[Footnote 1: ‘Love in a Tub’, Act iv, sc, 6.]
[Footnote 2: In Plutarch’s ‘Life’ of him.]
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No. 128. Friday, July 27, 1711. Addison.
‘... Concordia discors.’
Women in their Nature are much more gay and joyous than Men; whether it be that their Blood is more refined, their Fibres more delicate, and their animal Spirits more light and volatile; or whether, as some have imagined, there may not be a kind of Sex in the very Soul, I shall not pretend to determine. As Vivacity is the Gift of Women, Gravity is that of Men. They should each of them therefore keep a Watch upon the particular Biass which Nature has fixed in their Mind, that it may not draw too much, and lead them out of the Paths of Reason. This will certainly happen, if the one in every Word and Action affects the Character of being rigid and severe, and the other of being brisk and airy. Men should beware of being captivated by a kind of savage Philosophy, Women by a thoughtless Gallantry. Where these Precautions are not observed, the Man often degenerates into a Cynick, the Woman into a Coquet; the Man grows sullen and morose, the Woman impertinent and fantastical.
By what I have said, we may conclude, Men and Women were made as Counterparts to one another, that the Pains and Anxieties of the Husband might be relieved by the Sprightliness and good Humour of the Wife. When these are rightly tempered, Care and Chearfulness go Hand in Hand; and the Family, like a Ship that is duly trimmed, wants neither Sail nor Ballast.
Natural Historians observe, (for whilst I am in the Country I must fetch my Allusions from thence) That only the Male Birds have Voices; That their Songs begin a little before Breeding-time, and end a little after; That whilst the Hen is covering her Eggs, the Male generally takes his Stand upon a Neighbouring Bough within her Hearing; and by that means amuses and diverts her with his Songs during the whole Time of her Sitting.
This Contract among Birds lasts no longer than till a Brood of young ones arises from it; so that in the feather’d Kind, the Cares and Fatigues of the married State, if I may so call it, lie principally upon the Female. On the contrary, as in our Species the Man and [the] Woman are joined together for Life, and the main Burden rests upon the former, Nature has given all the little Arts of Soothing and Blandishment to the Female, that she may chear and animate her Companion in a constant and assiduous Application to the making a Provision for his Family, and the educating of their common Children. This however is not to be taken so strictly, as if the same Duties were not often reciprocal, and incumbent on both Parties; but only to set forth what seems to have been the general Intention of Nature, in the different Inclinations and Endowments which are bestowed on the different Sexes.