Laudable Customs of LONDON.65

Laudable Customs of LONDON.

did happen to over-live, should have the Inheritance of Fee-simple Land of the other by Survivor; a Custom, verily, neither contrary to Reason, nor repugnant to Religion; as no well-disposed or good Husband can deny, when he entreth into Consideration of those holy Duties and good Observances that are commended and commanded in holy Scripture. If then these Customs bear Sway in sundry Places, and are publickly approved by judicial Sentences, what Citizen will be so senseless, what Londoner so loose, what Merchant or other Freeman so inconsiderate, and unregardful of his own good Estate, and so ready to defile his own Nest, as once to attempt or practise the Violation or Breach of so good a Custom? What is he, who seeing the Estate of London is preferred before other Cities of the Land, by the Benefit and Means of their most profitable Customs, that will give a dangerous Example to abrogate the same, and to call their Usages in Question? A Custom, if it have been once notoriously discontinued, or interrupted, loseth the Title and Appellation of a Custom, and by Instance given of the Time when it was disused, lacketh a great Part of his Authority. Then unnatural, or, at leastwise, unadvised is that Citizen, which to serve his private Humour, bringeth general Custom either into Question by his Fraud, or by his Example into Contempt. Pernicious also is the Precedent of one Custom called in Question to the Ruin of the rest: Namely, whenas the City by their Counsel in her Majesty's Courts of Westminster, claiming the Benefit of their Customs, they be encounter'd and confronted with a Counterplea given by themselves, that such of their own Aldermen and Commons have by their Deeds and Devises either Disaffirmed or Disannulled the same. A Practice, as of great Condemnation in them that do it, so, no Doubt, of great Oversight and Incircumspection in them suffer it.

Read the Epistle to the Ephes. ca. 5.

See before, in the Case of Robbery, how careful the City was to avoid this Danger, and to preserve their Custom:

And also, in the Case of the Attaint before 7 H. 6. &c.

But somewhat to satisfy the idle Cavils pretended to the contrary: Saith some one, Is not the general Law of England sufficient to manage the Government of London as well as of all other Subjects, but that Londoners must have private Customs and Usages of their own? This Objection made by the Enviers or Enemies of the Wealth of London, (howsoever they make Shew to the contrary) rather deserveth a Hiss than a Reply, and is sufficiently confuted in the former Discourse.

Objections to the Custom.

But it is farther urged by some hard Husbands, My Wife is froward and undutiful, and hath not deserved it. She is a Fool, and cannot rule it. She will marry again, and enrich some other with the Fruit of my Travail. Wherefore, I think it necessary to abridge her of that Liberality which the Custom doth extend. Also, my Children be evil inclined, disobedient, or untractable, or some of them be: Wherefore, I may with Reason deprive them of the Benefit of this Custom. First, to answer the Undutifulness: I wish thee, whosoever thou art, to summon and convent thyself, to the Tribunal Seat of thy inward Mind, as Saint Augustine saith, and to make Conscience thy Judge, thy Cogitations the Witnesses, thy Actions the Accusers, thy Memory the Register or Record to give in Evidence: And let it be discussed in all due Circumstances, whether thou didst not likewise forget the Offices of a good Husband, and defraud her of her Duties, (as Saint Paul saith) or provoke her to Impatience, which the same Apostle forbiddeth in these Words, You Husbands be loving to your Wives, and no Way be bitter unto them. Which also St. Peter remembreth in advising Husbands to dwell with their Wives sncerely and according to Knowledge, in doing Honour unto them as to the weaker Vessel. Let it, I say, be examined in the Consistory of thy Conscience, whether thou either by thy Fault wittingly, or negligently by thy Default, or by thy Unkindness unduly, hast caused her, being the weaker Vessel, to be the more intolerable. If thou find thyself condemned by thy Conscience, let Remorse be thy Executioner, and Amendment, with Kindness towards thy Wife, be thy Penance: But if thou find thyself guilty of no Want of Affection, Love, or good Carriage of thyself towards her, so that her Undutifulness proceedeth of herself; yet, I pray thee remember the Benefits which God hath given thee by her Means, whether they be Gifts of Fortune in bettering thy Estate, or eschewing of Sin by her lawful and comfortable Company; or the Blessing of Children, a sovereign Good in this World; thy Children being the Monuments of thy Life and Being upon Earth, and the Repairers of thy Decay. And let these Favours and Graces enjoyed by her Company, cover and countervail her other Imperfections whatsoever. Follow therein the Example of the wise Socrates, who being demanded how he could endure the continual Scolding and Vexation of his Wife Xantippe, likewise asked of the other, why he suffered the cackling and unpleasant Noise of Hens and Turkeys in his House; because, said the other, they lay Eggs, and breed Chickens for me: And so, said Socrates, Xantippe beareth me Children: Which good Turn alone covereth and dispenseth with infinite Defects. Callicratides, the Athenian being demanded why he, a Man so nobly descended, but having matched with a base Thessalian Woman, yet, by his last Will, bequeathed unto her all his Substance, leaving his other Friends and Kinsfolks unregarded: Because, said he, she is my Wife. Meaning, that she who was, by his Judgment and Choice, made worthy to be his Wife, should be unworthy of nothing that was his. Which may also satisfy that second Point of supposed Folly in the Wife, and Want of Discretion to marshal so great a Proportion of Wealth, as the Custom will give her. Wherefore, wouldst thou marry with a Fool, if thou thoughtest her unworthy of the Rights of Marriage? Then seeing thy Choice hath estopped thy Testimony of her Folly, thy Duty towards thy Wife shall bind thee to Favour and conceal her Weakness, and to perform that which the Custom pronounceth to be convenient. It cannot be evil bestowed upon her, whose Right by Custom demandeth it, and whose Estate and Imperfections have need of it; whereas, if the Husband may be permitted by this Colour to defeat his Wife, many Inconveniencies and Disorders might ensue.

Aug. in lib. Confess.

1 Corin. ca. 7.

Col. ca. 3.

Peter Epist. I. ca. 1.

First, a general Custom, which is also a general Law, never provided for such rare Accidents as seldom fall in Experience, but for Things that ordinarily and commonly happen, should be broken, to the general Scandal and offensive Example of all, through the Inability of one, which were a Thing unresaonable. Likewise, then might Husbands (if that were a just Allegation) easily devise and publish that or some other Imperfection to be in their Wives, and thereby bereave them of their Right. No more than it is just Counterplea, or Bar to a Woman's Dower, to alleage that she is a Fool, no more is the Imputation of such Simplicity honest, and sufficient to exclude her from her Portion. No, it is well said, and maintained for a Maxim in the Common Law, Better it is to suffer a Mischief than an Inconvenience. Less harmful and

Leges se accommodant ad ea quæ frequentius non quæ raro accidunt.