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REFLECTIONS ON ERRORS IN MARRIAGE.
Perpetual harmony their bed attend,
I HAVE somewhere met with a fable that made wealth the father of love. It is certain a mind ought at least be free from the apprehension of want and poverty, before it can fully attend to all the softnesses and endearments of this passion ; notwithstanding, we see multitudes of married people, who are utter strangers to this delightful passion amidst all the affluence of the most plentiful fortunes.
It is not sufficient to make a marriage happy, that the humours of the two people should be alike. I could instance a hundred pairs, who have not the least sentiment of love remaining for one another, yet are so like in their humours, that, if they were not already married, the whole world would design them for man and wife.
The spirit of love has something so extremely fine in it, that it is very often disturbed and lost by some little acci. dent, which the careless and unpolite never attend to, until it is
gone past recovery. Nothing has more contributed to banish it from a married state than too great a familiarity, and laying aside the common rules of decency. Though I could give instances of this in several particulars, I shall only mention that of dress. The beaux and belles about town, who dress purely to catch one another, think there is no further occasion for
the bait, when the first design has succeeded. But besides the common fault, in point of neatness, there are several others which I do not remember to have seen touched upon ; but in one of our modern comedies, where a Frenchwoman, offering to undress and dress herself before the lover of the play, and assuring her mistress that it was usual in France, the lady tells her that is a secret in dress she never knew before, and that she was so unpolished an English woman as to resulve never to learn to dress even before her hus band.
There is something so gross in the carriage of some wives, that they lose their husbands' hearts for faults which, if a man has either good nature or good breeding, he knows not how to tell them of. I am afraid, indeed, the ladies are generally most faulty in this particular ; who, at their first giving into love, find the way so smooth and pleasant, that they fancy it is scarce posible to be tired in it.
There is so much nicety and discretion required to keep love alive after marriage, and make conversation still new and agreeable after twenty or thirty years, that I know nothing which seems readily to promise it, but an earnestendeavour to please on both sides, and superior good sense on the part of the man.
By a man of sense, I mean one acquainted with business and letters.
A woman very much settles her esteem for a man, ac. cording to the figure he makes in the world, and the character he bears among his own sex. As learning is the chief advantage we have over them, it is, methinks, as scandalous and inexcusable for a man of fortune to be ilļite. rate, as for a woman not to know how to behave herself on the most ordinary occasions. It is this which sets the two sexes at the greatest distance; a woman is vexed and surprised, to find nothing more in the conversation of a map, than in the common tattle of her sex.
Some small engagement at least in business, not only
sets a man's talents in the fairest light, and allots him a part to act in which a wife cannot well intermeddle, but gives frequent occasion for these little absences, which, whatever seeming uneasiness they may give, are some of the best preservative of love and desire.
The fair sex are so conscious to themselves that they have nothing in them which can deserve entirely to engross the whole man, that they heartily despise one who, to use their own expression, is always hanging at their apron strings.
Lætitia is pretty, modest, tender, and has sense enough ; she married Erastus, who is in a post of some business, and has a general taste in most parts of polite learning. Lætitia, wherever she visits, has the pleasure to hear of something which was handsomely said or done by Erastus. Erastus, since his marriage, is more gay in his dress than ever, and in all companies is as complaisant to Lætitia as to any other lady. I have seen him give her her fan, when it has dropped, with all the gallantry of a lover.
When they take the air together, Erastus is continually improving her thoughts, and with a turn of wit and spirit which is peculiar to him, giving her an insight into things she had no notions of before. Lætitia is transported at having a new world thus opened to her, and hangs upon the man that gives her such agreeable information. Erastus has carried his point still further, as he makes her daily not only more fond of him, but infinitely more satisfied with herself. Erastus finds a justness or beauty in whatever she says or observes, that Lætitia herself was not aware of; and by his assistance she has discovered a hundred good qualities and accomplishments in herself, which she never before once dreamed of. Erastus, with the most artful complaisance in the world, by several remote hints, finds the means to make her say or propose almost whatever he has a mind to, which he always receives as her own discovery, and gives her all the reputation of it,
Erastus has a perfect taste in painting, and carried Lætitia with him the other day to see a collection of pictures. I sometimes visit this happy couple. As we were last week walking in the long gallery before dinner,"I have lately laid out some money in paintings,” says Erastus: " I bought that Venus and Adonis purely upon Lætitia's judgment; it cost me threescore guineas; and I was thismorning offered a hundred for it.” I turned towards Lætitia, and saw her cheeks glow with pleasure, while, at the same time, she cast a look upon Erastus, the most tender and af. tectionate I ever beheld.
Flavilla married Tom Tawdry : she was taken with his laced coat and rich sword knot. She has the mortification to see Tom despised by all the worthy part of his own sex. Tom has nothing to do after dinner but to determine whether he will pare his nails at St. James', White's, or his own house. He has said nothing to Flavilla since they were married which she might not have heard as well from her
He, however, takes great care to keep up the saucy ill-natured authority of a husband. Whatever Flavilla happens to assert, Tom immediately contradicts with an oath by way of preface, and, “ My dear, I must tell. you, you talk most confounded silly.”
Flavilla had a heart naturally as well disposed for all the tenderness of love as that of Lætitia ; but as. love seldom continues long after esteem, it is difficult to determine, at present, whether the unhappy Flavilla hates or despises the person most whom she is obliged to lead her whole life with,
MARRIAGE STATE RARELY
UNHAPPY BUT FROM WANT
OF JUDGMENT OR TEMPER IN THE HUSBAND.
MANY men complain much of vanity, pride, but above all, ill-nature in their wives. I cannot tell how it is, but I think I see in all their complaints, that the cause of their uneasiness is in themselves ; and indeed I have hardly ever observed the married condition unhappy, but for want of judgment or temper in the man. The truth is, that'we generally make love in a style and with sentiments very unfit for ordinary life : they are half theatrical and half roman. tic. By this means we raise our imaginations to what is not to be expected in human lite; and, because we did not beforehand think of the creature we are enamoured of, as subject to dishonour, age, sickness, impatience, or sullenness, but altogether considered her as the object of joy, hu. man nature itself
often imputed to her as her particular imperfection or defect.
I take it to be a rule, proper to be observed in all occurrences of life, but more especially in the domestic, or matrimonial part of it, to preserve always a disposition to be pleased. This cannot be supported but by considering things in their right light, and as nature has formed them, and not as our own fancies or appetites would have them. He, then, who took a young lady to his bed, with no other consideration than the expectation of scenes of dalliance, and thou of her (as I said before) only as she was to administer to the gratification of desire, as that desire flags, will, without her fault, think her charms and her merit abated : from hence myst follow indifference, dislike, peevishness, and rage. But