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Brettell, a modern poet, thus speaks of pure Love:
One fire alone for ever burns the same, A bright, pure, constant, undiminish'd flame; In human hearts--that fire is virtuous love, Whose steady torch is lighted from above. In all the various ills of changeful life, In grief-in pain-in want—the faithful wife Is still unchang'd, and our severest woes On her fond bosom find their best repose. The moon is not so constant to the night As she to man—the never-waning light Of her dear eyes, with softest, tenderest ray, Illumes our night, and cheers our darkest day. I cannot resist the temptation to quote the following lines from the same author, and at the same time take the liberty of recommending his elegant little work to public attention :
Tis sweet to think, that, when I die,
There's one will hold my languid head,
Till every breath of life is fled :
And lose, at last, their fading ray,
She'll watch beside my lifeless clay.
its softest tear,
Ere long, within one common tomb ;
To those blest realms beyond its gloom. She only who has cultivated her mind, can expect to have the power of conferring happiness on the conjugal union. Thus prepared, she will enter into the married state with every encouraging omen of felicity.
If the temper of her husband be congenial with her own; if the general tenor of his sentiments correspond with her's; and if she have sufficient philosophy to overlook those trifling incidents, which are commonly the subjects of domestic dispute, she will, without difficulty, ensure his ease and welfare. But granting she may have connected herself with a person well deserving her regard, as well from the goodness of his disposition, as from the excellence of his understanding, she is not to expect from him that continual selfcommand, which, as it is only to be sustained by the purest reason, can hardly continue without some interruptions, amidst a variety of unavoidable vexations. If elevated minds are obliged, as they often are, to stoop to little things, they must consequently be affected by little misadventures or miscarriages. It is the province of the wife to draw off the attention of her husband from every untoward circumstance in a family, by her own affectionate assiduities; to alleviate any thing disagreeable, arising from her own negligence, by an unreserved declaration of the cause ; not to extenuate her failings, when she is wrong; nor vindicate herself with violence, when she is right; and to concede, on every subject of disagreement, rather more than might be reasonably expected, instead of giving up with awkwardness and ill-grace, what she is no longer able to maintain.
To avoid all jarrings, especially with those we love, is not practicable. They, only, who live in perfect indifference to each other, are absolutely free from altercation.
A good wife is yielding and submissive both in her words and actions. Though possessing opinions of her own, she never opposes them to her husband's, unless with meekness and diffidence; with a readinoss to abandon them on conviction, or to withdraw them if not willingly allowed. She will also be solicitous to retain her husband's favourable opinion, by an unvarying attention to those niceties of person, and accomplishments of mind, which first attracted his admiration. All the little delicacies and lesser graces
in which women so especially excel, should be sedulously cultivated, as the most certain method of riveting the affection of a husband.
But, after all, it is religion only that can ensure the stability of love and happiness. It is for a wife to communicate her religious sentiments to her husband,—to inspire him with that spirit of piety so congenial with the female mind; and to look
up to him for better information on such doctrinal points as may happen to occur. Hence, only, can she qualify herself for instructing her offspring. For, as she is to expect children, she ought necessarily to prepare herself for their education.
Dr. Conyers Middleton addresses some very excellent letters to Mrs. Montague, on her marriage. I shall make no apology for giving the following extracts from them in this place :—
“You have the fairest prospect of conjugal felicity now open before you, by your marriage with a gentleman, not only of figure and fortune, but of great knowledge and understanding: who values you not so much for the charms of your person, as for those of your mind, which will always give you the surest hold of him; as they will every day be gathering strength, whilst the others are daily losing it. Beauty has great power to conciliate affection, but cannot preserve it without the help of the mind : whatever the perfections of the one may be, the accomplishments of the other will always be the more amiable, and, in the married state especially, will be found, after all, the most solid and lasting basis of domestic comfort.
“Young ladies, who have been admired as beauties, are apt to consider a husband as an acquisition of conquest, and to be shocked at the thought of being reduced by marriage to a state of subjection; and from a resolution to shake off this yoke, often lay the foundation of a contest which begins with matrimony itself, and continues sometimes to the end of it. But this capital point you wisely give up at once, and profess the duty of submission as essential to the character of a good wife : a condescension that cannot betray you into any inconvenience, since a reasonable husband will
never require more of it than is due; and a kind one will always be content with less, and, when convinced of the disposition, will generally dispense with the act. As your profession, I dare say, is sincere, I may trust you with a paradox, which you will certainly find to be true, that the more submissive you are, the less you will be obliged to submit; and should it be your ambition even to govern, you will accomplish it with the most ease, by acknowledging yourself a subject.
“ Between a married couple of sense and affection, for it is with such only that any happiness can be found, there can hardly be any dispute but what must turn upon trifles, or the contrast, perhaps, of some little habits, which, though indifferent in themselves, cannot suffer a contradiction without some regret. But as these are common to both sexes, and every person has his foibles in some degree or other, it must be the business of reason to make this matter easy by mutual eompliances, or a cartel, as it were, of exchange; where those, however, who happen to yield the most, will, by that conquest over themselves, which of all others is the most beneficial, be sure to be the greatest gainers in the end. As I have formerly been a musician, a reflection has sometimes occurred to me, from that part, which might, I think, be applied with good effect to the married state. From the pains and patience which are required to put an instrument in tune, before it can afford us any music, I have been induced to wonder, why the married pair, who are mutually the instruments of that harmony on which each other's comfort depends, should be generally so regardless of the necessary care of tuning, or reducing each other's temper to its proper tone, by softening it when too sharp, and raising it when too low; for I am persuaded that much less pains than what we employ without scruple upon a harpsichord, would keep both the husband and wife in what we call concert pitch. But some, perhaps, may be apt to raise a different reflection from the same subject; that discords in matrimony, like those in music, are both useful and necessary, to enhance and strengthen the harmony of the close. But the comparison will not hold, for the experiment will always be dangerous in the married state, where they may be compared more justly to those slight indispositions of the body, which, though they do not threaten the ruin of the whole, yet are apt to weaken some part; and whose proper use is to admonish us to guard our health with the greater care, in short, if two enemies should be forced by any accident to be comrades for life, the necessity of the thing would oblige them to become friends. The same reason then, one would think, should more strongly engage a pair of friends, tied together by choice and affection in a partnership inseparable, to extirpate every seed of discord that might possibly arise between them."
The inimitable Jeremy Taylor, in his Discourses on Marriage, has many excellent observations applicable to our subject. After stating that marriage was of divine constitution, and hallowed by a blessing ; he contrasts it with celibacy:
“Here (he says) is the proper scene of piety and patience, of the duty of parents, and charity of relatives; here kindness is spread abroad, and love is united and made firm as a centre: marriage is the nursery of heaven; the virgin sends prayers to God, but she carries but one soul to him, but the stage of marriage fills up the numbers of the elect, and bath in it the labour of love, and the delicacies of friendship, the blessing of society, and the union of hands and hearts ; it hath in it less of beauty, but more of safety, than the single life; it hath more care, but less danger; it is more merry, and more sad; is fuller of sorrows, and fuller of joys; it lies under more burdens, but is supported by all the strength of love and charity, and those burdens are delightful. Marriage is the mother of the world, and preserves kingdoms, and fills cities and churches, and heaven itself. Celibacy, like the fly in the heart of an apple, dwells in perpetual sweetness, but sits alone, and is confined, and dies in singularity; but marriage, like the useful bee, builds a house, and gathers sweetness from every flower, and labours and unites into societies and republics, and sends out colonies, and feeds the world with delicacies, and obeys their king, and keeps order, and exercises many virtues, and promotes the interest of mankind, and is that state of good things to which God hath designed the present constitution of the world. They that enter into the state of marriage, cast a dye of the greatest contingency, and yet of the greatest interest in the world, next to the last throw for eternity.
“Life or death, felicity or a lasting sorrow, are in the power of marriage. A woman, indeed, ventures most, for she hath no sanctuary to retire to from an evil husband, she must dwell upon her sorrow; and she is more under it, because her tormentor hath a warrant of prerogative, and the woman may complain to God, as subjects do of tyrant princes, but otherwise she has no appeal in the causes of unkindness. And though the man can run from many hours of his sadDess, yet he must return to it again, and when he sits among his neighbours, he remembers the objection that lies in his bosom, and he sighs deeply. The boys and the pedlars, and the fruiterers, shall tell of this man, when he is carried to his grave, that he lived and died a poor wretched person. The stags, in the Greek epigram, whose knees were clogged with frozen show upon the mountains, came down to the brooks of