Page images
PDF
EPUB

that a madman is possessed, and every one that is not in a rage himself, will allow passion to be a temporary madness, which makes men act as irrationally as lunatics, although they have not the same excuse to plead : such unhappy per· sons will often tell you, that passion is a natural infirmity; a violent distemper which they strive against, and therefore they ought to be excused; butlet them remember that their conduct is the moreunjustifiable, as they are sensible of theia folly. If a husband is unkind and cruel, it is a great affliction, and the scriptures tellus, all things of that nature are grievous; but as contrary as they are to flesh and blood, yet they arise not from the dust, and that it is not for us to contend with our Maker. He that can with a word control the fury of the winds und seas, can with as little trouble avert any storm that threatens, when he sees us fit objects of

mercy. For if we attempt to shake off the yoke, or think by struggling to make the chain sit looser upon us, we shall soon be convincerlof our error, like birds taken in a net, who, by beating their feathers off, increase their misery, and at the same time disable themselves from making their escape. Those amongst us that know we have been so obliging as never to deserve an ill word from our persecutors, should remember, that still we every day deserve God's chastisements; and that wicked and unreasonable men are a sword of his which wounds us the deeper, the more we love the land which he employs for our correction. But how sharp svever it is, yet we should not repine, considering it is to humble us, in order to draw us nearer to himself. He has said, that when we arrive at a proper degree of pertection, we shall be free from all our sufferings ; but as long as we continue to oifend, we shall be punished either in this world, or what is infinitely worse, in the world

I have a few thoughts more to send you on the same subjeci, woich I ain not able at preserit to communicate, being in a poor state of health, biti am still,

Near madan, your sincere friend,

to come.

I

LETTER CXXXIl.

From the same. Dear Madam, N compliance with your request, I mentioned a few things

concerning marriage, and according to my promise, now sit down to trouble

you

with the remainder. It is certainly a very silly thing for people to quarrel, who must be friends again : unless they choose rather to live asunder than submit silently to many things they cannot approve. I will not pretend to determine what provocation is sufficient to justify such a breach, nor to say that it cannol be justified, since even the best of women have parled from their husbands, although they seem sincerely tolament their separation. Nor does their conduct accuse them to have done it lightly, or upon the account of taking their pleasure, which would soon be discovered, as in such circunıstances all eyes are upon them, and they must live more reserved than the rest of the world, or else they would quickly be liable to such a censure as must vindicate the conduct of their husbands.

And though in all quarrels betwixt a man and his wife, if it comes to a hot dispute, there are faults in both parties, yet the weaker vessel is so little considered, merely for being weak, that they are often blamed much more than they desérre; which censure they can no way prevent so well, as by a strict observance of their relative duties, and to have a conscience void of offence towards God and the world,

Nothing upon earth can be said to afford satisfaction, only as ourimagination makes it appearso at a distance; and this prospect is dressed by fancy in such various shapes, that what would be a delight to one, is real misery to another ; and age or possession does sometimes give the same persons such different notions, that they grow sick at the very things they languished for before. This is probably the reason, why old people are so much for denying young ones those innocent diversions they are grown weary of themselves; though perhaps, at the same time, they may gratify their own foible in something equally ridiculous. li is this contrariety in the mind that makes matrimony so uneasy; for when one sets up a separate Diana to worship, their hearts cannot be full of affection to one another; and if both are higotied in their own way, it too often ruins not only themselves, but also their innocent children. But you, Madam,

are not in danger of falling into this error, being of ino complying a nature to bring yourself and others into any inconvenience upon that score; and I rejoice to hear how unmoved you are under so great a provocation. I confess that a husband's keeping another before one's eyes,is the cruelest thing he can do; yet even in that case it is most prudent to show no frowardness ; for the mistress will be sure to entertain him with mirth and caressing, which will make the wife's frowns seem more intolerable, and such women never fail to magnify all domestic accidents. These prostitutes are indeed the greatest enemies to conjugal love; for them the gentlemen put on their best countenances, and with them they pass their most pleasing hours; the indignation is reserved for the wife of his bosom, who must share in nothing but the grievances, till at last they become partners in their wants, the unavoidable consequences of such courses: some few instances we have seen of husbands who have been reclaimed by a wife's tenderness, before the intrigue has gone too far, but none I believe were ever hectored out of it. Some men are so kind to their wives, as to endeavour to conceal their falsehood: which if they do, it is very indiscreet for the ladies to inquire int: it, and they are no friends who give them the inforination. Hethat goes

about to hide his amour, shows either a sense of shame, or a regard to his spouse; and that may in time wean him from such company, or at least it is a sign he does not desire to grieve her, which most men esteem their great prerogalive, and would lose half their satisfaction in their intrigues, were it not for their pleasure of tormenting the wife. There are some husbands, who, to use the old proverb,

“ have stretched the bow till it has broke;" for any woman, whose heart is divested of every virtuous principle, in such cases isto return the compliment, especially when stimulated both by pride and revenge. She thinks a gallant's admiration repays the affront which a husband puts upon her charms, by giving her place to another, perhaps less handsome than herself. This has been thought a plausible excuse by many women, and upon their husbands running astray, bave diverted their melancholy hours at the expense of their honour. But whatever I have said of mutual fuelings, I do pot make any comparison in favour of my own sex, as I know the crime is much greater in the wife, and even detestable, mudesty being the highest ornament of a woman,

GS

and the casting it off becomes a sin both against God and nalure. For my part, if I commit a fault against my sex, it beirig for so much resignation, they must pardon me; for I cannot advise others to more obedience than I would wish to practise myself; and I entreat all those that despise me, as beiog so tame a fool, that they would banish all anger out of their minds for one year, and then tell me if they have not more content in forgiving than returning a reproach.

I fear I have already exceeded the bounds of a letter, for which I ought to make an apology, but more words would give you trouble; therefore I will only beg of you to excuse and love

Your ever sincere, and affectionate friend.

O

LETTER CXXXIII. From a lady to her friend, whose lover had basely left her

and married another. My dear friend,

UR expectation of happiness is generally so ill placed, poiments.

When our choice arises from passion, we have so blind a guide as will inevitably lead us to destruction; for though love appears then gentlest, yet our affections are so much the right of our Almighty Creator, that as often as we fix them immoderately upon any of the fading objects here below, we are certainly guilty of sacrilege to the Divine Goodness, which fault is commonly punished by the very thing we doat on. This, I doubt noi, has been your case, and not yours alore; for soon or late few escape. ihat mischief, especially amongst our weaker sex, whose tender nature leaves them most exposed to ruil; and though they see others shipwrecked before their eyes, will yet venture out to sea on the same bottom, insensible of danger till they perish, and often fall un pitied.

Men have a thousand advantages over us, but in the afa fairs of courtship they add cunning to all their other accom-plishments, and are as zealous to deceive, as if their lives would be made happy by the cheat. However they will find ii a sad mistake, at least if perjury is to be accounted for ; although your false trailor, like many others, may look on that line at a great distance. But I suppose he thinks himself excused, as being more knave than sool, which title

indeed is so highly due to hiin, that I believe none will do him such manifest wrong'as to dispute it; and I am sure, the blacker he appears, the greater reason you have t). bless that Providence, which permitted him to break the contract, for, without doubt, he that proved so ill a lover to the best of mistresses, would have made an intolerable husband to the best of wives; and ill usage would have cost

you more than his infidelity. I am sensible a heari so generous and constant as yours, cannot easily efface the deep impression he has made in it; that must be the work of time, with God's assistance, which I hope will never fail you.

I do assure you, I am deeply touched with every thing that concerns you, nor is it without great regret, that I submit to my unhappy circumstances detaining me from being the companion of your melancholy hours, which I shoud endeavour, with all my power, to divert.

You say it is a daily aggravation to your trouble, to think you suffered yourself to be so easily imposed on; but that, as I told you before, is our common fate, although all impostors are not equally industrious to be wicked ; and you ought not to condemn your own judgment, for want of sagacity to discover a cheat, as it would be to arraign the conduct of almost all the human race.

Pardon me, iar madam, for troubling you so far. Indeed I might have told you at first what I must mention now, and what you know already, that he only can give us comfort whom we seldom regard but when we are driven to it by necessity. Solomon, who had tried all the alluring charms of love and beauty, whose quality and riches gave him an opportunity of gratifying every inclination, with out any bounds to his wishes, could call them all 16 Vanity and vexation of spirit.” Il is no wonder Then, if every one of us discover the same truth to our own cost, 'Let us therefore resolve, as much as we can, to submit our wills to the will of our heavenly Father, who sees all our clips; and has so decreed, that our way to everlasting should be through the wilderness of affliction!

I am, dear madam, your sincere friends

« PreviousContinue »