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Some Remarks upon MARRIAGE.
By Mr. Tho. Brown.
Arriage, being the Port or Haven at which most of the Sons and Daugh. ters of Eve design to touch fooner or later, 'ris no wonder that People are universally curious to know how this ticklish Ceremony is perform'd in
other Countries. We find here ar Home, that the first Place in the Common-PrayerBook, that young Maidens generally dip in, is the Service of Matrimony. I once knew a raw Girl, that could readily make all the Refponfes in tlrat Office, before De could answer to one Question in her Carechism; which occasion'd her father, who was a grave Old Gentlemau, to wish, that those of her Sex would Cake as much Care to prepare thenfelves for their lacter, as for their first End ; for so it froves to most of them.
It has been frequently faid, that Marriage and Hanging go by Destiny ; but, for my Part, I am no Predestinarian; neither do I believe, with she rest of the World, that Matches are made in Heaven any more than I believe that all Oxen are ought and sold there before they come to Smithfield-Market.
But tho' I am no Admirer of Destiny, as I said before, yet I would not have any one infer from thence, that I believe there's 110 Minner of Resemblance between Henging and Marrying : For Hanging, with Reverence be it spoken, as well as Marrying, is perform’d by tying a Knot, which Death only dissolves; and they agree too in this particular, (which is more suitable to the Occasion of the Book) that all civiliz'd Countries in the World obferve ciferent Fashions in one no less than the other.
The Roman Catholicks make a Sacrament of Alatrimony, and, in Consequence of that Notion, pretend it confers Grace. The Protestant Divines doir's Earry Matters fu high ; but fay, this ought to be understood in a qualify'd Sense ; and that Marriage to far confers Grace, as, generally speaking, ic confers Repentance, which every Body knows is a step to Grace.
It must be confessid on all Hands, that Marriage is the most serious Action that a Man can engage in, and therefore we ought to think of it, as we do of our latter End, with Fear and Trembling. For this Reason, I cannot endure to hear People pass their il). natur’d Jests upon so holy an Ordinance. If it is a Man's good Fortune to meet with a good Wife, he ought to date his Hippiness in this world from that very Moment; and if the proves not as he desires, he ought to look over the Catalogue of his Sins, and interpret it as a Visitation, or at least to take it patiently. For my Part, commend me to that Gentle. man, who having marry'd a Lady of an extraordinary Capacity, never complaind of his Fate, nor made his Spouse uneasy, but honestly thank'd God, that now he had a Hole to put his Head in.
The Ladies that read a Book callid Marriage-Ceremories, will find sufficient Reason to thank Providence that they were boru in so good-natur'd an Inand as ours is, where the Preliminaries to Marriage are nothing near so norose and severe as they are in
fome Places in the World. To give an Instance of. this, our Author of the Marriage-Ceremonies tells us," p. 51. Among the Sabrians, (a Sort of mungril Chriftians, that live on the Contines of Persia next Turkey) the Parties meeting together at Church, the Minister makes the Bride Swear before the women that she is a Virgin. As ill an Opinion as the World unjustly entertains of our Females, I am very well satisfy'd, that there are above forty thousand consciencious Wives, within the Bills of Mortality, that would have lost all, before they would have taken so rash and jusuaring an Oath. How is it poflible that a Woman should positively swear to an imaginary Thing, which may be lost (the Lord knows how) between Neeping and waking ? This I am sure of, that no Husband was a Jot.the securer for prescribing arbitrary and unlawful Oaths.
Yet, as great a Hardihip as this may seem to be, it is nothing in Comparison of Hardflips practis'd in some Countries, even after the Nuptial Ceremonies are perform’d. Thus we find in the said Book, p. 42, That among the Greeks, if the Women find in the Bed the next Day any sign of a loft Virginity, they make a great Feaft; but when that is wanting, they say nothing, the Bridegroom sending back the Bride to her Relations and Frierds. The fame inhumall Custom is likewise observ'd by the Persians, as the Reader may fee, p. 64, by the Moors of Moroco, p. 73, the Irbabitants of the Kigdom of Fez, p. 75, by thufe of Algiers and Tunis, P: 79, by the Spaniards, who retain this Custom from the Moors, p. 22, and lately by the Jews in Barbary. As for the lacrer, I don't wonder at it to find such Ulige among them, because they were a stiff neck'd People, that was always demanding Signs and Tokens ; nor among Infidels and Niahomet diis ; but that any Chriftians, that are happily freed from the Levitical Bondage, Mhould still banker after the old fuperstitious Leaven, is a Matter of the greatest Alonish
I cannot lut reflect with Horror, how many Ladies in England, that now live comfortably
ment to me.
with their Husbands, and are bless'd with a numerolis Issue, had been shamefully discarded and sent Home, if ever such an unrighteous Fashion as this had got Footing among us. It seems to argue a great deal of Cruelty in the Men, that they Nould relish no Pleasure but what comes at the Expence of their dearest Consorts. But it is my daily Prayer, that Providence will protect the free-born Women of England from such bloody-minded Husbands.
But tho' the greatest Part of the World are so extravagantly fond of Virginity, yet we find there are some People that have no other Notions of Things. Our faid Author, p. 88, acquaints, That when one of Conchin marries, whosoever he is, he may not lie with his Bride the first Night, but is oblig?d to give her to a Bramine, who lies with her ; and that they believe this to be a Favour, and a good Omen. I hope their Parishes in this country are not of a large Extent, otherwise the Priest has more Work upon his Hands than he will go thro’ with, unless he keeps a Curate or two to relieve him, when Marriage comes in thick. The Holders-forth of our Conventicles affect to be thought great Pains-Takers, and really deserve the Name, for their Bands will testify for them, both in the DogDays, and out of the Dog-Days, that they sweat exceedingly. But, alas ! what is this, if consider'd in the fame Scales with the Drudgery that these Priests undergo in their Ministry. I have often wonder'd that the Popish Clergy, that stand up fo ftifly for the Divine Right of First-fruits, don't troop in Shoals to this Kingdom, when they voluntarily pay such an extraordinary Tribute to the Church.
'Tis observable, that in most countries of the World this Ceremony is perform'd by the Priesthood, who, if they equally pretended to the Power of Loofing, as they do to that of Tying, they would have more Bufiness upon their Hands, than they could well difpense with. Only in Turkey marry'd People are join'd together by the Cadey, or Civil Magistrate, and here in
England, in Oliver's Time, by a Juftice of Peace; the Reason alledgʻd for it then, was, that none was so well qualify'd to marry others as he, who, by his Office, was impower'd to lay People by the Heels, and put them into the Stocks.
As I have already taken Notice, Virginity is reckon'd so essential to Marriage, in several Countries, that the poor Bride is inhumanly dismiss’d, and fent Home to her Relations, if she be found defective in that Particular; but in this Author we Niall find, that all the World is not of this Humour ; in Pegu, of the Marriage Ceremonies, p. 96, The King, and those of the greatest Quality, lie not the first Night with their Wives, but admit others, and pay them bountifully that will give themselves the Trouble. With all due Respect to our. Women be it fpoken, I humbly conceive, that one half at least of the marry'd Men in this Kingdom, if they will speak their Minds freely, must do their Wives this Justice, as to own, that they fav'd this Porters-Drudgery, as a Monarch (not inferior to Solomon for Wifilom) rightly callid it. Our Neighbours of Scotland, before they came to be civiliz’d, used to lie the first Night with the Bride, their Vasal; but now they have Aung up such a troublesome Piece of State, and make their Tenants drudge for themfelves.
We rail at the Church of Rome, and not without Reason, for exacting implicite Obedience from her: Sons, but, alas ! what signifies it, to take a few Aro ticles upon the Credit of the Priest ; but to take a Wife (as our Author tells lis they do in Moscopy, and other Places) without seeing her once, or knowing what Defects the may have, is somewhat hard upon the Subject. Heaven be prais’d, thac liere in England we are not forc'd to buy a Pig in a Poke; nay, there are some marry'd Men in the World, that were as intimately acquainted with their wives before Marriage, as ever they were after. See now what it is to live