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The accidents of the world may reduce wealth or competency to comparative poverty, or actual want; and that calamity which a man may endure in himself, or perchance free himself of, if alone, becomes a scource of severe anguish when shared by those he loves, without a possibility of his affording relief. Such things, however, are of unfrequent occurrence, when reasonable foresight and prudence are used; and, like the unforseen and inscrutable visitations of Providence, are not to be made the groundwork of human calculations beyond certain reasonable limits of precaution, and far less an excuse for not performing positive duties. The man that should be unwilling to build a house for himself, because it might be consumed by lightning or shattered by an earthquake, or to plant a garden, because a flood or a whirlwind might lay it waste, would justly be thought to exercise a degree of caution amounting to folly; and he that avoids marriage for fear that his children would be worthless, or that unforseen calamities should deprive him of the means of supporting a family, cannot be considered in any respect more wise.
Into a minute comparison of the various items that constie tute the amount of happiness in the respective states of matrimony and celibacy, it seems unnecessary to enter, if we have, as we trust, satisfactorily shown from the constitutions of mankind and society, that happiness must predominate on the side of matrimony, and that to enter upon that state is a moral and social duty, to which we are called both by the voice of nature and the express command of God.
The foregoing Essay was politely presented by the author, Samuel Webber, M, D.
ON DOMESTIC HAPPINESS.
THE great object of all mankind in this world, is happiness. To this, ultimately, all their exertions and all their plans are directed. However diversified may be their real pursuits, and however varied may be the paths which they tread, this is the goal on which their hopes are fixed, and in the imaginary and anticipated possession of which they move on, while
“Bubble after bubble bursts, And vanishes in air."
The student spends his days and his nights in the perusal of books and the contemplation of nature; the merchant gives all his attention to the varieties of trade and the im. provements of commerce; the statesman devotes his energies to politics and government; the warrior nerves his arm to deeds of enterprise and danger. What do all these seek? Fame, wealth, power. In the possession of these they anticipate happiness.
Providence has wisely ordained that happiness shall de. pend less upon rank or station, or any external circum. stances whatever, than upon the temper and character of the mind. The peasant in his hut is as happy, nay, often is happier, than the prince upon his throne. The man of ordinary talent and contented mind frequently enjoys life with more zest than he
" Whose name is bruited by a thousand tongues."
Of all the external circumstances which affect the enjoy. ments of life, I think the most important and influential is matrimony. Its general effect, undoubtedly, is the promo. tion of human happiness. It fills the world with all those scenes of domestic felicity which so much enhance its pleasures and increase its comforts. It elevates and purifies the character of man, by rendering him less personally selfish, and connecting him more closely with society; it exhibits woman in her loveliest aspect and most engaging appearance—as a wife and mother superintending her family and administering to its wants.
That marriage is a divine institution, cannot be doubted, and argues strongly in its favour.
“ It is not meet that man should be alone,” was the declaration of the Deity in the spring-time of the world. As a companion to cheer him in his hours. of solitude and gloom—as a friend to hold sweet counsel with him in the night of adversity—as a helpmate in every time of need and in every period of life, he presented
“ His last, best gift to man."
Fair and beautiful the first woman came from the hand of the Creator, and in the garden of Eden, amid all the freshness and loveliness of early nature stood the first couple --the first husband and wife—the parents of the countless myriads, who in future ages were to inhabit the whole extent of the globe :
“ For contemplation he, and valour formed;
It is unquestionable, then, that marriage has received the divine sanction. Reason also urges its propriety. With. out it, the world would soon become a barren, unpeopled desert-without it, society would be broken up-without it, parental and filial affection would be only a dream. By its existence, it operates as a moral restraint upon licen.
tiousness of principle and action. It stands at the altar, and by its holy incense it hallows the temple of love.
The charms of domestic life and the blessings of matri. mony, have been sung in the sweetest strains of the poet. Man is characterized by strength of body and energy of action—woman by delicacy of frame and modesty of de
It is her office, by the unceasing attentions of love and tenderness, by her gentleness and forbearance, to soften the asperities and smooth the ruggedness of his nature. It is his to protect her with the strength and fervency of manly affection, from the snares and pitfalls of a dangerous world, to support her in the hour of weariness and amid all the troublous scenes of an earthly existence.
The felicity of the married life depends upon the quiet and endearing nature of its enjoyments—upon the interchange of those pure affections which otherwise die away unknown and inactive. In the world, few traces of them are perceptible. Ambition and interest—the turmoil of business—the waywardness of the passions, and the thou. sand contentions of which it is the arena, make the soul turn away with disgust from the contemplation of human nature. What bitterness of feeling in strife! what meanness of conduct in business! what fickleness in friendship! what hardi. hood in crime!
It is only when we intrude into the privacy of the fireside, and mark the comforts of that sacred spot, that existence seems desirable. There the rivalry and bitterness of the world are shut out: there the commotions of unholy passions may not intrude: there unity of thought and affec. tion renders every scene of pleasure doubly sweet, and blunts the poignancy of every arrow of affliction.
In sickness and adversity what is such a "sweetener of the ills of life," as a bosom friend and partner, who regards no sacrifice as too great, so that it conduce to the comfort and happiness of the beloved object? Who can smooth the pillow for the aching head like a wife or husband ? Is it not soothing to know, that however our worldly projects may succeed-whether we rise as on eagles' wings, to the summit of power and wealth, or sink to poverty and neg. lect, there is one friend whose affection will endure through every trial, and be purer and stronger in proportion as it is most needed ?
But there is another circumstance to be regarded : Mar. riage brings with it the blessings of parental love. Who is there so selfish, or so wanting in the finer feelings of our nature, as to desire not to be a parent ? To trace the progress of a child, from the first lispings of infancy to the ripeness of maturity—to direct the objects of study, and instill the pure principles of morality and religion is, I conceive, a most interesting and desirable employment. And as the pilgrimage of life advances to its close, how grateful must it be to the feelings, to experience the kind attentions of a numerous and devoted offspring ! How must it sooth the passage to the tomb! The parent may leave the world, knowing that he has acquitted his duty to society, and the children whom he leaves behind him will appreciate his virtues and revere his memory.
And what has celibacy to offer, which shall counteract these arguments and advantages ? To say that marriages are frequently unhappy, is no argument against matrimony; because this always arises from ill conduct in the parties concerned, where the feelings and actions are not regulated in accordance with the principles of virtue and religion. Without these principles, love and friendship are characteri. zed by a spirit of selfishness which is often the cause of the most bitter quarrels and contentions.
The state of celibacy in itself is gloomy and cheerless. The person who has embraced it is a wanderer in a weary world, with no haven of rest, no “ark of safety.” He has denied himself the purest enjoyments of earth, and he has plunged, alone and unaided, in the vortex of business or dis. sipation. He may, for the present, be occupied in his pur.