Thelyphthora; or, A Treatise on Female Ruin, in its Causes, Effects, Consequences, Prevention, and Remedy; considered on the Basis of the Divine Law: under the following Heads, viz. Marriage, Whoredom and Fornication, Adultery, Polygamy, Divorce

Price: 1,250.00 USD

London: J. Dodsley, 1781. Second edition, considerably enlarged. 3 vols. 8vo. ALL THE SUBJECTS OF INTEREST. A defense of polygamy by a Methodist divine (1726-90), who believed that it was justified by Mosaic law and consistent with Christianity. The original edition appeared the year before in 2 volumes. "The publication in 1780 of his book, Thelyphthora, dealing with a topic which he no doubt thought it proper to entitle in the decent obscurity of a learned language, even though he elaborated the subtitle 'A Treatise of Female Ruin' under the heads of 'marriage, whoredom and fornication, adultery, polygamy, divorce'. Arising from his acquaintance with the plight of the unfortunate inmates of the Lock Hospital, Madan argued at length for the social benefits of polygamy. He realized the daring of what he was doing, calling himself in the preface to the first edition 'a Free-thinker, not in the usual sense of that word' (M. Madan, Thelyphthora, 2nd edn., 1.xv) and recognizing that some might think his subject better 'left under the clouds of obscurity ... hidden from vulgar observation' (ibid., 1.xi). He disclaimed any advocacy of polygamy in terms of satisfying sexual appetite, but asserted that it was 'expedient in some cases, necessary in others' to prevent greater damage, citing in support the Mosaic injunctions of Exodus 22: 16 and Deuteronomy 22: 28-9. In doing so he alleged that while society still chose to recognize part of what he called 'God's law' in condemning fornication, adultery, and marriage within the bounds of consanguinity, it nevertheless saw fit to ignore the requirements of these verses. Realizing, however, that in the Christian dispensation he needed New Testament support, he also argued from such texts as 1 Corinthians 6: 15. His idiosyncrasies were not lacking in boldness, such that he could describe marriage as an outward 'human invention' (ibid., 1.24) and contrast divine ordinance and civil contract (ibid., 2.64). The crux of his case was expressed in a single sentence: 'Every man who has seduced a woman, whether with or without a promise of marriage, should be obliged to wed her publicly' (ibid., 2.67)." DNB. Second edition, considerably enlarged. Original boards, tan paper spine and blue boards; uncut. Spines worn, else fine. Very handsome.


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