The Quakers' Spriritual Court Proclaimed
We first came across this little curiosity in a note to Hudibras by Samuel Butler (available on this site at https://www.exclassics.com/hudibras/hbintro.htm), which reads:
Our English proverbs are not impertinent to this purpose:
that woos a Maid, must seldom come in her sight:
But he that woos a Widow, must woo her Day and Night.
He that woos a Maid, must feign, lye, and flatter:
But he that woos a Widow, must down with his Breeches, and at her.
This proverb being somewhat immodest, Mr Ray says he would not have inserted it in his collection, but that he met with it in a little book, intitled, the Quakers' Spiritual Court Proclaimed; written by Nathaniel Smith, Student in Physic; wherein the author mentions it as counsel given him by Hilkiah Bedford, an eminent Quaker in London, who would have had him to have married a rich widow, in whose house he lodged. In case he could get her, this Nathaniel Smith had promised Hilkiah a chamber gratis. The whole narrative is worth the reading.
It is a short pamphlet published in 1669 by a disillusioned ex-Quaker, and consists largely of abuse, both theological and personal, of that sect. Smith was involved in a dispute with Bedford, and expelled after what he regarded as a grossly unfair trial, conducted by George Fox himself.
This Ex-Classics version is taken from a facsimile of the original edition. Available at Google Books. It was transcribed by Aoife Sherwin and Donal O'Danachair.