« PreviousContinue »
the man who brings his reason to support his passion, and beholds what he loves as liable to all the calamities of hu. man life, both in body and mind, and even at the best what must bring upon him new cares, and new relations ; such a lover, I say, will form himself accordingly, and adapt his mind to the nature of his circumstances. This latter person will be prepared to be a father, a friend, an advocate, a steward for people yet unborn, and has proper affections ready for every incident in the marriage state. man can hear the cries of children with pity instead of an. ger ; and, when they run over his head, he is not disturbed by their noise, but is glad of their mirth and health. Tom Trusty has told me that he thinks it doubles his attention to the most intricate affair he is about, to hear his children, for whom all his cares are applied, make a noise in the next room : On the other side, Will Sparkish cannot put on his periwig, or adjust his cravat at the glass, for the noise of those nurses and squalling brats; and then ends with a gallant reflection upon the comforts of matrimony, runs out of the hearing, and drives to the chocolate house.
According as the husband is disposed in himself, every circumstance of his life is to give him torment or pleasure.
When the affection is once well placed, and supported by the considerations of duty, honour, and friendship, which are in the highest degree engaged in this alliance, there can nothing rise in the common course of life, or from the blows or favours of fortune, in which a man will not find matters of some delight unknown to a single condition.
He who sincerely loves his wife and family, and siudies to improve that affection in himself, conceives pleasure from the most indifferent things; while the married man, who has not bid adieu to the fashions and false gallantries of the town, is perplexed with every thing around him.
But, instead of pursuing my design of displaying conjugal love in its natural beauties and attractions, I have got into tales to the disadvantage of that state of life. I must
say, therefore, that I am verily persuaded, that whatever is delightful in human life is to be enjoyed in greater perfec. tion in the married than in the single condition. He that has this passion in perfection in occasions of joy, can say to himself, besides his own satisfaction, “how happy will this make my wife and children!" Upon occurrences of dis. tress or danger, can comfort himself: “But all this while my wife and children are safe.” There is something in it that doubles satisfactions, because others participate in them ; and dispels afflictions, because others are exempt from them. All who are married without this relish of their circum. stances, are in either a tasteless indolence and negligence, which is hardly to be attained, or else live in the hourly repetition of sharp answers, eager upbraidings, and distracting reproaches. In a word, the married state, with and without the affection suitable to it, is the completest image of heaven and hell we are capable of receiving in this life,
DIFFERENCE OF TEMPER IN THE SEXES.
- Harmonious discord.
Women in their nature are much more gay and joyous than men; whether it be that their blood is more refined, their fibres more delicate, and their animal spirits more light and volatile ; or whether, as some have imagined, there may not be a kind of sex in the very soul, I shall not pretend to determine. As vivacity is the gift of women, gravity is that of men. They should each of them therefore keep a watch upon the particular bias which nature has fixed in their minds, that it may not draw too much, and lead them out of the paths of reason. This will certainly happen, if the one in every word and action affects the charac. ter of being rigid and severe, and the other of being brisk and airy. Men should beware of being captivated by a kind of savage philosophy, women by a thoughtless gal. lantry. Where these precautions are not observed, the man often degenerates into a cynic, the woman into a co. quet ; the man grows sullen and morose, the woman imper. tinent and fantastical.
By what I have said, we may conclude men and women were made as counterparts to one another, that the pains and anxieties of the husband might be relieved by the sprightliness and good-humour of the wife. When these are rightly tempered, care and cheerfulness go hand in hand; and the family, like a ship that is duly trimmed, wants nei. ther sail nor ballast.
In marriage, men and women are joined together for life; and as the main burden rests upon the former, nature
has given all the little arts of soothing and blandishment to the female, that she may cheer and animate her companion in a constant and assiduous application to the making a provision for his family, and the educating of their common children. This, however, is not to be taken so strictly, as if the same duties were not often reciprocal, and incumbent on both parties ; but only to set forth what seems to have been the general intention of nature, in the different inclinations and endowments which are bestowed on the different
But whatever was the reason that man and woman were made with this variety of temper, if we observe the conduct of the fair sex, we find that they choose rather to associate themselves with a person who resembles them in that light and volatile humour which is natural to them, than to such as are qualified to moderate and counterbalance it. It has been an old complaint, that the coxcomb carries it with him before the man of sense. When we see a fellow loud and talkative, full of insipid life and laughter, we may venture to pronounce him a female favourite. Noise and flutter are such accomplishments as they cannot withstand. To be short, the passion of an ordinary woman for a man is nothing else but self-love diverted upon another object. She would have the lover a woman in every thing but the sex. I do not know a finer piece of satire on this part of womankind, than those lines of Mr. Dryden:
Our thoughtless sex is caught by outward form,
This is source of infinite calamities to the sex, as it fre. quently joins them to men, who, in their own thoughts, are as fine creatures as themselves; or if they chance to be good-humoured, serve only to dissipate their fortunes, inflame their follies, and aggravate their indiscretions.
The same female levity is no less fatal to them after marriage than before. It represents to their imaginations the faithful, prudent husband, as an honest, tractable, and domestic animal ; and turns their thoughts upon the fine gay gentleman, that laughs, sings, and dresses so much more agreeably.
As this irregular vivacity of temper leads astray the hearts of ordinary women in the choice of their lovers and the treatment of their husbands, it operates with the same pernicious influence towards their children, who are taught to accomplish themselves in all those sublime perfections that appear captivating in the eye of their mother. She admires in her son what she loved in her gallant: and by that means contributes all she can to perpetuate herself in a worthless progeny.
I have been led into this speculation by the characters I have heard of a country gentleman and his lady, who do not live many miles from Sir Roger. The wife is an old coquet, hat is always hankering after the diversions of the town; the husband a morose rustic, that frowns and frets at the name of it. The wife is overrun with affectation, the husband sunk into brutality. The lady cannot bear the noise of the larks and nightingales, hates your tedious summer days, and is sick at the sight of shady woods and purling streams; the husband wonders how any one can be pleased with the fooleries of plays and operas, and rails from morning to night at essenced fops and tawdry courtiers. The children are educated in these different notions of their parents. The sons follow the father about his grounds, while the daughters read volumes of love-letters and romances to their mother. By this means it comes to pass, that the girls look upon their father as a clown, and the boys think their mother no better than she should be.
How different are the lives of Aristus and Aspasia ! The innocent vivacity of the one is tempered and composed by the cheerful gravity of the other. The wife grows wise by the discourses of the husband, and the husband good-humoured by the conversation of the wife. Aristus would not be so