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Written by Line
(5/2/2005 8:35 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Monogamy for widowers, penned by Anne Charlotte
This yearning for fidelity beyond the grave - the ideal of the devoted widow[er] - makes strange reading put side by side with the nature of the society in which these men, women (and widows) lived...[Samuel] Pepys, in one of the earliest entries in his diary, was much moved by a sermon he had heard on the subject of St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, only seven years married, who had lived to the age of eighty-four a widow. It neatly expressed the contrast between the ideal and the actual. The preacher "did there speak largely in commendation of widowhood, and not as we do, to marry two or three wives or husbands one after another".
Fraser was writing about the 17th century, so I get the impression that this sermon topic was popular for a long time, though as she says, what people were advised to do and what they actually did were two different things!
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