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Friendships formed between the old and the young rather resemble the affection between parent and child. They have not the charm which arises from sympathy in common hopes and common feelings, when hope and feeling are in the freshness of youth, but they have a more powerful influence on character. We gain in moral dignity from the consciousness of having won the esteem and love of those so superior to us in age and wisdom, and reverence is added to the affection we feel for them. We fly to their counsel and assistance as an unfailing resource in every difficulty, and are the more grateful for their tender sympathy, that we know they themselves are raised above the storms of passion which shake our weaker minds. Nor is the advantage, perhaps, entirely confined to the young; they may hope that their deep love and reverence may help to cheer and brighten the darkening years of age, that something of the warmth and animation of their eager, hopeful existence may cast a glow over the calm twilight of declining life, and renew in some degree what the all-devouring past seemed to have destroyed for ever.
We turn now to Love. What young heart does not throb at the name? How large a proportion of the thoughts, hopes, and dreams of youth does it occupy! It is too often the theme of conversation between young girls; why is it scarcely ever mentioned between mother and daughter? Yet mothers must surely be aware that their silence will not keep their daughters
harmony which is sometimes found among female relations, especially connections by marriage; but the inference drawn to the discredit of women's tempers and amiability is generally unjust, and founded on a partial view of the subject. Men, however closely connected with each other, never spend their lives together as women of the same family often do. They have their different pursuits and friends, and perfect independence of action, while women not only live under the same roof, but spend their days perhaps in the same room, depend on each other for their amusements, their daily exercise, and their domestic habits of every kind; and it is in these little things, from which there is no escape, that uncongenial tastes become most difficult to accommodate, and that tempers are exposed to a degree of irritation unknown to him who can escape from home annoyances by taking his independent ride, or going to his club.
in ignorance that such things are as love and marriage, nor apparently do they wish it, if we may judge from the eagerness with which they often promote all desirable flirtations, and are even ready to sacrifice their child's dignity and purity of feeling to the prospect of a good establishment. Marriage in this sense is indeed very frequently mentioned; but of all that makes it the holiest, as it is the strongest, of human ties, — of that love which may be either a beneficent flame, warming and beautifying the whole of life, or the destructive fire to sear and blight it, no word is ever spoken.
The first notion of a girl thus unprepared is, that she must be in love, and have a lover. If neither of these events happen immediately, she is disappointed and mortified; and she is probably not wanting in companions superior to her, either in beauty or in artifice, who will take care to deepen her mortification by the display of their own triumphs. The temptation then arises to fancy feelings that do not exist. She is apt to magnify any slight attention paid to her, even the commonplace compliments of a ball-room, into a decided avowal; and, worse still, she mistakes the flutterings of vanity in her own breast for the emotions of real love. This fictitious sentiment is cherished by idleness, by novel-reading, by day-dreams, and is made an excuse for the neglect of every active duty. Sooner or later, however, the illusion is dispelled, but with it freshness and healthiness of feeling have also fled; the sense of weariness and void which follows high-wrought excitement is mistaken for real sorrow, and the mind, weakened by self-indulgence, instead of recovering itself by a vigorous effort, too often merely exchanges one illusion for another, till the very sources of true feeling are in danger of being dried up. If, on the other hand, marriage should follow, what security can there be for happiness?
There may by a lucky chance be sufficient amiability and agreement of feeling and habits to produce a decent degree of union between the married pair; but the probabilities are the other way, and the ill-yoked couple must go wrangling, struggling on, with infinite discomfort, at least, if not misery, to themselves, and certain injury to all connected with them.
The very early age at which most women marry, and the inexperience and ignorance of the world which belong to a secluded life, make it impossible that they should know any thing of character; when, therefore, their whole happiness depends on their choice in marriage, it is the more necessary that mothers should do their utmost to aid them. The characters of men are discussed freely enough among women, and often with a degree of unjust severity, proportioned to the servile deference outwardly paid to them, but this is not the sort of conversation that can be of any advantage. It is not ridicule of weaknesses or faults, and explanation of dexterous modes of managing them, that will teach a young girl real discrimination of character. The essential differences between the male and female mind should be explained to them, and the various circumstances of natural position and education which cause and tend to foster those differences. They should know the grounds of their own dependence, and how far it should go; what class of faults in a husband it must be their duty to endure with gentleness and. patience, and when self-respect would demand that they should. take a more dignified stand. If mothers tried thus to prepare their daughters for the difficulties they must encounter, if they strove to guide their views of life, not to leave them to be formed under the influence of false sentiment, or false pride, we should not see so many irretrievable mistakes made. want of some knowledge of this kind in early life, women are too apt to look upon men either with enthusiastic, indiscriminative reverence, or with unreasoning fear, or with a foolish pride, springing from their triumphs over those who have either played with their vanity, or really submitted to their yoke. Man's noblest qualities, those which women should most cling to, are often dreaded as stern; the character which cannot stoop to be a carpet knight is deemed incapable of affection; and thus. many, in their ignorance, wound and slight attachment only too true and noble ever to have been offered to them.
It is too late to warn a young girl of the errors and dangers which beset her path at the very moment she is exposed to them; and that her heart is, perhaps, kindling under the first
breath of passion. She must be armed against them by habitual principle, by the integrity which will neither allow her to deceive herself nor others, by the sobriety and self-command of a mind trained to constant obedience to duty, and by that love of moral excellence which will secure her from throwing away her affection on the unworthy. She must be early taught that love is noble only in proportion to the worthiness of its object; and sinks into a degrading passion, where it is indulged against the dictates of reason and conscience. She must be taught to
bend all the energies of her mind against the approaches of such a feeling, where it is not sanctioned by these higher principles. She must learn to choose her lover, and consequently her husband, as she would choose her friend, for those moral qualities that are the only solid basis of love, and to feel that any misery is preferable to marriage without esteem. To one thus prepared, the dangers which beset a woman's path may, indeed, bring sorrow, but never degradation. She may not marry, perhaps not love, but her heart will remain unsullied, and her character gain new strength and dignity by the exercise of self-command.
But if she should meet with one worthy of her affection, she may then know (what the feeble and frivolous never know) how noble, how beautiful, is real love. The infirmities and imperfections, which intimate intercourse must disclose, will be endured by her with indulgent tenderness, while she will rest the more firmly on the main principles of character, which these failings cannot affect. Hers will be the exquisite bliss of devoting her whole being to him whom she can revere as well as love; hers will be the happy home, happy, in spite of all adversities, in her sympathy with the companion of her life, -in the feeling of indissoluble union with him, in that community of hopes and joys and sorrows which binds their hearts closer and closer together, as all other ties gradually fail.*
* We would refer our readers to a beautiful passage in "Woman's Rights and Duties," Vol. I. p. 278, on the happiness which may be found in conjugal affection. It is too long to quote here; and it is only one of many which, in that admirable work, breathe the spirit of the deepest tenderness in the language of fervent eloquence.
It is far from our intention, however, to teach that marriage can be happy only when it follows a passionate attachment. We believe, on the contrary, that the happiest marriages are often those formed (after the fervor of youthful feeling is over) upon sober choice, grounded on respect and esteem. The warmth of feeling which may at first be wanting will soon spring up under the influence of common interests and common ties, and when it does arise will combine all the strength with more than all the tenderness of friendship. In such a union, love has not blinded the judgment to the inevitable imperfections of human nature, and more allowance will therefore be made for them when they appear. As it began with no high-wrought expectations, so will its course be spared many disappointments. The same sobriety of feeling, the same calmness of judgment, which presided at its formation, will save it from many of the perils which beset the career of passion. Marriage without affection is indeed a heavy and degrading yoke; but marriage without passionate love (on the woman's side, at least) offers, perhaps, a more secure chance of happiness. It will have fewer exquisite pleasures, but fewer chances also of exquisite misery. It is to this calmer feeling that love, if founded on the right basis of esteem, will gradually sober down, and she who is content to forego the wild joys of passion, and accept it as the foundation of her happiness, will seldom have reason to repent her choice, or envy those who have been less prudent.
It is an essential condition to the happiness of marriage, and one too little attended to, that it should be entered upon with the knowledge of its dark as well as its bright side, of its duties and trials as well as its pleasures. In very early marriages this is seldom the case; for how can the young girl, to whom life as yet has brought no greater sorrow than the weariness of a school-room, or the disappointment of a ball, picture to herself trial, and difficulty, and woe? The triumph of being married sooner than her companions, the charms of her trousseau, and the dignity of her new condition, are more likely to occupy her thoughts, than the duties she is about to undertake, or the trials