The Proverbs Of John Heywood "Better Late Than Never"

John Heywood

"Better Late Than Never"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The author is recounting a story to his young friend that will prove that marriage should be approached with caution. This story concerns a man and wife who sought advice about their marriage, and the author advised that each return to his home. Now the wife is telling what happened to her when she went back to her aunt and uncle, who wished her well but did not make her welcome. The aunt and her niece Alice talk over the plight of the young wife. The aunt tells Alice that the wife caused her own woe: "She thought, Alice, she had seen far in a millstone,/ When she gat a husband, and namely such one,/ As they by wedding could not only nought win,/ But lose both living and love of all their kin." The young wife admits that she did wrong, but urges that she be forgiven. Alice, as the passage reveals, agrees, voicing one of the proverbs common to America. The wife is speaking, followed by Alice:

. . . things past my hands, I cannot call again.
True, (quoth Alice), things done cannot be undone,
Be they done in due time, too late, or too soon;
But better late than never to repent this.