S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief . Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity.
It is one of the best bonds, both of obedience and chastity in the wife, if she thinks her husband wise, which she will never do if she find him jealous. Wives are young mens mistresses, companions for middle age, and old mens nurses: so a man may have a quarrel to marry when he will: but yet he was reputed one of the wise men that made answer to the question, When a man should marryA young man not yet, an elder man not at all. [Thales.] It is often seen that bad husbands have very good wives; whether it be that it raiseth the price of their husbands kindness when it comes, or that the wives take a pride in their patience; but this never fails, if the bad husbands were of their own choosing, against their friends consent: for then they will be sure to make good their own folly.
There is something so gross in the carriage of some wives that they lose their husbands hearts for faults which, if a man has either good-nature or good-breeding, he knows not how to tell them of. I am afraid, indeed, the ladies are generally most faulty in this particular; who at their first giving into love find the way so smooth and pleasant that they fancy it is scarce possible to be tired in it. There is so much nicety and discretion required to keep love alive after marriage, and make conversation still new and agreeable after twenty or thirty years, that I know nothing which seems readily to promote it but an earnest endeavour to please on both sides, and superior good sense on the part of the man.
In our age women commonly preserve the publication of their good offices, and their vehement affection towards their husbands, until they have lost them, or at least, till then defer the testimonies of their good will. A too slow testimony, and that comes too late; by which they rather manifest that they never loved them till dead. Their life is nothing but trouble, their death full of love and courtesie. As fathers conceal their affection from their children, women likewise conceal theirs from their husbands to maintain a modest respect. This mystery is not for my pallate; tis to much purpose that they scratch themselves and tear their hair. I whisper in a waiting-woman or a secretarys ear. How were they? How did they live together? I always have that good saying in my head, Juctantias mrent quiæ minus dolent. They make the most ado who are least concerned. Their whimpering is offensive to the living and vain to the dead: we should willingly give them leave to laugh after we are dead provided they will smile upon us whilst we are alive. Is it not to make a man revive in spite, that she who spit in my face whilst I was shall come to kiss my feet when I am no more?
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. xcii.
Do not indulge romantic ideas of superhuman excellence. Remember that the fairest creature is a fallen creature. Yet let not your standard be low. If it be absurd to expect perfection, it is not unreasonable to expect consistency. Do not suffer yourself to be caught by a shining quality, till you know it is not counteracted by the opposite defect. Be not taken in by strictness in one point, till you are assured there is no laxity in others. In character, as in architecture, proportion is beauty. The education of the present race of females is not very favourable to domestic happiness.
I am married, and have no other concern but to please the man I love; he is the end of every care I have; if I dress, it is for him; if I read a poem, or a play, it is to qualify myself for a conversation agreeable to his taste; he is almost the end of my devotions; half my prayers are for his happiness.
I have very long entertained an ambition to make the word wife the most agreeable and delightful name in nature. If it be not so in itself, all the wiser part of mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, has consented in an error.
Life or death, felicity or a lasting sorrow, are in the power of marriage. A woman indeed ventures most, for she hath no sanctuary to retire to from an evil husband: she must dwell upon her sorrow, and hatch the eggs which her own folly or infelicity hath produced; and she is more under it, because her tormentor hath a warrant of prerogative, and the woman may complain to God as subjects do of tyrant princes, but otherwise she hath no appeal in the causes of unkindness. And though the man can run from many hours of his sadness, yet he must return to it again, and when he sits among his neighbours, he remembers the objection that lies in his bosom, and he sighs deeply.
Jeremy Taylor: Twenty-five Sermons Preached at Golden Grove: XVII., The Marriage Ring.