Advantage Of Matrimony
( Originally Published 1879 )
MARRIAGE has in it less of beauty, but more of safety than the single life; it hath no more ease, but less danger; it is more merry and more sad; it is fuller of sorrows and fuller of joys; it lies under more burdens, but it is supported by all the strengths of love and charity, and those burdens are delightful. Marriage is the mother of the world, and preserves kingdoms, and fills cities and churches, and heaven itself. Celibacy, like the fly in the heart of an apple, dwells in perpetual sweetness, but sits alone, and is confined and dies in singularity; but marriage, like the useful bee, builds a house, and gathers honey from every flower, and labors, and unites into societies and republics, and sends out colonies, and feeds the world with delicacies, and obeys its king, and keeps order, and exercises many virtues, and promotes the interests of mankind, and is that state of good to which God hath designed the present constitution of the world.
If you are for pleasure, marry; if you prize rosy health, marry. A good wife is heaven's last best gift to man; his angel of mercy; minister of graces innumerable; his gem of many virtues; his casket of jewels. Her voice his sweetest music; her smiles his brightest days; her kiss the guardian of innocence; her arms the pale of his safety, the balm of his health, the balsam of his life; her industry his surest wealth; her economy his safest steward; her lips his faithful counselor; her bosom the softest pillow of his cares; and her prayers file ablest advocates of heaven's blessings on his head.
Woman's influence is the 'sheet anchor of society; and this influence is due not exclusively to the fascina. tion of her charms, but chiefly to the strength, uniformity, and consistency of her virtues, maintained under so many sacrifices, and with so much fortitude and heroism. Without these endowments and qualifications, external attractions are nothing; but with them, their power is irresistible.
Beauty and virtue are the crowning attributes be-stowed by nature upon woman, and the bounty of heaven more than compensates for the injustice of man. Sometimes we 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 ardor and of hope, of health and vigor 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 we are afraid that whether married or unmarried, we shall find the vesture of terrestrial existence more heavy and cumbrous the longer it is worn.
Once for all, there is no misery so distressful as the desperate agony of trying to keep young when one can't. We know an old bachelor who has attempted it. His affectation of youth, like all affectations, is a melancholy failure. He is a rapid young man of fifty. He plies innocent young ladies with the pretty compliments and soft nothings in vogue when he was a spooney youth of twenty. The fashion of talking to young ladies has changed within thirty years, you know, and this aged boy's soft nothings seem more out of date than a two-year-old bonnet. They make you think, somehow, of that time-honored frog-story, wherein is set forth the discovery of galvanic electricity. When you, see his old-fashioned young antics-his galvanic gallantry, so to speak, and hear the speeches he makes to girls in their teens, when he ought to be talking to them like a father—you involuntarily call him an old idiot, and long to remind him of that quaint rebuke of grand old John: "Thou talkest like one upon whose head the shell is to this very day." That is how he seems. He is old enough to have been almost full-fledged before you were born, and here he is trying to make believe that he is still in the days of his gosling-green, with the shell sticking on his head to this day ! It is a melancholy absurdity. One can't be young unless one is young. Only once is it given to us to be untried and soft, and gushing and superlative, and when the time comes for it all to go, no sort of effort can hold back the fleeting days.
"I wish that I had married thirty years ago," soliloquized an old bachelor. "Oh! I wish a wife and half a score of children would start up around me, and bring along with them all that affection which we should have had for each other by being early acquainted. But as it is, in my present state there is not a person in the world I care a straw for; and the world is pretty even with me, for I don't believe there is a person in it who cares a straw for me."