Laudable Customs of LONDON.67

Laudable Customs of LONDON.

and be attainted and hanged therefore. And then the Law giveth my Wife no Dower, nor my Heir no Patrimony; then why should I not in Reason use my Discretion with the Land, without Incumbrance by the one, or Injury to the other? Match these two Cases together with Judgment, and thou shalt perceive they have a sensible Concurrency in their Address and Application to this Purpose. It is well said by the Poet:

Nil juvat exemplum quod litem lite resolvit.

The Example of one wilful or wicked Act, giveth no just Countenance or Allowance to another. Let so much said to thy Objections, take some Place to alter thine Humour, or, at least, be a Preparative for thine own Reason in the Fear of God, to purge thee of the same.

But to conclude this short Discourse with one Consideration of great Importance: I wish thee to consider, that this City of London is and hath been happily preserved in this flourishing Prosperity, by the wise and politick Consent, that all and always the Particulars have had to increase the general good Estate thereof; thinking it their Duty, as they got and acquired their Substance in this City, so also to spend and defray it in the same; insomuch, that whatsoever falleth from the one, cometh and groweth unto another; and by Alteration of private Fortunes, (as Chances and Changes of Times do require from one Citizen to another) the general Estate hath flourished, and never wanted particular Men of Wealth and Ability, to sustain the Offices and Functions of the City. Upon which Consideration, by most laudable and ancient Custom, the Lord Maior and Senate of London have been and are entitled to the Tuition and Custody of young Orphans and their Goods; and likewise are made acquainted, by ordinary good Means, of Inventories taken and produced, what Substance and Wealth each Man dyed possessed of; to the Intent, that although that Man, which by his good Travaile and Trade hath grown to be rich among them, be departed hence, yet his Goods may remain as among his Wife and Children in Use and Property, so to the general Strength of this City in Account and Reckoning. For we often see that one rich Man's Wealth passeth to the Increase of the good Estate of another Citizen, either by Marriage of the Widow, or of the Orphan: So that the City, though deprived of a Member or Inhabitant; yet is not destitute of such as may discharge his Employment and Place. Whereas, if this pernicious Practice, and uncharitable Liberty might take Root, by Deeds of Gifts, and cautelous Conveyance to Strangers, not only the Wife and Children may be distressed, but also the State of the City much weakened, and in Danger of a great Disreputation and Decay, from that it hath been and yet is. For if it be adjudged lawful in one, of what Degree soever he be; it is neither impossible nor unlikely, that the same will be used by many, and consequently may be practised by all; which if it befal, what will become of the happy Condition of this City, it is not hard to conjecture.
I mean not to extend my Speech to the Prejudice of any true Debts that a Man oweth without Fraud or Collusion, seeing the Custom very providently careth for the Discharge thereof: But my Purpose is to disswade Men from evil Example, from insolent Violation of good Customs, and from odious and unseemly Practices of Deceit and evil Meaning towards their Wives and Children: Which Persuasion I would with all Professors of the Law seriously and carefully to use and enforce to their Clients, being Citizens of London, as in good Conscience and Discretion they ought to do.

An important Consideration

BLame not my bold Enterprize, gentle Reader, nor reprove my simple Censure herein presented unto thee, which might, I know, both for the Matter and Manner of it, have been by any other, and perchance by myself more largely and effectually delivered, if the Opportunity of my Leisure might have answered the Quality of the Argument which I had in Hand. But fearing least I should with too long a Discourse in so plain a Proposition, breed more Loathsomeness than Liking, I would not; for want of Leisure, I might not; and if I had had Time at Will, I minded not; (seeing, for any urgent Occasion, the Error being yet fresh, the Practice rare, and not grown to an Enormity, I needed not) but in a Word or two to make thee acquainted with the Cause that moved me to address these few Reasons to thy gentle View. So it happened, that I being in Company and Conference with some Persons, (though otherwise wise and well affected, yet in this Matter strangely conceited) it chanced that the Lawfulness and Conveniency of this Custom came in Question and Debate among us, and was by some of them (being Men for Sufficiency, of great Opinion, and for Countenance and Credit, of good Appearance and Regard in the City) so pressed with Objections, that the most Part of those which were present seemed to incline to that Perswasion. Wherefore, least the Authority of the Men might the sooner seduce the simple Multitude unto their Error, and for that I thought it a charitable Policy to prevent the Peril in the Prime, before it grew to a festering Sore, or incurable Evil, according to the Poet Ovid's Advice:

An Apostrophe to the Reader, and the Motive of this Treatise.

Principiis obsta: Sero medicina paratur,
Cum mala per longas invaluere moras.

Withstand at first the springing Evil,     
With Medicines fit therefore:
Too late it is to take the Cure     
Of old and festered Sore.

I thought good to apply this simple Receipt of Reason to the Minds of all such as shall chance to be distempered by these Persuasions; hoping that they will yield me that friendly Requital of good Construction, which my offered Good Will may seem to deserve: And although I keep myself unnamed, and unknown; it may please them to have this Opinion of me, (no more favourable than reasonable) that he which is well devoted to the Defence of good Customs, is rather to be justified in his good Meaning, than condemned or held suspected of any sinister Conceipt.