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Since I am thus insensibly engaged in sacred writ, I cannot forbear making an extract of several passages which I have always read with great delight in the book of Job. It is the account which that holy man gives of his behaviour in the days of his prosperity, and if considered only as a human composition, is a finer picture of a charitable and goodnatured man than is to be met with in any other author.
'Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me: when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness: When the Almighty was yet with me; when my children were about me: When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil.
'When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me. Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame; I was a father to the poor, and the cause which I knew not I searched out. Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor? Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. If I did despise the cause of my man-servant or of my maidservant when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb, make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb? If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail: Or have eaten my morsel my
self alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof: If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering: If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep? If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate; then let my arm fall from my shoulder-blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. If I [have] rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him: (Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin, by wishing a curse to his soul.) The stranger did not lodge in the street; but I opened my doors to the traveller. If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise therefore complain: If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life; let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley.'*
"I am but too good a judge of your paper of the
*Job xxix. 2, &c. xxx. 25, &c. xxxi. 6, &c. passim.
15th instant, which is a masterpiece; I mean that of jealousy; but I think it unworthy of you to speak of that torture in the breast of a man, and not to mention also the pangs of it in the heart of a woman. You have very judiciously, and with the greatest penetration imaginable, considered it as woman is the creature of whom the diffidence is raised: but not a word of a man, who is so unmerciful as to move jealousy in his wife, and not care whether she is so or not. It is possible you may not believe there are such tyrants in the world; but alas, I can tell you of a man who is ever out of humour in his wife's company, and the pleasantest man in the world everywhere else; the greatest sloven at home when he appears to none but his family, and most exactly well dressed in all other places. Alas, Sir, it is of course, that to deliver one's self wholly into a man's power without possibility of appeal to any other jurisdiction but to his own reflections, is so little an obligation to a gentleman, that he can be offended and fall into a rage, because my heart swells tears into my eyes when I see him in a cloudy mood? I pretend to no. succour, and hope for no relief but from himself; and yet he that has sense and justice in every thing else, never reflects, that to come home only to sleep off an intemperance, and spend all the time he is there as if it were a punishment, cannot but give the anguish of a jealous mind. He always leaves his home as if he were going to a court, and returns as if he were entering a jail. I could add to this, that from his company and his usual discourse, he does not scruple being thought an abandoned man, as to his morals. Your own imagination will say enough to you concerning the condition of me his wife; and I wish you would be so good as to repre
sent to him, for he is not ill-natured, and reads you much, that the moment I hear the door shut after him, I throw myself upon my bed, and drown the child he is so fond of with my tears, and often frighten it with my cries; that I curse my being; that I run to my glass all over bathed in sorrows, and help the utterance of my inward anguish by beholding the gush of my own calamities as my tears fall from my eyes. This looks like an imagined picture to tell you, but indeed this is one of my pastimes. Hitherto I have only told you the general temper of my mind, but how shall I give you an account of the distraction of it? Could you but conceive how cruel I am one moment in my resentment, and at the ensuing minute, when I place him in the condition my anger would bring him to, how compassionate; it would give you some notion how miserable I am, and how little I deserve it. When I remonstrate with the greatest gentleness that it is possible against unhandsome appearances, and that married persons are under particular rules; when he is in the best humour to receive this, I am answered only: That I expose my own reputation and sense if I appear jealous. I wish, good sir, you would take this into serious consideration, and admonish husbands and wives, what terms they ought to keep towards each other. Your thoughts on this important subject will have the greatest reward, that which descends on such as feel the sorrows of the afflicted. Give me leave to subscribe myself,
"Your unfortunate humble servant,
I had it in my thoughts, before I received the letter of this lady, to consider this dreadful passion in the mind of a woman; and the smart she seems to
feel does not abate the inclination I had to recom mend to husbands a more regular behaviour, than to give the most exquisite of torments to those who love them, nay whose torment would be abated if they did not love them.
It is wonderful to observe how little is made of this inexpressible injury, and how easily men get into a habit of being least agreeable, where they are most obliged to be so. But this subject deserves a distinct speculation, and I shall observe for a day or two the behaviour of two or three happy pair I am acquainted with, before I pretend to make a system of conjugal morality. I design in the first place to go a few miles out of town, and there I know where to meet one who practises all the parts of a fine gentleman in the duty of a husband. When he was a bachelor much business made him particularly negligent in his habit; but now there is no young lover living so exact in the care of his person. One who asked why he was so long washing his mouth, and so delicate in the choice and wearing of his linen, was answered: Because there is a woman of merit obliged to receive me kindly, and I think it incumbent upon me to make her inclination go along with her duty.'
If a man would give himself leave to think, he would not be so unreasonable as to expect debauchery and innocence could live in commerce, together; or hope that flesh and blood is capable of so strict an allegiance, as that a fine woman must go on to improve herself till she is as good and impassive as an angel, only to preserve fidelity to a brute and a satyr. The lady who desires me for her sake to end one of my papers with the following letter, I am ,1 persuaded, thinks such a perseverance very impracticable.