Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/526

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413
CHARACTERISTICS

straitened means, consequent upon the Admiralty's niggard construction of regulations, the prolonged severity of his employment, and the last agonised weeks of illness, must have gone far to detract from perfect felicity in domestic conditions. The six changes of residence in four and a half years point to the same conclusion. Nevertheless we find Mrs. Flinders writing to a friend in these terms, wherein her own happiness is clearly mirrored: "I am well persuaded that very few men know how to value the regard and tender attentions of a wife who loves them. Men in general cannot appreciate properly the delicate affection of a woman, and therefore they do not know how to return it. To make the married life as happy as this world will allow it to be, there are a thousand little amenities to be rendered on both sides, and as many little shades of comfort to be attended to. Many things must be overlooked, for we are all such imperfect beings; and to bear and forbear is essential to domestic peace. You will say that I find it easy to talk on this subject, and that precept is harder than practice. I allow it, my dear friend, in the practical part I have only to return kind affection and attention for uniform tenderness and regard. I have nothing unpleasant to call forth my forbearance. Day after day, month after month passes, and I neither experience an angry look nor a dissatisfied word. Our domestic life is an unvaried line of peace and comfort; and O, may Heaven continue it such, so long as it shall permit us to dwell together on this earth."