A Treatise concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed

A Treatise concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed  (1727)  by Daniel Defoe
Title, Preface and Contents




The Use and Abuse


Marriage Bed :


I. The Nature of Matrimony, its Sacred Original, and the true Meaning of its Institution.

II. The gross Abuse of Matrimonial Chastity, from the wrong Notions which have possessed the World, degenerating even to Whoredom.

III. The Diabolical Practice of attempting to prevent Child-bearing by Physical Preparations.

IV. The fatal Consequences of clandestine or forced Marriages, thro' the Persuasion, Interest, or Influence of Parents and Relations, to wed the Person they have no Love for, but oftentimes an Aversion to.

V. Of unequal Matches, as to the Disproportion of Age; and how such, many ways, occasion a Matrimonial Whoredom.

VI. How married Persons may be guilty of Conjugal Lewdness, and that a Man may, in effect make a Whore of his own Wife.
Also, many other Particulars of Family Concern.

Loose Thoughts, at first, like subterranean Fires,
Burn inward, smothering, with unchaste Desires;
But getting Vent, to Rage and Fury turn,
Burst in Volcanoes, and like Ætna burn;
The Heat increases as the Flames aspire,
And turns the solid Hills to liquid Fire.
So, sensual Flames, when raging in the Soul,
First vitiate all the Parts, then fire the Whole ;
Burn up the Bright, the Beauteous, the Sublime,
And turn our lawful Pleasures into Crime.

Printed for T. Warner, at the Black Boy in Pater-Noster-Row. M.dcc.xxvii. Price 5 s.

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Am so sensible of the Nicety of the following Subject, and the Ill-nature of the Age, that tho' I have Introduc'd it with all the Protestations of a resolv'd Caution, and of tying my self down to all possible Modesty in the whole Work; and tho' I have concluded it with due Explanations, and a free Appeal to the most impartial Judges, yet I cannot but add a Word of Preface.

THE justness of the Satyr, the loud Calls which the Crimes (here reproved) make for Justice and a due Censure, the dreadful Ruin of the People's Morals, and the apparent Contempt of Modesty and Decency, which grows so visibly upon us by the shameless Practice of what is here reprov'd, join all together to vindicate this Undertaking, and to show not the Usefulness only, but the Necessity of it.

IT is almost thirty Years since the Author began this Piece: He has all that Time heard, with a just Concern the Complaints of good Men upon the hateful Subject. The Grave and the Sober, the Lovers of Virtue and of Religion, have, with Grief, express'd themselves upon the growing Scandal; and they have often press'd him to finish and bring out this Reproof; and have join'd, with his Opinion of the Justice of it.

HITHERTO he has been reluctant as to the publishing it, and partly on Account of his Years, for it was long since finished, and partly in hopes of Reformation; but now, despairing of Amendment, grown OLD, and out of the reach of Scandal, and of all the Pretences to it; Sincerely aiming at the Reformation of the Guilty, and despising all unjust Reproaches from a vitious Age, he closes his Days with this Satyr; which he is so far from seeing Cause to be ashamed of, that he hopes he shall not, where he is going to, Account for it.

AT least, he can Appeal to that Judge, who he is soon to come before, that as he has done it with an upright Intention, for the good of Mankind, so he has used his utmost Endeavour to perform it, in a Manner the least liable to Reflection, and, in his Judgment, the most likely to answer the true End of it, (viz.) the Reformation of the Crime. And with this Satisfaction, he comfortably prays for its Success.

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THE Introduction. Pag. 1

Chap. I. Of Matrimony, the Nature of it, its sacred Original, and the true Intent and Meaning of its Institution; as also how our Notions of it are degenerated, the Obligations of it disregarded, and the Thing it self, as a State of Life, grosly abused. p. 20

Chap. II. Of Matrimonial Chastity, what is to be understood by the Word; a Proof of its being required by the Laws of GOD and Nature, and that wrong Notions of it have possess'd the Worid, Dr. Taylor's Authority quoted about it. p. 45

Chap. III. Of the End and Reason of Matrimony, and that there is a needful Modesty and Decency requisite, even between a Man and his Wife, after Marriage, the Breaches of which make the first Branch of Matrimonial Whoredom. p. 57

Chap. IV. Of the absolute Necessity of a mutual Affection before Matrimony, in order to the Happiness of a married State, and of the Scandal of marrying without it. p.95

Chap. V. Of Marrying, and then publicly professing to desire they may have no Children, and of using Means physical or diabolical, to prevent Conception. p. 123

Chap. VI. Of being Over-rul'd by Persuasion, Interest, Influence of Friends, Force, and the like. to take the Person they have no Love for, and forsake the Person they really lov'd. p. 166

Chap. VII. Of Marrying one Person, and at the same time owning themselves to be in Love with another. p. 181

Chap. VIll. Of unequal, unsuitable and preposterous Marriages, and the unhappy Consequences of them. Of the Effects they have upon the Family-Conversation, How they occasion a Matrimonial Whoredom many Ways. Also something of the Marriage-Covenant and Oath; and how all the Breaches of it are a Political and Matrimonial Whoredom, if not a Literal Whoredom; with several Examples. p. 213

Chap. IX. Of Marrying at Unsuitable Years p. 229

Chap. X. Of Marrying with Inequality of Blood. p. 252

Chap. XI. Of going to Bed under solemn Promises of Marriage, and altho' those Promises are afterwards performed; and of the Scandal of a Man's making a Whore of his own Wife. p. 272

Chap. XII. Of the Husband knowing his Wife after Conception, or after it appears she is with Child. Of the Reasonableness and Lawfuless of it. And whether this may not come under the just Denomination of Matrimonial Whoredom. p. 293

Chap. XIII. Of indecent and untimely Marriages, whether as to the Years of the Persons, marrying Infants and Cbildren, or marrying immediately after the Death of the Husband or Wife that went before. p. 338

Chap. XIV. Of Clandestine, Forcible and Treacherous Marriages. p. 366

The Conclusion p.379

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.