Page images
[ocr errors]

ness, impatience, or sullenness, but altogether considered her as the object of joy ; human nature itself is 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

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 thought 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 ; froin hence must follow indifference, dislike, peevishness, and rage. But the man who brings his reason to support his passion, and beholds what he loves, as liable to all the calamities of human 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, steward for people yet unborn, and has proper affections ready for every incident in the marriage state. Such a man can hear the cries of children with pity instead of anger; and, when they run over his head, he is not disturbed at 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 perriwig, or

[ocr errors]

adjust his cravat at the glass, for the noise of those damned nurses and squalling brats; and then ends with a gallant reflexion 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 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 studies to improve that affection in himselt, 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 ihing around him. In both these cases men cannot, indeed, make a sillier figure, than in repeating such pleasures and pains to the rest of the world, but I speak of them only, as they sit upon those who are involved in thein. As I visit all sorts of people, I cannot indeed but smile, when the good lady tells her husband what extraordinary things the child spoke since he went out. No longer than yesterday I was prevailed with to go home with a fond husband; and his wife told him, that his son, of his own head, when the clock in the parlour struck two, said papa would come home to dinner presently. While the father has hin in a rapture in his arms, and is drowning him with kisses, the wife tells me he is but just four years old. Then they both struggle for him, and bring him up to me, and repeat his observation of two o'clock. I was called upon, by looks upon the child, and then at me, to say something; and I told the father that this remark of the infant of his coming home, and joining the time with it, was a certain indication that he would be a great historian and chronologer. They are neither of them fools, yet received my compliment with great acknowledgment of my prescience. I fared very well at dinner, and heard many other notable sayings of their heir, which would have given very little entertainment to one less turned to reflexion than I was : but it was a pleasing speculation to remark on the happiness of a life, in which things of no moment give occasion of hope, selfsatisfaction, and triumph. On the other hand, I have known an ill-natured coxcomb, who has hardly improved in any thing but bulk, for want of this disposition, silence the whole family as a set of silly women and children, for recounting things which were really above his own capacity.

When I say all this, I cannot deny but there are perverse jades that fall to men's lots, with whom it requires more than common proficiency in philosophy to be able to live. When these are joined to men of warm spirits, without temper, or learning, they are frequently corrected with stripes; but one of our famous lawyer3* is of opinion, that this ought to be used sparingly; as I remember, those are his very words : but as it is proper to draw some spiritual use out of all affictions, I should rather recommend to those who are visited with women of spirit, to form themselves for the world by patience at home. Socrates, who is by all accounts the undoubted head of the sect of the hen-pecked, owned and acknowledged that he owed great part of his virtue to the exercise which his useful wife constantly gave it. There are several good instructions may be drawn from his wise answers to the people of less fortitude than himself on her subject. A friend, with indignation, asked how so good a man could live with so violent a creature? He observed to him, that they who learn to keep a good seat on horseback, mount the least manageable they can get; and, when they have mastered them, they are sure never to be discomposed on the backs of steeds less restive. At several times, to different persons, on the same subject he has said, "My dear friend, you are beholden to Xantippe, that I bear so well yonr flying out in a dispute.' To another, "My hen clacks very much, but she brings me chickens. They that live in a trading street are not disturbed at the passage of carts. I would have, if possible, a wise man be contented with his lot, even with a shrew; for, though he cannot make her better, he may, you see, make himself better by her means.

* Bracton.

But, instead of pursuing my design of displaying conjugal love in its natural beauties and attractions, I am 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 perfection 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 distress, 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 them; and dispels affictions, because others are exempt from them. All who are married without this relish of their eireumstance are in either a tasteless indolence and neglirence which is hardly to bu 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.


N° 480. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 10, 1712.

[ocr errors]

Responsare cupidinibus, contemnere honores,
Forris, et in seipso rotus teres, atque rotundus.

HOR. 2 Sat. vii.85:
He, sir, is proof to grandeur, pride, or pelf,
And, greater still, he's master of himself:
Not to and fro by fears and factions hurl'd,
But loose to all the interests of the world ;
And while the world turns round, entire and whole,
He keeps the sacred tenour of his soul.

PITT. The other day, looking over those old manuscripts of which I have formerly given some account, and which relate to the character of the mighty Pharamond of France, and the close friendship between him and his friend Eucrate, I found among the letters which had been in the custody of the latter an epistle from a country gentleman to Pharamond, wherein he excuses himself from coming to court. The gentleman, it seems, was contented with his condition, had formerly been in the king's service; but at the writing the following letter had, from leisure and reflection, quite another sense of things than that which he had in the more active part of his life.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »