صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

speculation to remark on the happiness of a life, in which things of no moment give occasion of hope, self-satisfaction, and triumph. On the other hand, I have known an ill-natured coxcomb, who has hardly improved in any thing but bulk, for want of this disposition, silence the whole family as a set of silly women and children, for recounting things which were really above his own capacity

When I say all this, I cannot deny but there are perverse jades that fall to men's lots, with whom it requires more than common proficiency in philosophy to be able to live. When these are joined to men of warm spirits, without temper or learning, they are frequently corrected with stripes; but one of our famous lawyers* is of opinion, " that this ought to be used sparingly;" as I remember those are his very words : but as it is proper to draw some spiritual use out of all afflictions, I should rather recommend to those who are visited with women of spirit, to form themselves for the world by patience at home. Socrates, who is by all accounts the undoubted head of the sect of the hen-pecked, owned and acknowledged that he owed great part of his virtue to the exercise which his useful wife constantly gave it. There are several good instructions may be drawn from his wise answers to the people of less fortitude than himself on her subject. A friend, with indignation, asked how so good

* Bracton.

a man could live with so violent a creature ? He observed to him, that they who learn to keep a good seat on horseback, mount the least manageable they can get; and, when they have mastered them, they are sure never to be discomposed on the backs of steeds less restive. At several times, to different persons, on the same subject he has said, “ My dear friend, you are beholden to Xantippe, that I bear so well your flying out in a dispute." To another, “ My hen clacks very much, but she brings me chickens. They that live in a trading street are not disturbed at the passage of carts." I would have, if possible, a wise man be contented with his lot, even with a shrew; for, though he cannot make her better, he may, you see, make himself better by her means.

But, instead of pursuing my design of displaying conjugal love in its natural beauties and attractions, I am got into tales to the disadvantage of that state of life. I must say, therefore, that I am verily persuaded, that whatever is delightful in human life is to be enjoyed in greater perfection in the married than in the single condition. He that has this passion in perfection, in occasions of joy, can say to himself, besides his own satisfaction, “ How happy will this make my wife and children !” Upon occurrences of distress or danger, can comfort himself: “But all this while my wife and children are safe." There is something in it that doubles satisfactions, because others participate them; and dispels afflictions, because others are exempt from them. All who are married without this relish of their circumstances, are in either a tasteless indolence and negligence, which is hardly to be attained, or else live in the hourly repetition of sharp answers, eager upbraidings, and distracting reproaches. In a word, the married state, with and without the affection suitable to it, is the completest image of heaven and hell we are capable of receiving in this life.

FOIBLES OF MARRIED PERSONS. : I HAVE very long entertained an ambition to make the word wife the most agreeable and delightful name in nature. If it be not so in itself, all the wiser part of mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, has consented in an error. But our unhappiness has been, that a few loose men of genius, for pleasure, have turned it all to the gratification of ungoverned desires, in despite of good sense, form, and order; when in truth, any satisfaction beyond the boundaries of reason is but a step towards madness and folly. But is the sense of joy and accomplishment of desire no way to be indulged or attained ? And have we appetites given us not to be at all gratified ? Yes, certainly. Marriage is an institution calculated for a constant scene of delight, as much as our being is capable of. Two persons who have chosen each other out of all the species, with design to be each other's mutual comfort and entertainment, have in that action bound themselves to be good-humoured, affable, discreet, forgiving, patient, and joyful, with respect to each other's frailties and perfections, to the end of their lives. The wiser of the two (and it always happens one of them is such) will, for her or his own sake, keep things from outrage with the utmost sanctity. When this union is thus preserved, (as I have often said,) the most indifferent circumstance administers delight: their condition is an endless source of new gratifications. The married man can say, “If I am unacceptable to all the world beside, there is one whom I entirely love, that will receive me with joy and transport, and think herself obliged to double her kindness and caresses of me from the gloom with which she sees me overcast. I need not dissemble the sorrow of my heart to be agreeable there; that very sorrow quickens her affection.”

This passion towards each other, when once well fixed, enters into the very constitution, and the kindness flows as easily and silently as the blood in the veins. When this affection is enjoyed in the sublime degree, unskilful eyes see nothing of it; but when it is subject to be changed, and has an allay in it that may make it end in distaste, it is apt to break into rage, or overflow into fondness, before the rest of the world."

Uxander and Viramira are amorous and young, have been married these two years ; yet do they so much distinguish each other in company, that in your conversation with the dear things, you are still put to a sort of crosspurposes. Whenever you address yourself in ordinary discourse to Viramira, she turns her head another way, and the answer is made to the dear Uxander. If you tell a merry tale, the application is still directed to her dear ; and when she should commend you, she says to him, as if he had spoke it, “That is, my dear, so pretty.”—This puts me in mind of what I have somewhere read in the admired memoirs of the famous Cervantes; where while honest Sancho Panza is putting some necessary humble question concerning Rozinante, his supper, or his lodging, the knight of the sorrowful countenance is ever improving the harmless lowly hints of his 'squire to the poetical conceit, rapture, and flight, in contemplation of the dear dulcinea of his affection.

On the other side, Dictamnus and Moria are ever squabbling; and you may observe them, all the time they are in company, in a state of impatience. As Uxander and Viramira wish you all gone, that they may be at freedom for dalliance; Dictamnus and Moria wait your absence, that they may speak their harsh interpretations on each other's words and actions, during the time you are with them.

It is certain that the greater part of the evils attending this condition of life, arises from fashion. Prejudice in this case is turned the

« السابقةمتابعة »