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in case of necessity. Thus the gentlewomen in Champagne in France, some three hundred years since, were enforced to marry yeoman and farmers, because all the nobility in that country were slain in the wars, in the two voyages of King Louis to Palestine; and thereupon ever since, by custom and privilege, the gentlewomen of Champagne and Brie ennoble their husbands and give them honor in marrying them, how mean soever before.
Though pleasantly affected, she is not transported with court delights,- as in their stately masques and pageants. By degrees she is brought from delighting in such masques, only to be contented to see them, and at last, perchance, could desire to be excused from that also.
Yet in her reduced thoughts she makes all the sport she hath seen earnest to herself; it must be a dry flower indeed out of which this bee sucks no honey; they are the best Origens who do allegorize all earthly vanities into heavenly truths. When she remembereth how suddenly the scene in the masque was altered (almost before moment itself could take notice of it), she considereth how quickly mutable all things are in this world, God ringing the changes on all accidents, and making them tunable to his glory; the lively representing of things so curiously that Nature herself might grow jealous of Art in outdoing her, minds our lady to make sure work with her own soul, seeing hypocrisy may be so like to sincerity. But oh! what a wealthy exchequer of beauties did she there behold, several faces most different, most excellent (so great is the variety even in bests), what a rich mine of jewels, above ground, all so brave, so costly! To give court masques their due, of all the bubbles in this world they have the greatest variety of fine colors. But all is quickly ended; this is the spite of the world, - if ever she affordeth fine ware, she always pinch. eth it in the measure, and it lasts not long. But oh! thinks our lady, how glorious a place is heaven, where there are joys forever. more. If a herd of kine should meet together in fancy and define happiness, they would place it to consist in fine pastures, sweet grass, clear water, shadowy groves, constant summer; but if any winter, then warm shelter and dainty hay, with company after their kind, counting these low things the highest happiness, because their conceit can reach no higher. Little better do the heathen poets describe heaven, paving it with pearl, and roofing it with stars, filling it with gods and goddesses, and allowing them to drink (as if without it no poet's paradise) nectar and ambrosia; heaven indeed being pætarum dedecus, the shame of poets, and the disgrace of all their hyperboles falling as far short of truth herein as they go beyond it in other fables. However, the sight of such glorious earthly spectacles advantageth our lady's conceit by infinite multiplication thereof to consider of heaven.
She reads constant lectures to herself of her own mortality. To smell a turf of fresh earth is wholesome for the body; no less are thoughts of mortality cordial to the soul. «Earth thou art, to earth thou shalt return.”
The sight of death when it cometh will neither be so terrible to her, nor so strange, who hath formerly often beheld it in her serious meditations. With Job she saith to the worm, “Thou art my sister. If fair ladies scorn to own the worms their kindred in this life, their kindred will be bold to challenge them when dead in their graves; for when the soul (the best perfume of the body) is departed from it, it becomes so noisome a carcass, that, should I make a description of the loathsomeness thereof, some dainty dames would hold their noses in reading it.
To conclude; we read how Henry, a German prince, was admonished by revelation to search for a writing in an old wall, which should nearly concern him, wherein he found only these two words written, Post sex, after six. Whereupon Henry conceived that his death was foretold, which after six days should ensue; which made him pass those days in constant preparation for the same. But finding the six days passed without the effect he expected, he successively persevered in his godly resolutions six weeks, six months, six years, and on the first day of the seventh year the prophecy was fulfilled, though otherwise than he inter. preted it; for thereupon he was chosen Emperor of Germany, having before gotten such a habit of piety that he persisted in his religious course forever after. Thus our lady hath so inured herself «all the days of her appointed time to wait till her change cometh,” that, expecting it every hour, she is always provided for that than which nothing is more certain or uncertain.
Complete. From the “Holy State.” V-115
COME men have too much decried marriage. Give this holy esS tate her due, and then we shall find,
Though bachelors be the strongest stakes, married men are the best binders in the hedge of the commonwealth. 'Tis the policy of the Londoners, when they send a ship into the Levant or Mediterranean Sea, to make every mariner therein a merchant, each seaman adventuring somewhat of his own, which will make him more wary to avoid and more valiant to undergo dangers. Thus married men, especially if having posterity, are the deeper sharers in that state wherein they live, which engageth their affections to the greater loyalty.
It is the worst clandestine marriage when God is not invited to it. Wherefore beforehand beg his gracious assistance. Marriage shall prove no lottery to thee, when the hand of Providence chooseth for thee, who, if drawing a blank, can turn it into a prize, by sanctifying a bad wife unto thee.
Deceive not thyself by over-expecting happiness in the married state. Look not therein for contentment greater than God will give, or a creature in this world can receive, namely, to be free from all inconveniences. Marriage is not like the hill Olympus, glos han pós, wholly clear, without clouds. Yea, expect both wind and storm sometimes, which, when blown over, the air is the clearer and wholesomer for it. Make account of certain cares and troubles which will attend thee.
Remember the nightingales, which sing only some months in the spring, but commonly are silent when they have hatched their eggs, as if their mirth were turned into care for their young ones. Yet all the molestations of marriage are abundantly recompensed with other comforts which God bestoweth on them who make a wise choice of a wife, and observe the following rules: —
Let grace and goodness be the principal loadstone of thy affections. For love which hath ends will have an end, whereas that which is founded in true virtue will always continue. Some hold it unhappy to be married with a diamond ring; perchance (if there be so much reason in their folly), because the diamond hinders the roundness of the ring, ending the infiniteness thereof, and seems to presage some termination in their love, which ought ever to endure, and so it will, when it is founded in religion.
Neither choose all, nor not at all for beauty. A cried-up beauty makes more for her own praise than her husband's profit. They tell us of a floating island in Scotland; but sure no wise pilot will cast anchor there, lest the land swim away with his ship. So are they served, and justly enough, who only fasten their love on fading beauty, and both fail together.
Let there be no great disproportion in age. They that marry ancient people merely in expectation to bury them hang themselves in hope that one will come and cut the halter.
Let wealth in its due distance be regarded. There be two towns in the land of Liego, called Bovins and Dinant, the inhabitants whereof bear almost an incredible hatred one to another, and yet, notwithstanding, their children usually marry together; and the reason is, because there is none other good town or wealthy place near them. Thus parents for a little pelf often marry their children to those whose persons they hate; and thus union betwixt families is not made, but the breach rather widened the more.
This shall serve for a conclusion. A bachelor was saying, “Next to no wife, a good wife is best.” “Nay,” said a gentle. woman, “next to a good wife, no wife is the best.” I wish to all married people the outward happiness which, anno 1605, happened to a couple in the city of Delft, in Holland, living most lovingly together seventy-five years in wedlock, till the man being one hundred and three, the woman ninety-nine years of age, died within three hours of each other, and were buried in the same grave.
Complete. From the Holy State.»
THE GOOD WIFE
r. Paul to the Colossians, iii. 18, first adviseth women to subs mit themselves to their husbands, and then counselleth men
to love their wives. And sure it was fitting that women should first have their lesson given them, because it is hardest to be learned, and therefore they need have the more time to con it. For the same reason we first begin with the character of a good wife.
She commandeth her husband, in any equal matter, by constant obeying him. It was always observed that what the English gained
of the French in battle by valor, the French regained of the English by cunning in treaties; so if the husband should chance by his power, in his passion, to prejudice his wife's right, she wisely knoweth, by compounding and complying, to recover and rectify it again.
She never crosseth her husband in the springtide of his anger, but stays till it be ebbing water. And then mildly she argues the matter, not so much to condemn him as to acquit herself. Surely men, contrary to iron, are worse to be wrought upon when they are hot, and are far more tractable in cold blood. It is an observation of seamen, that, if a single meteor or fireball falls on their mast, it portends ill luck; but if two come together (which they count Castor and Pollux) they presage good success; but, sure, in a family it bodeth most bad when two fireballs (husband's and wife's anger) come both together.
She keeps home, if she hath not her husband's company or leave for her patent to go abroad; for the house is the woman's centre. It is written, Ps. civ. 2, «The sun ariseth, man goeth forth unto his work, and to his labor until the evening ”; but it is said of woman, Prov. xxxi. 15, «She riseth while it is yet night,” for man in the race of his work starts from the rising of the sun, because his business is without doors, and not to be done without the light of heaven; but the woman hath her work within the house, and therefore can make the sun rise by lighting of a candle.
Her clothes are comely rather than costly, and she makes plain cloth to be velvet by her handsome wearing it. She is none of our dainty dames, who love to appear in variety of suits every day new,- as if a good gown, like a stratagem in war, were to be used but once; but our good wife sets up a sail according to the keel of her husband's estate; and if of high parentage, she doth not so remember what she was by birth that she forgets what she is by match.
Arcana imperii (her husband's secrets) she will not divulge. Especially she is careful to conceal his infirmities. If he be none of the wisest, she so orders it that he appears on the public stage but seldom; and then he hath conned his part so well, that he comes off with great applause. If his forma informans be but bad, she provides him better formas assistentes, gets him wise servants and secretaries.,