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The whole scene appeared so completely happy, that I began to feel some approaches towards envy; which so discomposed my spirits, that I was instantly awaked, and the ideal prospect vanished into air,
CONJUGAL AND DOMESTIC HAPPINESS-A DIALOGUE BETWEEN
LEANDER AND EUGENIO.
I WONDER, said Leander to Eugenio, why the matrimonial and domestic state, which is so necessary to the support of human beings, and to which the sexes are so naturally and so strongly inclined, should prove the source of so much dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Why is it, my friend, that a union so endearing as that between husband and wife, and a circle so connected and interesting as that of a family, should nevertheless fail of producing its desirable and designed effects, and, with all its promising ingredients of happiness, should be able to make so few of those happy who form and compose it ?
The fault, said Eugenio, is not in the original institution, nor in the state itself, but in the parties who enter into it. This world, indeed, is not the residence of felicity; and man is too imperfect and depraved to find in any state a felicity that is uninterrupted and permanent. But some pleasures, rational and manly pleasures, there are in every condition of life, and in
relation. In the matrimonial and pa. rental connexion, provision is made by our benevolent Creator, for enjoyments more numerous and more refined than in any other; and it is human folly and perverseness alone which blights and diminishes them.
Be so good then, said Leander, as to favour me with your directions and advice in this affair ; to point out the errors to be shunned, and the steps to be taken, that whenever I rise to the conjugal and patriarchal
dignity, I may not sink in perpetual gloom and wretched
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The grand secret of happiness in any state we have the choice of, replied Eugenio, is to enter it with deliberation, with a wise selection of associates, with a resolution to perform the duties of it, to do our part to lighten the evils of it, and on the whole to make the best of it. tial and domestic state entered into with such precautions and intentions, it would be found as our Supreme Parint designed it, and as the state itself is fitted to be, a most de. sirable, dignified, and delightful state, productive of more rational and sentimental satisfactions than any other. To enter, without judgment or forethought, into the most important connexion ; to choose at random, or as fancy or passion shall dictate, a partner for life, a bosom friend and companion, is by no means setting out wisely, or laying a sure foundation for happiness. And should such as set out in this manner drag their existence painfully along, and find the garland of matrimony, so hastily gathered, entwined with nettles as well as roses, and even with serpents among the flowers, they will have no reason to condemn the state, but their own imprudence.
Where there is a necessary union of person, of cares, and of interests, there a union of hearts and affections is indispensable. This shows that the exercise of judgment and deliberation is requisite to matrimonial and domestic happiness. For a congeniality of nature, a similarity of taste, and a cordiality of affection, which are all essential ingredients in the composition of nuptial felicity, are too de. licate flowers to bloom on every bush, or to be gathered by an undistinguishing hand. As a serene satisfaction results from the steady performance of duty, and the constant exercise of mutual tenderness, so negligence, coldness, and unfaithfulness, will inevitably incur blame and produce uneasiness. Vain, therefore, is the hope of conjugal and domestic endearment, or tranquillity, where there is the want of conjugal or domestic affection and duty.
That there is a necessary intermixture of troubles with joys in the domestic life, is readily acknowledged: and so there is in every condition. But it is the part of manly wisdom to palliate the evils which cannot be cured; it is the part of patience to bear, without complaining, the evils which cannot be palliated ; and it is the part of religion to annihilate smaller evils, and to turn every evil into a good. With such dispositions, qualifications, and aids, as these, husbands and wives, parents and children, will be happy in one another, and constitute a happy family. Let a man, then, who is setting out in life, and wishes to lay a foundation for domestic peace and enjoyment, choose a partner who will be likely to harmonize with him in all the lauda. ble pursuits of his station, and in all the joys and sorrows of which his honest and feeling heart may be sensible ; and let him form the resolution which a renowned Israelitish general and statesman formed of old, and every one will al. low that he makes a hopeful beginning.
For my part, I cannot figure to myself a scene more pleasing among human beings, than a family cemented by the endearing sympathies of nature, and united still more strongly by the tenderness of a cultivated affection and es. teem, and all under the governing influence of prudence and religion. The happy pair, who are the heads of such a family, experience the most delightful sensations in view. ing the innocence and the improvements of their rising offspring, and in contemplating their future usefulness and prosperity. And the children of such a family, both loving and dutiful, enjoy the liveliest satisfaction in seeing and making one another, and their parents, happy.
True, indeed, it is, that neither sympathy, nor union, nor innocence, nor virtue, nor religion, will shield a family from the inroads of misfortune, from the attacks of disease, or from the depredations of death. But a family, where har. mony prevails, tenderness endears, and religion presides, is in the best preparation to receive, and in the best disposition to bear, the most painful allotments.