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My Dear Sir, I received the news of your marriage with infinite delight, and hope that the sincerity with which I wish your happiness, may excuse the liberty I take, in giving you a few rules whereby more certainly to obtain it. I see you smile at my wrong-headed kindness, and, reflecting on the charms of your bride, cry out in a rapture that you are happy enough without my rules. I know you are ; but after one of the forty years which I hope you will pass pleasingly together, are over, this letter may come in turn, and rules for felicity may not be found unnecessary, however some of them may appear impracticable.
When your present violence of passion subsides, however, and a more cool and tranquil affection takes its place, be not hasty to censure yourself as indifferent, or to lament yourself as unhappy; you have lost that only which it was impossible to retain, and it were graceless, amid the pleasures of a prosperous summer, to regret the blossoms of a transient spring. Neither unwarily condemn your bride's insi. pidity, till you have recollected that no object, however sublime, no sounds, however charming, can continue to transport us with delight, when they no longer strike us with no. velity. The skill to renovate the powers of pleasing is said indeed to be possessed by some women in an eminent degree, but the artifices of maturity are seldom seen to adorn the innocence of youth; you have made your choice, and ought to approve it.
Satiety follows quick upon the heels of possession ; and to be happy, we must always have something in view. The person of your lady is already your own, and will
not grow more pleasing in your eyes, I doubt, though the rest of your sex will think her handsomer for these dozen years. Turn, therefore, all your attention to her mind, which will daily grow brighter by polishing. Study some easy science together, and acquire a similarity of tastes, while you enjoy a community of pleasures. You will, by this means, have many images in common, and be freed from the necessity of separating to find amusement; nothing is so dangerous to wedded love, as the possibility of either being happy out of the company of the other. Endeavour, therefore, to cement the present intimacy on every side; let your wife never be kept ignorant of your income, your expenses, your friendships, or aversions ; let her know your very faults, but make them amiable by your virtues ; consider all concealment as a breach of fidelity; let her never have any thing to find out in your character; and remember, that, from the moment one of the partners turns spy upon the other, they have commenced a state of hostility.
Seek not for happiness in singularity; and dread a refinement of wisdom as a deviation into folly. Listen not to those sages who advise you always to scorn the counsel of a woman, and if you comply with her requests, pronounce you to be wife-ridden.
With regard to expense, I can only observe, that the money laid out in the purchase of distinction is seldom or ever profitably employed. We live in an age when splendid furniture and glittering equipage are grown too common, to catch the notice of the meanest spectator ; and for the greater ones, they only regard our wasteful folly with silent contempt, or open indignation. This may, perhaps, be a displeasing reflection, but the following consideration ought to make amends. The age we live in pays, I think, peculiar attention to the higher distinctions of wit, knowledge, and virtue, to which we may more safely, more cheaply, and more honourably aspire.
I said, that the person of your lady would not grow more pleasing to you, but pray let her never suspect that it grows less so. That a woman will pardon an affront to her understanding much sooner than one to her person, is well known'; nor will any of us contradict the assertion.
All our attainments, all our arts, are employed to gain and keep the heart of man; and what mortification can exceed the disappointment, if the end be not obtained ! There is no reproof, however pointed, no punishment, however severe, that a woman of spirit will not prefer to neglect; and if she can endure it without complaint, it only proves that she means to make herself amends by the attention of others, for the slights of her husband. For this, and for every reason, it behooves a married man not to let his politeness fail, though: his ardour may abate, but to retain, at least, that general civility towards his own lady, which he is so willing to pay to every other; and not show a wife of eighteen or twenty years old, that every man in company can treat her with more complaisance, than he, who so often vowed to her eternal fondness.
It is not my opinion that a young woman should be indulged in every wild wish of her gay heart or giddy head; but contradiction may be softened by domestic kindness, and quiet pleasure substituted in the place of noisy ones. Public amusements, if they be not so expensive as is sometimes imagined, tend to alienate the minds of married people from each other. A well chosen society of friends and acquaintance, more eminent for virtue and good sense than for gayety and splendour, where the conversation of the day may afford comment for the evening, seems the most rational pleasure this great town can afford.
The bane. of married happiness among many city, men has been, that, finding themselves unfit for polite life, they transferred their vanity to their ladies, dressed them up gaily, and sert them out gallanting, while the good man was to regale with port wine or rum-punch, perhaps among
mean companions, after the counting-house was shut; this, practice produced the ridicule thrown on them in all our comedies and novels since commerce began to prosper. But now that I am so near the subject, a word or two on jealousy may not be amiss ; for though not a failing of the present age's growth, yet the seeds of it are too certainly sown in every warm bosom for us to neglect it as a fault of no consequence. If you are ever tempted to be jealous, watch your wife narrowly, but never tease her: tell her your jealousy, but conceal your suspicion ; let her, in short, be satisfied that it is only your odd temper, and even troublesome attachment, that makes you follow her; but let her not dream that you ever doubted seriously of her virtue even for a moment. If she is disposed towards jealousy of you, let me beseech you to be always explicit with her, and never mysterious ; be above delighting in her pain, of all things,—nor do your business, nor pay your visits with an air of concealment, when all you are doing might as well be proclaimed perhaps in the parish vestry. But I will hope better than this of your tenderness and of your virtue, and will release you from a lecture you have so very little need of, unless your extreme youth and uncommon regard will excuse it. And now, farewell; make my kindest compliments to your wife, and be happy in proportion as happiness is wished to you, by, dear sir, &c.
PLEASING VIEWS OF MATRIMONY.
Domestic happiness, thon only bliss
Domestic life, like all other external goods, is not necessarily and of itsell, but only in particular combinations and certain circumstances, a real advantage and a source of actual felicity. Home is but too frequently rendered the seat of tiresomeness and disgust; the scene of low and ungoverned passions; the abode of vexation of various dis. sensions, and of malicious petulance; not seldom an actual place of torment. This is always more or less the case, where wisdom and virtue are not admitted of the party, and do not animate its businesses a: d pleasures. Where wisdom and virtue dwell, where intelligent and good persons live together, there orly dwell peace, satisfaction, and joy: these alone render either a cottage or a palace the receptacle of pleasure ; by their means is any family, whether great or small, rendered capable of happiness. For only the intelligent and good can tell what solid happiness implies : none but they have either the taste or sentiment proper for it. They alone estimate things by their real value, and know how to enjoy, above all things, what is real, and beautiful, and good, unesteemed and unknown as they may be in the