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cellent things in desence of marriage, scarcely ever fails to draw the character of a lady in such terms, that I may safely say not above one that answers the description is to be found in a parish, c perhaps a county. Now, is it not much better to leave the matter to the force of nature, than to urge it by such arguments as these? Is the manner of thinking induced by such writings, likely to hasten, or postpone a man's entering into the marriage state ?
There is also a fault I think to be found in almost every writer who spcaks in favor of the female sex, that they over-rate the charms of the vutward form. This is the case in all romances ; a class of writings to which the world is very little indebted. The same thing may be said of plays, where the heroine for certain, and often all the ladies that are introduced, are represented as inimitably beautiful. Even Mr. Addison himself in his admirable description of Marcia, which he puts in the mouth of Juba, though it, begins with,
'Tis not a set of features or complexion, &c. yet could not help inserting
True she is fair; Oh, how divinely fair ! Now I apprehend this is directly contrary to what should be the design of every moral writer. Men are naturally too apt to be carried away with the admiration of a beautiful face. Must it not therefore, confirm them in this error, wben beauty is made an essential part of every amiable character The preference such writers pretend to give to the mental qualities, goes but a little way to remedy the evil. If they are never separated in the description, wherever men find the one, they will presume upon the other. But is this according to truth, or agreeable to experience ? What vast numbers of the most valuable women are to be found, who are by no means “divinely fair ?" Are these all to be neglected then? Or is it not certain, from experience, that there is not a single quality, on which matrimonial happiness depends so little, as outward form ? Every other quality that is good, will go a certain length to atone for what is bad; as, for example, if a woman is active and indusurious in her family, it will make a husband bear with more patience a little anxiety of countenance, or fretfulness of temper, though in them. selvcs disagreeable. But (always supposing the buneymoon to be over) I do not think that beauty atones in the least degree for any bad quality whatsoever; it is, on the contrary, an aggravation of them, being considered a breach of faith, or deception, by holding out a false signal.
2. In the married state in general, there is not so much happiness as young lovers dream of; por is there by far so much unhappiness, as Loose authors universally suppose.
The first part of this aphorism will probably be easily admitted. Before mentioning, however, the little I have to say upon it, I beg leave to observe, that it would be quite wrong to blame the tenderness and fervency of affection by which the sexes appear to be drawn to each other and that generous devotedness of hearts which is often to be seen on one, and sometimes on both sides. This is nature itself; and when under the restraint of reason, and government of prudence, may be greatly subservient to the future happiness of life. But there is certainly an extravagance of sentiment and language on this subject that is at once rid cuo bous in itself, and the proper cause, in due time, of wretchedness and disappointinent.
Let any man who has outlived these sensations himself, and has eis szre to be amused, dip a little into the love songs that have been composed and published, from Anacreon to the present day, and what a fund of entertainment he will find provided for him! The heathen gods and goddesses are the standing and lawful means of celebrating the praises of a mistress'; before whom, no doubt, Venus for beauty, and Minerva for wisdom, must go for nothing: Every image in nature has been called up to heighten our idea of female charms—the paleness of the lily, the freshness of the rose, the blush of the violet, and the vermillion of the peach. This is even still nothing One of the most approved topics of a lovesick writer is, that all nature fades and mourns at the absence of his fair, and puts on a new bloom at her approach. All this, we know well, has-place only in his imagination ; for nature proceeds quietly iõ her course, without minding him and his charmer in the least. But we are not yet done. The glory of the heavenly orbs, the lustre of the sun himself, and even the joys of heaven, are frequently and familiarly introduced, to exprees a lover's happiness or hopes. Flames, darts, arrows, and lightning from a female eye, have been expressions as old at least as the art of writing, and are still in full vogue. Some of these we can find no other fault with than that they are a little outre, as the French express it ; but I confess I have sometimes been surprised at the choice of lightning, because it is capable of a donble application, and may put us in mind that some wives have lightning in their eyes suf Scient to terrify the husband, as well as the maids have to consume the
Does not all this plainly show that young persons are apt to indulge themselves in romantic expectations of a delight both extatic and perma. nent, such as never did and never can exist? And does it not at the same time expose matrimony to the scoffs of libertines, who, knowing that these raptures must have an end, think it sufficient to disparage the state itself, that some inconsiderate persons have not met with in it what it was never intended to bestow ?
I proceed, therefore, to observe that there is not by far so much anhappiness in the married state in general, as loose authors universally suppose. I choose to state the argument in this manner, because it is much inore satisfactory than drawing pictures of the extremes on either hand. It signifies very little, on the one hand, to describe the state of a few persons distinguished for understanding, successful in life, respected by the public, and dear to one another; or on the other, those hateful brawls which by and by produce an advertisement in the newspapers, “ Whereas my wife, Sarah, &-c." If we woald treat of this matter with propriety, we must consider how it stands among the bulk of mankind. The proposition, d'en, I mean to establish, is, that there is much lese unhappiness in the matrimonial state than is often apprehended and indeed as much real comfort as there is any ground to expect.
To support this truth, I observe, that taking mankind throughout, we find much more satisfaction and cheerfulness in the married than in the single In proportion to their numbers, I think of those grown up ta inaturer years, or past the mor lian of life, there is a much greater ile
gree of peevishness and discontent, whimsicalness and peculiarity, in the fast than in the first. The prospect of continuing single till the end of life, narrow's the mind, and closes the heart. I knew an instance of a gentleman of good estate, who lived single till he was past forty, and he was esteemed by all his neighbor's not only frugal, but mean in some parts of his conduct. This same person afterwards marrying and having children, every body observed that he became liberal and open-hearted on he cøange, when one would have thought he had a stronger motive than Before to hoard up. On this a neiglibor of his made a remark, as a phi. osopher, that every ultimate passion stronger than an intermediate one ; that a single person loves wealth immediately on its own account; whereas a parent can scarcely help preferring his children before it, ani valuing it only for their sakes.
This leads me to observe, that marriage must be the source of happi ness, as being the immediate cause of many other relations, the most in teresting and delightful. I cannot easily figure to myself any man who does not look upon it as the first of earthly blessings, to have children, to be the objects of attachment and care when they are young and to inherit his name and fortune, when he himself must in the course of nature, go off the stage. Does not this very circumstance give unspeakable dig. nity to each parent in the other's eye, and serve to increase and confirm that union, which youthful passion, anil less durable motives, first occasioned to take place? I rather choose to mention this argument, because neither exalted understandings, nor elegance of manners, are necessary to give it force. It is felt liy the peasant as well as by the prince; and, if we believe some observers on human life, its inflorire is sot less, but greater in the lower than in the higher ranks.
Before I proceed to any further remarks, I must say a few words, to prevent or remove a deception, which very probably leals many into er. ror on this subject. It is no other than a man's supposing what would not give himn happiness, cannot give it to another. Because, perhaps, there are few married women, whose persons, conversation, and man. pers, are altogether to his taste, lie takes upon him to conclude, that the husbands, in these numerous instances, must lead a miserable life. Is it needful to say any thing to show the fallacy of this? The tastes and dispositions of men are as various as their faces ; and therefore what is displeasing to one, inay be, not barely tolerable, but agreeable to another. I have known a husband delighted with his wife's fluency and poignancy of speech in scolding her servants, and another who was not able to hear the least noise of the kind with patience.
Having obviated this mistake, it will be proper to observe, that through all the lower and middle ranks of life, there is generally a good measure of matrimonial or domestic comfort, when their circumstances are easy, or their estate growing. This is easily accounted for, not only from their being free from one of the most usual causes of peevishness and disa content, but because the affairs of a family are very seldom in a thriving state, unless both contribute their share of diligence ; so that they have not only a common happiness to share, but a joint merit in procuring it. Men may talk in raptures of youth and beauty, wit and sprightliness, and a hundred other shining qualities; but after seven years cohabitas tion, not one of them is to be compared to good family, management,
which is seen at every meal, and felt every hour in the husband's purse. To this, however, I must apply the caution given above. Such a wife may not appear quite killing to a stranger on a visit. There are a few distinguished examples of women of first rate understandings, who have all the elegance of court breeding in the parlor, and all the frugality and activity of a farmer's wife in the kitchen ; but I have not found this to be the case in general. I learned from a certain author many years ago, that “a great care of household affairs generally spoils the easy manner of a fine lady;" and I have seen no reason to disbelieve i since.
Once more : so far as I am able to form a judgment, wherever there is a great and confessed superiority of understanding on one side, with some good nature on the other, there is domestic peace. It is of little consequence whether the superiority be on the side of the man or the woman, provided the ground of it be manifest. The contentions that are fiercest are generally where the just title to command is not quite clear. Iam sensible I may bring ridicule upon myself here. It will be alleged that I have clearly established the right of the female over that species of husbands, known by the name of henpecked. But I beg that the nature of my position may be carefully considered. I have said, “Wherever there is a great and confessed superiority of understanding.” Should not a man comply with reason, when offered by his wife, as well as any body else? Or ought he to be against reason, because his wife is for it? I, therefore, take the liberty of rescuing from the number of the henpecked, those who ask the advice, and follow the direction of their wives in most cases, because it is really better than any they could give them selves ; reserving those only under the old denomination, who, through fear are subject, not to reason, but to passion and ill humor. I shali conclude this observation with saying, for the honor of the female sex, diat I have known a greater number of instances of just and amiable conduct, in case of a great inequality of judgment, when the advantage was on the side of the woman, than when it was on the side of the man. I have known many women of judgment and prudence, who carried it with the highest respect and decency to weak and capricious husbands; but not many men of distinguished abilities who did not betray, if not contempt, at least great indifference towards weak or trifling wives.
Some other observations I had intended to make upon this subject, but as the letter has been drawn out to a greater length than I expected, and they will come in with at least equal propriety under other maxims, 1 conclude at present.
I am, Sir, &c.
An ironical letter to a Slandcrer. SIR,
The particular assiduity you have displayed in defending my character, when a middle aged, squint-eyed, short, impertinent fellow was practis. ing every unjust means, and exerting all his feeble endeavors to sully it, deserves my thanks. I own myself your debtor so much that I am ap prehensive that it will never be in my power to repay you; I wish every person would follow your example; how noble, how illustrious the pat
turn; you scorn to wound the reputation of your ne'ghbor; yon despise the poor, mean practice of calumny, which hurts, perhaps ruins, the name and character of a man, which it should be always his greatest care to preserve free from the least blemish.
You will be so kind, I hope, as to receive this poor acknowledgement of your great goodness, as a small token of my gratitude ; and whenever I experience the same civility and benevolent interposition again, pardon me if I should be tempted to make my private thanks public.
I am, sir, your much obliged servant.
I must agree with friend Horace, that, notwithstanding all our possessions, we fain would be having ; if a man had the whole world, 'I dare way he would wish for the other, 'ad if he had that, perhaps, like Alex. ander, he would cry for more. In short, we are never content ; though our right hand be full, we would cold out the left; and should Provj. dence overload both, we should doubtless put the gifts in our pockets, and empty our hands for future favors. However, I presume that I am an exception to this rule ; Heaven has given me a wife; I never desire lo have two! I have three children, and never wish to have more! My friends, too, are so numerous that with gratitude I confess that I have enough. In short, I expect that am about as contented as we poor mortals are allowed to be.
I am, dear sir, Yours, &c.
The epithe!s which you were pleased to bestow upon my late conduct, being, in my opinion, illiberal and impertinent, I demand that satisface tion which is due to injured honor; and therefore, insist upon your meeting me tomorrow morning, with whatever friend you may think proper, in order to settle this business according to the laws of honor. The gentleman who hands you this is authorized to make theneoessary arrangements.
sir, your humble servant. LETTER 192.
The Answer. SIR,
You are a young man without a family; I have a wife and three children; my life being d:ar to them is consequently dear to me; nor do I think I could meet my audit with Christian fortitude, did I wilfully enter the road of death, and leave a widow and fatherless children to bewail my loss! And for what? Because a mere empty butterfly, as I must call you, thinks proper to fire a pistol or two; if you wish me to meer you, please to provide for my wife and children, in case of danger, and I will then prove my valor and courage. As your fortune enables you to