صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

56 Aubry de Falstaff, son of Sir John Fal. staff, knight, with dame Maude his wife, were the first that demanded the bacon, he having bribed twain of his father's companions to swear falsely in his behoof, whereby he gained the flitch: but he and his said wife falling immediately into a dispute how the said bacon should be dressed, it was, by order of the judges, taken from him, and hung up again in the hall.

" Alison, the wife of Stephen Freckle, brought her said husband along with her, and set forth the good conditions and behaviour of her consort, adding withal that she doubted not but he was ready to attest the like of her, his wife; whereupon he the said Stephen, shaking his head, she turned short upon him, and gave him a box on the ear.

« Philip de Waverland, having laid his hand upon the book, when the clause, . were I sole and she sole,' was rehearsed, found a secret compunction rising in his mind, and stole it off again.

- Richard de Loveless, who was a courtier, and a very well-bred - man, being observed to hesitate after the words, after our marriage,' was thereupon required to explain himself. He replied, by talking very largely of his exact complaisance while he was a lover; and alledged that he had not in the least disobliged his wife for a year and a day before marriage, which he hoped was the same thing.

“ Rejected.

" Joceline Jolley, Esq. making it appear, by unquestionable testimony, that he and his wife had preserved full and entire affection for the space of the first month, commonly called the honey-moon, he had, in consideration thereof, one rasher bestowed upon him.” ,

After this, says the record, many years passed over before any demandant appeared at Whichenovre-hall ; insomuch that one would have thought that the whole country were turned Jews, so little was their affection to the fitch of bacon.

The next couple enrolled had like to have carried it, if one of the witnesses had not deposed, that, dining on a Sunday with the demandant, whose wife had sat below the squire's lady at church, she, the said wife, dropped some expressions, as if she thought her husband deserved to be knighted ; to which he turned a passionate pish! The judges, taking the premises into consideration, declared the aforesaid behaviour to imply an' unwarrantable ambition in the wife, and anger in the husband.

It is recorded as a sufficient disqualification of a certain wife, that, 'speaking of her husband, she said, “ God forgive him.”

It is likewise remarked that a couple were rejected upon the deposition of one of their neighbours, that the lady had once told her husband, that "it was her duty to obey ;" to which he replied, “O, my dear! you are never in the wrong!"

The violent passion of one lady for her lapdog; the turning away of the old housemaid by another; a tavern bill torn by the wife, and a tailor's by the husband ; a quarrel about the kissing-crust; spoiling of dinners, and coming in late of nights; are so many several articles which occasioned the reprobation of some scores of demandants, whose names are recorded in the aforesaid register.

Without enumerating other particular persons, I shall content myself with observing that the sentence pronounced against one Gervase Poacher is, that," he might have had bacon to his eggs, if he had not hitherto scolded his wife when they were overboiled.” And the deposition against Dorothy Dolittle runs in these words, “ that she had so far usurped the dominion of the coal fire, (the stirring whereof her husband claimed to himself, that by her good will she never would suffer the poker out of her hand.”

I find but two couples in this first century that were successful; the first was a sea captain and his wife, who since the day of their marriage, had not seen one another until the day of the claim. The second was an honest pair in the neighbourhood; the husband was a man of plain good sense, and a peaceable temper; the woman was dumb.

MISTAKES IN CHOOSING A WIFE.

There is no observation more frequently made by such as employ themselves in surveying the conduct of mankind, than that marriage, though the dictate of nature, and the institution of Providence, is yet very often the cause of misery; and that those who enter into that state can seldom forbear to express their repentance, and their envy of those whom either chance or caution hath withheld from it.

This general unhappiness has given occasion to many sage maxims among the serious, and smart remarks among the gay; the moralist and the writer of epigrams-have equally shown their abilities upon it; some have lamented, and some have ridiculed it; but as the faculty of writing has been chiefly a masculine endowment, the reproach of making the world miserable has been always thrown upon the women, and the grave and the merry have equally thought themselves at liberty to conclude either with declamatory complaints, or satirical censures, of female folly or fickleness, ambition or cruelty, extravagance or lust.

Led by such a number of examples, and incited by my share in the common interest, I sometimes venture to consider this universal grievance, having endeavoured to divest my heart of all partiality, and place myself as a kind of neutral being between the sexes, whose clamours being equally vented on both sides with all the vehemence of distress, all the apparent confidence of justice, and all the indignation of injured virtue, seem entitled to equal regard. The men have, indeed, by their superiority of writing, been able to collect the evidence of many ages, and raise prejudices in their favour by the venerable testimonies of philosophers, historians, and poets, but the plea of the ladies appeals to passions of more forcible operation than the reverence of antiquity. If they have not so great names, on their side they have stronger arguments; it is to little purpose that Socrates, or Euripides, are produced against the sighs of softness and the tears of beauty. The most frigid and-inexorable judge would at least stand suspended between equal powers, as Lucan was perplexed in the determination of the cause, where the deities were on one side, and Cato on the other.

But I, who have long studied the severest and most abstracted philosophy, have now, in the cool maturity of life, arrived at such command over my passions, that I can hear the vociferations from either sex, without catching any of the fire from those that utter them. For I have found, by long experience, that a man will sometimes rage at his wife, when in reality his mistress has offended him; and a lady complain of the cruelty of her husband, when she has no other enemy than bad cards. I do not suffer myself to be any longer imposed upon by oaths on one side, or fits on the other ;. nor when the husband hastens to the tavern,

« السابقةمتابعة »