No. 479. Tuesday, September 9, 1712. Steele.

--Dare Jure maritis.'

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 Judgment or Temper in the Man. The truth is, we generally make Love in a Style, and with Sentiments very unfit for ordinary Life: They are half Theatrical, half Romantick. 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 it self 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 domestick 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 form'd 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 disturb'd 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 adjust his Cravat at the Glass, for the Noise of those damned Nurses and [squaling [1] 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 dispos'd 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 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 prevail'd 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, Pappa 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 a-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 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-natur'd Coxcomb, who was 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 Mens 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; [1] 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-peck'd, own'd and acknowledged that he ow'd 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 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 observ'd to him, That they who learn to keep a good Seat on horseback, mount the least managable they can get, and when they have master'd them, they are sure never to be discomposed on the Backs of Steeds less restive. [2] 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 your 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 tho' he cannot make her better, he may, you see, make himself better by her means.

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 enjoy'd in greater Perfection in the marry'd, 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 Afflictions, because others are exempt from them. All who are marry'd without this Relish of their Circumstance, are in either a tasteless Indolence and Negligence, which is hardly to be attain'd, 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 compleatest Image of Heaven and Hell we are capable of receiving in this Life.


[Footnote 1: [squalwing]]

[Footnote 2: Henry de Bracton in his treatise of live books 'de Legibus et Dounsuetudinibus Anglia', written about the middle of the thirteen centry, says (Bk. I. ch. x.)

'quædam sunt sub virga, ut uxores, &c.'

but qualifies private right with the secondary claim of the community.]

[Footnote 3: Xenophon's Symposium, Bk. II.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. Ars Poet. 398.
'To regulate the matrimonial life.'