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To begin then with the old widows, and that preheminence is due to them upon the score of their age and experience, they humbly supplicate that you would be pleased to take their miserable condition into consideration. Old people according to the proverb are twice children; what wonder is it then if they still have a hankering after childish play-things, and long to have their gums rubbed with coral? Pray do not mistake them, good gentlemen, they mean it in a lawful, matrimonial sense, and hope you will not censure or think the worse of them for using this freedom. They appeal to all the world who it is that most stand in want of warm, comfortable things, the young or the old : that it is the greatest charity to relieve the last, needs no formal proof, all the hospitals in the kingdom speak as much; but alas ! in this uncharitable age they do not expect to meet with many friends. Upon this consideration they intirely submit themselves to the mercy of the house, not presuming to carry their petition so high as to request you to force people to marry them; but only that you would recommend their case to the benevolence of those persons, who, having lived wickedly and at large all their life-time, are willing to compound for their sins, and do acts of supererogation in the last scene of it. Nor are they difficult in their choice, they will sit down content with any thing; and cripples with wooden legs will be chearfully entertained, if they have received no damage in the distinguishing part.
Next to these come the rich widows ; and they earnesty beg of your honourable house that you would make it felony, without benefit of the clergy, for any one to make court to them before the mournful twelve month is expired. They are so perpetually pes. tered with suitors of all complexions, that they can neither eat, nor sleep, nor pray for them. A new favourite has not more humble servants in a morning at his levee, nor the commissioners of the pay office a greater croud of surly, grumbling seamen than they have. Nay, some of their passionate admirers have had the impudence to accost them upon this chapter, as they bave been following their husband's corpse to the grave, in the very heighth of their sorrow, and in the midst of the funeral pomp. If you think it too severe to make it felony in persons so offending, they desire you to commute the punishment, and oblige every person trespassing after that manner to marry some widow as fancy inclines him : which is all the favour that the poor widows beg at your hands.
And now comes up the main body of the young and middle-aged widows, who, as they are by far the most numerous, especially since the wars have made such havuck among the husbands, so they crave leave to lay their petitions at your feet. But, before they do that, they think it convenient to remove all those popular slanders and objections, which ill-natured people have been long accustomed to level against widows in general; and, because their adversaries shall have no reason to complain that their arguments are mangled, they will urge them as home as either themselves, or their best ad. vocates, could do it for them.
It is in the first place pretended, that widows want several of those recommendations that set off their sex, and particularly a maidenhead, without which no wife, they say, can be acceptable; that they are still trumping up stories of their former husbands, purposely to confront their new ones, and so excessively talkative, that nothing but deafness is an antidote against the noise ; that marrying a widow is like splitting upon a rock where others have been shipwrecked before. After this, they run the metaphor into Longlane, second-hand gloves, cloaths of another's wearing, and the Lord knows what impertinent stuff. But we shall answer them all in order. • To begin then with the loss of a maiden-head, about which they make so horrid a clamour, we could tell them sad stories of several of their betters, that on the wedding-night have fancied they have dug up this same chimerical treasure, though it was stolen many months before; nay, we have a hundred and more of our company here, that, if occasion were, could attest this upon their own personal knowledge. So certain it is, that the nicest criticks among the men may be as easily imposed upon in this affair, as your pre, tenders to antiquity in counterfeit medals. But, if no woman can please them without this imaginary wealth, and indeed it is no more, for most people take it upon trust, we see no reason why young widow may not be as capable of obliging them as the best virgin in the world. It is but using a few astringents before, and, at the critical minute, crying out, Fie, sir, pray, sir, will you split • me up? Will you murder me alive? Can you take any pleasure ' in what is so painful to another?' And the sparks are satisfied they have made a real sacrifice, though, in truth, no more blood was shed in the encounter than we see upon the stage when one actor kills another. If this is their dear diversion, and, by the bye, it is a sure sign of their ill nature, that they cannot be pleased but at the expence of the party, whom they pretend to love so dearly, rather than lose them, we promise them to howl, and sigh, and roar every night in the year, as heartily as an ox, when he's led to the slaughter-house, and so entertain them still with the ceremony, at least, of their dearly beloved maiden-head.
In the next place, why should we not be permitted to refresh the memory of a dull, lazy husband, with the noble performances of his predecessors ? The men, in King Charles the Second's reign, took the liberty to talk of the glorious conquests of our former fighting monarchs, and yet, for all that, thought themselves as good subjects as any in the kingdom. If the reproof is just, where a God's name lies the harm : and surely the wife must be allowed to be the best judge of that affair. "Oh no, say they, it is not the horse, but the man, that best knows whether he rides easy. Content. But does
not the horse likewise know, whether his rider carries true horse. 'man's weight, and whether he sits even in the saddle.' If not, why would Bucephalus suffer himself to be backed by none but Alexander the Great ?
But then we are excesssive talkative. So are they, and so are most of our sex, but especially the longing majds, and under cor
rection, if it is a sin, we are of opinion it sits better upon us than upon them. This is not all, marrying a widow is like splitting upon a rock where others have been shipwrecked. Well, we are glad however it is like something. But, since one simily is best drove out by another, why not, like drinking in a room where some bonest gentleman has made merry before? Since nothing will go down with these squeamish creatures in the matrimonial way
but spick and span new virgin, we wonder why they do not keep up the frolick in every thing else; why, as often as they drink, they do not call still for a virgin glass; why they do not every meal call for a virgin plate : why they do not still pull out a virgin snuff-box, Jie in virgin-sheets, talk politicks in a virgin-coffee-house, and purmye their dearly beloved variety to the end of the chapter. Las their indignation rises at the thoughts of Long-lane, and all secondband things whatever. If the sparks are resolved to be true to their argument, we are well satisfied they must even say good-night to all thinking, and writing, and talking : for at present they think at second-hand, and write and talk at second-hand; and this objeetion, as terrible as it looks, is a thread-bare weather-beaten secondhand objection with a witness,
A late monarch, of happy memory, who was inferior to none but Solomon in natural philosophy, and chiefly in what relates to our pex, was often heard to say, that getting of a maiden-head was a drudgery fit for none but porters. We save all that labour and pains, for there needs no great trouble to enter a city when a breach is once made in the walls, and our husbands have that satisfaction, as to see their ground ploughed up ready to their hands. To conclude all, a widow is a tried gun, and carries the tower mark upon her; now who knows but a maid may split in the proving?
Having thus justified the state of widowhood against all the ob jections that are used to be made against it, we have nothing more to add, but that you would be pleased to give your consent to the three following articles :
First, That all persons, who are not of known parts and abilities, may not only be rendered uncapable of marrying maids, or such as are reputed maids, but confined to the choice of widows only. This we request not so much for our own advantage, as for the ease of the men ;
know several people can make a shift to keep the king's highway, that are not able to leap a ditch, or break open a quickset.
Secondly, That all persons resolving to marry before the age of twenty-one, if they have made no natural experiments before that time, shall be likewise obliged to take a widow, as they do pilots, in difficult or unknown places. It is an ancient but well grounded complaint, that, where two maiden-beads meet, they produce nothing but mere butter-prints, addle-pated fops, and dull senseless, sleepy boobies. Now, if you pass this into an act, in all probability it will contribute much to the improving of our present degenerate race, and certainly, if ever we wanted solid heads, it is at this conjuncture,
Thirdly and Lastly, That all widows, during their widowhood,
may be excused from the taxes : Por is it not hard,good gentlemen, to pay four shillings in the pound for empty houses. We hope you will consider farther of these our reasonable supplications.
And your petitioners, as in duty, &c.
REMONSTRANCE OF THE BATCHELORS, In and about London, to the Honourable House, in Answer to a late Paper,
intitled, A PETITION OF THE LADIES FOR HUSBANDS. London : Printed for, and sold by the Bookselling Batchelors, in St. Paul's
Church-Yard. Quarto, containing Four Pages.
the subject, whenever he finds himself unjustly treated, to fly to his representatives for a redress. You that have so effectually mortified arbitrary power, even in a great monarch, will certainly never cherish it in a lower station; and this inclines us to hope, that the ladies will not find that encouragement at your hands, which their vanity prompted them to expect. Though their petition to you speaks in a very sublime stile; yet for all that they can assume a different sort of language in other places. There they not only dispute the superiority with the men, but even pretend to the right of conquest over them; for their grandmother Eve, they say, triumphed over the weakness of our great grandfather Adam in Paradise ; and no doubt on it had insisted upon that article before you, but that your house, last week, so punished the unpalatable doctrine of conquest. To disarm them of this illegal pretence, which is prejudicial to the liberty and privilege of our sex, we have examined all the old records, but cannot find the least appearance to colour such a plea. At present, we shall dismiss this point to descend into the particulars of their petition, and leave unto you, at last, to decide the controversy, now depending between us.
They complain, that the holy state of matrimony has of late years been very irreverently spoken of; that it has been rhymed to death, in sonnet, and murdered in effigie, upon the stage. Now we would not be guilty of that ill breeding, to say that the ladies, all along, found the matter, and the satyrist only found the words. However, we are assured from all hands, that those persons, who have taken the greatest pains to expose that holy state, were all of them married; to prove which, we could name a famous abdicating poet, if we were minded; and we hope the ladies do not expect we should either de. fend or condemn them, till we are married ourselves, and consen quently in a capacity to judge on which side the truth lies. At
present we know no more of matrimony, than a mere land-man knows of the sea; every gazette tells him of abundance of wrecks ; but for all that, he will venture to sea, in hopes of making fifty per cent. by exchange of his commodities.
But, to make amends for this melancholy scene, they very devoutly thank heaven, in the next place, that their sex found the benefit of the clergy, when the laity had, in a manner, abandoned them. Pray, gentlemen, observe what returns of gratitude the ladies have made their best and surest çards the church-men for this their loving kindness. One would have thought they might, at least, have allowed their ancient friends the first choice of the vintage; it is no more than what the French do to the Scotch merchants at Bourdeaux, out of respect to their old alliance ; but we find no such thing. Old superannuated house-keepers with a maiden-bead defunct, and farmers daughters, are the best presents, they give the poor church; so they, on this account, serve the christian parsons, as their predecessors, the pagan priests, did their deities, who used to compliment Jupiter with the guts and garbidge, and reserved the remainder of the bullock for themselves. After all, whether this happens by their own fault, or no, the Levites are made but a civiler sort of scavengers to carry off the dust and rubbish of the sex, so that the ladies may spare their thanks to them if they please ; for it is we, of the laity only, that are in their debt for this great civility.
After this, gentlemen, the ladies are pleased to avouch, that, if it bad not been for a certain damned liquor, called wine, the men by the mere impulse of nature had been long since reduced to their duty. Here, by the word duty, they plainly insinuate a conquest; and therefore we humbly beg that their petition may be sent to the Palace-Yard, and there served Secundum Usum Sarum. In the mean time, it is a mystery to us, what makes the ladies vent their spleen so furiously upon poor wine, which by the bye never meant the least harm in its life to the God of Love's subjects, unless they intend to monopolise all the drinking to themselves; or else, since their sex has been so familiar with brandy, blasphemed by the name of cold tea, a jury of red-nosed midwives have pronounced wine to be a feeble impotent creature, in comparison of that. They wonder, wby the men should scruple to marry, out of fear of cuckoldom, and yet not scruple to drink stummed wine for fear of a fever. To which we reply, that the case is extremely different. Not one man in an hundred gets a fever by drinking; at the same time, scarce one in an hundred, that is married, escapes cuckoldom. And, gentlemen, is not that great odds ?
They would have you pass it into a law, that every man should be obliged to marry, immediately after twenty-one; and, in case be refuses so to do, to pay a good round sum yearly for bis liberty: though we are all of us agreed that one and twenty is somewhat of the soonest to begin at. For why should a man be forbidden to travel upon the road, unless he sets out exactly at sun-rising? Yet, out of complaisance to the ladies, we are willing to let it pass, though we are certain that half the racers will be foundered before