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upon themselves a disadvantage.
The happiness arising from an union depends chiefly on the character of
the persons who are concerned in it. If men and women were as consistent
and virtuous as they should be, the connubial bond would be soft and
pleasant; but as these effects do not always arise, where is the fault?
Which is better, or more worthy, the male or the female sex? This is
rather a difficult question; and let the palm of superior merit be
awarded to either, the imputation of prejudice would be connected with
the decision. But fortunately there is little difference: one varies
from the other in particular qualities; but if the aggregate of merit be
taken in each, the amount will not differ much. Education forms the
principal variation: men are instructed in the more active and laborious
employments, women in the more sedentary and domestic. Dr Southey says,
that "if women are not formed of finer clay, there has been more of the
dew of heaven to temper it." Richard Flecknoe, a contemporary with
Dryden, observes of the female sex,--"I have always been conversant with
the best and worthiest in all places where I came; and among the rest
with ladies, in whose conversation, as in an academy of virtue, I learnt
nothing but goodness, and saw nothing but nobleness." It must be
granted, that women in general possess more of the sweetness and
softness of human nature, while men are endowed with more vigorous
virtues; women are gifted with more fortitude, and men with more valor.
Jeremy Taylor says,--"Marriage hath in it the labor of love, and the
delicacies of friendship; the blessings of society, and the union of
hands and hearts."
Cowper has also alluded to the advantages of a matrimonial settlement,--
"O friendly to the best pursuits of man,
Friendly to thought, to virtue, and to peace,
Domestic life in rural pleasure pass'd."
Marriage is frequently an union of interest: the happiness of one is
made a source of enjoyment to the other. It is for life, because it is
most agreeable with the inclination of mankind that friendship, esteem
and love should be permanent. In this instance a continuance of the
union constitutes no small part of the bliss. The expectation of a
durable connection makes men careful, otherwise they would marry and
unmarry every week. There is, by the arrangement of the Almighty, a
comparative power or influence vested in the man, because, agreeably
with all good government,--
"Some are, and must be, greater than the rest;"
but then, as Dr Beattie observes, "the superiority vested by law in the
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