The Philosophy of Courtship and Marriage

Author(s): Anonymous




Love is wisdom by a sweeter name.
Montgomery's Messiah
Introductory, 1
Touching the Age at which a man should Marry,
Concerning the Requisites of a Wife, 16
Courtship, 31
Proposal and Marriage...........3
The Economy and Duties of the Marriage State, . . . 41
A few Words on Family Matters, 56,
TOUCHING the importance of the subject of this treatise,
I presume no well founded doubt can exist. View it
in whatever light you may, it is pregnant with matter
of grave moment, affecting equally the interests of
communities and of individuals.
Considered in the former of these positions, marriage
addresses itself in an especial manner to the attention
of the philosophic politician, in as much as it is one of
the primary bonds which holds society together, and is,
invariably, the concomitant characteristic of civilization
and refinement. 'Wherever the discoverer has lighted
upon a country where it did not exist in some shape,
he has ever found a community pre-eminently distinguished
for rudeness and barbarism — and the first indication
of a people's regeneration from "mere instinctive
existence" (to borrow the expression of Hobbes of
Malmsbury), has been a recognition of the matrimonial

In point of fact, a race
"Whose neck the pleasing yoke hath ne'er embraced,"
may, to a certain extent, be considered inferior to the
brute creation, seeing that the nobler descriptions of
animals do not cohabit indiscriminately, but associate
in individual pairs. As Herbert sings,
"Go, rover, to the woods — the lion there
"Will read a lesson from his rocky lair ;
"His royal mate he seeketh not to change,
"Nor from-their mutual couch gregariously to range."
Considered individually, the importance of the subject
is no less striking and momentous. Marriage is
either the greatest blessing or the deadliest curse of life.
One of our old English writers, of the reign of Charles I.,
quaintly remarks : " Of all the paths which diversify
the map of this our mortal pilgrimage, the most important
is that which leadeth unto the matrimonial altar :—
for of a verity the man who once taketh that journey
will not return therefrom in the same condition as when
he set forth. His cup of life will either be sweetened
by the honey of pleasure, or imbittered by the gall
and wormwood of abiding disappointment and regret—
the more intolerable because unavailing."
Indeed, I suspect that comparatively few weigh, with
proper consideration, the importance of the matrimonial
contract ; and that to this heedlessness is to be traced
those multiform instances of uncongenial and unhappy
unions which have furnished points to the shafts of the
scoffer and the misanthropist. How many a one
chooses a wife with no greater forethought or consideration
than he would a horse or a dog — looking merely
at her external points, and altogether neglecting to
inquire whether her mental and moral qualifications
are in unison with his own. The consequence is, that
such marriages are little better than a lottery, which
may turn up either a blank or a prize, the calculation
of chances being mightily in favour of the former.
Methinks, at this point of my discourse, I hear the
advocate of what is mendaciously termed a " life of
single blessedness" exclaim,
"Now here, oh, Jew, I have thee on the hip!"
If such perils attend the navigation, who would ever
launch his bark on such a dangerous and deceitful sea ?"
The objection is a mere fallacy, and it will require
little argument to unfold and expose its flimsy meshes.
Carry out our anti-unionist's theory to its full and legitimate
extent, and what will be the consequences ? No
father will choose a profession for his son because, forsooth,
soldiers have turned out cowards, and clergymen
profligates ; and it will be better for his boy to grow up
in idleness and poverty, than run the risk of disgracing
himself by some act unworthy of, or inconsistent with,
his calling. The parent must study diligently and
wisely the inclinations and capabilities of his child ;
and in the same manner the prospective Benedict must
set himself to the task of searching for a help-mate in
whose society and intercourse he will have a rational
prospect of happiness. Recklessness is all that I
deprecate — caution and intelligent prudence is all I
insist for.
Foolish as the bird appears which rushes headlong
into the unconcealed net of the fowler, it is not more
deserving of our pity than the little fish, so beautifully
fabled in that inimitable romance, the Fool of Quality,
which, having received from heaven the power of
guarding against unseen dangers, became at the last so
ultra-cautious, that it perished from hunger—fearing
that every fly which skimmed the surface of its native
stream concealed a hook armed for its destruction.
The thoughtless bridegroom is the bird, and our
sneering friend is aptly represented by the fish. Which
of them is the most foolish it is hard to say — they may
settle the unenviable precedence between themselves.
That more happiness results from the married than
the single state, I think no one can fairly doubt — always
assuming that it has been entered into deliberately and
with open eyes. So long as youth and spirits remain,
the bachelor may, for many years, at least imagine himself
happy. Out-door amusements, such as the theatre,
the ball-room, or the convivial board, may afford him a
certain degree of gratification. But this does not last for
ever. In many cases the accumulated mists of twenty
years dim the brightest lustres, and lend an insipidity to
the highest flavoured wine cup. The sound of mirth falls
with diminished gust upon his palled ear, and having in his
search after happiness, traversed the mountains of vanity
and the valleys of dissipation, till each one of their landmarks
is disgustingly familiar to his eye, he sits down
with the Grecian monarch, and sighs for more worlds
to explore. Wearied and jaded, he exclaims, that
henceforth he will seek pleasure at home — Home !
Where is it ? — And the mocking echoes of his solitary
lodging, answer — where ? He starts at the uncouth
reverberation of his own voice, and, like the desolate
St. Leon, he goes forth an unsympathizing and unsympathized
wanderer on the face of the earth. What boots
it that he has wealth and possessions — they may bring
about him shoals of greedy and expecting heirs, but they
cannot purchase a social friend. They may guarantee him
from being left to draw his last breath in solitude and
silence, but through the assumed sorrow of the faces
which meet the sickly glance of his leaden and languid
eye, he will read the expression of an ill-concealed wish
that he should depart, so that the inheritance might be
theirs. The footsteps which prowl about his bed will
sound like the flapping of the wings of unclean vultures
wheeling around the expiring victim, their each individual
feather quivering with impatience for the moment, when
the last beat of the pulse and the last inhalation of vital
air will surrender the victim to their obscene orgies.
Having contemplated this picture, let us now turn to
another " counterfeit presentment."
The man who marries judiciously or happily — for
the terms are synonymous — never knows what it is to
be lonely or solitary. " His home to him a kingdom
is," and there he finds a zest for every pleasure, and a
balmy consolation for every sorrow. If prosperous
he ever knows where to find one who will rejoice with
him—if the black ox of adversity hath trodden on his
foot, there is one always ready to sympathize with and
console him. Man is essentially a social being. The
.only source of true philosophy, hath said " non est
bonum esse hominem solum" — and experience hath
ever shown that pleasure unshared loses half its relish,
and no sorrow so deeply corrodes the heart as solitary
sorrow. The wounded Edward would have perished
had not his faithful wife
" Sucked the foul venom from his festering wound."
And many a man, returning home from 'Change, his
brow black with the tidings of sunken ships or unsuccessful
speculations, hath felt as if a weight of lead were
cast from his breast. so soon as he met the consolations
of one to whom he was dear in the sunshine of fortune
—but dearer far in the darkness and clouds of adversity.
Old age comes on. Beauty takes the wings of the
morning and flies far away — the ruddy beacon of health
waxes dim, and the gaunt and ghastly visage of disease
is seen ever and anon glaring in from the window of
his habitation, and the wild sough of the coming storm
of death is fitfully heard in the far distance. The married
man is prepared and fore-armed for these vicissitudes.
— " He has comfort still." His children clustering
like ivy around the aged trunk, shelter and defend
it from the cold blast — an arm is ever ready for his
support, a hand is never wanting to drug the cup or
smooth the pillow. Gold can do much ; but all " the
wealth of Ormus and of Ind" could not purchase comforts
and consolations such as these to the solitary man.
Gold might emblazon the costly escutcheon, but it
could not purchase tears to wet the velvet of the coffin.
Look, reader, upon this picture and the former —
neither of them overcharged ; and, as a moral juryman;
can you refuse a verdict in favour of matrimony ?
IT is generally considered a difficult query to solve, at
what age a man ought to turn his attention to matrimony.
Youth is proverbially thoughtless and unheeding,
and is frequently apt to be led away by the prompting
impulse of the moment ; but having all this in view,
I am inclined, after mature deliberation, to recommend
early marriages. My reasons for this conclusion I
shall state as plainly and briefly as possible.
I presume it will readily be conceded to me, that
tastes are acquired and habits formed more easily in
youth than in maturer age. The mind then is like the
oak sapling, which the breeze of summer may bend
or the hand of a child shape with ease ; but when years
have rolled by, and the sapling hath shot up into a
stalwart tree, the blast of the tornado thunders innoxious
against it, and the might of a Titan cannot change
its gnarled position. Now, it is extremely difficult to
find two minds nearly alike — perhaps there never was
a pair who did not differ essentially in many important
points. Poets, indeed, have fabled a faultless assimilation
of minds, but such a figuration is only one of those
" Perfect monsters which the world ne'er saw."
Each mind differs from another, even as one leaf hath
some peculiarity which its neighbour shares not. Experience,
however, teaches, that when parties associate
constantly, as in the married state, there comes to
an amalgamation of tastes and feelings, even as the
tendril suits itself to the shape and direction of the tree
around which it clings. And the mind, as I have
stated before, being most ductile in youth, so I conclude,
that when parties wed early, there is a greater
chance of a harmonious unison of temper and habit.
The first fresh ardour of affection makes the one avoid
whatever may be disagreeable to the other, and that
which, at first, required a little self-restraint, becomes,
from repetition, a second nature so to speak.
Another plea for early marriages is, that they tend, in
no small degree, to guard a man from dissipation. The
truth of this is so self-evident, that it requires but little
illustration or enforcement. I will peril the case upon the
decision of any bachelor between the years of eighteen and
thirty-six. When once the leashes of parental authority
have been slipped, a man, unless he be of a literary or
scientific temperament, hath no place which he can
truly esteem a home — where there is no wife in the
case. Youthful excitement is a flame which is constantly
craving fuel, and for want of a magnet to concentrate
their affections on the fireside, thousands have
plunged into the polluted stream of folly and vice,
which increases in velocity the longer they wallow in
its slimy waves, and where, if the grappling-irons of
religion arrest not their progress, they must ultimately
perish. Even when rescued, how frequently do they
bear about with them lasting mementos of their sin in
the shape of shattered frames and broken constitutions!
Depraved indeed to a singular degree must be that
man whom the thought of a young, loving, and beautiful
wife would not draw from the wine cup ere the
mercury had reached the point of excess. Miserably
depraved as human nature is, I think better of my
kind than to imagine that many could be found capable
of callously resisting such an appeal.
When I state that, in a prudential point of view,
early marriages are advisable, I know I have many
prejudices to combat. Pictures innumerable have
been painted of love and poverty ; but from a careful
observance of facts, I have come to the conclusion,
that where there is not actual and literal poverty, a
man is a gainer, even in the matter of pounds, shillings
and pence, by "taking unto himself a wife." What
I mean to imply, in speaking of poverty, is, that before
a man ventures on changing his condition, he should
have fairly commenced life—should have a house which
he could call his own, and an occupation or profession
sufficient, in the mean time to place him above the risk
of actual want, and with a reasonable hope of increase.
In a word, to borrow a homely expression, I would
have him to be in " a well-doing way." I insist not
for wealth, but for a well.founded prospect of his acquiring
a competency by his talents and industry.
When a man once sees his way before him, he may
not only safely but advantageously marry, for by so
doing, a spur will be given to his exertions more effectual
and quickening than any abstract maxims of prudence,
or even ambition itself, could supply. He will
rise earlier in the morning, and sit later at night.
He will pursue his calling with redoubled energy, because
he hath more to provide for than when he was
alone in the world ; and he will bring more prudence
and circumspection to bear upon his speculations,
because he is aware, that those whom he loveth dearer
than himself would suffer by a reverse of fortune. " The
hand of the diligent maketh rich" — a man, unless he be
the bond-vassal of mammon, generally requireth some
incentive to diligence even in money-making : wedlock
furnishes the strongest conceivable incentive. These
positions granted, the ergo is self-evident.
In illustration of the practical truth of the above
theory, I may mention, that the most prosperous of
the young men of my acquaintance engaged in mercantile
or professional pursuits are Benedicts ; and I would
risk a trifle, that if on were to make an abstract of the
bankruptcies in the Gazette for the last dozen years,
the majority of the dyvers will be found to be unmarried.

When people talk of the expenses of a married establishment,
they seem to forget the fact, that there is no
housekeeper equal to a wife. She is a man's best and
most faithful steward ; and unless she have expensive
tastes, or habits of extravagance, will make a pound go
farther than five could do with a bachelor. I lately
saw a case in point. A gentleman who, from mistaken
motives of prudence, declines to change his condition,
made lately, at my request, an abstract of his household
expenditure for a year, and it exceeded considerably
the outlay, for the same period, of another friend who
is married, and who, in like manner, furnished me with
the data I required. I may add, that both parties
move in the same rank of life, and live in a manner
becoming their condition. Men are proverbially bad
managers — and even admitting that their domestics are
faithful, still the motive for economy is awanting, and
without a motive nothing effectual can be accomplished
in this or in any other matter.
While I thus recommend early unions, I would not
be supposed to excommunicate from the altar of matrimony
those "of riper years." It is never too late to
do well ; and if marriage be essentially a good thing, it
will advantage fifty as well as five-and-twenty. Only
let it be borne in mind, that the man on whose head
the frosts of time have begun to settle avoid mating
with a person much his junior. As Shakspeare says,
" Crabbed age and youth
" Cannot live together :"
nature and propriety alike forbid such banns. To this
subject I shall have occasion to advert more fully in a
subsequent chapter.
One man reaches comparative maturity, so much
sooner than another; that it is next to impossible to lay
down any rifles indicating the proper marrying age.
Cæteris paribus, however, I should say that from six to
eight-and-twenty would be about the epoch. In most
instances, by the latter at least of these periods; a man
begins to " feel his ballast" if he have any — ,and is able
to form a tolerably correct estimate of his ways and
means. And I believe, that those who have paid some
attention to the moral statistics of the subject agree,
that the unions which are most felicitous in their
results, are generally those formed about the period to
which I have referred.
IN whatever way it may be viewed, this is by far the
most important part of our subject — comprising, as it
Both, the whole pith and marrow of the matter. I
shall endeavour to treat it in as practical a manner as
possible, avoiding quaint theories, and striving to frame
my observations so as to meet the cases of the great
average of every-day life.
I may premise that I write neither for the very highest
or the lowest grades of society. In my brief limits it
would be impossible to compass so extensive a circuit
as this would imply. My remarks shall have reference
to those who, in a mercantile community, are known
by the designation of "the better classes" — to those who,
while they have no pretensions to " write themselves
down" of the aristocracy, are yet, from education and
profession, entitled to take their place in what is conventionally
styled " good society. "; 'While I deem this
explanation necessary, however, I would not have it'
imagined that my maxims and opinions can have no
reference to any circle but what I have marked out.
Human nature is the same in all ranks and in all conditions
; and though some of my dicta may not exactly
bear reference to the case of the peer or plebeian, still
the philosophy of the whole, if based on truth and experience,
will be found of universal application.
In choosing a wife, a man should take especial care
that she is neither much above or below the rank of life
in which he seems permanently fixed. An excess
either way is pregnant with probable consequences
equally pernicious, and opposed to a rational chance of
In the former case, the husband runs no small risk
of losing that moral authority which custom and nature
alike agree in investing him with, Women are proverbially
known to be the most inveterate aristocrats,
and they will, in many cases, part with life itself sooner
than abate any of the consequence to which they may
consider themselves entitled. Even good sense and
affection for the husband will not prevent an occasional
reminiscence of pedigree or rank ; and I am aware of no
subject so pregnant with disputes and heart-burnings.
The most humble among us has a natural and instinctive
desire to fan the flame of self-consequence — to such an
extent, indeed, is this the case, that I have known a
merchant exult more in the discovery that he could trace
a dim and indistinct relationship with a Highland chief,
or a Lowland baronet, than in a whole proud navy of
ships, or the highest honours which civic suffrages
could confer upon him. It can easily be imagined,
therefore, that a most fruitful root of bitterness would
be engendered in a conjunction such as I have hinted
at. Let us suppose the case, that the lady was
" M`Leishes ae daughter o' Clavers-ha-lee,
" A pennyless lass wi' a lang pedigree !"—
Every unit that was added to the sum total of her husband's
bank account would, to a certain extent, mortify
her vanity, by contrasting the penurity of mere birth
with the fruitful cornucopia of trade. Her eye would
rest with a painful unsatisfaction upon the silver gear
of the table, even though she was mistress thereof,
because in her paternal " castle" baser metals composed
the corresponding articles — and, on the principle of self--
defence, she would ever and anon insinuate some odious
little comparison between the stream of blood which
for ages had flowed in heraldic and well-counted dignity,
and that which had its source and fountain-head in the
counting-room or cotton-mill. The husband, on the
other hand, would not be awanting in this " war of
words." — He would have his sneer touching " fraction-less
fame," — his quotation of,
" When Adam delved and Eve span,
" Where was then the gentleman ?"
and it is ten to one, that from being a good constitutional
supporter of Church and King, the poor man
would ultimately land in the meshes of democracy. I
could point out more than one instance where, what
ostensibly appeared a political conversion, was based
on no higher foundation than wounded self-esteem.
He who weds much below his station runs the risk
of being exposed to a thousand disagreeable passages
which he had not calculated upon. The poets aptly
describe love as blind — it sees no flaw or imperfection
in the object of its affection : — when illuminated by its
bright sunbeam, the arid desert or barren moor assumes
the richness and glory of a second paradise. But when
the honey-moon wanes and waxes faint — when desire
is palled, and the eye hath drunk its full of beauty, and
puts on the spectacles of reality and every-day life, a
host of flaws appear on the tablet which were before
invisible or unobserved. What seemed wit now degenerates
into coarseness — and simplicity is found to
be a misnomer for gawkyish insipidity. The husband
must claim kindred with people whom he had not
previously dreamed of recognising ; and unless he means
to cut off all communication with his newly-acquired
relatives, he may be obliged to admit those to his table
whom a year ago,he would have grudged standing-room
in his hall. Strange outré-like apparitions, with sandy
hair and moleskin small-clothes, call him " brother" or
"cousin," and plague his existence with petitions for
employment; and he almost dreads to take up a Newspaper
or Police Report, lest he should stumble upon
some tidings, not of the most flattering nature, connected
with his new kith and kin. Nor is his wife in a
much more enviable predicament. The forms of the
society into which she is introduced, hang like "felon
fetters" upon her enjoyments. Inexperienced in
dancing, the ball-room is as unproductive of pleasure.
as the treadmill. The dinner table is associated with
all the horrors which carving presents to one who
is comparatively ignorant of what Kitchiner styles
" domestic anatomy" — and in general companies she sits
silent (the most agonizing martyrdom which a female
can be subjected to), because she fears, that if she
"her mouth but ope,-
"There straightway out will fly a trope,"
which will be rebuked by the frown of her husband,
and the scornful titter of her guests. Where there is
not perfect freedom there can be but imperfect enjoyment,
and she will be ready to exclaim with the country
mouse of Gay,
" Give me again my hollow tree,
" A crust of bread and liberty."
And let it never be forgotten, that the man who, in
wedding descends much, in a manner taboos himself
from the society of his equals. A peer may marry an
actress or an opera-dancer, and the lustre of his coronet
will act as an open Sesame to the " at home" and
the court — the dowlas of the wife will be expiated by
the ermine of the husband. But it is different with a
commoner in the middle ranks of life. There the ladies
arc most ultra tenacious or their rank — the more so,
perhaps, because some of them are aware that they
hold it on a tenure not altogether unexceptionable), and
are more strict than the Noroy King at Arms himself,
in admitting any one to their set who has too suddenly
clomb the ladder of life. The husband may keep up
his bachelor acquaintances, but his wife being debarred
from general society, he cannot, if he have becoming
spirit, go where she is not admitted. They cannot
live without society, and are consequently obliged to
cultivate less exclusive circles, far below the husband's
rank, and in which, at one time, he never anticipated
to move.
Some may think this picture overstrained and exaggerated,
I admit that in this, as in every rule, there
are exceptions, but the leading points are drawn from
actual observation, and will be found to exist to a
greater or less extent in most cases of the kind.
Disparity of ages should ever be avoided in matrimony,
and this remark applies equally to both sexes.
Nothing is more repugnant than to see youth and age
linked together. Such a match always reminds me of
the monster described by old Lindsay of Pitscottie,
which was in fact two human beings joined together in
the manner of the Siamese Twins — and one of them
having expired, the survivor exhibited the hideous
spectacle of the quick and the dead in a loathsome and
indissoluble union. I never see a young woman who
marries a man who might be her father, without thinking
of the above situation. The one is, if possible, more
revolting and disgusting than the other. It is the worst
and most degraded species of prostitution ; because,
in the ordinary case, the harlot, while she sells her
person for gold, can choose or change her paramour,
but in the other, death, or what is worse, divorce, can
alone rescue the victim who has been immolated upon
the obscene altar of mammon. Alas for the frequency
of such cases ! When will mothers cease to play the
parts of shamelessly avaricious bawds. The term may
sound harsh, but I have written it advisedly, and there
it shall stand. In a matter of this kind, to palliate
or soften were treason equally against nature and
But such unions carry their own punishment along
with them. The richest dowery cannot purchase love
— the person may be bartered, but there is no price--
current which contains the affections as saleable articles.
The old man who weds a youthful bride, may, on his
return from the nuptial tour, find his house "swept
and garnished," but the devils of discord and jealousy
will enter in along with him, and poison and pollute
every source of pleasure ; nay, even murder itself hath
been the product of the foul union, and hath waved its
dark crimson wings over the accursed habitation.
Let no one be tempted by gold or misled by ambition
to soil the wings of their happiness and prospects in such
broken and defiled cisterns. The only fitting response
which youth can make to the matrimonial solicitations
of age is anathema maranatha.
While I am far from saying that a wife should be a
species of drudge, or upper-servant, I would strongly
urge upon all suitors, the importance of ascertaining
whether the objects of their choice be given to domestic
duties, so far as the management or regulation of a
house is concerned. I would not ask her to compound
a pudding, or ready a steak with her own hands, but I
would have her to know something of the nature of such
operations, in order, that she might check carelessness,
or instruct ignorance in the " help." I would deem it
unreasonable to ask her to adjust the apparatus of the
dinner table, but I should like to see her with an eye
schooled to detect any irregularity or misplacement. It
is a false and pitiful pride which would feel hurt by
being supposed to have a knowledge of such matters.
The captain of a seventy-four loses nothing of his
dignity, because he can tell whether the buckets be
properly cleaned, or the meanest rope sufficiently
I know that I run no small risk of being accused of
Spartan barbarism, when I assert that a knowledge of
the ars culinaria should form part of every young
lady's education. Half-a-century bath hardly elapsed
since the cook-shop was as regularly visited, even by
the daughters of the higher class of gentry, as the
music academy — and I am free to assert, that the march
of refinement in this instance, bath been rather retrogradish
and crab-like. No female can be injured, and
many may be essentially benefited by the study. An
officer's wife for instance, who bath accompanied her
husband to the seat of war, may greatly add to their
mutual comfort in the absence of domestics. In a mercantile
community, how many a man by a reverse of
fortune is compelled as an emigrant to seek his fortune
in some new and unpeopled country, and who will
assert that his wife would be the worse of being able to
dress the wild fowl, or venison, which her husband's
rifle bad supplied ? In the back woods of Canada, a
sauce-pan is worth a dozen pianos, and a whole legion
of guitars.
I do not say that you should teach a woman ropedancing,
because she may possibly elope with the manager
of a circus. But I would have her educated so
as to meet all the probable exigencies and vicissitudes
of life.
It surely is not necessary for me to enlarge upon the
surpassing importance of health, and a sound constitution.
But while one would imagine that the mere
mention of the thing was sufficient, I am sorry to say
that there exists a paramount necessity for speaking
strongly on the subject. In no period of our history
did constitutional and hereditary diseases so much prevail
as at the present day, and yet, there is a remissness
and carelessness displayed on the part of both sexes, in
the formation of unions which looks very much like a
species of judicial infatuation. When health is awanting,
there can be no certain or permanent happiness.
The house becomes, so to speak, an infirmary, to which
every succeeding birth adds a new patient — the pathway
from the bed-chamber to the church-yard, is
defined with fearful distinctness — and madness with
his rattling chain, and gibbering idiocy with his cold
and meaningless smile, are seldom far from the mansion.

The only other requisite in a wife, which I shall
touch upon in this place, is religion. It is solely on
account of its vital importance that I have postponed
it till now, in order, that being last read, it may be
the better remembered and dwelt upon.
I am aware, that in making this avowal, I lay myself
open both to ridicule and censure. Many people
laugh at the very name of religion, and others while
they are ready enough to admit generally, that it is a
good thing, yet profess themselves hostile to its being
brought prominently forward in connexion with the
general affairs of life. But convinced as I am that
there is no system of sound morals which is not based
on the rock of Revelation, I must e'en take my chance,
both of the scorn of avowed, and the rebuke of .practical
infidelity. Yes 1 distasteful as it may sound to the
ears of some, the man who, admitting the evidences of
our faith to be complete, yet disdains to take that faith
as his guide and counsellor, is nothing better than a
practical infidel. He is as absurdly inconsistent as the
mariner, who having satisfied himself of the use of the
compass, yet too proud to be indebted to its assistance
locked it up in his chest so soon as he found himself in
the open and shoreless sea.
Religion gives us new natures. It controls the
passions — directs inclinations and confines desires into
proper and reasonable limits. It makes us conscious
of our own errors and short-comings, and so enables us
to bear with our neighbour's weaknesses and failings.
It is the parent of every kind and graceful feeling — it
restores us to the image of Him whose great characteristics
are perfection and love.
I therefore lay it down as an incontrovertible maxim,
that no union can be permanently happy, where religion
does not intervene. To deny this were to deny the
scripture, which affirmeth that " every good and perfect
gift cometh down from God."
See what Christianity hath done for the female
character. In every nation where it exists not, they
hold a degraded and subordinate place in society.
Mahomet made puppets and toys of the sex — Revelation
raises them to the rank of companions and friends.
Suppose yourself for a moment in the amphitheatre
of Rome — the Rome of Jupiter and of Nero. A naked
youth stands trembling and shrinking in the arena -
casting in vain on the mighty assemblage an eye of
supplication and terror. The trumpet sounds — a
famished roar drowns the signal note, and in an instant
what was breathing man, is now one figureless mass of
bone and blood, quivering in new felt death. And on
such a scene the Roman maid and matron gaze with
satisfied and satiated complacency, and recall in their
strangely unnatural gossip, every throe and struggle of
expiring humanity.
Take another picture. An aged sufferer is expiring
in a hovel. Poverty and squalid wretchedness are the
characteristics which surround the bed of straw. Disease
and filth are the gloomy genii loci. The door
opens — the rustling of silks is heard and rank and beauty
wipes the clammy brow, and " commends" the medicated
chalice to the parched lip.
The Roman matron and the British lady are both
daughters of her whose first disobedience brought sin
and death into the world — both are partakers of one
common and corrupt nature — both are subject to like
passions and feelings — in nothing do they differ but in
religion : — and if such be its fruits, where is he who
will say, that it is a small matter whether the wife of
his bosom, on whom so much of his happiness depends,
be imbued with its benign and humanizing influences.
In conclusion, let me urge the importance of the
wife being of the same creed and religious profession
with the husband. Where this is not the case, there
never can be that reciprocation of feelings and affections
which constitutes the το χαλον of the matrimonial state.
A house divided against itself in so essential a matter,
can have no abiding stability.
AN ancient author terms courtship " the concentration
of the romance of life," — and truly, I do think that in
looking back from the misty heights of age, on the land
of existence, which we have journeyed through, there
is no spot on which the setting sun of our days falls
with a kindlier radiance. As master John Cleveland,
"Sure, courtship is the fairy land of earth,
"Its rivers murmur sweetest melody,
"O'er channels paved with gems of lustrous hue :
"Its skies are ever blue — no cynic storm
"Ruffles the quiet of their azure sleep -
"And the green velvet which o'er-swards its hills,
"No noxious crawling thing doth e'er invade,
"But turtles there do build their halcyon nests,
"Lulled to soft slumber by the nightingale."
When love hath fairly taken possession of a man, he
to a certain extent ceaseth to be his own master. He
views every thing through a gorgeously coloured medium,
which is very apt to blind and obscure the grosser
realities of life. The object of his affections is no longer
a common mortal, subject to errors and failings — the
imperfections of common humanity vanish like the
absorption of mists in the sun, and
" She walks abroad in beauty's might,
" Commanding nature's homage."
This being the state of the matter, it is the part of
" That homely maid, bedight with kirtle grey,"
gently to put back, now and then, the rich-hued lens of
amorous ideality, and call upon the suitor to look at
things in their true light. Love, like fire, is a good
servant, but a bad master ; and to follow, exclusively, its
dictates, is as unsafe as to fetch a dangerous leap blindfolded.
Whenever one begins to feel affection "tugging
at his heart," therefore, he should put in exercise an extra
proportion of caution and deliberation. A beautiful garden
smiles before him, but if he rush headlong to banquet
in its charms, he may perchance be overwhelmed
in the bogs and quicksands which intervene, and die
fair prospect vanish from his grasp,
" Like the elfin bell in the mountain pool."
This chapter, therefore, shall be mainly devoted to
certain little matter-of-fact suggestions, to which the
lover might as well take heed, ere he plunge into the
Rubicon by popping the question. I may premise that
I am not groping among the unknown paths of theory
—my motto is " nothing if not practical"—and with
the Trojan prince, I may say, in reference to the
Matters I now treat of,
"— Quæque ipse vidi
" Et quorum pars magna fui —"
I am happy to add that the " miserrima" would form
no applicable part of the quotation in my case. But
to proceed to business.
I hold it to be an ascertained fact, that the great
proportion of unmarried young ladies, are more or less
actresses, whenever a suitor, real or imagined, is in
the case. The mothers, wary and watchful by experience,
and anxious to procure a settlement for their
daughters, soon give them their "cue," to use a dramatic
expression, and are ever present at the side
scenes to prompt and give directions for the better
enactment of the drama.
In saying this, I would not be held as depreciating
the moral standard of the sex ; — I freely acquit them of
deliberate "falsehood, fraud, and wilful imposition" —
they are merely following the dictates of nature — and
he would be indeed a stern lexicographer, who would
define " putting the best foot foremost" as a ramification
of lying. But the matter standing as I have stated,
it is the bounden duty of every prudent and far-seeing
man, to be aware of it in choosing a wife. Before he
commits himself in any degree, he should contemplate
the lady whom he " affects" in every light, and in every
shade. He should not content himself, with beholding
her in the ball-room, or the theatre — there every passion
is under lock and key — and the Catharine, or Juliana,
has all the apparent timid amiability of a Juliet, or
Desdemona. Call upon her suddenly, and without
premonition when she may not be looking for visitors,
and you will be able to form some estimate as to her
every-day domestic neatness and habits. If she be
engaged at the family tea table, affect not to be looking
at her, and then you will be able to mark whether there
be any latent peevishness, or ill nature, lurking under
the fair surface. For I may notice, that there is
nothing which more clearly develops a lady's temper,
than the busy duties of the evening meal. This test
may seem trifling, but it is easily tried, and let it be
remembered, that the shaking of a straw presages the
course of the coming hurricane.
It is old Fuller, I think, who telleth a pleasant story
of a certain honest gentleman, who being unable to
make up his mind as to which of three sisters he should
take to wife, invited them to a refection at which cheese
was the leading viand. The eldest eat her portion
without paring the rind — the second cut it off altogether
— while the third carefully scraped her morsel clean
before eating thereof. The result was, that the gentleman
made the youngest a tender of his heart and hand,
as considering that she was most to be preferred, who
was neither wasteful nor slovenly. There is much
practical wisdom in this legend, and the principle involved
in it is capable of a thousand applications.
For instance, if you wish to know the bent of her
mind, so far as literature is concerned, let her accompany
you to my friend Symington's Emporiums and
request her to select from his store of tomes, a volume:
which may be an appropriate present to your sister.
This is a test which will be more effectual, because
altogether unsuspected. In acted conversation she
might dote upon Hannah More, but depend upon it
she will select her namesake Tom, if she really prefer
the one to the other. Probatum est.
In like manner you may ascertain whether she be
actuated by expensive habits of dress — a craving for a
magnificent establishment, and so forth. Indeed, if
you play your part skilfully, and with tact, you may
strike out, so to speak, a window in her breast, through
which you can contemplate pretty accurately, the
composition and working of her mental machinery.
I would also call in Phrenology, as the counsellor, of
all others, the most to be depended on. Of course, I
speak merely to those who are believers in the science,
and to such I feel that no explanation or apology is due
for the suggestion. A Xantippe, may rouge and pearlpowder
her face, into the semblance of the meekly patient
Griselda, but she cannot obliterate the organs of combativeness,
and destructiveness. The fair infidel may
play the outward devotee to perfection, but all her
surface orisons will not fill up the fatal gap in the
region of veneration. I sincerely pity the anti-phrenologist
for many reasons, but for none more than this,
that he throws away the best and most effectual guiding
staff, through the quicksands of courtship. Combe
and Cupid should ever be fellow-travellers — and by
trusting to Gall you may eschew much wormwood.
I NOW assume, gentle reader, that you have satisfied
yourself fully, as to the disposition and qualifications
of the object of your affections, and that you have
screwed up your courage to the asking point.
A difference of opinion exists, as to whether an offer
of marriage, should be made through the medium of a
third party — in writing — or directly, and in person to
the lady herself. If my advice were craved, I should
at once recommend the latter of these courses, and for
this reason, inter alia, that it will afford you an opportunity
most effectually of judging of the true state of
your sweetheart's affections. Supposing her views to
be mercenary, it is the easiest thing imaginable for
her to indite an answer, glowing with all the enthusiasm
of a Heloise—but it is a much more difficult task, to
enact or assume passion when face to face. In a personal
interview, there are a thousand indescribable little
landmarks which may guide you to a knowledge of
the true state of matters. The eye then speaks with
more verity than the tongue — you may read volumes in
a single glance — and there is a free-masonry in the
returned pressure of the hand, which is more pregnant
with meaning, than a whole portfolio of letters.
This ordeal satisfactorily passed, and the marriage
finally arranged, there is much to do before the performance
of the ultimate ceremony.
In the first place, you must look out for a suitable
house, and take measures for forming an establishment.
And on this head, I cannot too strongly impress upon
you, the importance of keeping within your means, both
as respects the domicile, and its appointments. Never
forget, that if you once get into debt at the commencement
of your married life, the chances are ten to one,
that it will hang for years like a mill-stone about your
neck, and your difficulties increase with every succeeding
year. When fairly settled in the world, with all
your " wits about you," you may with some degree of
safety, occasionally suffer your outlay, to exceed your
income, but in the noviciateship of matrimony, such an
occurrence is fraught with peculiar and surpassing peril.
You are apt for a season to look upon yourself as still
a bachelor, so far as expenditure is concerned — your
mind so to speak, is in a state of hallucination, in which
it is extremely difficult to reason " according to Cocker"
in money matters — your sole desire is to gratify your
wife, and every desire which she breathes, is to you a
law, altogether independent of the prosaic restrictions
of " ways and means." When a man acts with inconsideration
in this respect, I know of no sight more
terrific, than the cloud of bills which darken his table
at the close of the first six months, from the date of
marriage. Many a one hath thus gotten a drag chain
attached to his heel, which increases in length and
encumberment, every step taken in the journey of life.
Debt is bad at all times, but more particularly are early
debts to be shunned. The ball rolled from the highest
summit of the Andes, will gather more snow than one
which hath received its impetus nearer the base.
If you would condescend to be guided by my advice,
you would not trust yourself to make a single disbursement,
without consulting a married friend, whose
Benedictship is of two or three years standing. He
who bath forded a dangerous river, is the best guide
for others in a like predicament. Experience is the
peculiar teacher of fools, and none but fools would seek
to learn wisdom, exclusively in such a college.
Let your establishment be rather under than above
your means, so be that it is not glaringly inconsistent
with your rank in society. You can with a much better
grace increase, than diminish it. In the latter event,
your pride, and credit, and comfort will be equally
wounded. Never forget the striking parable of the
too ambitious guest, who having taken his place at the
upper end of the room, was obliged with shame to
remove to a lower. As the Tinker of Bradford singeth,
" He that is low need fear no fall.'
A bachelor about to change his condition, must be
very careful as to the selection of his friends and acquaintances.
By selection I do not so much mean an
enlargement, as a diminishing of the circle of his
inmates, because he may have many "hail-fellow-wellmet"
associates, whom it would be extremely improper
to introduce to his married fireside. With this in your
eye, be very cautious in your invitations, to your
penult bachelor entertainments, as it is the general understanding,
that whoever you ask to those bath a claim
on your future intimacy. This is a rule, but too little
attended to, and by disregarding it the consequences are
often very mal àpropos. For some time before marriage,
associate with none whom you would be chary in introducing
your wife to at the promenade or assembly.
— By so doing, you will materially consult both your
comfort and respectability.
Sequestrate yourself from all clubs of which you may
be member, always excepting literary, scientific, or
charitable associations. Your principal enjoyment henceforward
must be at home, and it is a much easier matter to
withdraw from such synods, before than after marriage.
You may do it without remark or observation, in the
former case, but in the latter, you will have a hard
battle to fight, with ridicule and sarcasm. That which
is the result of inclination, and a sense of duty, will be
attributed to baser and less manly motives. You will
be greeted with sundry sneering allusions to " petticoat
government," "hen-pecked husbands," and so forth, and
unless your organ of firmness be very fully developed,
you will run no small risk of yielding to the " onslaught
of little wits." Do not run the risk of such a result.
The most appropriate prayer for poor weak human
nature is " lead us not into temptation."
It forms no part of my plan, to go into the minutiæ
attending the marriage ceremony. The arrangements
being made chiefly by third parties, who have had some
experience in such matters, there is little left in which
the bridegroom bath much say or control. I would
simply remark, that the less display or ostentation
which occurs, the better. Vulgar and gross minds maybe
flattered by a prominent exhibition of ribbons and
favours, but true delicacy shrinks from such melodramatic
exhibitions. I likewise record my protest,
against any exuberant demonstration of festivity. Let
it be always remembered, that the ceremony is one of
deep solemnity, in a religious point of view, and of
incalculable moment to the temporal interests of the
contracting parties. I do not say that it is an occasion
for gloom and sadness—I am not ascetic enough to
demand that sack-cloth and ashes should supersede
"rustling silks and blooming rose-wreaths," — but I
would always like to see mirth, tempered with a becoming
gravity — and congratulation (to use Bunyan's
phrase) " attend in the sober russet gown of reflection."
The laughter of fools nowhere bears such a marked
resemblance to the crackling of ignited thorns, as at a
marriage party.
IF your union would be permanently happy, endeavour,
so far as in you lies, to deport yourself as if still a
suitor. Love was the magnet which first drew you to
the mistress, let love be the connecting chain which
binds you to the wife. I do not mean that a husband
should be continually enacting the lover, for this would
justly lay you open to the charge of ultra-uxoriousness,
and would even lower you in the eyes of your spouse,
if a sensible woman, but I would have you ever bear
in mind, that affection is the most delicate flower in
the moral garden, and is apt to be blighted by the
slighted contact with the frost of indifference. " A
woman's heart," saith Ludovico Doke, " may be
likened unto a tablet of wax — heat softeneth, cold
hardeneth it."
Never forget, what your wife hath sacrificed for
your sake. She hath left father and mother, kith and
kin, to share your fortunes. She hath bidden adieu
to the home round which her earliest affections have
entwined themselves — she hath parted with a brother's
protection, and a sister's love, and all this for you. She
bath thrown the casket of her happiness into your lap,
and is it too much to ask, that you should be a considerate
and kindly banker of the treasure ?
Love bath no bounds or limits — there is no such
thing as partial or calculating love. Your wife must
be every thing to you — in her all your affections must
concentrate, from her all your enjoyments must take
their tone. Old Fuller says, " a half-heart is worse
than no heart" — and truly I do hold that it were better
for a woman to be assured once for all, that she had
none of her husband's affections, than to endure the
Tantalus-like torture of being perpetually cheated,
when she imagined she was about to quaff a draught
of love.
A christian, should ever turn to the Scriptures of
truth as the lexicon, which contains all that is needful
for the proper fulfilment of the duties of life. On
opening that infallible oracle, the following sentence
presents itself in speaking prominence to the eye.
"Husbands love your wives, even as Christ loved the
church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify
and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word;
that be might present it to himself, a glorious church,
not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." Alluding
to this magnificent passage, an eloquent modern
writer remarks, " Here is at once example and
motive. What more could even an inspired man say,
in order to form the husband to every thing affectionate,
disinterested, sympathizing, and attentive to his
wife, than this: 'Love her as Christ loved the church ?'
He who understands Christianity — finds a volume in
such a sentence. His mind instantly recurs to that
astonishing instance of benevolence which his Redeemer
exhibited, in giving himself up to sufferings
and death, for our salvation — to that which he showed
in sending forth ministers to preach the Gospel, to
every creature' — to the tender attention which he pays,
now he is in heaven, to all who receive this Gospel,
taking care, that every thing be provided which is
necessary to increase their faith, purify their hearts, administer
to their consolation, support them in their conflicts,
and cherish the hope which he has thus formed in
them, of participating in the fulfilment of those gracious
purposes to wards his church, which are to be consummated
in heaven, and enjoyed to all eternity. This, says
he, is my pattern. Such a friend as Christ was to his
church, am I to be to my spouse. Am I part of that body
of which he is such a Saviour? Then he gave himself
for me. Let me imitate that affection of the fruits of
which I humbly hope I am a partaker. I here find
myself required to love my wife, though she is not
without fault ; to interpose between her and danger ;
to supply as far as within my power, every thing which
can contribute to her comfort ; to seek not only her
present, but everlasting happiness ; for thus did Christ
love his church.' " I am sure it is unnecessary, to add
a single word to this exposition, and enforcement of the
dictum of Revelation. It may provoke the silly sneer
of the infidel and sceptic, but till he can point out
among his " broken cisterns," a source of greater love
than this, we will e'en be content to put up with his
sarcasm and ridicule. When the fool derides the
Bible, the fitting rejoinder of the wise man is—show
me any thing better or equal, and then I will bethink
me of a change.
But let us descend to particulars, and dwell for a
brief season upon the detailed duties of the matrimonial
The husband bearing in mind, that the woman is the
weaker vessel, he should continually exercise the
virtues of patience, and forbearance, towards her faults
and failings. Let him not be too hasty to take offence
at a petted or unguarded expression, or an inconsiderate
and hasty act. It is very easy making a shrew of
a wife. Thwart her in trifles and she will, ere long,
learn to oppose your wishes in more important matters.
A rough or angry word has not unfrequently nurtured
a foible into a vice ; and a laugh at one time will do
more to reform than force itself at a future period.
Make a companion of her, in the fullest acceptation
of the term, and do not consider it beneath your dignity,
to suit your conversation to her tastes and intellect. The
Price-Current may contain matter vastly pleasing to
you, but it is very probable, that your young wife
would as lief hear you discourse of other matters than
the price of cotton or the texture of broad cloth. Study
diligently the art of pleasing. Cultivate those thousand
and one little nameless attentions, which are so
much prized by the female sex, and learn to take an
interest in whatever occupies her attention. Do not
affect an air of listless tolerating condescension, when
she is pointing out the progress of her embroidery, and
shun the treason of a yawn as she dwells upon the little
details of her domestic government. These hints may
seem trifling, but the non-observance of them may be
attended with the most perilous results. If we could
anatomize the human mind, how frequently would we
discover, that the seed from which the upas tree of
estrangement hath sprung, is of a scarcely perceptible
Be as much at home as possible. A pregnant source
of discomfort in the nuptial state is unsettled habits of
the husband in this respect. Nothing can be more
galling, or disheartening to a young wife, after the first
few honey-months have passed, than the frequent
absence of her spouse in the evenings. A suspicion is
immediately excited in her mind, that the flame of
affection begins to burn low, and that she bath lost the
power of pleasing, and whenever this feeling occurs,
the risk is great, that the wish to please will soon
cease to exist. There is no rule without an exception,
but in general, I would hold that a young husband
should have few engagements of an evening, where his
wife did not accompany him. It is most important to
cultivate the habit of domestic sociality, and the fireside
will never have any charms if they do not exist at
the commencement of a union.
Do not lay yourself out to keep much company.
As I have remarked in a previous chapter, a newly married
man is in great danger of running thoughtlessly
into debt, and there is nothing which sooner makes a
hiatus in the exchequer, than frequent parties. And
the immediate and necessary outlay is not the least of
the evil. The mind acquires a relish for bustle and
gaiety, which militates greatly against the quiet enjoyments
of domestic life. The husband becomes a
moral cosmopolite, and the wife is greatly unfitted for
the prudent and economical government of the
household. I would neither have you to be a niggard
nor an eremite—moderate hospitality is not only harmless,
but becoming—yet ever keep in mind, that a taste
for company, if too much indulged in, will sap the very
foundations of the social edifice, making you hunt for
pleasure every-where but in a quiet home.
Be very particular as to the character of those whom
you invite to your house. If you had a precious gem,
would you not carefully encase it in a casquet, and
guard its water even from the contamination of a breath.
And if the treasures of Golconda, were concentrated
in one jewel, would it compare for a moment, with the
pricelessness of a wife's purity. Guard that as you
would your heart's blood, or the apple of your eye.
Put it not in the way of contamination — it is too costly
a pearl to be exposed to the risk of being sullied. I
am no advocate for peevish distrust — I can say with all
the sincerity which Iago only feigned,
" Oh my Lord, beware of jealousy,"
but I never can put out of view, that while there is
nothing so beautiful, there is nothing so delicate as a
woman's purity — an expression or an allusion which in
a man would be forgotten, so soon as heard, will shake
it to its centre like the heave of an earthquake. A
married man who indiscriminately retains his bachelor
acquaintances, acts as foolishly an inconsistent part as
the chemist, who would fill the decanters at the social
board with the poisonous liquids he had been analyzing
in the laboratory. In the majority of the cases of
seduction which have fallen under my notice, the betrayer
has been the nominal friend of the husband,
who thus like Byron's eagle, cherishes the feather
which is fated to wing the arrow that stabs his happiness
to the core. And oh, who can fathom the intensity
of self-accusation, which will wring the soul of the
victim, when he calls to recollection the beacons which
should have warned him from the rocks on which his
peace bath made so grievous a shipwreck—beacons
which nothing but the most culpable negligence could
have prevented hint from noting ! I am the more particular
as to this matter, because I fear it is out too
little attended to. "Evil communications corrupt good
manners"—and how small soever the seed of sin and
vice may be, it ever finds a genial soil in the depravity
of human nature, to foster it up into a branching and
spreading tree.
Let there be an altar dedicated to God, in every
house. Show me the family which wants it, and I will
show you a community living, so to speak, without a
motive. I will show you a husband who is affectionate
to his wife, only by fits and starts, as mere instinct
prompts — a wife, whose feelings may be warm to-day,
and cold to-morrow, 'who prizes her husband as she
would a new silk or trinket, and who, it is ten to one,
will discard him in his turn, for some newer toy. Believing
as I do, that the human mind is deceitful above
all things and desperately wicked — that of ourselves
we cannot think a good thought or do a good action —
and that every perfect gift cometh down from God, I
am bound, even at the risk of being deemed a fanatic,
to insist on the paramount claims of religion in reference
to the married state. I speak not to our modern
philosophers or perfectibility theorists, who would, on
mechanical principles, regulate the human mind, as they
would the movements of a chronometer. To such
"learned Thebans" my words must appear little better
than "foolishness," and I am content to bear the full
brunt of their scornful sneer. I address myself to the
man who is not nominally, merely, but in reality a
christian—who admits the evidences of our faith, and
who has experimentally tested, by an analysis of his
mind, the truth of the mental theory as developed
by Revelation. To such a one I would say, even
the infidel will scorn you, if holding as you -hold,
and believing as you believe, you shut out practical
religion from your household. You admit that an evil
exists—you believe that there is a remedy for that evil;
and yet you will not put forth your hand for the freely
offered medicament. Had you been mortally stung
by the fiery serpents of the wilderness, would you have
doggedly refused to turn up your blood-shot eye to
the life-giving symbol. Your moral case at this moment
is as hopeless as the physical state of the Hebrew,
and your cure is more certain, if I may so speak, for
where he had but the type, you have the reality.
Make it then a fixed resolution, that at the very
threshold of matrimony, you will assign a certain portion
of the day, morning and evening, to the worship
of your Creator and Redeemer. If you leave it to
chance and convenience, however good your intentions
may be, you will find, ere long, that you have
never opportunity or leisure. Every year that passes
over your head, will bring you new occupations and
new temporal duties — and you will soon feel inclined
to answer the admonitions of conscience with —" not
now — at a more convenient season I will listen to thee."
To many many thousands so acting, that season never
comes — the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of
riches choke the word—the thorns grow ranker and
ranker, and the dream is only broken perchance by the
final terror of the consuming crackling.
The sober Christian, is not taught to expect that
God will give him every temporal blessing, in answer
to his prayers — our heavenly Father bestows upon us
only what he considers best suited to our eternal welfare.
But no one ever yet prayed for the spiritual graces
of the mind, and had his suit rejected, if proffered in
confiding and trustful faith. And these are the talismans
which will render marriage a state of unmixed
delight — these are the Sesames which will throw wide
open the chambers of the affections — without them the
dwelling is poor, as a lazar house, though paved with
gold ; and if these are left, the merchant may see his
last ship swallowed up in the tempest-opened tomb of
the ocean, and exclaim with a sincerity which the
worldling never can know — still, still am I rich!
AN ancient author justly remarks, that, " children be
the corner stones of the matrimonial edifice, inasmuch
as they hold the two portions thereof (viz. the parents)
together, and cement them into one structure." Among
all nations and in all times, the truth of this axiom bath
been acknowledged ; and, generally speaking, no misfortune
is esteemed so severe as the want of offspring.
It follows then, as a legitimate corollary, that the man
who hath no love for children — who shrinks from their
fondling embrace, and turns away with stolid apathy
from their lisping prattle, is a species of lusus naturce,
or social monster, who is greatly incapable to act a befitting
part in the domestic drama. If you are cold
and careless in this respect, be certain that there is
something unsound at bottom — something " rotten" in
your moral state, and you must strive against it as you
would seek to counteract the spreading of some deadly
and insidious poison. This narcotic feeling, if it grow
upon you, will ere long denude home of half its attractions,
and you will come to have all the inclinations of
a bachelor, without the power and freedom of gratifying
And in addition to all this, you will run no small
risk of alienating from yourself the affections of your
wife. A mother's love to her children is instinctively
strong — it has neither bounds nor limits; and she looks
with a jealous eye upon every thing which interferes
with the current of her maternal devotion. Is it possible,
then, that she can be unaffected by a demonstration
of indifference in her husband to those, " the
thread of whose destinies is wound around her heart ?"
Coldness to them will be worse than coldness to herself,
and it is contrary to the usual course of nature,
if a corresponding change is not wrought in her
The late William Cobbett, who, with all his faults,
was a shrewd and accurate observer of nature, has some
judicious remarks on this head. " It is an old saying
(he says), praise the child and you will make love to
the mother ; and it is surprising how far this will go.
To a fond mother, you can do nothing so pleasing as
to praise the baby, and the younger it is, the more she
values the compliment. Say fine things to her, and
take no notice of her baby, and she will despise you.
I have often beheld this in many women with great
admiration ; and it is a thing which no husband ought
to overlook ; for if the wife wish her child to be admired
by others, what must be the ardour of her wishes
with regard to his admiration ? — There was a drunken
dog of a Norfolkman in our regiment, who came from
Thetford, I recollect, who used to say that his wife
would forgive him for spending all the pay and the
washing-money into the bargain, if he would but kiss
her ugly brat and say it was pretty.' — Now, though
this was a very profligate fellow, he had philosophy in
him ; and certain it is, that there is nothing worthy of
the name of conjugal happiness, unless the husband
clearly evince that he is fond of his children, and that
too from their very birth."
You cannot too early make companions of your
children. Bring down your mind to the level of theirs
— interest yourself in their little cares and amusements
— teach them to feel that in you they have a counsellor,
to whom nothing that concerns them is uninteresting
or unimportant. Thus a bond of union will be
formed between you, which every succeeding year will
strengthen, and which will retain its adhesive power
even when your children have attained the status of
manhood. If your administration be that of a task-master,
whose only stimulant is the threat of punishment,
you must expect a very imperfect obedience —
for fear is always accompanied with an inclination to
deceive. Many parents make their children habitual
liars, by an injudicious exercise of authority, such as
curbing them in trifles, and putting an arbitrary veto
upon particular amusements. The boy looks for a
reason as well as the man ; and if it be not rendered
him, he will look upon circumvention as no crime.
I am not theorizing. While 1 write, I have in recollection
many many cases where the most unhappy results
have followed, from an ignorant disregard on the
part of parents to the obvious laws which regulate the
human mind.
There is a work which, after the Bible, I would earnestly
recommend to the attention and philosophical
perusal of every father, whom Providence hath blessed
with a family. I allude to the " Fool of Quality," by
Henry Brooke, which, in addition to interest of the
most intense and absorbing description, as a mere work
of fiction, is replete with invaluable hints and maxims,
for the healthy culture of the infant and juvenile mind.
It argues little either for the taste or judgment of the
age, that such a book bath gone out of fashion. It is
worth a whole library of mere theoretical treatises, and
being drawn directly from every-day life, is capable of
universal application.
You should systematically observe the dispositions
and tastes of your children, in reference to their future
profession. I fear there be but few parents who pay
a proper attention to this. How frequently does a
man destine a boy, even from the cradle, to the Church,
the Bar, or the Army, and having made up his mind
on the matter, shuts his eyes to a thousand indications
of a genius for a contrary pursuit. I am firmly persuaded
it is owing to such conduct, that there are so
many common-place people in society.
Whenever a child shows a marked interest in any
occupation, carefully cultivate and foster it. Direct
his mind to the rudiments of the particular art or science
whatever it may be — make yourself master of its principles
and details, and contrive to bring them frequently
before him in a pleasing and amusing form. By following
such a course, the youth, when he reaches the proper
age, will embark upon his occupation with all the gusto
and eagerness which he would show in joining a
favourite game, in place (as is too frequently the case)
of looking upon it as an abridgement of his pleasures
and gratifications. And if a profession be embraced
with hearty good will, even a moderate degree of talent
will go far to ensure respectability and success.
A prudent and judicious man will be particularly
careful in suiting his style of living to the future prospects
of his family. This rule is important to all, but
is peculiarly applicable to the professional and mercantile
man, whose prosperity is subject to a thousand
contingencies, and whose incomes must, in most cases,
cease with their lives. I have known not a few instances
where a personable family of daughters have
remained unmarried, for no other reason than that their
parents lived in a showy and expensive style. They
who otherwise might have been their suitors reason thus :
" Our means are insufficient to support a corresponding
style of life, and we cannot think of depriving a girl of
comforts which she has been accustomed to from her youth
upwards." And truly I could not accuse those who
would argue in this manner of unreasonableness or
caprice. Every one is naturally desirous of gratifying
his wife; and if a man bath a sincere affection for a girl,
in the same proportion will he shrink from the idea of
placing her in a situation where she would chance to
be uncomfortable or uneasy. It is always better to
live a little under than above one's means ; and providing
that you keep up an appearance decently befitting
your rank in society, you will rather gain than lose
by the impression that your outlay is within your
In conclusion, I would advert to a matter which I
suspect is but too little attended to — I mean the judicious
selection of a family library, and I am sure, that
nothing more than an allusion is necessary, in a case
so apparent. It has been well observed, that books
are either nutritious food or baneful poison ;
and this remark is nowhere more applicable, than
where a family is concerned. Be judicious in your
selection, study to blend instruction with amusement,
and sacrifice your own tastes and inclinations, rather
than run the slightest risk of introducing even the seeds
of contamination into your household. In the untoward
soil of corrupt human nature,while vice spreads
but too rankly, virtue and piety require the most sedulous
and watchful culture, and the library is a garner
which is plentifully supplied both with the wheat and
the tares of moral husbandry.
Cloth, Gilt Edges, 1s., or Printed Cover, Gilt Edges, 9d., Stitched 6d.
CONTENS.—History of the Science — Its Leading Principles —
Classification and Description of the Organs — The Temperaments
— Pathognomy, or the Natural Language of the Organs — Objections
Stated and Considered — Practical Application of the Science.
CONTENTS. — The Importance of Commercial Travelling—On the
Changes of the System — Education — Personal Requisites — Habits
— The Commercial Room — Dinner — Servants and Fees — Modes of
" We advise all young bagmen to possess themselves of this
brochure; they will find its hints invaluable. We advise them to
study the Hints of this " Veteran Highwayman" in order to be
master of all the rules of the road." — Caledonian Mercury.
" Whatever relates to the comforts, conveniences, and amenities
of the road are hit off with much practical acumen and good
taste." — Fife Herald.
CONTENTS. — Affectation — Flattery — Self-Esteem — Envy — Vanity
— Pride — Prudence — Cunning — Advice and Censure — Conversation,
Scandal, and Slander — Company — Politeness and good
Breeding — Impertinence — Dress — Address and General Deportment.

" This is a judicious Sequel to the laws of Etiquette, and ought
to he in the hands of all young persons who aspire to Elegance
of Deportment, Refinement of Manners" — Kilmarnock Journal.
"It contains Many excellent Hints for the Regulafion of Manners,
and may be profitably studied even by the most polished."—
Bolton Free Press.
CONTENTS. -- Introduction — Conduct to be observed at Table
Rules for,Servants Waiting at Table — The Art of Carving
CONTENTS. — Introduction — Touching 'the Age at which a Man
Should Marry — Concerning the Requisites of a Wife —
"ills instructions must be particularly useful to either the
ignorant or the bashful."—Caledonian Mercury
CONTENTS. — Introduction — The Duties of a Wife —Obligations
of Married Life — Conduct to Relations — Morning Visits — Conduct
to the Husband — Duties of a Step-Mother — Servants — Visitors
The Bargain Buyer — The Domestic Lady — The Wife — Peevishness
"An excellent Present for a Young Bride, from which, if she
carefully peruse it, she may reap much advantage," Caledonian
CONTENTS — On the Means of Developing the Bodily Senses in
Earliest Infancy — Early Development of the Affections — Early
Cultivation of Intellect — Management in Childhood — Amusements
and Employments — Sunday — Religion — Views of Death — Supernatural
Appearances—Advice Concerning Books — List of good
Books for various Ages — Politeness — Beauty — Dress — Gentility
Management during the Teens — Views of Matrimony.
CONTENTS. — Introduction — Improvement of Time — Domestic
Economy — Dress — Behaviour to Gentlemen — Conduct in Public
Dinner Parties — Evening Parties — Conversation — Visits.


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The Philosophy of Courtship and Marriage

Document Information

Document ID 666
Title The Philosophy of Courtship and Marriage
Year group 1800-1850
Genre Instructional prose
Year of publication 1844
Publisher Francis Orr and sons
Place of publication Glasgow
Wordcount 12966

Author information: Anonymous

Author ID 443
Surname Anonymous