Defense and Happiness of Marriage

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Defense and Happiness of Marriage
by Joseph Addison

SIR, You who are so well acquainted with the story of Socrates, must have read how, upon his making a Discourse concerning Love, he pressed his Point with so much Success, that all the Batchelors in his Audience took a Resolution to Marry by the first Opportunity, and that all the married Men immediately took Horse and galloped home to their Wives. I am apt to think your Discourses, in which you have drawn so many agreeable Pictures of Marriage, have had a very good Effect this way in England. We are obliged to you at least, for having taken off that Senseless Ridicule, which for many Years the Witlings of the Town have turned upon their Fathers and Mothers. For my own part, I was born in Wedlock, and I don't care who knows it; For which Reason, among many others, I should look upon my self as a most insufferable Coxcomb, did I endeavour to maintain that Cuckoldom was inseparable from Marriage, or to make use of Husband and Wife as Terms of Reproach. Nay, Sir, I will go one step further, and declare to you before the whole World, that I am a married Man, and at the same time I have so much Assurance as not to be ashamed of what I have done. Among the several Pleasures that accompany this state of Life, and which you have described in your former Papers, there are two you have not taken Notice of, and which are seldom cast into the Account, by those who write on this Subject. You must have observed, in your Speculations on Human Nature, that nothing is more gratifying to the Mind of Man than Power or Dominion; and this I think my self amply possessed of, as I am the Father of a Family. I am perpetually taken up in giving out Orders, in prescribing Duties, in hearing Parties, in Administering Justice, and in distributing Rewards and Punishments. To speak in the Language of the Centurion, I say unto one, go, and he goeth; and to another, come and he cometh; and to my Servant, do this, and he doeth it. In short, Sir, I look upon my Family as a Patriarchal Sovereignty, in which I am my self both King and Priest. All great Governments are nothing else but Clusters of these little private Royalties, and therefore I consider the Masters of Families as small Deputy-Governors presiding over the several little Parcels and Divisions of their Fellow Subjects. As I take great Pleasure in the Administration of my Government in particular, so I look upon my self not only as a more useful, but as a much greater and happier Man than any Batchelor in England of my own Rank and Condition.


There is another accidental Advantage in Marriage, which has likewise fallen to my Share, I mean the having a multitude of Children. These I cannot but regard as very great Blessings. When I see my little Troop before me, I rejoice in the Additions which I have made to my Species, to my Country, and to my Religion, in having produced such a Number of reasonable Creatures, Citizens, and Christians. I am pleased to see my self thus perpetuated; and as there is no Production comparable to that of a human Creature, I am more proud of having been the Occasion of ten such glorious Productions, than if I had built a hundred Pyramids at my own Expence, or published as many Volumes of the finest Wit and Learning. In what a beautiful Light has the Holy Scripture represented Abdon, one of the judges of Israel, who had forty Sons and thirty Grandsons, that rode on Threescore and Ten Ass-Colts, according to the Magnificence of the Eastern Countries? How must the Heart of the old Man rejoice, when he saw such a beautiful Procession of his own Descendants, such a numerous Cavalcade of his own raising? For my own part, I can sit in my Parlour with great content, when I take a review of half a dozen of my little Boys mounting upon Hobby-Horses, and of as many little Girls tutoring their Babies, each of them endeavouring to excell the rest, and to do something that may gain my Favour and Approbation. I cannot question but he who has blessed me with so many Children, will assist my Endeavours in providing for them. There is one thing I am able to give each of them, which is a virtuous Education. I think, it is Sir Francis Bacon's Observation, that in a numerous Family of Children the eldest is often spoiled by the Prospect of an Estate, and the youngest by being the Darling of the Parent; but that some one or other in the middle, who has not perhaps been regarded, has made his way in the World, and over-topp'd the rest. It is my Business to implant in every one of my Children the same Seeds of Industry, and the same honest Principles. By this Means I think I have a fair Chance, that one or other of them may grow considerable in some or other way of Life, whether it be in the Army, or in the Fleet, in Trade, or any of the three learned Professions; for you must know, Sir, that from long Experience and Observation, I am persuaded of what seems a Paradox to most of those with whom I converse, namely, that a Man who has many Children, and gives them a good Education, is more likely to raise a Family, than he who has but one, notwithstanding he leaves him his whole Estate. For this reason I cannot forbear amusing my self with finding out a General, an Admiral, or an Alderman of London, a Divine, a Physician, or a Lawyer, among my little People who are now perhaps in Petticoats; and when I see the Motherly Airs of my little Daughters when they are playing with their Puppets, I cannot but flatter my self that their Husbands and Children will be happy in the Possession of such Wives and Mothers. If you are a Father, you will not perhaps think this Letter impertinent: but if you are a single Man, you will not know the Meaning of it, and probably throw it into the Fire: Whatever you determine of it, you may assure yourself that it comes from one who is Your most humble Servant, and Well-wisher,

Philogamus.