"Marriage Tax" – By Henry Livingston – When Sable Night

"Marriage Tax" – By Henry Livingston – When Sable Night

“Marriage Tax” was published by Henry Livingston, Jr, author of “Night Before Christmas” in the Poughkeepsie Country Journal of April 4, 1787 under the pseudonym “R”. Music is from The Duenna by Richard Sheridan, and appears in Henry’s music manuscript. Illustrated with vintage postcards.

An apostrophe to the legislature on reading the report of a Committee of the General Assembly to lay a tax of forty shillings on every marriage license.

With tears in my eyes I the other day saw
In Power’s paper a committee law
Which lately that limb of our sage legislature
Bounc’d full in the faces of women and nature.

A tax upon marriage! — O ill-timed measure
T’attack thus the fountain of rapture and pleasure,
That fountain whence flows all that gladden mankind
Or ever united a mind to a mind!

Don’t the flowery meadows, the fields and the woods
The Vintners and pedlars and imported goods?
Our carts and our waggons, our coaches and chairs,
Our cows and our bullocks, our stallions and mares,
Our jaumbs, and our paper, our stucco and stairs,
All lie at your mercy? Then pity and spare
Ye wise ones, the pride of creation — the FAIR!
For what do the ribbons and ostriches feather
On the top of their head-dresses totter together?

For what do the gauzes and lutestrings combine
To beautify forms already divine;
Or why do the buckles resplendent in paste
Exhibit the richness of purse and of taste?
But all to procure, either early or late,
That charming convenience, a — masculine mate.
Let pity then prompt you, ye wise ones to spare,
Those Men-traps so prudent, so sweet and so fair.


1 Comment

  1. Jeanne on April 7, 2023 at 10:32 am

    Wonderful poetry, I liked how the pictures really matched the words.

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