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THE DUTIES OF A GOOD WIFE.
Think not, the husband gained, that all is done,
LYTTLETON's Advice to a Lady.
AMONG the duties between the husband and the wife, the first is affection. The preserving this is the most essential of all concerns; for this being the band of all the union, on this depends the happiness that shall attend it; and that will not only be lost by the neglect of it, but will be more and more complete in proportion as the attention to this concern is more and more inviolable.
The love which marriage authorizes, and which it should inspire, is not a flight of idle fancy, wild, irregular, and uncertain : it must be firm, perfect, and inviolable ; it must be the fruit of consideration as well as of imagination ; and it must be known as a virtue as well as of a compliance.
The writers on morality have said, among their cautions against disquiet in the married life, that the husband and wife should never be both angry together, that when one is out of temper the other should be silent : but this is talking in the general; it is right, it is wise, and it was perhaps as much as a recluse locked up in his study could arrive to know; but those who live among the world are acquainted with a thousand delicacies unknown to those remote ob
There is a manner in doing things in which almost as much virtue consists as in the doing them ; and it is not sufficient that people are told what they are to do, unless they are informed in what way they are to do it.
It is impossible that a man can love the person whom he does not esteem; at least that love which a wife is to expect from the husband cannot subsist without it. The first tes. timony he usually gives of his esteem is the confiding in her, and revealing to her all his secrets. This is done in confi. dence, and the trust ought never to be violated ; although he says nothing, he means it should be so; and he may pardon, but can never forget the violation of it.
Those who love truly have but one heart between them; their thoughts, their cares, their concerns are in common; confidence is the natural offspring of affection, and he who loves tenderly can keep no secret.
It would be hard to say, perhaps, whether more families have had their peace disturbed by the unaffectionate reserve in the husband, or by the idle talking of the wife ; whether more have been sacrifices to the not intrusting of a secret, or to the divulging of it; but this is certain, that the offence on the one part is less than on the other, and that the one may be with reason pardoned and respected afterwards, but the other cannot.
There is no occasion of so much reputation to a woman, be her quality what it will, so great, as the saying that her family is regular and well governed : and let me add, that there is no fortune so moderate that will not serve to make
an appearance, nor is there any so great as to support a just appearance long without it. The peculiar instructions on such a head as this, can only be suited to the peculiar circumstances of the persons to whom they are addressed : nay, and the caution is more strict only to those peculiarities of temper and disposition, under which both are to enjoy those circumstances.
Those who are not easy at home, will never taste enjoy. ment any where else. To be easy is to be regular; let a good wife set out with a principle of never neglecting any thing at the time when it is proper to consider it, and she will never be perplexed and prevented with the multiplicity of concerns. These things offer singly, and they are easily espatched; it is the neglecting them that accumulates em; and whilst she looks on a confused number without .. nowing which to begin with, she lets alone all.
Nothing is so common as for people to be plundered by their servants. Of all things that are easy to be gone through at first, accounts of this kind are the easiest; of all others, when they are neglected, they become the most confused, displeasing, and impracticable. You recollect the circumstances when a thing is recent, but you forget them after the time is elapsed. You expect the expense of a few days in articles that you remember; you are astonished at the sum when you have forgotten the things it concerns : but this is not all; your servants will soon perceive whether you inspect their accounts, and whether you do it regularly ; they will know all the profit that may be made of your forgetfulness, and will not part with any portion of the advantage. I do not pretend to say that all the care in the world can prevent them from imposing on you, but you cannot suffer much while you take the caution of examining them often ; whereas, if they see you remiss, they will undoubtedly succeed in their attempts to defraud you.
What makes a remissness in this article the more unpardonable, is that there is nothing so easy. Parts and talents are required in many scenes of life, but this is in the power of every one, and yet almost all neglect it. Method and order will render things, even disagreeable in their nature, easy and pleasant. Employment not only gives pleasure to the moments devoted to it, but gives a relish for those which succeed,
MATRIMONY THE MOST IMPORTANT
STEP A MAN CAN TAKE
IN PRIVATE LIFE.
The point to which our sweetest passions move,
MATRIMONY ought to be considered as the most important step a man can take in private life, as it is that upon which his fortune, his credit, and his peace must depend. A happy marriage is the source of every kind of felicity, and on the other hand an unhappy marriage is of all others the greatest misfortune. A man who lives cheerfully in his family, who loves and is beloved by his wife, who sees his children with the fondness of a parent, and conducts his domestic affairs with the wisdom of a legislator, beholds a well regulated state in his own house, of which himself is the head. But where discord and dissension reign, where economy is wanting, and union is no more, the husband and the wife are alike unhappy ; their private follies soon be. come public, their errors are the prattle of the day, and their miscarriages the topic of every conversation. An evil more grievous than this neither is in the power of chance, nor can be feigned by imagination.
In the choice of a wife, a man ought to consult his rea. son always, and never his passions ; not that I mean to exclude love, or more properly affection, without which it is impossible that any marriage should be happy ; but I would have this tenderness arise from reflection, and not from acci.