« ForrigeFortsett »
N° 614. Monday, November 1, 1714.
Si mihi non animo fixum immotumque sederet,
Virg. Æn. iv. 15. Were I not resolv'd against the yoke Of hapless marriage; never to be curs'a . With second love, so fatal was the first; • To this one error I might yield again.'
DRYDEN "HE following account hath been trans
mitted to me by the Love casuist.*
6 Mr. SPECTATOR,
AVING in some former Papers taken
care of the two states of virginity and marriage, and being willing that all people 6 should be served in their turn, I this day • drew out my drawer of widowst, where I ' met with several cases, to each whereof I • have returned fatisfactory answers by the post
. « The cases are as follow:
Q. Whether Amoret be bound by a pro• mise of marriage to Philander, made during 6 her husband's life?
* See Spect. N° 591, No 602, No 605, No 623, and N° 625.
+ See Tat. with Notes, Vol. III. N° 79, and Note; and TAT. N° 78, Art. 1. Edit. 1786 cr. 8. vo.
• 2. Whether Sempronia, having faithfully given a promise to two several perfons during - the last fickness of her husband, is not thereby • left at liberty to choose which of them the
pleases, or to reject them both for the sake 6 of a new lover?
• Cleora asks me, whether the be obliged to ' continue single according to a vow made to • her husband at the time of his presenting her ' with a diamond necklace; she being informed
by a very pretty young fellow, of a good con
science, that such vows are in their nature • sinful?
• Another inquires, whether the hath not • the right of widowhood, to dispose of her' self to a gentleman of great merit, who preffes
very hard; her husband being irrecoverably gone in a consumption?
An unreasonable creature hath the confi'dence to ask, whether it be proper for her to marry a man who is younger than her eldest • A scrupulous well-spoken matron, who gives me a great many good words, only • doubts whether the is not obliged in consci
ence to shut up her two marriageable daughters, until such time as she hath comfortably disposed of herself?
Sophronia, who seems by her phrase and spelling to be a person of condition, sets forth, ' that whereas the hath a great estate, and is but
a woman, the desires to be informed whether ' she would not do prudently to marry Camillus, VOL. VIII.
a very idle tall young fellow, who hath no
fortune of his own, and consequently hath ' nothing else to do but to manage her's.'
Before I speak of widows, I cannot but observe one thing, which I do not know how to account for; a widow is always more sought after than an old maid of the same age. It is common enough among ordinary people, for a stale virgin to set up a shop in a place where she is not known; where the large thumb ring, supposed to be given her by her husband, quickly recommends her to some wealthy neighbour, who takes a liking to the jolly widow, that would have overlooked the venerable spinster.
The truth of it is, if we look into this set of women, we find, according to the different characters or circumstances wherein they are left, that widows may be divided into those who raise love, and those who raise compassion.
But, not to ramble from this subject, there are two things in which consists chiefly the glory of a widow —the love of her deceased husband, and the care of her children; to which may be added a third, arising out of the former, such a prudent conduct as may do honour to both.
A widow possessed of all these three qualities makes not only a virtuous but a sublime character. There is something so
generous in this state of life, when it is accompanied with all its virtues, that it is the subject of one of the finest among our modern tragedies in the person of Andromache, and has met with an universal
great and so
and deserved applause, when introduced upon our English stage by Mr. Philips.
The most memorable widow in history is queen Artemisia, who not only erected the famous Mausoleum, but drank up the ashes of her dead lord; thereby inclosing them in a nobler monument than that which she had built, though delervedly esteemed one of the wonders of architecture.
This last lady seems to have had a better title to a second husband than any I have read of, since not one dust of her first was remaining. Our modern heroines might think a husband a very bitter draught, and would have good reason to complain, if they might not accept of a second partner, until they had taken such a troublesome method of losing the memory of the first.
I shall add to these illustrious examples out of ancient story, a remarkable instance of the delicacy
of our ancestors in relation to the state of widowhood, as I find it recorded in Cowell's Interpreter *. '. At East and West Enborne, in " the county of Berks, if a customary tenant die, • the widow shall have what the law calls her • freebench in all his copyhold lands, dum fola • & cafa fuerit; that is, while she lives single • and chafe; but if the commit incontinency " The forfeits her estate; yet if she will come • into the court riding backward upon a black ram, with his tail in her hand, and say the
* No record of this kind is to be found in the edition of COWELL'S “ Interpreter” of 1637, 4to.
words following, the steward is bound by the o custom to re-admit her to her freebench.'
« Here I am,
land again *.
The like custom there is in the manor of Torre in Devonshire, and other parts of the west.
It is not impossible but I may in a little time present you with a register of Berkshire ladies, and other western dames, who rode publicly upon this occasion; and I hope the town will be entertained with a cavalcade of widowst.
* See Jacob's “Law Dictionary," Art. FREE-BENCH.Frank Bank, or Free-bench, [Sedes Libera, or in Law-Latin Francus Bancus,) is that estate in Copyhold lands, which the wife, being married a virgin, hath after the decease of her husband for her dower. Fitzherbert calls this a custom by which in some cities the wife shall have all the lands of her husband for dower. Les Termes de la Ley. Ed. 1667, p. 375.
+ See Spect. N° 623. The custom in the manors of E. and W. Enborne, of Torre, and other parts in the west of England, is a kind of Penance among jocular tenures, to purge the offence, and has there it seems the force and validity of Statute Law. JACOB's “ Dict." Ut supra. 3d Edit. 1736,