, that front thee straight,
A kindly tongue that does not prate,
And quiet lips that cannot curl;

"With fine sense, quick to understand,
With dignity that is not cold,
Sweet, sunny mirth that is not bold,
A ready ear, a willing hand;
"One skilled in household arts, and skilled
In little courteous, graceful ways,
That make no show and win no praise--
Wherewith discordant jars are stilled:

"One who will never touch a sore;
One who sheds sunshine round about,
And draws life's hidden comfort out;
One whom the boys and babes adore:

"One with an intellect to reach
The highest range that thou canst rise;
Who will aye help thee, woman-wise,
And yet not set herself to teach:

"One of whom women love to speak,
In honest kindness, and whose name
Men let alone; whose chiefest fame
Lies hidden where men may not seek;--
"Friend, woo her, as a good knight can,
And win her. Lay thou at her feet
Faith, love, and honour, true and sweet;
And count thyself a happy man."

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