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" is not confined to cells and closets, nor restrained to “ sullen retirement. These are the gloomy doctrines “ of SUPERSTITION, by which she endeavours to break " those chains of benevolence and social affection, “ that link the welfare of every particular with that “ of the whole. Remember that the greatest honour
you can pay to the Author of your being is by such
a cheerful behaviour, as discovers a mind satisfied « with his dispensations.”
Here my preceptress paused, and I was going to express my acknowledgments for her discourse, when - a ring of bells from the neighbouring village, and a new-risen sun darting his beams through my windows, awaked me*
I am, Yours, &c.
* This paper, and N° 100, were written by the late Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, of Deal in Kent.
TUESDAY, August 21, 1750.
“Ηπες μεγίση γίγνείαι σωτηρία,
This is the chief felicity of life,
To the RAMBLER. SIR, THOUGH, in the dissertations which you have
given us on marriage, very just cautions are laid down against the common causes of infelicity, and the necessity of having, in that important choice, the first regard to virtue, is carefully inculcated; yet I cannot think the subject so much exhausted, but that a little reflection would present to the mind many ques tions, in the discussion of which great numbers are interested, and many precepts which deserve to be more particularly and forcibly iinpressed.
You seem, like most of the writers that have gone before you, to have allowed as an uncontested principle, that Marriage is generally unhappy: but I know not whether a man who professes to think for himself, and concludes from his own observations, does not depart from his character when he follows the crowd thus implicitly, and receives maxims without recalling them to a new examination, especially when VOL. IV.
they they comprise so wide a circuit of life, and include such variety of circumstances. As I have an equal right with others to give my opinion of the objects about me, and a better title to determine concerning that state which I have tried, than many who talk of it without experience; I am unwilling to be restrained by mere authority from advancing what, I believe, an accurate view of the would will confirm, that marriage is not commonly unhappy, otherwise than as life is unhappy; and that most of those who complain of comubial miseries, have as much satisfaction as their nature would have admitted, or their conduct procured, in any other condition..
It is, indeeds common to hear both sexes repine at their change, relate the happiness of their earlier years, blame the folly and rashness of their own choice, and warn those whom they see coming into the world against the same precipitance and infatuation. But it is to be remembered that the days which they so much wish to call back, are the days not only of celibacy but of youth, the days of novelty and improvement, of ardour and of hope, of health and vigour of body, of gayety and lightness of heart. It is not easy to surround life with any circumstances in which youth will not be delightful; and I am afraid that whether married or uninarried, we shall find the vesture of terres. trial existence inorc heavy and cumbrous, the longer it is worn.
That they censure themselves for the indiscretion of their choice, is not a suflicicut proof that they have chosen ill, since we sec the same discontent at every other part of life which we cannot change.
Converse with almost any man, grown old in a profession, and you will find him regretting that he did not enter into some different course, to which he too late finds his genius better adapted, or in which he discovers that wealth and honour are more easily attained. “ The merchant,” says Horace," envies the " soldier, and the soldier recounts the felicity of the “ merchant; the lawyer, when his clients harass him,
calls out for the quiet of the countryman; and the
countryman, when business calls him to town, pro" claims that there is no happiness but amidst opu“ lence and crowds." Every man recounts the inconveniencies of his own station, and thinks those of
any other less, because he has not felt them. Thus the married praise the ease and freedom of a single state, and the single fly to marriage from the weariness of solitude. From all our observations we may collect with certainty, that misery is the lot of man, but cannot discover in what particular condition it will find most alleviations; or whether all external appendages are not, as we use them, the causes either of good or ill.
Whoever feels great pain, naturally hopes for ease from change of posture; he changes it, and finds himself equally tormented: and of the same kind are the expedients by which we endeavour to obviate or elude those uneasinesses, to which mortality will always be subject. It is not likely that the married state is eminently miserable, since we see such numbers, whom the death of their partners has set free from it, entering it again.
Wives and husbands are, indeed, incessantly complaining of each other; and there would be reason
for imagining that almost every house was infested with perverseness or oppression beyond human sufferance, did we not know upon how small occasions some minds burst out into lamentations and reproaches, and how naturally every animal revenges his pain upon those who happen to be near, without any nice examination of its cause.
We are always willing to fancy ourselves within a little of happiness, and when, with repeated efforts, we cannot reach it, persuade ourselves that it is intercepted by an illpaired mate, since, if we could find any other obstacle, it would be our own fault that it was not reinoved.
Anatomists have often remarked, that though our diseases are sufficiently numerous and severe, yet when we inquire into the structure of the body, the tenderness of some parts, the minuteness of others, and the immense multiplicity of animal functions that must concur to the healthful and vigorous exercise of all our powers, there appears reason to wonder rather that we are preserved so long, than that we perish so soon, and that our frame subsists for a single day, or hour, without disorder, rather than that it should be broken or obstructed by violence of accidents, or length of time. The same reflection arises in
my mind, upon observation of the manner in which marriage is frequently contracted. When I see the avaricious and crafty, taking companions to their tables and their beds without any inquiry, but after farms and money; or the giddy and thoughtless uniting themselves for life to those whom they have ovly seen by the light of tapers at a ball; when parents juake articles for their children, without inquiring after their con