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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

Wife, Children, and Friends

William Robert Spencer (1770–1834)

WHEN the black-letter’d list to the gods was presented,

(The list of what Fate for each mortal intends)

At the long string of ills a kind goddess relented

And slipt in three blessings—wife, children, and friends.

In vain surly Pluto maintained he was cheated,

For justice divine could not compass her ends;

The scheme of man’s penance he swore was defeated,

For earth becomes heaven with wife, children, and friends.

If the stock of our bliss is in stranger hands vested,

The fund ill-secured oft in bankruptcy ends;

But the heart issues bills which are never protested

When drawn on the firm of Wife, Children, and Friends.

Though valour still glows in his life’s waning embers,

The death-wounded tar who his colours defends,

Drops a tear of regret as he dying remembers

How blest was his home with wife, children, and friends.

The soldier, whose deeds live immortal in story,

Whom duty to far distant latitudes sends,

With transport would barter whole ages of glory

For one happy day with wife, children, and friends.

Though spice-breathing gales o’er his caravan hover,

Though round him Arabia’s whole fragrance ascends,

The merchant still thinks of the woodbines that cover

The bower where he sat with wife, children, and friends.

The day-spring of youth, still unclouded by sorrow,

Alone on itself for enjoyment depends;

But drear is the twilight of age if it borrow

No warmth from the smiles of wife, children, and friends.

Let the breath of Renown ever freshen and cherish

The laurel which o’er her dead favourite bends,

O’er me wave the willow! and long may it flourish

Bedewed with the tears of wife, children, and friends.

Let us drink—for my song, growing graver and graver,

To subjects too solemn insensibly tends:

Let us drink—pledge me high—Love and Virtue shall flavour

The glass which I fill to wife, children, and friends.