Category Archives: Marriage

Custom Love Marriage

It is the charming power of your virtues

This delightful fragment comes from a 17th century book for ladies. Crammed with useful hints and tips on everything from making jelly to how best a prudent widow might conduct herself, the author provides the following as a guide to the ideal exchange between a newly-courting couple.

A method of Courtship on fair and honourable terms

I shall ever account this, Madam, the happiest day I ever had in all the course of my life, which hath given me the honour and satisfaction of your acquaintance.

Sir, if I knew ought in me worthy of your merit, I should readily employ it in your service; but being fully sensible of my imperfections and weakness, I believe the knowledge of me will yield you less happiness than you imagine.

Madam, I wonder you should wrong so much perfection.

I wrong not any thing in my possession; but it is your courtesie and rhetorick that would willingly excuse my defects, to make your own sufficiency to appear so much the more.

Pardon me, Madam, it is the charming power of your virtues and merits, which oblige me not only to honour and serve you, but also to desire some part and interest in your affections.

Sir, whatsoever a Maid with honour may do, you may request of me; I should be as void of judgment as defective in beauty, did I not respect your quality, admire your virtues, and wish you a happiness equal to your merit.

Madam, I assure you, my affections are real, and I hope sincerity doth wait on your good wishes; but if you will extend your favour, I cannot but be the happiest of all men.

Sir, as I cannot perswade my self you will fix your affection on a person so little deserving; so I wish with all my heart your happy Stars may guide you to a Match that may become your worth.

Do not entertain so palpable a mistake: I have proposed to my self an unfeigned resolution to honour and serve you to my uttermost endeavour; and your refusal cannot lessen my affection; suffer me then to bear the honourable title of your servant.

Sir, I have absolutely render’d my self up to the disposal of my dear Parents, consult them; if you prevail on their consent, you shall not doubt the conquest of my affection.

You oblige me infinitely, and I must thank you as heartily; I will not rest a minute till I know my sentence of life or death, which consists in the refusal of my love, or its acceptance.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Marriage Medicine

Like double faced Janus

These fragments come from a curious little pamphlet published in 1613. What is of particular interest is the way in which the author conflates the sin of adultery with physical deformity; so an obvious case of conjoined twins becomes in this instance a punishment inflicted on the unfortunate parents for their perceived prior immorality.

At a Towne called Adlington in the Parish of Standish neere Wigon in the County of Lancaster, there was a childe borne of a strange and wonderfull shape, with foure legges foure Armes, two bellyes, proportionably joyned to one back, one head two faces, like double faced Janus, the one before, the other behinde, foure eyes, and two noses. It behoves us to looke about, when such examples beyond the order of Nature are brought forth to put us in minde of our iniquities, especially the sinnes of Adultery and fornication, which are ever justly punished by the righteous lawe and justice of God. It is well proved in the grace and blessing that Almighty God secretly infundeth in right generation, the contrary whereof is knowne in the curse that he denounceth against Bastardy, which the Prophet utters in these wordes Spuria vitulamina non agent radices altas [Bastard slippes shall never take deepe roote]: which was showne in the example of this Monster.

The father and mother whereof were both branded, shee with the marke of Basterdy. Neither was this monster borne in the night time, but towards the day, when the morning Sunne beganne to glad the earth with his brightnesse, to this end, that the blacke mantle of the night should not cover this childe of darkenesse, but that the day might plainely discover to all eyes this wonderfull example of his Justice.

Certaine Gentlemen, and many of the common people, that were then at Cockepit, when the newes came of this prodigious birth, left their sports and went to behold it with wonder and amazement. Many people came flocking from all places thereunto adjoyning, who beheld it with astonishment. The most impious of all could not but confesse, that it was a notable example of Gods fearefull wrath, which God for his mercy sake turne from us.

This happened a little before Easter Terme last upon relation of some of the Inhabitants there, Master William Leigh Bachelour of Divinity, a very worthy and Reverend gentleman, Preacher of the Parish of Standish aforesaid, being also an eye witnesse of the same.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved
Crime Curiosities Love Marriage

Stealing Mrs Rawlins

The fragments come from The last Dying words and Confession of Haagen Swendsen, who was Convicted and Executed for stealing Mrs Rawlins an Heiress (1702).

That I had a Design to have Mrs Rawlins for my Wife is most true. I was told of her by a Neighbour and Friend of hers and then made a further enquiry, and found her Quality such as I might, without any exceptions, her Father being the Son of a Tradesman, the next was how to get into her Acquaintance, and not knowing how to be introduced, I prevailed with, and persuaded Mrs Bainton to take a Lodging in the same House with Mrs Rawlins, by which means I found easie Access to my wishes, and was as welcome to the Family as if I had been one of themselves.

By degrees I possess’d my self of Mrs Rawlins Attention so far that she seem’d uneasie without me, and frequently importun’d for my speedy return, and oblig’d me to sit next to her at Table, saying that if I did not she would not eat, and treated me with many private caresses, by which Lovers who have not frequent Opportunity of speaking do by signs and tokens express themselves. I do declare that I had as good Reception as a Lover could wish for, and all the Encouragement imaginable; Insomuch that nothing seem’d disagreeable to my intentions, but all things did promise to facilitate my Design with Success, she herself having told me that she was at her own disposal and would Marry to please herself.

My familiarity with Mrs Rawlins before my Marriage was so great that there was no room left for me to practise Violence upon her. Without any force or violence [my wife] declar’d to the Minister that she was at her own disposal, and free to marry me, which the Minister declar’d in open Court at my Tryal. After [the wedding] we had been in Bed [when] in comes one Mr Bennet a Constable, with some of Mrs Rawlins Relations, who requir’d me to go with them before a justice of the Peace. I refused to give Obedience to their Commands, which created some dispute. My Wife, hearing the Noise came out of the Bed-Chamber, desir’d me to be quiet, and let her speak to them, which accordingly she did in these express words: Cousin, I have Married this Gentleman with my own free Consent, he is my Husband, and this is my Wedding Ring, shewing the Ring on her Finger. Then said they, if it be so then God bless you both together, and drank a Flask of Wine or two with me, then departed.

They were no sooner gone but I ask’d her whether she would be willing to appeare and declare what she had said to her Friends to a Justice of Peace, and she said she would with all her Heart, then we went to Mr Justice Baber and declar’d the same to him. The next Day about 11 of the Clock, there came a Constable with a Warrant who said unto my Wife, Alas child, they made you Drunk and you did not know what you did.  To which she answered that there were a great many there present [at the wedding] that knew her Life and Conversation, that knew she did not use to be Drunk. He then ordered me to be pull’d away by force from her, at which she fell a weeping; and after I was Committed to Newgate.

In my Tryal Mr Justice Baber shewed himself coldly in giving his Testimony, and said that my Wife did confess before him that she was Married by her own Consent but at the same time he added that she seemed very much disorder’d. It is to be noted that my Wife did not deny in open Court that she had made the Declaration aforesaid to Mr Bennet the Constable, but said she did not know what she did when she said so, and many other things she positively upon Oath denied at my Trial. Among my many Misfortunes I was represented by my Wife’s Friends to the Court to be a Sharper and a Bully, but I called in and produced several Gentlemen of Repute to give account of my Life and Conversation, who have all accordingly attested the Honesty of my Principles by my Practise.

My Jury disagreed about the Verdict, there was one Mr Johnson who did declare that none of the Evidence did Prove or Swear that I used any Force or Violence to the Gentlewoman.  I am now going to suffer an ignominious Death for a Crime which my own Conscience doth not accuse me of, but the rigour of the Law has made it my unpardonable Crime. And as I forgive all Mankind, so I beg forgiveness of those whom thro’Inadvertency or otherwise I have injured or offended, beseeching God of his great Mercy to vouchsafe them forgiveness whensoever they shall ask it.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Family Love Marriage Women

A true way of Taming a Shrew


These fragments come from A Caution for SCOLDS: OR, A True way of Taming a SHREWTo the Tune of Why are my Eyes still flowing (c.1685).

A Noble Man he Marry’d with a cruel Scold,
Who in her humours would ne’r be control’d,
So that he was almost aweary of his Life,
By the cross humours of his forward Wife:
Although he show’d himself exceeding kind,
Yet she was still of a turbulent mind;
Husband and Servants her Fury must feel,
For in their Ears she would Ring them a Peal.

When any Friend approach’d the presence of her Lord,
By this vile Shrew they were strangely abhord;
With cruel Frowns and Railings she would them salute
Though they were Persons of worthy Repute,
All was a case, for she would have her Will.
And the whole House with Confusion she’d fill;
So that for fear of the heat of her Pray,
They have been forc’d to run packing away.

It was his chance to make a worthy noble Feast,
Inviting full forty couple at least,
Both Lords & Earls with vertuous Ladies of high fame,
Who in true Friendship accordingly came:
All sorts of Dainties he then did prepare,
No cost nor charge in the least did he spare;
But ere they could to their Banquetting fall,
Sirs, you shall hear how she welcom’d them all.

When she beheld the costly Dishes of rich Meat,
This Shrew had not any Stomach to Eat,
But did cry out, I shall be Ruin’d at this rate,
This is enough to consume an Estate:
Before she any more words did reply·
She made both Bottles and Dishes to flye;
Both Friends and Husband she then did abuse,
Asking him how he dare be so profuse?

Like the Thunder loud, her voice the straight began to raise,
Which made the Guest to stand all in amaze,
Who never saw the like in all their lives before,
Dishes of Meat they lay strow’d on the floor:
Thus in disorder they all went their way,
Each one was glad they were out of the fray:
Then said her Husband, did ever Man know,
Any poor Mortal so plagu’d with a Shrow.

Now the next day he to a Skilful Doctor went,
Promising that he would give him content,
If he could cure the cause of a Distracted Wife,
Which almost made him aweary of Life:
Yes, quoth the Doctor, I’ll do it ne’r fear,
Bring her, for now ’tis the Spring of the Year;
I’ll take the Lunacy out of her Brains,
Or else I won’t have a Groat for my pains.

Then home he went, and sent her thither out of hand,
Now when the Shrow she did well understand.
All their intent, she call’d the Doctor sneaking knave,
Now when he see she began for to Rave;
Straightways the Doctor did bind her in Bed,
Leting her Blood, likewise Shaving her Head:
Sirrah, said she, I would have you to know,
That you shall suffer for serving me so.

Madam, said he, I know you are beside your Wits,
But I will soon bring you out of those Fits;
I’ll cut your Tongue, and when a Gallon you have bled
‘Twill Cure that violent Noise in your Head:
Pray Sir, said she, don’t afflict me so sore,
I’ll ne’r offend my sweet Husband no more:
Thus by sharp Vsage and Keeping her low,
He had the fortune to Conquer the Shrow.

After some time, he came to see his Wife at last,
Where she begg’d pardon for all that was past;
Saying, her Fits for evermore she would refrain,
If he’d be pleas’d to retrive her again;
My former Follies I pray now forgive,
I’ll ne’r oftend you no more while I live:
Then in much love they both homeward did go,
Thus has he made a sweet Wife of a Shrow.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

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