Whether Marriage or Single Life is to be Preferred: 1815


The Penny Wedding, Alexander Carse, c. 1819 (c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Penny Wedding, Alexander Carse, c. 1819 (c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Many have disputed whether Marriage or Single Life is to be preferred, and have shewed arguments on both sides. Amongst the rest, Jacobus de Voragine, in twelve arguments, pathetic, succinct, and elegant, hath described the benefits of Marriage.—They are these:—

1. Hast thou means? Thou hast one to keep and increase it.

2. Hast none? Thou hast one to help to get some.

3. Art thou in prosperity? She doubles it.

4. Art in adversity! She’ll comfort, assist, bear part.

5. Art thou at home? She’ll drive away melancholy.

6. Art thou abroad? She prays for thee, wishes thee at home, welcomes thee with joy.

7. Nothing is delightsome alone. No society is equal to marriage.

8. The bond of conjugal love is adamantine.

9. Kindred is increased, parents doubled, brothers, sisters, families, nephews.

10. Thou art a father by a legal and happy issue.

11. Barren matrimony is cursed by Moses. How much more a single life.

12. If Nature escape not punishment, thy will shall not avoid it, as he sung it, that without marriage

Earth, Air, Sea, Land, oft soon will come to nought; The World itself would be to ruin brought.

18. Pelopidas declared that he was not worthy the nature of Man, who left not a son behind him to defend the commonwealth, and his name and family ; he was injurious to himself, destructive to the world, and an apostate to nature.

Another quick Wit replied, and answered these with twelve other arguments against Marriage, as,

1. Hast thou means? She’ll spend it.

2. Hast none? Thy beggary is increased.

a. Art thou in prosperity ? Married, it is clogged or ended.

4. Art in adversity? Like Job’s wife, she will double it.

5. Art at home? She’ll be unquiet, scold.

6. Art thou abroad? Take heed thou art not horned, and then fetched home.

7. Nothing is better than freedom and single life.

8. Marriage! it is such a band there is no hope of loosing.

9. Thy miseries and cares are increased.

10. Thou mayest bring up others’ children.

11. As Paul commends marriage, so he prefers a single life.

12. As marriage is honourable, so virginity is the life of angels.

Who can reckon up the authors who have written, pro et con, some for, some against Marriage? It is a hazard, and therefore to be ventured on.

A Thousand Notable Things, Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquise of Worcester, 1815

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil would not presume to step into a dispute between the author of The Golden Legend, that fanciful collection of Papist fables and a “quick Wit.”  Things might quickly become unpleasant should each stand upon their arguments. The American phrase “cage-fight” suggests itself.

Mrs Daffodil is somewhat sceptical that Jacobus de Voragine, an Archbishop of the Romish Church, would offer so robust an endorsement of the married state. Perhaps it is a different Mr de Voragine who has donned rose-coloured glasses in this encomium to wedded bliss. It is equally obvious that the Wit is venting his spleen to dramatic effect.

Whatever one’s sentiments about the utility of the state of matrimony (and Mrs Daffodil has never been inclined to visit that state) it is, indeed, a “hazard.” Perhaps that explains the popularity of the so-called wedding chapels at that fabled mecca of marriage, Las Vegas.

Mrs Daffodil has previously looked at suggestions to ladies and gentlemen for choosing a spouse

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



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