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It has often been a solid grief to me, when I have re. flected on this glorious nation, which is the scene of public happiness and liberty, that there are still crowds of private tyrants, against whom there neither is any law in being, nor can there be invented any by the wit of man. These cruel men are ill-natured husbands.
Sylvia was, neither in fortune, birth, nor education, below the gentleman whom she has married. Her person, her age, and her character, are also such as he can make no exception to.. But so it is, that from the moment the marriage ceremony was over, the obsequiousness of a lover was turned into the haughtiness of a master. All the kind endearments which she uses to please him, are at best but so many instances of her duty. This insolence takes away that secret satisfaction, which does not only excite to virtue, but also rewards it. It abates the fire of a free and generous love, and imbitters all the pleasures of a social life.
An affliction of this sort is the greatest that can happen in human life ; and I know but one consolation in it, (if that be a consolation,) that the calamity is a pretty general one. There is nothing so common as for men to enter into mar. riage, without so much as expecting to be happy in it.
They seem to propose to themselves a few holidays in the beginning of it; after which they are to return at best to the usual course of their life, and for aught they know, to constant miscry and uneasiness. From this false sense of the state they are going into, proceeds the immediate cold. ness and indifference, or hatred and aversion, which attend ordinary marriages.
The humour of affecting a superior carriage, generally rises from a false notion of the weakness of a female understanding in general, or an overweening opinion that we have of our own: for when it proceeds from a natural ruggedness and brutality of temper, it is altogether incorrigible, and not to be amended by admonition. Sir Francis Bacon, as I remember, lays it down as as maxim, that no marriage can be happy, in which the wife has no opinion of her husband's wisdom; but, without offence to so great an authority, I may venture to say, that a sullen wise man is as bad as a good-natured fool. Knowledge, softened with complacency and good breeding, will make a man equally beloved and respected; but when joined with a severe, distant, and unsociable temper, it creates rather fear than love.,
Pliny, one of the greatest as well as the most learned men, was also one of the best husbands in the whole Roman empire. The following letters were written by him to his wife Calphurnia, at a time when she was at a distance from him, and are full of conjugal tenderness,
Pliny to Calphurnia.
Never was business more uneasy to me, than whe
it prevented me not only from attending, but following you into Campania. As at all times, so particularly now, I wish to be with you, that I may be a witness what progress you make in the recovery of your strength, and how the tranquillity, the amusements, and plenty of that charming country agrees with you..
Were you in perfect health, yet
I could ill support your absence; for, even a moment's uncertainty of the welfare of those we tenderly love, is a situation of mind infinitely painful: but at present your sickness conspires with your absence to perplex me with a thousand disquietudes. I fear every thing that can befall you, and, as is usual with all under the same anxious apprehensions, suspect most what most dread. Let me conjure you then to prevent my solicitude by writing to me every day, and even twice a day : I shall be more easy, at least whilst I am reading your letters ; though all my fears will again return the moment I have perused them. Farewell,
You kindly tell me, my absence very sensibly affects you, and that your only consolation is in conversing with my works, which you frequently substitute in my place by your side. How agreeable is it to me to know, that you thus wish for my company, and support yourself under the want of it by these consolations! In return, I entertain myself with reading over your letters again and again, and am continually taking them up, as if I had but just then received them ; but alas! they only serve to make me more strongly regret your absence ; for, how amiable must her conversation be, whose letters have so many charms ! Let me receive them, however, as often as possible, notwithstanding there is always some mixture of pain in the plea. sure they afford me, as they render me the more sensible of the loss I suffer by my absence. Farewell.
It is incredible how impatiently Į wait for your return; such is the tenderness of my affection for you, and so unaccustomed am I to a separation! I lie awake the greatest part of the night thinking of you, and (to use a very common, but very true expression) my feet carry me of their own accord to your apartment, at those hours I used to visit you ; but not finding you there, I return with as much sorrow and disappointment as an excluded lover. The only intermission my anxiety knows, is, when I am engaged at the bar, and in the causes of my friends. Judge then how wretched must his life be, who finds no repose but in business ; no consolation but in a crowd. Farewell,
MARRIAGE, BY WHOM RIDICULED.
Thesea pectora, juncta fide.
Breasts that with sympathizing ardour glowed,
PROFANE wits, instead of correcting the vices of the age, do all they can to inflame them. Marriage has been one of the common topics of ridicule in which every stage scribbler hath found his account: for whenever there is an occasion for a clap, an impertinent jest upon matrimony is sure to raise it. A kind husband hath, in consequence, been looked upon as a clown; and a good wife as a domestic animal, unfit for the company or conversation of the beau monde. In short, separate beds, silent tables, and solitary homes, have been introduced, more particularly in the European world, by your men of wit and pleasure of
As I always mean to stem the torrents of prejudice and vice, I shall take particular care to put an honest father of a family in countenance, and endeavour to remove all the evils out of that state of life, which is either the most happy or the most miserable in which a man can be placed. I have shown in my last paper, that Pliny, who was a man of the greatest genius, as well as of the first quality of his age, did not think it below him, to be a kind husband, and to treat his wife as a friend, companion, and courisellor. I shall give the like instance of another, who was one of the most distinguished characters in the Roman republic, and hath written a whole book of letters to his wife. They are