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She who ne'er answers till a husband cools;
Yet has her humour most when she obeys.
Is taught by Virtue, and by her alone. The marriage tie is equally unfortunate if dissatisfaction and aversion be felt by one of the parties; and this will frequently be the case if it have been contracted from political or economical considerations; or occasioned by coercion, despair, distress, gratitude, accident, a transient whim, or mere sensual desire, in which the heart was never interested; also, if one party is always expecting to receive and never to give, continually claiming attention, pleasure, and comfort, and never caring to return it. Congeniality of disposition should, therefore, always be an anxious object of attention in choosing a partner for life, since domestic happiness is of too important a nature to be left to the uncertain result of chance.
If, however, it be recollected, that even those marriages which result from voluntary choice, are generally contracted at an age and under circumstances in which a man is determined rather by
blind passion and natural instinct, than by nature, consideration, and reason, (although he may dream and talk under the delusion of sympathy and fondness,) it is matter of astonishment that so many happy couples are to be found in the world. Kind providence has, however, regulated every thing so wisely, that happiness frequently is promoted by that which is apparently most opposed to it. The mischiefs arising from incapacity of judgment in our juvenile years, are happily counteracted by the pliability and accommodating disposition which belongs to that period of life. We are the less fastidious, than when experience and disappointment have rendered us cautious; when cooler reason anatomizes objects more carefully; and when every interruption of enjoyment is more bitterly felt, since reflection calls to mind the short period it will be within our reach, and stimulates us to husband our time and pleasure more carefully. If differences arise between a young couple, they are soon reconciled ; aversion and hatred do not take root so easily, and whilst the senses maintain their dominion, the most violent dissensions are frequently terminated in an affectionate embrace. To this must be added, that habit, common interest, domestic occupations, which leave little time for the indulgence of idle fancies, the pleasure which children create, the mutual care of their education, and the joint concern for their future happiness, contribute in the years of youth, vigour, and activity, to ease the burdens of matrimonial life; and to give birth to pleasures which have a double relish from participation with an affectionate partner.
A perfect harmony of temper, of disposition and thinking, of capacities and taste, is not necessarily required to constitute matrimonial happiness; the contrary may sometimes afford more felicity, if the disparity be not too great, and extend not to essential principles. A bond that is founded on mutual interest, and in which all the troubles one party suffers, equally affect the other, renders it frequently necessary that the too great vivacity, the rash impetuosity of the husband, should be tempered by gentleness, and sometimes even by a little phlegm on the part of the wife, and vice verså, to prevent a variety of heedless steps, with their dangerous consequences. · Many families would also be reduced to total ruin, if man and wife were animated with an equal propensity for splendour, luxury, and extravagance; or for immoderate benevolence and sociability: and as our young novel readers commonly shape the ideal picture of their future partners after their own dear self, the interference of an old morose father or guardian is sometimes very beneficial to them.
Mr. Gisborne, in treating of the duties antecedent to marriage, gives the following cautions, which cannot be two highly commended, nor too frequently enforced.—The foundation of the greater portion of the unhappiness, which clouds matrimonial life, is to be sought in the unconcern so prevalent in the world, as to those radical principles on which character and the permanence of character depend,the principles of religion. Popular language indicates the state of popular opinion. If a union about to take place, or recently contracted, between two young persons, is mentioned in conversation, the first question which we hear asked concerning it is, whether it be a good match. The very countenance and voice of the inquirer, and of the answerer, the terms of the answer returned, and the observation, whether expressive of satisfaction or of regret, which falls from the lips of the company present in the circle, all concur to shew what, in common estimation, is meant by being well married. If a young woman be described as thus married, the terms imply, that she is united to a man whose rank and fortune are such, when compared with her own, or those of her parents, that in point of precedence, in point of command of finery and of money, she is, more or less, a gainer by the bargain. They imply, that she will now possess the enviable advantages of other ladies in the neighbourhood; of decking herself out with jewels and lace; of inhabiting splendid
apartments, lolling in handsome carriages, gazing on numerous servants in gaudy liveries, and of going to London, and other fashionable scenes of resort, in a degree somewhat higher than that in which a calculating broker, after poring on her pedigree, summing up her property in hand, and computing, at the market price, what is contingent or in reversion, would have pronounced her entitled to them. But what do the means imply as to the character of the man selected to be her husband? Probably nothing. His character is a matter which seldom enters into the consideration of the persons who use them, unless it at length appears in the shape of an afterthought, or is awkwardly bitched into their remarks for the sake of decorum. If the terms imply any thing, they mean no more than that he is not scandalously and notoriously addicted to vice. He may be proud, he may be ambitious, he may be malignant, he may be devoid of Christian principles, practice, and belief; or, to say the very least, it may be totally unknown whether he does not fall, in every particular, under this description; and yet, in the language and in the opinion of the generality of both sexes, the match is excellent. In like manner, a small diminution in the supposed advantages already enumerated, though counterpoised by the acquisition of a companion eminent for his virtues, is supposed to constitute a bad match ; and is universally lamented in polite meetings with real or affected concern. The good or bad fortune in the choice of a wife is estimated according to the same rules.
From those who contract marriages, either chiefly, or in a considerable degree, through motives of interest or of ambition, it would be folly to expect previous solicitude respecting piety of heart. And it would be equal folly to expect that such marriages, however they may answer the purposes of interest or of ambition, should terminate otherwise than in wretchedness. Wealth may be secured, rank may be obtained ; but if wealth and rank are to be main ingredients in the cup of matrimonial felicity, the sweetness of the wine
will be exhausted at once, and nothing remain but bitter and corrosive dregs. When attachments are free from the contamination of such unworthy motives, it by no means always follows that much attention is paid to intrinsic excellence of moral character. Affection, quick-sighted in discerning, and diligent in scrutinizing, the minutest circumstances which contribute to shew whether it is met with reciprocal sincerity and ardour, is, in other respects, purblind and inconsiderate. It magnifies good qualities which exist; it seems to itself to perceive merits, which, to other eyes, are invisible ; it gives credit for what it wishes to discover; it inquires not, where it fears a disappointment. Yet, what security .can a woman have for happiness in marriage, if the only foundation on which confidence can be safely reposed, be wanting? And ought she not, in common prudence, to consider it as wanting, until she is thoroughly convinced of its existence? He whose ruling principle is that of stedfast obedience to the laws of God, has a pledge to give, and it is a pledge worthy of being trusted, that he will discharge his duty to his fellowcreatures, according to the different relations in which he may be placed. Every other bond of confidence is fragile as a thread, and looks specious only to prove delusive. A woman who receives for her husband a person of whose moral character she knows no more than that it is outwardly decent, stakes her welfare upon a very hazardous experiment. She who marries a man not entitled even to that humble praise, in the hope of reclaiming him, stakes it on an experiment in which there is scarcely a probability of success.
Among various absurd and mischievous lessons which young women were accustomed in the last age to learn from dramatic representations, one of the most absurd and mischievous was this, that a man of vicious character was particularly likely, when once reformed, to make a good and exemplary husband. At the conclusion of almost every comedy, the hero of the piece, signalized throughout its progress by qualities and conduct radically incompatible with the