To St. James’s, where the King’s being with the Duke of York prevented a meeting of the Tangier Commission. But, Lord! what a deal of sorry discourse did I hear between the King and several Lords about him here! but very mean methought. So with Creed to the Excise Office, and back to White Hall, where, in the Park, Sir G. Carteret did give me an account of his discourse lately, with the Commissioners of Accounts, who except against many things, but none that I find considerable; among others, that of the Officers of the Navy selling of the King’s goods, and particularly my providing him with calico flags, which having been by order, and but once, when necessity, and the King’s apparent profit, justified it, as conformable to my particular duty, it will prove to my advantage that it be enquired into. Nevertheless, having this morning received from them a demand of an account of all monies within their cognizance, received and issued by me, I was willing, upon this hint, to give myself rest, by knowing whether their meaning therein might reach only to my Treasurership for Tangier, or the monies employed on this occasion. I went, therefore, to them this afternoon, to understand what monies they meant, where they answered me, by saying, “The eleven months’ tax, customs, and prizemoney,” without mentioning, any more than I demanding, the service they respected therein; and so, without further discourse, we parted, upon very good terms of respect, and with few words, but my mind not fully satisfied about the monies they mean. At noon Mr. Gibson and I dined at the Swan, and thence doing this at Brook house, and thence calling at the Excise Office for an account of payment of my tallies for Tangier, I home, and thence with my wife and brother spent the evening on the water, carrying our supper with us, as high as Chelsea; so home, making sport with the Westerne bargees, and my wife and I singing, to my great content.
Up, and there come to me Darnell the fiddler, one of the Duke’s house, and brought me a set of lessons, all three parts, I heard them play to the Duke of York after Christmas at his lodgings, and bid him get me them. I did give him a crowne for them, and did enquire after the musique of the “Siege of Rhodes,” which, he tells me, he can get me, which I am mighty glad of. So to the office, where among other things I read the Councill’s order about my Lord Bruncker and Sir W. Pen to be assistants to the Comptroller, which quietly went down with Sir J. Minnes, poor man, seeming a little as if he would be thought to have desired it, but yet apparently to his discontent; and, I fear, as the order runs, it will hardly do much good. At noon to dinner, and there comes a letter from Mrs. Pierce, telling me she will come and dine with us on Thursday next, with some of the players, Knipp, &c., which I was glad of, but my wife vexed, which vexed me; but I seemed merry, but know not how to order the matter, whether they shall come or no. After dinner to the office, and there late doing much business, and so home to supper, and to bed.
I hear the music of my pen
quiet as desire
apparent as the letter M
telling me she will play
a glad wife
Up, and having sent for Mr. Gawden he come to me, and he and I largely discoursed the business of his Victualling, in order to the adding of partners to him or other ways of altering it, wherein I find him ready to do anything the King would have him do. So he and I took his coach and to Lambeth and to the Duke of Albemarle about it, and so back again, where he left me. In our way discoursing of the business and contracting a great friendship with him, and I find he is a man most worthy to be made a friend, being very honest and gratefull, and in the freedom of our discourse he did tell me his opinion and knowledge of Sir W. Pen to be, what I know him to be, as false a man as ever was born, for so, it seems, he hath been to him. He did also tell me, discoursing how things are governed as to the King’s treasure, that, having occasion for money in the country, he did offer Alderman Maynell to pay him down money here, to be paid by the Receiver in some county in the country, upon whom Maynell had assignments, in whose hands the money also lay ready. But Maynell refused it, saying that he could have his money when he would, and had rather it should lie where it do than receive it here in towne this sickly time, where he hath no occasion for it. But now the evil is that he hath lent this money upon tallys which are become payable, but he finds that nobody looks after it, how long the money is unpaid, and whether it lies dead in the Receiver’s hands or no, so the King he pays Maynell 10 per cent. while the money lies in his Receiver’s hands to no purpose but the benefit of the Receiver. I to dinner to the King’s Head with Mr. Woolly, who is come to instruct me in the business of my goods, but gives me not so good comfortas I thought I should have had. But, however, it will be well worth my time though not above 2 or 300l.. He gone I to my office, where very busy drawing up a letter by way of discourse to the Duke of Albemarle about my conception how the business of the Victualling should be ordered, wherein I have taken great pains, and I think have hitt the right if they will but follow it. At this very late and so home to our lodgings to bed.
Up, and saw and admired my wife’s picture of our Saviour, now finished, which is very pretty. So by water to Greenwich, where with Creed and Lord Rutherford, and there my Lord told me that he would give me 100l. for my pains, which pleased me well, though Creed, like a cunning rogue, hath got a promise of half of it from me. We to the King’s Head, the great musique house, the first time I was ever there, and had a good breakfast, and thence parted, I being much troubled to hear from Creed, that he was told at Salsbury that I am come to be a great swearer and drinker, though I know the contrary; but, Lord! to see how my late little drinking of wine is taken notice of by envious men to my disadvantage. I thence to Captain Cocke’s, [and] (he not yet come from town) to Mr. Evelyn’s, where much company; and thence in his coach with him to the Duke of Albemarle by Lambeth, who was in a mighty pleasant humour; there the Duke tells us that the Dutch do stay abroad, and our fleet must go out again, or to be ready to do so. Here we got several things ordered as we desired for the relief of the prisoners, and sick and wounded men. Here I saw this week’s Bill of Mortality, wherein, blessed be God! there is above 1800 decrease, being the first considerable decrease we have had. Back again the same way and had most excellent discourse of Mr. Evelyn touching all manner of learning; wherein I find him a very fine gentleman, and particularly of paynting, in which he tells me the beautifull Mrs. Middleton is rare, and his own wife do brave things. He brought me to the office, whither comes unexpectedly Captain Cocke, who hath brought one parcel of our goods by waggons, and at first resolved to have lodged them at our office; but then the thoughts of its being the King’s house altered our resolution, and so put them at his friend’s, Mr. Glanvill’s, and there they are safe. Would the rest of them were so too! In discourse, we come to mention my profit, and he offers me 500l. clear, and I demand 600l. for my certain profit. We part to-night, and I lie there at Mr. Glanvill’s house, there being none there but a maydeservant and a young man; being in some pain, partly from not knowing what to do in this business, having a mind to be at a certainty in my profit, and partly through his having Jacke sicke still, and his blackemore now also fallen sicke. So he being gone, I to bed.
A self-uniting marriage license is a relative rarity, available only in a few states in the U.S., including here in Pennsylvania, where some county clerks are reluctant to issue them to anyone other than Quakers, for whom they were originally intended. The courts have ruled, however, that they must be made available to any couple that’s eligible to marry, regardless of religious affiliation — which has created a need for non-Quaker wedding vows to be recited by the bride and groom in a self-uniting ceremony.
Quaker vows typically read: “In the presence of God and these our friends I take thee, ______, to be my husband/wife, promising with Divine assistance to be unto thee a loving and faithful wife/husband so long as we both shall live.” Neither Rachel nor I were comfortable with the mention of God, and the use of the verb “take” did not appeal. To us, the central gesture of a truly egalitarian marriage should be giving, not taking.
Our starting point wasn’t the Quaker formula, however, but a set of Unitarian vows (scroll to the bottom), credited to Rev. Edward Searl, Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, Illinois, found on The Knot. If you compare them, you’ll see that while we made some significant changes, we also borrowed quite a lot. We just really loved the whole bit about respecting the other’s uniqueness and recognizing the limits of knowledge, which appealed equally to our feminist beliefs and our apophatic (cf. “Via Negativa”) instincts. I added the sentence about being the best listener I can because that’s something I do personally need to be mindful of, while Rachel, who is already an excellent listener, felt that a bigger challenge for her, relationship-wise, is patience. We also liked the “till death do us part” bit from traditional vows, re-cast into contemporary English. Our ceremony began with us each reading a poem (me an e.e. cummings thing, she a Shakespeare sonnet), following which we asked my best man (my brother Mark) to flip a coin to determine which of us would read our vows first. Rachel won the toss.
At any rate, if an internet search has brought you here, please feel free to adapt the following vows however you like, and best of luck in your own journey.
[Groom’s name], I acknowledge with the deepest respect your own individuality and uniqueness. I promise to share the full range of my thoughts, emotions, and experiences, but I am also aware that I may share but not know, for in knowing I deny the full person that you are.
I give myself to you to be your wife. I promise to share my hurts, my passions and interests, my sorrows and my joys. I pledge to be as patient as I can. I will comfort you and be comforted, and share with you in all things meaningful to me and to you, until death parts us.
[Bride’s name], I acknowledge with the deepest respect your own individuality and uniqueness. I promise to share the full range of my thoughts, emotions, and experiences, but I am also aware that I may share but not know, for in knowing I deny the full person that you are.
I give myself to you to be your husband. I promise to share my hurts, my passions and interests, my sorrows and my joys. I pledge to be the best listener that I can. I will comfort you and be comforted, and share with you in all things meaningful to me and to you, until death parts us.
Up, and being ready then abroad by coach to White Hall, and there with the Duke, where Mr. Coventry did a second time go to vindicate himself against reports and prove by many testimonies that he brought, that he did nothing but what had been done by the Lord Admiral’s secretaries heretofore, though he do not approve of it, nor since he had any rule from the Duke hath he exceeded what he is there directed to take, and the thing I think is very clear that they always did take and that now he do take less than ever they did heretofore. Thence away, and Sir G. Carteret did call me to him and discourse with me about my letter yesterday, and did seem to take it unkindly that I should doubt of his satisfaction in the bargain of masts, and did promise me that hereafter whatever he do hear to my prejudice he would tell me before he would believe it, and that this was only Sir W. Batten’s report in this business, which he says he did ever approve of, in which I know he lies. Thence to my Lord’s lodgings thinking to find Mr. Moore, in order to the sending away my letter of reproof to my Lord, but I do not find him, but contrary do find my Lord come to Court, which I am glad to hear and should be more glad to hear that he do follow his business that I may not have occasion to venture upon his good nature by such a provocation as my letter will be to him. So by coach home, to the Exchange, where I talked about several businesses with several people, and so home to dinner with my wife, and then in the afternoon to my office, and there late, and in the evening Mr. Hollyard came, and he and I about our great work to look upon my wife’s malady, which he did, and it seems her great conflux of humours, heretofore that did use to swell there, did in breaking leave a hollow which has since gone in further and further; till now it is near three inches deep, but as God will have it do not run into the bodyward, but keeps to the outside of the skin, and so he must be forced to cut it open all along, and which my heart I doubt will not serve for me to see done, and yet she will not have any body else to see it done, no, not her own mayds, and so I must do it, poor wretch, for her. To-morrow night he is to do it. He being gone, I to my office again a little while, and so home to supper and to bed.
where in the clear hereafter
is the Lord’s lodging
I do not find him in nature or malady
flux or break
Up betimes, and Creed and I by water to Fleet Street, and my brother not being ready, he and I walked to the New Exchange, and there drank our morning draught of whay, the first I have done this year; but I perceive the lawyers come all in as they go to the Hall, and I believe it is very good. So to my brother’s, and there I found my aunt James, a poor, religious, well-meaning, good soul, talking of nothing but God Almighty, and that with so much innocence that mightily pleased me. Here was a fellow that said grace so long like a prayer; I believe the fellow is a cunning fellow, and yet I by my brother’s desire did give him a crown, he being in great want, and, it seems, a parson among the fanatiques, and a cozen of my poor aunt’s, whose prayers she told me did do me good among the many good souls that did by my father’s desires pray for me when I was cut of the stone, and which God did hear, which I also in complaisance did own; but, God forgive me, my mind was otherwise. I had a couple of lobsters and some wine for her, and so, she going out of town to-day, and being not willing to come home with me to dinner, I parted and home, where we sat at the office all the morning, and after dinner all the afternoon till night, there at my office getting up the time that I have of late lost by not following my business, but I hope now to settle my mind again very well to my business. So home, and after supper did wash my feet, and so to bed.
no change in the law
they believe is good
a soul with so much innocence
might pray to a stone
Up by four or five o’clock, and to the office, and there drew up the agreement between the King and Sir John Winter about the Forrest of Deane; and having done it, he came himself (I did not know him to be the Queen’s Secretary before, but observed him to be a man of fine parts); and we read it, and both liked it well. That done, I turned to the Forrest of Deane, in Speede’s Mapps, and there he showed me how it lies; and the Lea-bayly, with the great charge of carrying it to Lydny, and many other things worth my knowing; and I do perceive that I am very short in my business by not knowing many times the geographical part of my business. At my office till Mr. Moore took me out and at my house looked over our papers again, and upon our evening accounts did give full discharges one to the other, and in his and many other accounts I perceive I shall be better able to give a true balance of my estate to myself within a day or two than I have been this twelve months. Then he and I to Alderman Backwell’s and did the like there, and I gave one receipt for all the money I have received thence upon the receipt of my Lord’s crusados. Then I went to the Exchange, and hear that the merchants have a great fear of a breach with the Spaniard; for they think he will not brook our having Tangier, Dunkirk, and Jamaica; and our merchants begin to draw home their estates as fast as they can. Then to Pope’s Head Ally, and there bought me a pair of tweezers, cost me 14s., the first thing like a bawble I have bought a good while, but I do it with some trouble of mind, though my conscience tells me that I do it with an apprehension of service in my office to have a book to write memorandums in, and a pair of compasses in it; but I confess myself the willinger to do it because I perceive by my accounts that I shall be better by 30l. than I expected to be. But by tomorrow night I intend to see to the bottom of all my accounts. Then home to dinner, where Mr. Moore met me. Then he went away, and I to the office and dispatch much business. So in the evening, my wife and I and Jane over the water to the Halfway-house, a pretty, pleasant walk, but the wind high. So home again and to bed.
A lovely little animated trailer for a new book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, by Oliver Burkeman. I sort of feel as if I don’t need to read it, because I’ve been saying this sort of thing all my life — ever since my high school launched a Power of Positive Children (POP-C) propaganda campaign, complete with motivational messages on the intercom every morning, when I was in 11th Grade. I think drug and alcohol use and teen pregnancies actually increased as a result — it was such obvious bullshit that you could will your way to success. Especially in a school system as nakedly classist as ours was, where Stanford-Binet IQ test results were arbiters of fate and teachers did all they could to discourage poor kids from thinking they’d ever amount to anything. I realize now that that campaign wasn’t for us, really. It was for the teachers and administrators, so they could reassure themselves that anyone who stumbled or didn’t get ahead had only themselves to blame for having bad attitudes and being negative.
In other news, I’m looking forward to spending another summer in the U.K., surrounded by cynical, sarcastic alcoholics. My people.