Full text: Bacon, Francis: Sylva sylvarum

New Atlantis. Nation. Amongſt other diſcourſes, one day I told him, I was much
affected with the Relation I had from ſome of the company, of their
Cuſtorm in holding the Feaſt of the Family, for that (me thought) I had
never heard of a Solemnity wherein Nature did ſo much preſide. And
becauſe Propagation of Families proceedeth from the Nuptial Copulation,
I deſired to know of him what Laws and Cuſtoms they had concerning
Marriage, and whether they kept Marriage well, and whether they were
tied to one Wife. For that where Population is ſo much affected and
ſuch as with them it ſeemed to be, there is commonly permiſſion of Plu-
rality of Wives. To this he ſaid, “You have reaſon for to comm@nd
“that excellent Inſtitution of the Feaſt of the Family; and indeed we
“have experience, that thoſe Families that are partakers of the Bleſſings
“of that Feaſt do flouriſh and proſper ever after in an extraordinary man-
“ner. But hear me now, and I will tell you what I know. You ſhall un-
“derſtand, that there is not under the Heavens, ſo chaſte a Nation as this
“of Benſalem, nor ſo free from all pollution or foulneſs; it is the Virgin
“of the World. I remember I have read in one of your European Books
“of an holy Hermit amongſt you, that deſired to ſee the Spirit of Fornication,
“and there appeared to him a little foul ugly Æthiope: But if he had
“deſired to ſee the Spirit of Chaſtity of Benſalem, it would have appeared to
“him in the likeneſs of a fair beautiful Cherubin; for there is nothing
“amongſt Mortal Men more fair and admirable, then the chaſte Mindes
“of this People. Know therefore, that with them there are no Stews,
“no diſſolute Houſes, no Courteſans, nor any thing of that kinde; nay
“they wonder (with deteſtation) at you in Europe which permit ſuch
“things. They ſay you have put Marriage out of office; for Marriage
“is ordained a remedy for unlawful concupiſcence, and natural concu-
“piſcence ſeemeth as a ſpur to Marriage: But when Men have at hand
“a remedy more agreeable to their corrupt will, Marriage is almoſt ex-
“pulſed. And therefore, there are with you ſeen infinite Men that mar-
“ry not, but chufe rather a Libertine, and impure ſingle life, then to be
“yoaked in Marriage; and many that do marry, marry late, when the
“prime and ſtrength of their years is paſt; and when they do marry,
“what is Marriage to them, but a very Bargain, wherein is ſought Alli-
“ance, or Portion, or Reputation, with ſome deſire (almoſt indifferent)
“of iſſue, and not the faithſul Nuptial Union of Man and Wife that was
“firſt inſtituted? Neither is it poſſible, that thoſe that have caſt away ſo
“baſely ſo much of their ſtrength, ſhould greatly eſteem Children (be-
“ing of the ſame matter) as chaſt Men do. So likewiſe during Marriage,
“is the caſe much amended, as it ought to be, if thoſe things were tole-
“rated onely for neceſſity? No, but they remain ſtill as a very affront to
“Marriage; the hunting of thoſe diſſolute places, orreſort to Courteſans,
“are no more puniſhed in Married men, then in Batchelors: And the de-
“praved cuſtom of change, and the delight in meretricious embrace-
“ments, (where Sin is turned into Art) maketh Marriage a dull thing, and
“a kinde of Impoſition or Tax. They hear you defend theſe things as
“done to avoid greater evils, as Advowtries, Deflouring of Virgins,
“Unnatural Luſt, and the like: But they ſay this is a prepoſterous Wiſ
“dom; and they call it Lots offer, who to ſave his Gueſts from abuſing
“offered his Daughters: Nay, they ſay further, that there is little gained
“in this, for that the ſame Vices and Appetites do ſtill remain and abound,
“Unlawful Luſt being like a Furnace, that if you ſtop the Flames alto-


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