George Atherton Aitken.

The life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians online

. (page 20 of 47)
Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 20 of 47)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

contract is broken on one side it ceases to bind on the other.
Where there is a right, there must be a power to maintain it,
and to punish the offending party. This power I affirm to be
that original right, or ratlier that indispensable duty of cuckol-
dom, lodged in all wives in the cases above-mentioned. No
wife is bound by any law to which herself has not consented :
all economical government is lodged originally in the husband
and wife, the executive part being in the husband ; both have
their privileges secured to them by law and reason : but will
any man infer from the husband's being invested with the
executive power, that the wife is deprived of her shai-e, and
that which is the principal branch of it, the original right of
cuckoldom ? And that she has no remedy left, but prcces
et lachrymac, or an appeal to a suin-eme court of judicature?
No less frivolous are the arguments that are drawn from
the general appellations and terms of husband and wife. A
husband denotes several sorts of magistracy, according to the
usages and customs of different climates and countries. In
some eastern nations it signifies a tyrant, with the absolute
power of life and death ; in Turkey it denotes an arbitrary
governor, with power of perpetual imprisonment ; in Italy it
gives the husband the power of poison and padlocks ; in the
countries of England, France, and Holland, it has quite a
different meaning, implying a free and equal government,
securing to the wife m certain cases the liberty of cuckoldom,
and the property of pin-money, and separate maintenance. So
that the arguments drawn from the terms of husband and wife
are fallacious, and by no means fit to support a tyrannical
doctrine, as that of absolute unlimited chastity ' and conjugal

The general exhortations to chastity in wives are meant only
for lilies in ordinaiy cases, but they naturally suppose three
conditions of ability, justice, and fidelity in the husband : such
an unlimited, unconditioned fidelity in the wife could never

^ Passive obedience.


be suiDposed by reasonable men ; it seems a reflection upon
the ch[ur]ch, to charge her with doctrines that countenance

This doctrine of the original right of cuckoldom is congruous
to the law of nature, which is superior to all human laws, and
for that I dare appeal to all wives : it is much to the honour
of our English wives that they have never given up that
fundamental point ; and that though in former ages they were
muffled up in darkness and superstition, yet that notion seemed
engraven on their minds, and the impression so strong that
nothing could impair it.

To assert the illegality of cuckoldom upon any pretence what-
soever, were to cast odious colours upon the married state, to
blacken the necessary means of perpetuating families: such
laws can never be supposed to have been designed to defeat the
very end of matrimony, the propagation of mankind. I call
them necessary means ; for in many cases what other means
are left ? Such a doctrine wounds the honour of families ;
unsettles the titles to kingdoms, honours, and estates ; for, if
the actions from which such settlements spring were illegal,
all that is built upon them must be so too: but the last is
absurd, therefore the first must be so likewise. What is the
cause that Europe groans at present under the heavy load of
a cruel and expensive war, but the tyrannical custom of a
certain nation, and the scrupulous nicety of a silly Queen ', in
not exercising this indispensable duty of cuckoldom, whereby
the kmgdom might have had an heir, and a controverted suc-
cession might have been avoided? These are the effects of
the narrow maxims of your clergy, that one must not do evil,
that good may come of it.

The assertors of this indefeasible right, and ^us divlniim of
matrimony, do all in their hearts favour gallants, and the
pretenders to married women ; for if the true legal founda-
tion of the married state be once sapped, and instead thereof
tyrannical maxims introduced, what must follow but elope-
ments instead of secret and peaceable cuckoldom ?

From all that has been said, one may clearly perceive the
absurdity of the doctrine of this seditious, discontented,
hot-headed, ungifted, unedifying preacher, asserting that the

* The Quoen of Charles II of Spain, upon whose death without issue
the war broke out.


grand security of the matrimonial state, and the pillar upon
•which it stands, is founded upon the wife's belief of an absolute
unconditional fidelity to the husband's bed : by which bold
assertion he strikes at the root, digs the foundation, and
removes the basis upon which the happiness of a married state
is built. As for his personal reflections, I would gladly know
who are those wanton wives he speaks of ? who are those ladies
of high stations that he so boldly traduces in his sermon ?
It is pretty plain who these aspersions are aimed at, for which
he deserves the pilloiy or something worse.

In confirmation of this doctrine of the indispensable duty of
cuckoldom, I could bring the example of the wisest wives in
all ages, w^ho by these means have preserved their husbands'
families from ruin and oblivion by want of posterity ; but wdiat
has been said, is a sufficient ground for punishing this prag-
matical parson.

The tavo great parties of wives, the Devotos


The doctrine of unlimited chastity and fidelity in waives w^as
universally espoused by all husbands, who went about the
country, and made the wives sign papers, signifying their utter
detestation and alDhorrence of Mrs. Bull's wicked doctrine of
the indispensable duty of cuckoldom. Some yielded, others
refused to part with their native liberty ; which gave rise to
two great parties amongst the wives, the Devotos and the
Hitts. Though it must be owned, the distinction was more
nominal than real ; for the Devotos would abuse freedoms
sometimes ; and those who were distinguished by the name
of Hitts, were often very honest. At the same time there
came out an ingeniovis treatise with the title of ' Good Advice
to Husbands ' ; in which they are counselled not to trust too
much to their wives' owning the doctrine of unlimited conjugal
fidelity, and so to neglect family duty, and a due watchfulness
over the manners of their wives ; that the greatest security to
husbands was a vigorous constitution, good usage of their
wives, and keeping them from temptation ; many luisbands
having been sufferers by their trusting too much to general

' Those who wei'e for and against the doctrine of non-resistance.


professions, as was exemplified in the case of a foolish and
negligent husband, who, trusting to the efficacy of this prin-
ciple, was undone by his wife's elopement from him '.


An account of the conference between Mrs. Bull
AND Don Diego.

The '^ lawyers, as their last effort to j)ut off the composition,
sent Don Diego ^ to John. Don Diego was a very woi-thy
gentleman, a friend to John, his mother, and present wife ;
and therefore supposed to have some influence over her : he
had been illused himself by John's lawyers, but, l^ecause of
some animosity * to Sir Roger, was against the composition '.
The conference between him and Mrs. Bull was Vv'ord for word
as follows : —

Don Diego. Is it possible, cousin Bull, that you can forget
the honourable maxims of the family you are come of, and
])reak your word with three of the honestest best-meaning
persons in the world, Esquire South, Frog, and Hocus, that
have sacrificed their interests to yours ? It is base to take
advantage of their simplicity and credulity, and leave them in
the lurch at last.

Mrs. Bull. I am sure they have left my family in a bad
condition ; we have hardly money to go to market, and nobody
will take our words for sixpence. A very fine spark this
Esquire South ! My husband took him in, a dirty, snotty-nosed
boy ; it was the business of half the sei'vants to attend him,
the I'ogue did bawl and make such a noise " : sometimes he fell
in the fire and burnt his face, sometimes broke his shins
clambering over the benches, often . . . . , and always came
in so dirty, as if he had been dragged through the kennel
at a boarding-school. He lost his money at chuck-farthing,

1 An allusion to the Revolution, posed to proceed, was Harley's

when James II lost his kingdom. being chosen to succeed him as

- This opening paragraph was not principal Secretary of State, when

in the original pamphlet. he was removed from that office in

^ Amongst other obstacles to the the year 1704.

treaty was the opposition of the ^ He expostulated against the

Earl of Nottingham, a tory noble- peace with great warmth in the

man, who had great influence in house, when the Queen was present

the House of Commons. incognita.

' The cause of his animosity, ° Superstition, love of operas,

from which this conduct is sup- shows, &c.


shuffle-cap, and all fours ; sold his books, pawned his linen,
which we were always forced to redeem. Then the whole
generation of hinr are so in love with bagpipes and puppet-
shows ! I wish you knew what my husband has paid at the
pastiy-cook's and confectioner's for Naples biscuit, tarts,
custards, and sweetmeats. All this while my husband con-
sidered him as a gentleman of a good family that had fallen
into decay, gave him good education, and has settled him in
a good creditable way of living, having procured him, by his
interest, one of the best places of the country ; and what
return, think you, does this fine gentleman make us? Pie
will hardly give me or my husband a good word or a civil
expression : instead of Sir and Madam (which, though I say it,
is our due) he calls us goody and gaffer such a one : says, he
did us a great deal of honour to board with us ; huffs and
dings at such a rate, because we will not spend the little we
have left to get him the title and estate of Lord Strutt ; and
then, forsooth, we shall have the honour to be his woollen-
drapers \ Besides, Esquire South will be Esquire South still ;
fickle, proud, and ungrateful. If he behaves himself so when
he depends on us for his daily bread, can any man say what
he will do when he is got above the world ?

D. Diego. And would you lose the honour of so noble and
generous an undertaking '? Would you rather accept this
scandalous composition, and trust that old rogue, Lewis
Baboon ?

Mrs. Bull. Look you, friend Diego, if we law it on, till
Lewis turns honest, I am afraid our credit will run low at
Blackwell Hall ^ I wish every man had his own ; but I still
say that Lord Strutt's money shines as bright and chinks as
well as Esquire South's. I don't know any other hold that
we tradesmen have of these great folks but their interest ;
buy dear and sell cheap, and I'll warrant ye you will keep
your customer. The worst is, that Lord Strutt's sei-wints have
got such a haunt about that old rogue's shop, that it will cost
us many a firkin of strong beer to bring them back again ; and
the longer they are in a bad road, the harder it will be to get
them out of it.

D. Diego. But poor Frog, what has he done ! On my

^ Here the paragraph ends, in the original pamphlet.
^ See p. 206, note i.


conscience, if there be an honest, sincere man in the world,
it is that Frog.

Mrs, Bull. I think I need not tell you how mvich Frog has
been obliged to our family from his childhood ; he canies his
head high now, but he had never been the man he is, without
our help. Ever since the commencement of this lawsuit it
has been the business of Hocus, in sharing our expenses, to
plead for Frog. ' Poor Frog,' says he, ' is in hard circum-
stances, he has a numerous family, and lives from hand to
mouth ; his children don't eat a bit of good victuals from one
year's end to the other, but live upon salt hei'ring, sour curd,
and borecole ; he does his utmost, poor fellow, to keep things
even in the world, and has exerted himself beyond his ability
in this lawsuit ; but he really has not wherewithal to go on.
What signifies this hundred pounds? place it upon your side
of the account ; it is a great deal to poor Frog, and a trifle to
you.' This has been Hocus's constant language, and I am sure
he has had obligations enough to us to have acted another pai-t.
D. Diego. No doubt Hocus meant all this for the best, but
he is a tender-hearted, charitable man ; Frog is indeed in hard

Mrs. Bull. Hard circumstances ! I swear this is provoking
to the last degree. All the time of the lawsuit, as fast as I
have mortgaged, Frog has purchased ^ ; from a plain tradesman
with a shop, warehouse, and a countiy hut with a diiiy fish-
pond at the end of it, he is now grown a veiy rich country
gentleman, with a noble landed estate, noble palaces, manors,
parks, gardens, and farms, finer than any we were ever master
of. Is it not strange, when my husband disbursed great sums
every term, Frog should be purchasing some new farm or
manor? So that, if tliis lawsuit lasts, he will be far the
richest man in liis country. What is worse than all this, he
steals away my customers every day ; twelve of the richest and
the best have left my shop by his persuasion, and whom, to
my ceiiain knowledge, he has under bonds never to return
again : judge you if this be neighbourly dealing.

B. Biego. Frog is indeed pretty close in his dealings, but
very honest ; you are so touchy, and take things so hotly, I am
sure thei-e must be some mistake in this.

* Complaint was made of the acquisitions of the Dutch in Fhinders.


Mrs. BnU. A plaguy one indeed ! You know, and have
often told me of it, how Hocus and those rogues kept my
husband John Bull drunk for five years together with punch
and strong waters ; I am sure he never went one night sober
to bed, till they got him to sign the strangest deed that ever
you saw in your life. The methods they took to manage him
I'll tell you another time ; at present I'll read only the writhig.



JOHN BULL, Clothier,


NICHOLAS FEOG, Lbien-clraper\

I. That, for maintaining the ancient good corresi^ondence
and friendship between the said parties, I Nicholas Frog do
solemnly engage and promise to keep peace in John Bull's
family ; that neither his wife, children, nor servants give him
any trouble, disturbance, or molestation whatsoever, but to
oblige them all to do their duty quietly in their respective
stations : and whereas the said John Bull, from the assured
confidence that he has in my friendship, has appointed me
executor of his last will and testament, and guardian to his
children, I do undertake for me, my heirs and assigns, to
see the same duly executed and performed, and that it shall
be unalterable in all its parts by John Bull, or any body else :
for that purpose it shall be lawful and allowable for me to
enter his house at any hour of the day or night ; to break open
bars, bolts, and doors, chests of drawers, and strong boxes, in
order to secure the peace of my friend John Bull's family,
and to see his will duly executed.

II. In considei'ation of which kind neighbourly office of
Nicholas Frog, in that he has been pleased to accept of the

^ A treaty had been concluded by of this treaty were destructive to

the Lord Townshend at the Hague the trade and interest of Great

between the Queen and the States Britain, that Lord Townshend had

in 1709, for securing the protestant no authority to agree to them, and

succession, and for settling a barrier that he and all those who advised

for Holland against France ; and it ratifying the treaty were enemies

was resolved that several articles to their country.


aforesaid trust, I John Bull having duly considered that my
friend Nicholas Frog at this time lives in a marshy soil and
unwholesome air, infested w^ith fogs and damps destructive
of the health of himself, wife, and children, do bind and
oblige me, my heirs and assigns, to purchase for the said
Nicholas Frog, with the best and readiest of my cash, bonds,
mortgages, goods, and chattels, a landed estate, with parks,
gardens, palaces, rivers, fields, and outlets, consisting of as large
extent as the said Nicholas Frog shall think fit. And whereas
the said Nicliolas Frog is at present hemmed in too close by the
grounds of Lewis Baboon, master of the science of defence, I
the said John Bull do oblige myself, with the readiest of my
cash, to purchase and enclose the said grounds, for as many
fields and acres as the said Nicholas shall think fit ; to the
intent that the said Nicholas may have free egress and regress,
without let or molestation, suitable to the demands of him-
self and family.

III. Furthermore, the said John Bull obliges himself to
make the countiy neighbours of Nicholas Frog allot a certain
part of yearly rents to pay for the repairs of the said landed
estate, to the intent that his good friend Nicholas Frog may be
eased of all charges.

IV. And whereas the said Nicholas Frog did contract with
the deceased Lord Strutt about certain liberties, privileges, and
immunities, formerly in the possession of the said John Bull ;
I the said John Bull do freely by these presents renounce, quit,
and make over to the said Nicholas, the liberties, privileges,
and immunities contracted for, in as full a manner as if they
never had belonged to me.

V. The said John Bull obliges himself, his heirs and assigns,
not to sell one rag of broad or coarse cloth to any gentleman
within the neighbourhood of the said Nicholas, excejit in such
quantities and such rates as the said Nicholas shall think fit.

Signed and sealed,

John Bull.
Nic. Frog.
The reading of this paper put Mrs. Bull in such a passion,
that she fell downright into a fit, and they were forced to
give her a good quantity of the spirit of hartshorn before
she recovered.
T). Diego. Why in such a passion, cousin ? considering j^our


circumstances at that time, I don't think this such an unreason-
able contract. You see Frog, for all this, is religiously tnie to
his bargain ; he scorns to hearken to any composition without
your privacy.

llrs. Bull. You know the contrary. Kead that letter \
[Keads the superscription] ' For Lewis Baboon, master of the

noble science of defence. '


I understand that you are at this time treating with my
friend John Bull about restormg the Lord Strutt's custom, and
besides allowing him certain piivileges of parks and fish-
ponds ; I wonder how you, that are a man that knows the
world, can talk with that simple fellow. He has been my
bubble these twenty years, and to my certain knowledge under-
stands no more of his own affairs than a child in swaddling
clothes, I know he has got a sort of a pragmatical silly jade
of a wife, that pretends to take him out of my hands ; but you
and she both will find yourself mistaken : 111 find those that
shall manage her ; and, for him, he dares as well be hanged as
make one step in his affairs without my consent. If you will
give me what you promised him, I will make all things easy,
and stop the deeds of ejectment against Lord Strutt : if you will
not, take what follows ; I shall have a good action against you,
for pretending to rob me of my bubble. Take this warning

Your loving friend,

Nic. Feog.

I am told, cousin Diego, you are one of those who have
undertaken to manage me, and that you have said you will
carry a green bag yourself, rather than we shall make an end
of our lawsuit : I'll teach them and you too to manage.

D. Diego. For God's sake, madam, why so choleric? I say
this letter is some forgery ; it never entered into the head of
that honest man, Nic. Frog, to do any such tiling.

Mrs. Bull. I can't abide you : you have been railing these
twenty years at Esquire South, Frog, and Hocus, calling them
rogues and pick-pockets, and now they are turned the honestest
fellows in the world. What is the meaning of all this ?

B. Diego. Pray tell me how you came to emj^loy this Sir
Koger in your affairs, and not think of your old friend Diego ?

^ In tlie meantime the Dutch, were secretly negotiating with France.


3Irs. Bull So, so, there it i^inches. To tell you truth, I
have employed Sir Roger in several weighty affairs, and have
found him trusty and honest, and the poor man always scorned
to take a fai-thing of me. I have abundance that profess great
zeal, but they are damnable greedy of the pence. My husband
and I are now in such circumstances that we must be served
upon cheaper terms than we have been.

D. Diego. Well, cousin, I find I can do no good A\dth you ;
I am soriy that you will ruin yourself by trusting this Sn




I told you in a former chapter, that Mrs. Bull, before she
departed this life, had blessed John with three daughters.
I need not here repeat their names, neither would I willingly
use any scandalous reflections upon young ladies, whose reputa-
tions ought to be very tenderly handled ; but the charactei-s
of these were so well known in the neighbourhood that it is
doing them no injury to make a short description of them.

The eldest^ was a termagant, imperious, prodigal, lewd,
profligate wench, as ever breathed ; she used to rantipole about
the house, pinch the cliildren, kick the servants, and torture
the cats and the dogs ; she would rob her father's strong box for
money to give the young fellows that she was fond of ; she had
a noble air, and something great in her mien, but such a
noisome infectious breath as threw all the sei-vants that dressed
her into consumptions ; if she smelt to the freshest nosegay, it
would shrivel and wither as it had been blighted ; she used to
come home in her cups, and break the china and the looking-
glasses, and was of such an irregular temper, and so entirely
given up to her passion, that you might argue as well with the
North wind, as with her ladyship ; so expensive, that the
income of three dukedoms was not enough to sup])ly her

* ' Polemia,' war.


extravagance. Hocus loved her best, believing her to bo his
own, got upon the body of Mrs. Bull.

The second daughter', born a year after her sister, was a
peevish, foi-ward, ill-conditioned creature as ever was, ugly as
the devil, lean, haggard, pale, with saucer eyes, a sharp
nose, and hunch-backed ; but active, sprightly, and diligent
about her affairs. Her ill complexion was occasioned by her
bad diet, which was coffee, morning, noon, and night : she
never rested quietly a bed ; but used to disturb the whole
family with shrieking out in her dreams, and plague them next
day with interpreting them, for she took them all for gospel :
she would cry out murder, and disturb the whole neighbour-
hood ; and when John came running down staiis to enquire
what the matter was, nothing, forsooth, only her maid had
stuck a pin wrong in her gown ; she turned away one sen'^ant
for putting too much oil in her salad, and another for j^utting
too little salt in her water-gi"uel ; but such as by flattery had
procured her esteem, she would indulge in the greatest crime.
Her father had two coachmen ; when one was in the coach-box,
if the coach swung but the least to one side, she used to shriek
so loud, that all the street concluded she was overturned ; but
though the other was eternally drunk, and had overturned the
whole family, she was very angry with her father for turning
him away. Then she used to cany tales and stories from one
to another, till she had set the whole neighbourhood together
by the ears ; and this was the only diversion she took pleasure
in. She never went abroad but she brought home such a
bundle of monstrous lies as would have amazed any mortal
but such as knew her : of a whale that had swallowed a fleet of
ships ; of the lions being let out of the Tower to destroy the
protestant religion ; of the Pope's being seen in a brandy shop
at Wapping ; and of a prodigious strong man, that was going
to shove down the cupola of St. Paul's ; of three millions of
five povmd pieces that Esquire South had found vmder an old
wall ; of blazmg stars, flying dragons, and abundance of such

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 20 of 47)