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and good she might be, failed to sink her in my estimation. I have, in sich cases, never been able to keep out of my mind that concate. nation of ideas, which, in spite of custom, in spite of the frequency of the cccurrence, leave an impression deeply disadvantageous to the party ; for, after the greatest of ingenuity has exhausted itself in the way of apology, it comes to this at last, that the person has a second time undergone that surrender, to which nothing but the most ardent affection could ever reconcile a chaste and delicate woman.
The usual apologies, that “a lone woman wants a protector ; that she cannot manage her estate ; that she cannot carry on her business ; that she wants a home for her children;" all these apologies are not worth a straw; for what is the amount of them? Why, that she surrenders her person to secure these ends! And if we admit the validity of such apologies, are we far from apologizing for the kept-mistress, and even the prostitute? Nay, the former of these may (if she confide herself to one man) plead more boldly in her defence; and even the latter may plead that hunger, which knows no law, and no decorum, and no delicacy. These unhappy, but justly reprobated and despised parties, are allowed no apology at all: though reduced to the begging of their bread, the world grants them no excuse. The sentence on them is : “ You shall suffer every hardship; you shall submit to hunger and nakedness; you shall perish by the way-side,
rather than you shall surrender your person to the dishonour of the female sex.” But can we, without crying injustice, pass this sentence upon them, and, at the same time hold it to be proper, decorous, and delicate, that widows shall surrender their persons for worldly gain, for the sake of ease, or for any consideration whatsoever.
It is disagreeable to contemplate the possibility of cases of separation ; but amongst the evils of life, such have occurred, and will occur; and the injured parties, while they are sure to meet with the pity of all just persons, must console themselves that they have not merited their fate. In the making one's choice, no human foresight or prudence can, in all cases, guard against an unhappy result. There is one species of husbands to be occasionally met with in all countries, meriting particular reprobation, and causing us to lament, that there is no law to punish offenders so enormous. There was a man in Pennsylvania, apparently a very amiable young man, having a good estate of his own, and marrying a most beautiful woman of his own age, of rich parents, and of virtue perfectly spotless. He very soon took to both gaming and drinking, he neglected his affairs and his family; in about four years spent his estate, and became a dependant on his wife's father, together with his wife and three children. Even this would have been of little consequence, as far as related to expense; but he led the most scandalous life, and was incessant in his demands of money for the purposes of that infamous life. All sorts of means were resorted to, to reclaim bim, and all in vain ; and the wretch, availing himself of the pleading of his wife's affection, and of his power over the children more especially, continued for ten or twelve years to plunder the parents, and to disgrace those whom it was his bounden duty to assist in making happy. At last, going out in the dark, in a boat, and being partly drunk, he went to the bottom of the Delaware, and became food for otters or fishes, to the great joy of all who knew hiin, excepting only his amiable wife. I can form an idea of no baseness equal to this. There is more of baseness in this character than in that of the robber. The man who obtains the means of indulging in vice, by robbery, exposes himself to the inflictions of the law; but though he merits punishment, he merits it less than the base miscreant who obtains his means by his threats to disgrace his own wife, children, and the wife's parents. The short way in such a case is the best; set the wretch at defiance ; resort to the strong arın of the law wherever it will avail you; drive him from your house like a mad dog ; for, be assured, that a being so base and cruel is never to be reclaimed : all your efforts at persuasion are useless ; his promises and vows are made but to be broken; all your endeavours to keep the thing from the knowledge of the world, only prolong his plundering of you; and many a tender father and mother have been ruined by such endeavours; the whole story must come out at last, and it is better to come out before you be ruined, than after your ruin is completed.
However, let me hope, that those who read this work will always be secure against evils like these ; let me hope, that the young men who read it will abstain from those vices which lead to such fatal results; that they will, before they utter the marriage vow, duly reflect on the great duties that that vow imposes on them; that they will repel, from the outset, every temptation to any thing tending to give pain to the defenceless persons whose love for them have placed them at their mercy; and that they will imprint on their own minds this truth, that a bad husband was never yet a happy man.
Such are the views of Cobbett, an able and sensible, though coarse writer, a keen observer, and a man, whatever faults he may have had, who lived without reproach in his domestic relations.
FAMILY DISAGREEMENTS THE FREQUENT
* CAUSE OF IMMORAL CONDUCT. After all our complaints of the uncertainty of human affairs, it is undoubtedly true, that more misery is produced among us by the irregularities of our tempers than by real misfortunes.
And it is a circumstance particularly unhappy that these irregularities of the temper are most apt to display themselves at our firesides, where every thing ought to be tranquil and serene. But the truth is, we are awed by the presence of strangers, and are afraid of appearing weak or ill-natured when we act in the sight of the world ; and so, very heroically, reserve all our ill-humour for our wives, children, and servants. We are meek where we might meet with opposition, but feel ourselves undauntedly bold where we are sure of no ef. fectual resistance. !
The perversion of the best things converts them to the worst Home is certainly well adapted to repose and solid enjoyment. Among parents, and brothers, and all the tender charities of private life, the gentler affections, which are always attended with feelings purely and permanently pleasurable, find an ample scope for proper exertion. The experienced have often declared, after wearying themselves in pursuing phantoms, that they have found a substantial happiness in the domestic circle. Hither they have returned from their wild excursions in the regions of dissipation; as the bird, after fluttering in the air, descends into her nest to partake and to increase its genial warmth with her young ones.
Such and so sweet are the comforts of home, when it is not perverted by the folly and weakness of man. Indifference, and a carelessness on the subject of pleasing those whom it is our best interest to please, often render it a scene