The Double Gallant; Or, The Sick Lady's Cure "Oh! How Many Torments Lie In The Small Circle Of A Wedding-ring"

Colley Cibber

"Oh! How Many Torments Lie In The Small Circle Of A Wedding-ring"

Context: One of the stock characters in dramatic literature through the centuries, and in prose fiction too, is the older man married to a lively young wife; the husband's constant fear is, conventionally, that he may not satisfy his wife in some way and so end up a cuckold, looking foolish in everyone's eyes, including his own. Sir Solomon Sadlife in The Double Gallant is such a character, a man who has begun to hate his young wife because she may become dissatisfied with him. Sir Solomon is deeply troubled, for he does not like his wife's activities. He detests her pet Dutch mastiff; he despises the women who come to gossip in the morning and to drink tea in the afternoon; he loathes the fops who congregate in the park across the street from his house; and he disapproves of his wife's extravagance. He sums up his view of women himself: "O fool, to trust thy honour with a woman! a race of vipers! They were deceivers . . . from the beginning." After speaking with three suitors for his niece's hand in marriage, and dismissing each one, Sir Solomon speaks of his own problems to his servant, Supple:

. . . I'll step into the Park, and see if I can meet with my hopeful spouse there! I warrant, engag'd in some innocent freedom, (as she calls it,) as walking in a mask, to laugh at the impertinence of fops that don't know her; but 'tis more likely, I'm afraid, a plot to intrigue with those that do. Oh! how many torments lie in the small circle of a Wedding-Ring!