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and all those yirtues and excellencies which I know to be in you, unruffled by any disturbances, and cleared even from every little cloud that may hang over them. I need not tell
how much and how truly I am Your affectionate kinsman
and humble servant.
ON MATRIMONIAL QUARRELS.
Felices ter, et amplius
HOR. Ode 13, lib. i.
Happy, thrice happy they, whose friendships prove
Family divisions frequently spring from very immaterial accidents, which gather strength by repetition, till they are augmented in so formidable a manner, as to sweep before them all the domestic virtues, and abolish all the amiable tenderness, for which woman was originally intended by the Divine Creator I have been a frequent inspector of such scenes of infelicity. Where I was in most expectation of finding the celestial seeds of connubial happiness flourishing in exquisite beauty, there have I been the most disappointed. Instead of beholding a paradise, I have found nothing but a garden of noxious weeds ; which occasions me the following observations : for these may be useful to society, as, by holding up the mirror of inadvertency, they may affright her with her own deformity.
Lorenzo and Violetla have been married upwards of three years: they were equally matched, both in respect of fortune and age ; for one being sufficient for the purchase, and the other for the enjoyment of the pleasures of life. For some time after the celebration of their nuptials, they entertained a reciprocal affection. She was all fondness, he all indulgence. But their intimacy, instead of increasing, diminished their mutual regard. Her beauty, the more it was familiar to his eye, grew the less attractive to his heart; and his conversation grew less engaging, the more she partook of the natural levity of her sex. He renewed his Bachanalian acquaintance, she found more pleasure in discharging her visits than her domestic offices : in fine, both became disintentionally indifferent; their meals were irre. gular, their conversation little; till at last, their affection seemed to be dwindled away to nothing but a ceremonious complaisance.
Nature was soon more predominant than the ties of gen. tility or the rules of decency. Their tempers were perpetually bursting from the formality of reserve : trivial acci. dents gave alternate uneasiness to one or the other; which were productive of such disputes as often terminated in a shyness for two or three days together. Though they were both so far estranged from the lambent flame of love, yet their disagreement frequently exhibited a conviction of their honesty, by a reconciliation which just served to blow up the dormant embers of affection; though stijl they were continually manifesting the difference of their tempers. They were both hastily passionate; he was sometimes illnatured, whilst she was too apt to conceive what he never intended. They were both sensible of their folly, yet they still persisted in their obstinacy; if he spoke warm, she reddened with the glow of anger; if he was desirous of tran. quillity, she grew turbulent. The vanity of pedigree and the ostentation of fortune were often bandied backwards and forwards ; this ushered in indecency from him, and left her abandoned to a misguided passion.
Reiterated quarrels aggravated their imprudence : he frequently swore, she railed, and blows ensued. She felt the effeets of his violence, he bore the marks of her fury.
When their passion abated, she sat pensively venting the gushing sorrows from her eyes; he grew mollified, and after innumerable caresses, recomposed her agitated spirits. The quarrel renewed their tenderness; they gently upbraid. ed themselves, confessed their folly, resolved to oppose the excursions of passion, and for some time lived with all the ap. pearance of a durable felicity. But when passion has once got the head, reason vainly attempts to guide the rein. Though Lorenzo and Violetta, on the repetition of every quarrel, became sensible of their smothered affection, yet they ne. ver endeavoured to light up the extinguishing lamp of Hy. men. They continued their intemperate sallies, and were at last so habituated to such an ignominious custom, as to give an unbounded loose to their passion before company, till they are now become the derision of all their acquain. tance.
As I have a regard for Lorenzo, I þave taken an oppor. tunity of expatiating with him upon his scandalous indiscre. tion; he acknowledges his imprudence, professes the strong. est affection for his wife, and solemnly avows his fidelity to the nuptial bed. Violetta is also sensible of her erroneous behavio esteems her husband, and wears the throne of chastity on her brow. They are equally conscious of their fault, are equally sorry for it, and seem equally desirous of correcting it; but they are so absolutely devoted to the storms of passion, as to be equally incapable of executing those salutary resolutions, which they are thoroughly sensible can alone give pleasure to the bridal bed, happiness to the prime of life, and comfort to the declension of age.
What a melancholy reflection is this ! That two persons, once united by the silken band of love, should so disown its empire, for the gratification of some ridiculous humour, is most astonishing ! that two persons, who could so easily en. joy the beatitudes of life, should so voluntarily banish them. selves from the flowery road of happiness, is amazing! but their conduct serves oply to evince this golden maxim, “ That reason is the best gift of nature ;" for without her sacred influence, monarchs in their palaces are less happy than peasants in their cottages.