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“ Ye flying winds, go, tell the nymph most dear
[Translated from Plutarch.)
Be these wise laws your study and delight;
The ancients always placed together the statues of Venus and Mercury, to signify that the pleasures of matrimony consisted chiefly in sweetness of conversation: they joined also the Graces, and Sedula, the goddess of eloquence, to intimate that the married couple were to act only by per. suasion, and to forbear the impetuosities of tyranny and con. tention.
It very much behooves those who are newly married, to avoid the first occasions of discord and dissension; they should consider that vessels, when just made, are liable to be bruised and thrown out of shape by slight accidents; but when once settled and hardened by time, they will endure the severest shocks.
Those who rather choose to be the mistresses of sense. less cuckolds, than the obedient wives of discreet and sober husbands, resemble those persons who choose rather to follow the directions of a purblind and ignorant guide than of one that sees clearly and knows every step of the way. They will not believe that Pasiphae, the consort of a prince, could ever be enamoured of a bull; and yet they abandon the society of their own husbands, men of wisdom, temper. ance, and gravity, and fly to the embraces of riot and de. bauchery.
Some men, when they are about to ride, being unable through infirmity, or unwilling through laziness, to mount into their saddles, teach their horses to fall upon their knees,
and receive their riders in that posture. In like manner, there are some men, who, having married young ladies, nof less considerable for their birth than their fortune, take little care to improve the advantages of such a splendid conjunc. tion, but endeavour to degrade their wives to the condition of slaves, and glory in domestic tyranny; But it is more becoming a man to use the reins of government with the same regard to the quality and dignity of the woman, as to the stature of the horse.
A woman ought to display the charms of her virtue, and the sweetness of her disposition, in her husband's presence; but to retire, in his absence, to silence and reservedness at home.
If kissing and caressing in the sight of others be so unseemly, (as it really is,) how much more indecent is it to rail and scold at each other in the company of strangers ? If lawful familiarity between man and wife is not to be al. lowed but in their retirements, can the bitter interchanges of inconsiderate passion be thought an entertainment proper for an audience no way concerned in them?
Helen was covetous, Paris luxurious ; on the contrary, Ulysses was prudent, Penelope chaste : happy, therefore, were the nuptials of the latter, but those of the former brought a series of miseries both upon the Trojans and the Greeks.
King Philip was so passionately fond of a fair Thessalian lady, that his queen Olympias suspected she used some private arts of fascination; and therefore endeavoured to get the supposed sorceress into her
But when she had viewed her well, examined her beauty, beheld the graces
of her deportment, and found by her discourse that she was a person of noble descent and education; hence vain suspicions, hence vainer calumnies, said she to her; for I find that the charms you make use of are in your own power: certainly therefore a lawful wife surpasses the common qualifications for obtaining happiness ; without the advantages of her
person, or her birth, she makes it her whole study to win her husband's affections by her virtue and sweetness of disposition.
That is ornament which adorns; and that adorns a wo. man which renders her most deserving : an honour confer. red upon her, not by the lustre of gold, or emeralds, or diamonds, but by the real embellishments of gravity, discretion, humility, and modesty.
Women who honour and submit to their husbands, pro. cure honour and respect to themselves; but when they strive to get the mastery, they become a reproach not only to themselves, but to those who are so ignominiously hen. pecked. However, behooves a husband to control his wife, not as a master does his vassal, but as the soul governs the body, with the gentle hand of mutual friendship and reciprocal affection. For as the soul commands the body, without being subject to its pleasures and inordinate desires, in like manner a man should so exercise his authority over his wife, as to soften it with complaisance and kind requital for her affectionate submission.
Prudent wives, when their husbands rant and foam in the heat of passion, should not exasperate them by opposition, but check their own loquacity: if indeed they grumble out their discontents in a sulky humour, they may then try by soothing language and persuasive arguments to calm their passions, and rectify their errors.
Sallies of passionate anger and keen reproaches should be banished from the household of the nuptial dwelling. Though a certain kind of austerity becomes the mistress of a family, yet it should be like the sharpness of wine, profitable and delightful; not like that of aloes, biting and ungrateful to the palate.
As the husband ought to sympathize in the joys and sorrows of the wife, so it is equally the duty of the wife to be sensible of the pleasures and anxieties of the husband; for, as ķnots are fastened by knitting, the bows of a thread together, so the ligaments of conjugal society may be strengthened by the mutual interchange of kindness and affection. Community of possessions is chiefly requisite among married couples, who should endeavour to mix and incorporate their purchases and disbursements into one substance, nei. ther of them pretending to claim a right to particular ex. penses, but counting all inseparably peculiar to both.
As a looking-glass, though set in a frame of gold, enriched with the most sparkling gems, is entirely useless, if it does not give back the exact similitude of the image it receives ; so a wealthy portion ceases to be profitable, if the condi. tions, the temper, the humour of the wife, are not conforma. ble to the natural disposition of the husband, and if he does not see the virtues of his own mind represented in hers.
Plato, when he observed the moroseness of Zenocrates, who was otherwise a person of great virtue and integrity, admonished him to sacrifice to the graces. In like manner, I am of opinion, that it behooves a woman of moderation to implore the assistance of the graces in her behavionr towards her husband, in order to make their society reciprocally harmonious, and to preserve her from being waspishly proud from an extravagant opinion of her fidelity and virtue.
It becomes not a frugal woman to be negligent of a decent neatness; nor out of awful respect to her husband, to refrain from complacency in conversation. As the rigid disposition renders her honesty irksome, so her housewifery becomes unpleasing by sluttishness.
Phidias made the statue of Venus at Elis with one foot upon a tortoise, to signify two great duties of a virtuous woman, viz : to stay at home, and be silent.
The orator Gorgias in a full assembly of the Grecians, who resorted from all parts to the Olympic games, exhorting them to live in peace, unity, and concord with each other ; Melanthias cried out, This man, who pretends to give us advice, and preaches in public nothing but the love of union, is not able in his own family to keep his wife and his maid