Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/232

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A WORD FOR XANTIPPE.


1866.


━━0━━

"To make a happy fireside clime
 For weans and wife,
Is the true pathos and sublime
 Of human life."—Burns.

For a couple of thousand years or so poor Xantippe has been infamous among men as the most acrid example of a shrewish wife. Is this, her evil reputation, just? or is it in great measure a bubble blown by the malice of learned bookworms? I know little or nothing of any of these gentry or their works, but one's mere instinct flashes considerable light upon the nature of the species. Ironical Destiny will generally have it that Dryasdust be married; when married, he is of course henpecked, for women (like Henry VIII.) love a man, and therefore despise a bookworm. Bookworm, feeling himself too weak for open and honourable warfare, betakes himself to a characteristic revenge, safe, cowardly, professional, honey-sweet; in the most scurrilous Latin he can command (and Latin is said to be rather rich in scurrility) he libels women and marriage, and retails from the inexhaustible stores of his anecdotage how Xantippe emptied the vessels of her wrath upon the sacred head of Socrates. Xantippe is the lay-