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Commencing in the First Number of the Sixth Volume,
NOVEL AND ENTERTAINING NOTES
"AN AUTUMN TRIP THROUGH MUNSTER."
VOLUMES I. TO V., BOUND IN GREEN CLOTH, PRICE 4s. 6D. EACH.
VOLUMES I., II., AND III.,
NUMEROUS SHORT STORIES WRITTEN EXPRESSLY FOR CHILDREN.
GREAT men are not always great with their wives. Great geniuses have often a seedy side, and this is precisely the side of their nature with which wives are the most familiar. The world sees the intellect, and the intellect only in the Great Genius's Book, but knows little or nothing of the man himself, his nature, his temper, his foibles, and all that makes up his daily life. The world is wonderfully tolerant of its geniuses, as it should be; the world sees their bright side, and that only, and it worships. The wife sees the man, and the man only; not the author, the sage, or the statesman. What is his fame in the outer world to her? Is not the home her world, where her life and happiness centre?
Probably, greatness does not conform with domesticity. The literary man is wrapped up in his books, and the wife does not brook a divided affection. He lives in the past or the future, and his mind can with difficulty be brought to condescend to the carking cares of the present -perhaps not even to its quiet daily life. His lofty meditations are disturbed by the puling infant, or it may be, by a call for house-rent, or the amount of the chandler's bill. Or, take the leader of some great political or social movement; or the commander of armies, at whose nod ten thousand swords are unsheathed and the air made blatant with the discharge of artillery; can you expect such a person to subside into the quiet, husband-life, like any common, ordinary man, and condescend to inquire into the state of the children's teething, Johnny's progress at school, and the thousand little domestic attentions which constitute a wife's happiness?
We shall not, however, discuss the question of whether happiness in marriage be compatible with genius, or not, but proceed to set forth a few traits of the wives of great men. We shall not dwell on Xantippe, the wife of Socrates, whose name has become familiar to us almost as a proverb. But she was not without her uses, for she taught her great husband at least the virtue of patience. Many of the great Greeks and Romans, like Socrates, were unhappy in their wives. Possibly, however, we have heard only of the bad ones among them; for the life of good wives is rarely made matter of comment by the biographer, either in ancient or modern times.
The advent of Christianity placed woman in a greatly improved position, as regarded marriage. Repudiation, as among the Greeks and Romans, was no longer permitted; the new religion enforced the unity and indissolubility of marriage; it became a sacrament, dispensed at the altar, where woman had formerly been a victim, but was now become an idol. The conjugal union was made a religious contract; the family was constituted by the priest; the wife was elevated to the function of Edu
cator of the Family-the alma mater; and thus, through her instrumentality, was the regeneration of the world
But it did not follow that all women were good, or that all were happy. Life is but a tangled yarn at the best; there are blanks and prizes drawn by women still, and not unfrequently "great men" have proved the greatest of blanks to them. Henry the Eighth was not, perhaps, entitled to the appellation of a great man, though he was an author, for which the Pope conferred on him the title, still retained by our monarchs, of "Defender of the Faith." The history of his six wives is well known. Nor was the married life of Peter the Great, and his three wives, of a more creditable complexion.
Luther married Catherine de Bora, an escaped nunfriends, he spoke of her as "My rib Kitty, my loved a remarkably handsome woman. In his letters to his Kitty, my empress Kitty." A year after his marriage, when struggling with poverty, he said, in one of these letters, "Catherine, my dear rib, salutes you. She is quite well, thank God; gentle, obedient, and kind in all things; quite beyond my hopes. I would not exchange my poverty with her, for all the riches of Croesus without her." A dozen years after, he said,-" Catherine, thou hast a pious man who loves thee; thou art a very empress!" Yet Luther had his little troubles in connection with his married life. Catherine was fond of small talk, and, when Luther was busily engaged in solving the difficulties of the Bible, she would interrupt him with such questions as-whether the king of France was richer than his cousin the emperor of Germany? if the Italian women were more beautiful than the German? if Rome was as big as Wittenberg? and so on. To escape these little inquiries, Luther saw no other way than to lock himself up in his study, with a quantity of bread and cheese, and there hold to his work. But Catherine still pursued him. One day, when he was thus locked up, labouring at his translation of the Twenty-second Psalm, the door was assailed by the wife. knocking followed, accompanied by Catherine's voice,. No answer was given. More shouting-" If you don't open the door, 1 will go fetch the locksmith." The Doctor entreated his wife not to interrupt his labours. therine. The doctor obeyed. "I was afraid," said she, "Open, open!" repeated Caon entering, "that something had vexed you, locked up in this room alone." To which Luther replied, "The only thing that vexes me now is yourself." But Luther, doubtless, entertained a steady, though sober affection for his wife; and in his will, in which he left her sole executrix, bequeathing to her all his property, he speaks of her as "always a gentle, pious, and faithful wife to me, and that has loved me tenderly." ever," he adds, "may happen to her after my death, I have, I say, full confidence that she will ever conduct herself as a good mother towards her children,
and will conscientiously share with them whatever she espoused an actress, and she proved a coquette. He bepossesses."
came extremely jealous, and, perhaps, he had reason. The other German Reformer, Calvin, proceeded in his Yet he loved her passionately, and bore long with her search for a wife in a matter-of-fact way. He wrote to frailties. He thus himself describes her:-" She has his friends, describing to them what sort of an article he small eyes, but they are full of fire, brilliant, and the wanted, and they looked up a proper person for him. most penetrating in the world. She has a large mouth, Writing to Farel, one of his correspondents, on this sub- but one can discern beauties in it that one does not see in ject, he said," I beseech you ever to bear in mind what other mouths. Her figure is not large, but easy and wellI seek for in a wife. I am not one of your mad kind of proportioned. She affects a nonchalance in her speech lovers, who dote even upon faults, when once they are and carriage; but there is a grace in her every act, and taken by beauty of person. The only beauty that entices an indescribable charm about her, by which she never fails me is, that she be chaste, obedient, humble, economical, to work her way to the heart. Her mental gifts are patient; and that there be hopes that she will be soli- exquisite; her conversation is charming; and, if she be citous about my health. If, therefore, you think it capricious more than any other can be, all sits gracefully expedient that I should marry, bestir yourself, lest some-on the beautiful,—one bears anything from the beautiful." body else anticipate you. But, if you think otherwise, let us drop the subject altogether." A rich, young German lady, of noble birth, was proposed; but Calvin objected, on the ground of the high birth. Another was proposed to him, but another failure resulted. At last a widow, with a considerable family of children, Odelette We know nothing of the married life of Shakspere; de Bures, the relict of a Strasburg Anabaptist, whom he indeed, we know but little of any portion of that great had converted, was discovered, suited to his notions, and man's life. But we know that he married young, and he married her. Nothing is said about their wedded life, we know the name of his wife, Anne Hathawaye, the and, therefore, we presume it went on in the quiet, jog-daughter of a yeoman, in the neighbourhood of Stratfordtrot way. At her death he did not shed a tear; and he spoke of the event only as an ordinary spectator would have done.
The brothers, Corneille, married the two sisters, Lampérière; and the love of the whole family was cemented by the double union. They lived in contiguous houses, which opened into each other, and there they lived in a community of taste and sentiment. They worked together, and shared each other's fame; the sisters happy in the love and admiration of their husbands, and in each other's sympathy. The poet, Racine, was greatly blessed in his wife; she was pious, good, sweet-tempered, and made his life happy. And yet she had no taste for poetry, scarcely knowing what verse was; and knew little of her husband's great tragedies except by name. She had an utter indifference for money. One day, Racine brought from Versailles a purse of a thousand golden louis; and, running to his wife, embraced her: "Congratulate me," said he, "here is a purse of a thousand louis, that the king has presented to me!" She complained to him of one of the children, who would not learn his lessons for two days together. "Let us talk of that another time," said he, "to-day we give ourselves up to joy." She again reverted to the disobedient child, and requested the parent to reprimand him; when Boileau (at whose house she was on a visit) lost patience, and cried, "What insensibility! Can't you think of a purse of a thousand louis!" Yet these two characters, though so opposite, consorted admirably, and they lived long and happily together.
To please his friends, La Fontaine married Mary Hericat, the daughter of a lieutenant-general. It was a marriage of convenience, and the two preferred living separate, he at Paris, she in the country. Once a year, La Fontaine paid her a visit, in the month of September. If he did not see her, he returned home as happy as he had gone. He went some other day. Once, when he visited her house, he was told she was quite well, and he returned to Paris, and told his friends he had not seen his wife, because he understood she was in very good health. It was a state of indifference on both sides. Yet the wife was a woman of virtue, beauty, and intelligence; and La Fontaine himself was a man of otherwise irreproachable character. There were many such marriages of indifference in France in those days. Boileau and Racine both tried to bring the married pair together, but without success; and, in course of time, La Fontaine almost forgot that he was married.
Moliere was extremely unhappy in his marriage.
She was an excellent actress, and was run after by the town. Moliere, her husband, was neglected by her, and suffered agonies of torture. He strove against his passion as long as he could. At last his patience was exhausted, and a separation took place.
on-Avon. He was little more than eighteen when he married her, and she was twenty-six. The marriage was hastened by circumstances which need not be explained here. He seems to have gone alone to London, leaving her with her little family of children at Stratford-on-Avon, (for her name does not once appear in his married life); and yet she survived him seven years: in his will he left her only his "second-best bed." Judging from his Sonnets, one would be disposed to infer that Shakspere's life was not more chaste than that of his age; for we find him, in one of these, excusing his friend for robbing him of his mistress,-a married woman. One could almost wish, with Mr. Hallam, that Shakspere had not written many of those Sonnets, beautiful in language and imagery though they unquestionably are.
Milton was three times married,-the first time very unhappily. Mary Powell was the daughter of a royalist cavalier of Oxfordshire, and Milton was a zealous republican: he was moreover a studious man, whereas his wife was possessed by a love of gaiety and pleasure. They had only been married a month, when she grew tired of the studious habits and philosophical seclusion of the republican poet, and requested his permission to return to her father's house. She went, but refused to return to him, preferring the dissipated society of the brawling cavaliers who surrounded her. He beseeched her to come back, but she persistently refused, treating his messengers with contumely and contempt. He bore this for a long time; but at last he grew angry, and repudiated her. He bethought himself of the social mischiefs resulting from illassorted marriages, like his own; and, full of the subject, he composed and published his celebrated treatise on "Divorce." On public grounds, he pleaded his own cause in this work, which contains, perhaps, the finest passages that are to be found in his prose writings. He proceeded to solicit the hand of another young and beautiful lady, the daughter of Dr. Dawes; but his wife, hearing of this, became repentant, and, returning to him, fell upon ber knees, and entreated his forgiveness. Milton, like his own Adam, was "fondly overcome with female charms," and consented.
Four children were born to them, but the wife died in childbed of the fifth infant. It is to Milton's honour, that he behaved to his deceased wife's relatives with great generosity, when, a short time after, they became involved in ruin in the progress of the civil wars. His second wife, Catherine Woodcock, also died in childbed, only a year after marriage. He seems to have loved her fondly; and most readers will remember his beautiful sonnet, consecrated to her memory :