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JOHN had not run on a madding so long had it not been for an extravagant wife, whom Hocus perceiving John to be fond of, was resolved to win over to his side.  It is a true saying, that the last man of the parish that knows of his cuckoldom is himself. It was observed by all the neighborhood that Hocus had dealings with John's wife that were not so much for his honor; but this was perceived by John a little too late: she was a luxurious jade, loved splendid equipages, plays, treats and balls, differing very much from the sober manners of her ancestors, and by no means fit for a tradesman's wife. Hocus fed her extravagancy (what was still more shameful) with John's own money. Everybody said that Hocus had a month's mind to her; be that as it will, it is matter of fact, that upon all occasions she ran out extravagantly on the praise of Hocus. When John used to be finding fault with his bills, she used to reproach him as ungrateful to his greatest benefactor; one that had taken so much pains in his lawsuit, and retrieved his family from the oppression of old Lewis Baboon.  A good swinging sum of John's readiest cash went towards building of Hocus's country house. This affair between Hocus and Mrs. Bull was now so open, that all the world was scandalized at it; John was not so clod-pated, but at last he took the hint. The parson of the perish preaching one day with more zeal than sense against adultery, Mrs. Bull told her husband that he was a very uncivil fellow to use such coarse language before people of condition; that Hocus was of the same mind, and that they would join to have him turned out of his living for using personal reflections. How do you mean, says John, by personal reflections? I hope in God, wife, he did not reflect upon you?  "No, thank God, my reputation is too well established in the world to receive any hurt from such a foul-mouthed scoundrel as he; his doctrine tends only to make husbands tyrants, and wives slaves; must we be shut up, and husbands left to their liberty? Very pretty indeed! a wife must never go abroad with a Platonic to see a play or a ball; she must never stir without her husband; nor walk in Spring Garden with a cousin.  I do say, husband, and I will stand by it, that without the innocent freedoms of life, matrimony would be a most intolerable state; and that a wife's virtue ought to be the result of her own reason, and not of her husband's government: for my part, I would scorn a husband that would be jealous, if he saw a fellow with me." All this while John's blood boiled in his veins: he was now confirmed in all his suspicions; the hardest names, were the best words that John gave her.  Things went from better to worse, till Mrs. Bull aimed a knife at John, though John threw a bottle at her head very brutally indeed: and after this there was nothing but confusion; bottles, glasses, spoons, plates, knives, forks, and dishes flew about like dust; the result of which was, that Mrs. Bull received a bruise in her right side of which she died half a year after.....

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JOHN found daily fresh proofs of the infidelity and bad designs of his deceased wife; amongst other things, one day looking over his cabinet, he found the following paper:
    "It is evident that matrimony is founded upon an original contract, whereby the wife makes over the right she has by the law of Nature in favor of the husband, by which he acquires the property of all her posterity. But, then, the obligation is mutual; and where the 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 rather that indispensable duty 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 being invested with the executive power, that the wife is deprived of her share, and that she has no remedy left but preces and lacrymae, or an appeal to a supreme court of judicature! No less frivolous are the arrangements that are drawn from the general appellations and terms of husband and wife. A husband denotes several different 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 a quite different meaning, implying a free and equal government, securing to the wife in certain cases the liberty of change, 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 fidelity.
    "The general exhortations to fidelity in wives are meant only for rules in ordinary 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 be supposed by reasonable men. It seems a reflection upon the Church to charge her with doctrines that countenance oppression.
    "This doctrine of the original right of change 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 honor 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 change, upon any pretence whatsoever, were to cast odious colors 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. I call them necessary means, for in many cases what other means are left! Such a doctrine wounds the honor of families, unsettles the titles to kingdoms, honors, 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, whereby the kingdom might have had an heir, and a controverted succession 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 jus divinum of matrimony, do all in their hearts favor the pretenders to married women; for if the true legal foundation of the married state be once sapped, and instead thereof tyrannical maxims introduced, what must follow but elopements instead of secret and peaceable change?
    "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 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'; 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 pillory, or something worse.
    "In confirmation of this doctrine of the indispensable duty of change, I could bring the example of the wisest wives in all ages, who by these means have preserved their husband's families from ruin and oblivion by want of posterity; but what has been said is a sufficient ground for punishing this pragmatical parson."



THE doctrine of unlimited fidelity in wives was universally espoused by all husbands, who went about the country and made the wives sign papers signifying their utter detestation and abhorrence of Mrs. Bull's wicked doctrine of the indispensable duty of change. Some yielded, others refused to part with their native liberty, which gave rise to two great parties amongst the wives, the Devotes and the Hitts. Though, it must be owned, the distinction was more nominal than real; for the Devotes would abuse freedoms sometimes, and those who were distinguished by the name of Hitts were often very honest. At the same time there was an ingenious treatise came out with the title of "Good Advice to Husbands," in which they were counselled not to trust too much to their wives owning the doctrine of unlimited conjugal fidelity, and so to neglect a due watchfulness over the manners of their wives; that the greatest security to husbands was a good usage of their wives and keeping them from temptation, many husbands having been sufferers by their trusting too much to general professions, as was exemplified in the case of a foolish and negligent husband, who, trusting to the efficacy of this principle, was undone by his wife's elopement from him.

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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 ["Polemia, Discordia, and Usuria"], neither would I willingly use any scandalous reflections upon young ladies, whose reputations ought to be very tenderly handled; but the characters of these were so well known in the neighborhood, 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 children, 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 servants 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 supply her extravagance. Hocus loved her best, believing her to be his own, got upon the body of Mrs. Bull.
    The second daughter, born a year after her sister, was a peevish, froward, ill-conditioned creature as ever was, ugly as the devil, lean, haggard, pale, with saucer eyes, a sharp nose, and hunched 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 neighborhood; and when John came running downstairs to inquire what the matter was, nothing forsooth, only her maid had stuck a pin wrong in her gown; she turned away one servant for putting too much oil in her salad, and another for putting too little salt in her water-gruel; 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 carry tales and stories from one to another, till she had set the whole neighborhood 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 a prodigious strong man that was going to shove down the cupola of St. Paul's; of three millions of five pound pieces that Squire South had found under an old wall; of blazing stars, flying dragons, and abundance of such stuff. All the servants in the family made high court to her, for she domineered there, and turned out and in whom she pleased; only there was an old grudge between her and Sir Roger, whom she mortally hated and used to hire fellows to squirt kennel water upon him as he passed along the streets; so that he was forced constantly to wear a surtout of oiled cloth, by which means he came home pretty clean, except where the surtout was a little scanty. As for the third she was a thief and a common mercenary. She had no respect of persons: a prince or a porter was all one, according as they paid; yea, she would leave the finest gentleman in the world to go to an ugly fellow for sixpence more. In the practice of her profession she had amassed vast magazines of all sorts of things: she had above five hundred suits of fine clothes, and yet went abroad like a cinder wench. She robbed and starved all the servants, so that nobody could live near her.
   So much for John's three daughters, which you will say were rarities to be fond of. Yet Nature will show itself...