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and cleave unto his wife”: (v. 24. see also Matt. xix. 4, 5.) and accordingly, in after times, we find the ordinances of God directed to keep this union inviolable, and to preserve and direct it to its proper ends. This being the state, then, for which the Creator originally intended man, and which is therefore the best and the happiest which he can enjoy in this world, * it is that, to which he, or those whose business it is to protect and instruct him in his early years, should look forward as a matter of course; they should promote his attainment of it, and regulate his ideas concerning it. I conceive, therefore, that it is the duty of parents to consider, that, when their children arrive at a certain age, they will wish, and it will be proper for them, to enter into the marriage state, and that it is the business of those who have been the authors of their existence in this world, to provide for them accordingly, or to put them
* Believe me man, there is no greater blisse,
Than is the quiet joy of loving wife;
Food without fulnesse, counsell without pride,
Sir Philip Sidney's ARCADIA. Lib. 3. folio 1638. p. 401.
in a way of providing for themselves. The child of the peasant, when he has arrived at his strength, and is able to earn his weekly wages by his labour, has a provision whereon he may marry; and here I conceive, that, according to the present manners and opinions of the world, the poor man has a decided and important advantage over the rich man, both as it affects his happiness in this world, and in some measure his everlasting happiness in another. A young man in the higher ranks of life frequently finds many and great impediments to an early marriage, I mean to marriage at that time when nature and reason would direct him to chuse a partner for life.
How frequently do we see parents with ample fortunes reserving it, rather than giving a part to establish their children in life; and, where they have no fortune, not taking any measures to put them into a way of procuring a maintenance for themselves; and, even where the children would do this, and be contented in a humble walk in life, the parents, either from an undue estimate of life, or from pride, dissuading them, and even preventing their following their rational inclinations. Half the wants in society are not respecting those things which really contribute to a person's happiness, but perhaps the contrary; and are
merely artificial cravings to keep up an appears ance and satisfy the world around him.*
I conceive it, therefore, Sir, to be the duty of the moralist to do his utmost to maintain in the world proper ideas of woman, of marriage, of love, and of connubial happiness, and that every thing which at all tends to give persons improper ideas upon these subjects and to diminish their respect for them, is an offence in society and against the will and laws of the Creator, From several of your writings, Sir, I suppose these to be nearly your own sentiments, likewise: and I shall do in this case, as I have done in the former instances; first state your opinions, as I find them expressed in your more serious and more valuable works, and then consider how far the sentiments contained in the songs in this class are likely to second or to militate against your principles.
In one of your earliest publications, MisCELLANEOUS Pieces In Prose, by J. and A. L. AIKIN. 1773. In the Critique On The Heroic Poem of Gondibert, speaking of the armies of the Prince and the Duke, you say,
* There are some very good remarks upon this subject in INGRAM's Disquisitions on Population in answer to MR. MALTHUS's Essay on Population. p. 74–79.
“ That of Gondibert was composed of hardy youth whom he had selected from his father's camp, and educated in martial discipline under his own inspection. Temperance, chastity, vigilance, humanity, and all the bigh virtues of chivalry remarkably distinguish these young soldiers from those of later times. Beauty, indeed, commanded no less regard amongst them than in a modern camp; but it was an object of ' passion, and not of appetite ; and was the powerful engine in their education, which inspired them with noble and exalted sentiments." (P. 162.) You afterwards say of Love, “ the influence of this passion in its purest and most exalted state, during the course of education, is a subject that might, perhaps, shine as much in the hands of a moralist as of a poet.” (P. 164.)
In the first volume of your Letters to your Son, there is one On the choice of a Wife. (L. xxix.) You begin it with saying, “ There is no species of advice which seems to come with more peculiar propriety from parents to children, than that which respects the marriage state; for it is a matter in which the first must have acquired some experience, and the last cannot.” (P. 330.) You speak of " the neglect with which adınonitions on this head are treated," as being “ not unfrequently owing to
the manner in which they are given, which is often too general, too formal, and with too little accommodation to the feelings of young persons.” (Do.) “ The difference of opinion between sons and fathers in the matrimonial choice may be stated in a single position—that the former have in their minds the first month of marriage, the latter, the whole of its duration.” (P. 331.)“ I need say little as to the share that personal charms ought to have in fixing a choice of this kind. While I readily admit, that it is desirable, that the object on which the eyes are most frequently to dwell for a whole life, should be an agreeable one; you will probably as freely acknowledge, that more than this is of too fanciful and fugitive a nature to come into the computation of permanent enjoyment.” (P. 332.) You state that “ the two main points on which the happiness to be expected from a female associate in this life must depend"-are, “ her qualifications as a companion, and as a helper:” (Do.) You represent a wife as “the domestic companion of the voyage of life--the intimate of all hours—the partaker of all fortunes—the sharer in pain and pleasure—the mother and instructress of your offspring.” And say, “ Are you not struck with a sense of the infinite consequence it must be of to you, what are the