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A PRIZE ESSAY,
BY MISS LUCY HOOPER,
A CONTRAST BETWEEN THE STATE OF MATRIMONY AND
TIIAT OF CELIBACY.
WHEN we consider matrimony as established by the express agency of God, and view celibacy as unsupported by such authority, we perceive that this circumstance alone forms a great difference between them; and we also perceive that if this institution was necessary to complete the happiness of man in paradise, it affords pre. sumptive evidence that celibacy was considered by God as an imperfect state of existence, and therefore unfit to produce the general well-being of society. Viewing marriage as of divine appointment, let us see what effect it has already had upon society. Without controversy, it has brought mankind together, and redeeming them from a life of solitude, has had a softening influence upon their minds; it has called them from inaction by supplying them with a motive for exertion, and placing the two sexes upon
their proper footing ; has given rise to all the endearing relations of social life, and surrounded man with a whole atmosphere of calm and quiet enjoyment. If then this compact ircreases the general happiness of society, it must increase its individual happiness ; hence
we say the married man is happier than the one who is single. He lives under pleasanter influences; he is surrounded by more endearing ties. He has in the first place abjured selfishness, by pledging himself to care • equally for the welfare of another, and the sacrifice be. comes more perfect every day. The kind feelings of his nature are constantly called forth towards the partner of his fortunes, the children of his affection. There is a kindred tie which binds his heart to theirs. He also is their protector, and the sense of rightly fulfilling his duty towards them will be a powerful promoter of his plea
Among the latter his existence is, as it were, continually renewed. The approach of age and cold feeling is almost forbidden by that sympathetic affection which prompts him to join in the artless joy of infancy, to share again the feelings of young and warm hearts; and in doing this with the design of rendering them happy, he becomes himself so; the benevolence of his nature returns to him ; his spirit rejoices in its own sunshine. If worldly prosperity is granted him, whose heart can be more glad than his, to see the objects of his dearest and fondest affection enjoying its blessings with him? Or if, on the contrary, his spirit is bowed beneath the pressure of adversity, what can cheer him more than their sympathy? what reconcile him more to the wreck of his worldly hopes, than the conciousness of possessing in their attachment a' treasure that will not pass from him? His is participated existence, nor is a small part of his happiness secured to him by the constantly conferring and receiving of obligations. It is in truth this constant reci. procation of mutually 'kind feelings that make men happy; it is the going out of themselves to render another so; and more especially will this be felt between two persons,
every such action rivets more closely the chain that binds them together, till its power
becomes so strong, that all individuality of interest is lost between
them; till their hearts become so blended, so united, that the happiness of the one is an earnest of that of the other. Such is the love which smooths down all the roughnesses in the path of life; which finds its most fitting employment in lighting up the flame of happiness on the domestic al: tar, of which the marriage compact becomes the sign and seal. Such is the love which nerves the heart to bear up manfully under the pressure of misfortune; to stifle its own sorrows in soothing those of another; to bear its own burdens in lightening those of another; which causes two persons to become all the world to each other, uniting their interests, not for any short period, not for any gladsome and sunny season of existence, but for life, in its storm as in its sunshine; and such that undying affection which will sustain itself though every circumstance of good and evil fortune; which will rise above all difficul. ties, and meet all perils with an unblanched cheek and an unterrified heart, so long as the object of its attachment is spared to it; so long as its constancy is rewarded by the undiminished confidence, the added esteem, of the one it loves. Is not he who is the object of such devoted love far happier than the solitary individual who passes through life, in the comparison, an unloved and uncared for being? The friends of the latter are found in the world's busy throng ; they are commonly bound to him by worldly and selfish motives. He is often removed from his earliest and truest friends, and surrounded by those who seldom care more for his welfare, than as it conduces to their own. It is interest in most cases that has brought them together, and in the changes and chances of the world, how do the interests of men become separate ! Wo to him who perils his happiness on such friendship! it will fade from him like the snow-wreath, and too late will he find it as cold, and realize, in the bitterness of a disappointed spirit, what it is to be connected with man. kind by no dearer tię than that of interest, and what it is to have no closer bond of union with his fellow-beings than that of common friendship, which is so easily broken by the selfish, so lightly dissolved by the thoughtless. And in the estimation of the world, the married man has certainly an advantage over the solitary. Compared with the former, the latter is but an unimportant member of society, exerting but an inconsiderable influence on its state of well-being. There is a connecting link between society and the man who is bound by this compact to provide for one of its members. His situation is more responsible ; he possesses more influence, and as a consequence becomes more cared for and more respected.
Nor is this all. Every man is happier when he has a worthy object for which to toil, more industrious when he sees some far off good, that patient and persevering effort may render his. And what is so calculated to call out the strongest energies of the soul, as the praiseworthy desire of placing the objects of his love in peace and affluence ? This motive acts powerfully on the mass of mankind. It is this principle that impels men with the strongest impetus along the road of industry. This is the reason of many a gigantic labour, of many an honourable effort. So will it ever be, that he who is alone will be led to circumscribe his efforts, and withdraw his sympathies from his fellow-men; while he who feels that the happiness of others is intrusted to him will be impelled onward and onward in the road of high and arduous exertion. The end is worthy, and for this he will toil on; for this will he struggle with the world; for this will he brave the terrors of the ocean. And when in the strife of opposing interests he grows tired, and in the hardships of life hardly treated, the reflection that it is all for those he loves renders his spirit cheerful and his hand diligent. Or when on the rude ocean, storms and tempests are around him, and he quails at the war of elements, and his fortitude is unable to meet the demands made upon it, he has but to call back the remembrance of home, and a