THE MARRIAGES OF LITERARY MEN.
TO TUE EDITOR. Sin, —This is the saddest chapter in biography. Dr Kirton, in his book cn 1 Happy Homes,’ has furnished us with a melancholy catalogue of men of talents who were unhappy in their connubial relations, or who had been disappointed in love. His collection of facts is borrowed from ‘ Lacon in Council.’ “The rare recurrence of genius with domestic comfort is perfectly awful. Take Dante, the exile, who left his wife never wishing to sec her more; take Tasso, wifeless ; Petrarch, wifeless ; Ariosto, wifeless ; Milton, thrice married, but only once with much comfort; Drytlen, wedded, like Addison, to a title and discord ; Young lives alone till past fifty ; Swift’s marriage is no marriage ; Sterne’s, Churchill’s, Byron’s, Coleridge’s marriage, broken and unhappy; Johnson had a wife, loved, and soon lost her. Take the philosophers : Bacon, like his famous legal adversary, Coke, seems to have enjoyed little domestic Comfort; and speaks disapprovingly of his partner. Our metaphysicians Hobbes, Locke, Bentham, Butler—are as solitary as Spinoza and Kant. The celibate philosopher Hume conducts us to the other great bachelor historians, Gibbon and Macaulay; as Bishop Butler does to some of the princes of English divinity— Hooker cajoled into marrying a shrew, Chillingworth bnmarried, Hammond unmarried, Leighton unmarried, Barrow also single. I only take the foremost. The list might be swelled with monarchs and generals in marriage.” Shakespeare lived alone during his productive years; Goethe married late in life; La Fontaine married at twenty-six, but abandoned his wife early in the honeymoon, and never Baw her again except on business. Sterne Complained that his wife stopped the flow of his ideas, and finds inspiration in the society of another man’s wife. Lessing did his best work before he fell in love, or after his wife’s death, and was in a state of intellectual torpor during the six years’ engagement and his one year’s marriage. The insanity of Thackeray’s wife made him practically a widower during his last and greatest days. Plato, warned by Socrates’ experience, Aristophanes, Anacreon, Lucretius, Virgil, Horace, Voltaire, Rousseau, Pope, Goldsmith, Heine, Balzac, Beranger, Saint-Beuve, Irving, and Thoreau, never married. Beethoven and Michael Angelo were celibates. Coming to female authors, we find Misses Austen, Martineau, Cobbe, Howitt, Bremer, were single. Miss Bronte did not enjoy a married life; she found it a hindrance. Almost all the great writers of the Middle Ages were clergymen, and consequently unmarried. Writers like Lamb, who enlivened, cheered, and sweetened life, were either bachelors or unfortunate husbands. “It is almost enough to make women tremble at the idea of allying themselves with genius or giving birth to it,” Certainly it were better fer men of genius that they had never been born, if we regard only themselves, so scabbily have they been treated by the worldly dunces and blockheads of mankind generally. Nevertheless, women Jove to worship greatness, and are passionately fond of men of genius. They cling to greatness as the ivy around the oak. Marriage is indeed the happiest state of life. Jeremy Taylor says well: “If you are for pleasure, marry ; if you prize rosy health, marry. A good wife is Heaven’s last, best gift to a man ; bis angel of mercy, minister of graces innumerable; his gem of many virtues ; his casket of jewels. Her voice, his sweetest music; her smiles, his brightest days ; her kiss, the garden of innocence; her arms, the pale of his safety, the balm of his health, the balsam of his life ; her industry, his surest wealth; her economy, his safest steward ; her lips, his faithful counsellors ; her bosom, the softest pillow of his cares ; and her prayers, the ablest advocates of Heaven’s blessings on his head.” According to this truly learned prelate, “ Life or death, felicity or a lasting sorrow, are in the power of marriage.” Indeed, as an author justly says, marriage is the sunshine of life—the source of virtuous pleasure in youth, the balm and solace of old ago. But the sine qua non is love, for love is the life and soul of marriage. Without love it is a most miserable and uncomfortable society, and no better than a very living death. But a happy marriage has all the pleasures of friendship, the enjoyments of sense and reason, and the sweets of life. Our only bliss since the fall. Marriage restores to us the pleasures of the Garden of Eden. Campbell nobly sings— Without our hopes, without our fears, Wltheut the home that pliehted love endears ; Without the smiles from plighted beauty wen, Oh ! what were man ? A world without a sun. —lam, etc., J. G. S. Grant. Dunedin, September 11.
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THE MARRIAGES OF LITERARY MEN., Evening Star, Issue 8012, 14 September 1889, Supplement
THE MARRIAGES OF LITERARY MEN. Evening Star, Issue 8012, 14 September 1889, Supplement
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