Excerpt from "The Ten Pleasures of Marriage"
by Aphra Behn, 1682
|The Fifth Pleasure
The young Woman
proves with Child, and longs.
You may also be very well assured, that your wife no sooner comes to be
a little big-bellied, but she receives the priviledge to have all what
she hath a mind to & that is called Longing. And what husband can
be so stern or barbarous that he will deny his wife at such a time what
she longs for? especially if it be a true love of a woman, you must
never hinder her of her longing; for then certainly the child would
have some hindrance by it.
Forasmuch then as is necessary that you alwaies seek to avoid and
prevent this, you must observe, that all women when they are with
child, do fall commonly from one longing to another: And then the
providing and buying of that for them, must be as great a pleasure to
you as it is to them in the receiving and use of it; and that not alone
for theirs, but your childs sake also. And truly he that will or cannot
suit himself to this humour, will be very unhappy, because he shall not
then receive the full scope and freedom of this pleasure.
It is also most certain that these longing desires doth transport their
imaginations from one finical thing to another: If it be in the summer,
then they long for China Oranges, Sivil Lemmons, the largest Asparagus,
Strawberries with wine and sugar, Cherries of all sorts, and in like
manner of Plums, and these they must have their fill of: And then when
they have gotten through the continuance their full satisfaction
thereof; then be assured they begin to long for some great Peaches and
Apricocks; And though they be never so scarce and dear, yet the woman
must not lose her longing, for the child might get a blemish by it.
If then Apples and Pears begin to grow ripe, you have the same tune to
sing again; for she is possessed with a new longing desire as bad, as
if it were a Quotidian Ague in all the joints of her body; and
whatsoever comes new to her sight, creates in her a fresh longing. If
she gets one hour curious Catherine Pears, Pippins, or Russetings, the
next she hath a mind to Filberds; and then an hour or two later Wall
nuts and Grapes fall into her thoughts; do what you will there's no
help for it, her longing must be satisfied, let it go as it will, or
cost what it will.
And this her longing leads her from one thing to another, of all what
the richness of the summer, or liberality of the harvest, out of their
superfluities pour down upon us. Insomuch that the good man wishes a
thousand times over that he might once be rid of these terrible charges
and great expence.
But alas what helps it? there's no season of the year but gives us some
or other new fruits that the women have alwaies a new longing desire
to. And if it be in the Winter, then they long for juicy Pomgranates,
new Wine upon the must, with Chesnuts; then for Colchester Oisters;
then again for Pancakes and Fritters; and indeed for a thousand several
sorts of such toys and fancies as do but appear before their longing
imaginations. And oftentimes it is no real longing, for that were then
pardonable, but a liquorish delicate desire that they are sick of; as
may be seen by those who simply imagine themselves to be with child,
are alwaies talking of this and t'other dainty that they long after.
And that which is worst of all, is that both they and those that are
really with child, long commonly for that which is scarcest and hardest
to be gotten: Yea in the very middle of winter they oftentimes long to
have a Greengoose or young Chickens; which in some places are very hard
to be got, and not without paying excessive dear for them.
This longing being so satisfied; immediately arises another, and
nothing will serve but Meats, and several sorts of Comfits. Yea how
often happens it, though it rain, snow, and is very slippery, that both
the husband and the maid, if never so dark and late in the night, must
trot out and fetch candied Ginger, dried Pears, Gingerbread, or some
such sort of liquorish thing. And what is to be imagined, that can be
cried about in the streets by day time, but her longing before hath an
appetite prepared for it?
Yea through an excessive eating of raw fruits, and feeding upon
multiplicities of sweet-meats; to fulfill their longing; it turns to a
griping of the guts and overflowing of the Gall, which again occasion
Cholick, & manytimes other lamentable pains. Here is then another
new work. There the Doctor must be presently fetcht, and according to
what he pleases to order, either a Glister must be set, or some other
Physick taken for it.
But by reason these things are not so pleasant to the good woman as the
foregoing liquorish delicacies; she thinks it best that the Midwife be
sent for, because she hath a great deal better knowledge touching the
infirmities of women then the Doctors: Then she is fetcht, and having
done the first part of her office, she gives her good comfort; and
orders her to take only some of the best white Wine, simper'd up with a
little Orange-peel, well sweetned with sugar, and so warm drunk up; and
then anoint your self here, and you know where, with this salve; and
for medicines [that are most to be found in Confectionres or Pasterers
shops] you must be sure to make use of those, then your pain will
quickly lessen. You must not neglect also ofttimes to eat a piece of
bread and butter with either Caroway or Aniseed Comfits; use also
Cinnamon; the first expels wind, and the second strengthens the heart;
and they are both good for the woman and the child. Be sure also to
drink every morning and every evening a glass of the best sack, for
that strengthens the fruit of the womb, and occasions you a good
Who will doubt, but that she obeys the orders of the Midwife, much
better then that of the Doctors. And verily there is also a great deal
of difference in the suffering, of such or uneasie fumbling at the back
part; or the receiving of such pleasant and acceptable ingredients. And
so much the more, when she begins to remember that Doctor Drink-fast
used to tell her, that Medicins never make so good an operation, when
they are at any time taken against the appetite, or with an antipathy,
by the Patient.
Thus you may see, approaching Father, how you are now climb'd up to a
higher step of glory: Your manly deeds, make your name renowned; and
your joy is so much augmented that your wife looks alwaies merrily and
pleasantly upon you, for giving her content; and she now also salutes
you with the most sweetest and kindest names imaginable; you must also
now be her guest upon all sorts of Summer and Winter fruits, & a
thousand other kinds of liquorish and most acceptable dainties.
Insomuch that although you did not come into the streets in six months,
you may by the humour and actions of your wife know perfectly when
Strawberries, Cherries, Apples, Pears, Nuts & Grapes, are in
season. And there is no greater pleasure for your best beloved, then
that she sees you eat as heartily of them as she her self doth.
Confess then unfeignedly, from the very bottom of your heart; are not
these great Pleasures of marriage? And be joyfull; for this is only a
beginning, the best comes at last. Know likewise, that this is but as a
fore-runner of the sixth Pleasure, and will both touch you at heart,
and tickle your purse much better: Yea, insomuch that the experience
thereof will shew you that there is a whole mountain of pleasures to be
found in the bands of Wedlock. Whereby I fear, that you will, perhaps,
make a lamentable complaint, of your no sooner arriving at this
But comfort your self herewith; that the medicaments of the Doctor and
Midwife, perhaps have done such a wished for operation, that you
thereby may obtain many Sons and Daughters, which you may then timely
admonish and instruct to that duty, so long by your self neglected, and
in a manner too late to repent of.
Doubt not, but assuredly beleeve, that now you are once gotten into the
right road, you may easily every year see a renovation of this
unspeakable pleasure; and beholding your wife oftentimes in this state;
in like manner you perceive that not only your name and fame is spread
abroad, but your generation also grow formidable. And this all to the
glory of your relations, and joy of your dearly Beloved.
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