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Who lives unconscious of their worth; the fool
Married people, who must see each other every day, and have sufficient opportunities of becoming acquainted with each other's faults and humours, cannot be too circumspect in their conduct. It is highly important that they should prevent their society becoming troublesome and tedious to each other, and to guard against mutual indifference and coolness. Dissimulation is one of the worst expedients that can be adopted for that purpose; but nothing is more efficacious than a certain regard for our own person, and an unremitted care to avoid every thing that can produce bad impressions. Married people should therefore carefully cultivate mutual civility, which is the true spirit and characteristic of conjugal familiarity, and at all times distinguishes a man of good breeding. They should avoid every thing which can render their person disagreeable in the eyes of the object of their tenderest affection, and particularly uncleanliness of dress, and impropriety of conduct. They, particularly, who live in the country, cannot too carefully avoid all rustic airs and expressions ; for how is it possible that a wife, who, from continued intercourse, must discover more defects and improprieties in her husband than in other people, should be partial to his society, and regard and love him with that undivided attachment which she ought. If you claim regard and love as a duty, you must be careful to deserve it; and if you expect your wife should love and honour you more than any other man, you must not rest this expectation merely upon the promise which she has given you at the altar, but upon your unremitted endeavours to be better and more amiable in every respect than others.
Husbands and wives should regard each other as on a level before God; which will temper the authority that belongs to the man, and dignify the submission which is owing from the woman. There is delicacy as well as strength in the matrimonial bond. To observe the numerous little attentions towards each other, which real goodness of heart will suggest, and true politeness bring constantly into exercise, is the only way to keep undiminished that pure, virgin affection, which adds sweetness to ardency, and renders the holy bondage in which husbands and wives are reciprocally united, the truest freedom. In our present state, both mind and body are liable to various accidents and diseases. When any of these break in upon the conjugal union, and interrupt, for a shorter or a longer space, the comfort and duties of life, it is the sacred duty, as well as the palpable interest of each, to bear with the infirmities of the other. Both, as the case may require, are to labour, by every exertion of skill and affection, to soothe the sufferings which they cannot cure, and to remove those which admit of removal, as speedily as possible. It is an express stipulation in the form of marriage, prescribed by the supreme authority of this country, that the parties take each other for “better and for worse, " and that, in “sickness and in health," they are faithfully to adhere to, and assist each other. This is a wise and Christian provision. It is, also, a most solemn engagement, and it is the indispensable duty of each party, as they value the favour of God, in whose presence the vow was made, truly to adhere to it
I know many houses, in which the dog is the only animal that seems to welcome the master, and he, poor animal, has many ways of shewing it. I have seen, in return, that the dog is often the only animal in the house that the master meets with a smile; I only speak of the sagacity of a dog, and his wise way of testifying pleasure on seeing an object he loves; just as Solomon quotes the ant for industry. Good examples must be taken where they can be found ; it is in vain to search for them where they are not. But enough of the dog-though I am certain the very mention of him has let the woman into the secret, more than a whole volume of descriptions. The first meeting is a great thing, either in war or peace. Disarm your enemy, if you want to conquer; and if your pride revolts at all this, you may cure it by considering that all is done for your own pleasure and comfort, and then there is no humiliation ; if, indeed, you consider it as humiliation to humour, a little, the man whom you love. All I mean to say is, that meeting a sullen face with a sullen face, is only making things worse ; still you are to use your discretion, according to experience and circumstances. At all events, try to dispel gloom by being cheerful, and never be the first to be sad. If you find your efforts ineffectual, do not attempt to win by passiveness; be interesting and obliging, but not fawning nor subservient; usurp no superiority, but avoid falling into the slave. In this case, the great thing is, to be guided by judgment and good sense. Avoid coolness and indifference in public, as much as those foolish expressions that look like deceit rather than affection. Some women, from imaginary, and others, from mistaken pique, are more distant and reserved with the man to whom they have granted the full possession of their person, than they are to others to whom they have not an intention to grant the smallest favour. If you know of any fault in your husband, endeavour to conceal it from all the world, but more particularly from the family, and most of all from your children. If you have any difference of opinion with him, use the same caution.
Neither be indifferent to exposing your little foibles to your husband, nor too solicitous to concenl them. The former way lessens esteem—the latter will certainly lessen love and friendship. An attempt to appear perfect is ridiculous. It is not for vices that we pry into people's character, but for foibles; and if we do not meet with some, we are not at ease. Sympathy, and a similarity of character, are absolutely necessary, even if it were not too fatiguing to be always on the stretch to conceal foibles which had better, in fact, be known.
The following characters are drawn by the inimitable pen of Addison :
“ Aurelia, though a woman of great quality, delights in the privacy of a country life, and passes away a great part of her time in her own walks and gardens. Her husband, who is her bosom friend and companion in her solitudes, has been in love with her ever since he knew her. They both abound with good sense, consummate virtue, and a mutual esteem, and are a perpetual entertainment to one another. Their family is under so great an economy, and its hours of devotion, repast, and employment, so regular, that it looks like a little commonwealth within itself. They often go into company, that they may return with the greater delight to one another; and sometimes live in town, not to enjoy it so long as to grow weary of it, but that they may renew in themselves the relish of a country life. By this means, they are happy in each other, beloved by their children, adored by their servants, and are become the envy, or rather the delight, of all that know them.
“ How different to this is the life of Fulvia ! she considers her husband as her steward, and looks upon discretion and housewifery as little domestic virtues, unbecoming a woman of quality. She thinks life lost in her own family, and fancies herself out of the world when she is not in the ring, the play-house, or the drawing-room. She lives in a perpetual motion of body and restlessness of thought; and is never easy in any one place, when she thinks there is more company in another. The missing of an opera the first night, would be more afflicting to her than the death of a child. She pities all the valuable part of her own sex, and calls every woman of a prudent, modest, and retired life, a poor-spirited, unpolished creature. What a mortification would it be to Fulvia, if she knew that her setting herself to
view, is but exposing herself, and that she grows contemptible, by being conspicuous."
I beg to recommend the following sprightly fable, the product of a female pen, to the attention of the fair sex.
It was addressed to a new-married lady, by Mrs. Hales :
Fanny, beware of jealousy,
Had built her castle in the air,
When once she'd fix'd her station there,
To find her mate had ta’en his flight.
She ask'd him what he meant,
And if 'twas his intent
May justly claim your due,
But then it is as true,
Nor lets me use my wing ;
Sit sulky and ne'er sing.
She open'd wide the door ;
He flew abroad no more !