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All ye Venuses, Graces, and Cupids attend :
See, prepared to your hands
Darts, torches, and bands:
“ I am, Sir,
“ A. B.”
The proposal of my correspondent I cannot but
upon as an ingenious method of placing persons, whose parts make them ambitious to exert themselves in frivolous things, in a rank by themselves. In order to this, I would propose that there be a board of directors of the fashionable society ; and, because it is a matter of too much weight for a private man to determine alone, I should be highly obliged to my correspondents if they would give in lists of persons qualified for this trust. If the chief coffee-houses, the conversations of which places are carried on by persons, each of whom has his little number of followers and admirers, would name from among themselves two or three to be inserted, they should be put up with great faithfulness. Old beaux are to be represented in the first place; but as that sect, with relation to dress, is almost extinct, it will, I fear, be absolutely necessary to take in all time-servers, properly so deemed ; that is, such as, without any conviction of conscience, or view of interest, change with the world, and that merely from a terror of being out of fashion. Such also, who from facility of temper and too much obsequiousness, are vicious against their will, and follow leaders whom they do not approve, for want of courage to go their own way, are capable persons for this superintendency. Those who are loth to grow old, or would do any thing contrary to the course regarded
and order of things, out of fondness to be in fashion, are proper candidates. To conclude, those who are in fashion without apparent merit, must be supposed to have latent qualities, which would appear in a post of direction; and therefore are to be in forming these lists. Any, who shall be pleased according to these, or what further qualifications may occur to himself, to send a list, is desired to do it within fourteen days after this date.
N. B. The place of the physician to this society, according to the last-mentioned qualification, is already engaged.
No. 479. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1712.
Dare jura maritis.
HOR. ARS POET. 398.
To regulate the matrimonial life.
Many are the epistles I every day receive from husbands who complain of vanity, pride, but, above all, ill-nature, in their wives. I cannot tell how it is, but I think I see in all their letters that the cause of their uneasiness is in themselves; and, indeed, I have hardly ever observed the married condition unhappy, but from want of judgement or temper in the
The truth is, we generally make love in a style and with sentiments very unfit for ordinary life: they are half theatrical, half romantic. By this means we raise our imaginations to what is not to be expected in human life; and, because we did not beforehand think of the creature we were enamoured of, as subject to dishumour, age, sickness, 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 our 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 : from 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, a 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 the 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 periwig, or adjust his cravat at the
glass, for the noise of those damned nurses and squalling brats; and then ends with a gallant reflection 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 that sincerely loves his wife and family, and studies to improve that affection in himself, 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 thing 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 them. 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 him 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
other notable sayings of their heir, which would have given very little entertainment to one less turned to reflection 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, self-satisfaction, 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 lawyers * 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 afflictions, 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 instruc