Conjugal Lewdness: or, Matrimonial Whoredom.
London: Printed for T. Warner, 1727.
London: Printed for T. Warner, 1727. First edition. Bound in contemporary full speckled calf with gilt rules, rebacked to style with original spine labels retained. Marbled end papers, all edges gilt, a Fine copy overall. With the bookplate of Henry Francis Readhead Yorke on the front paste-down. Extremely rare with the first issue title page, reissued as: "A Treatise Concerning The Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed" a few months later. Last copy at auction (Christies 1995) brought $920 for the second issue; last copy with first issue title page offered in 1969.
A critique of contemporary marriage practices, Defoe’s text argues that men and women degrade the institution when they join together for mercenary reasons such as sex, social position, or economic stability. Wedding for these reasons leads to matrimonial whoredom rather than proper and holy matrimony. From the start, Defoe is adamant in defining marriage as companionate and equal, and in this way he lays critical groundwork for the women’s rights movements of the next century. “The great Duty between the Man and his Wife, I take to consist in that of Love, in the Government of Affection…the Obligation is reciprocal, ‘tis drawing in an equal Yoke; Love knows no superior or inferior, no imperious Command on one hand, no reluctant Subjection on the other…This is Matrimony in its just appointed meaning, whatever Notions our fashionable People may have of it.” (Item #2020)