[Footnote 2: AEneid I. 85.]
[Footnote 3: That.]
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No. 236. Friday, November 30, 1711. Steele
—Dare Jura maritis.
You have not spoken in so direct a manner upon the Subject of Marriage as that important Case deserves. It would not be improper to observe upon the Peculiarity in the Youth of Great Britain, of railing and laughing at that Institution; and when they fall into it, from a profligate Habit of Mind, being insensible of the [Satisfaction ] in that Way of Life, and treating their Wives with the most barbarous Disrespect.
Particular Circumstances and Cast of Temper, must teach a Man the Probability of mighty Uneasinesses in that State, (for unquestionably some there are whose very Dispositions are strangely averse to conjugal Friendship;) but no one, I believe, is by his own natural Complexion prompted to teaze and torment another for no Reason but being nearly allied to him: And can there be any thing more base, or serve to sink a Man so much below his own distinguishing Characteristick, (I mean Reason) than returning Evil for Good in so open a Manner, as that of treating an helpless Creature with Unkindness, who has had so good an Opinion of him as to believe what he said relating to one of the greatest Concerns of Life, by delivering her Happiness in this World to his Care and Protection? Must not that Man be abandoned even to all manner of Humanity, who can deceive a Woman with Appearances of Affection and Kindness, for no other End but to torment her with more Ease and Authority? Is any Thing more unlike a Gentleman, than when his Honour is engaged for the performing his Promises, because nothing but that can oblige him to it, to become afterwards false to his Word, and be alone the Occasion of Misery to one whose Happiness he but lately pretended was dearer to him than his own? Ought such a one to be trusted in his common Affairs? or treated but as one whose Honesty consisted only in his Incapacity of being otherwise?
There is one Cause of this Usage no less absurd than common, which takes place among the more unthinking Men: and that is the Desire to appear to their Friends free and at Liberty, and without those Trammels they have so much ridiculed. [To avoid ] this they fly into the other Extream, and grow Tyrants that they may seem Masters. Because an uncontroulable Command of their own Actions is a certain Sign of entire Dominion, they wont so much as recede from the Government even in one Muscle, of their Faces. A kind Look they believe would be fawning, and a civil Answer yielding the Superiority. To this must we attribute an Austerity they betray in every Action: What but this can put a Man out of Humour in his Wife’s Company, tho he