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Domestic Happiness
by [?]

THERE are certain pairs of old-fashioned-looking pictures, in black frames generally, and most commonly glazed with greenish and crooked crown glass, to be occasionally met with in brokers’ shops, or more often, perhaps, on cottage walls, and sometimes in the dingy, smoky parlour of a village tavern or ale-house, which said pictures contain and exhibit a lively and impressive moral. Some of our readers, doubtless, have seen and been edified by these ancient engravings; and, for the benefit of those who have not, we will describe them.

The first picture of the pair represents a blooming and blushing damsel, well bedecked in frock of pure white muslin, if memory serves us faithfully, very scanty and very short-waisted, as was the fashion fifty years ago, and may again be the fashion in less than fifty years hence, for aught we can tell. Over this frock is worn a gay spencer, trimmed with lace and ornamented with an unexceptionable frill, while the damsel’s auburn curls are surmounted with a hat of straw fluttering with broad, true blue ribbons, which fasten it in a true love-knot, under the dimpled chin.

Her companion (for she has a companion) is a young countryman in glossy boots, tight buckskins, gay flapped waistcoat, blue or brown long-waisted and broad-skirted coat, frilled shirt, and white kerchief, innocent of starch, who smiles most lovingly, as with fond devotion [here, gentle reader, is the moral of the picture], he bends lowlily, and chivalrously places at the disposal of the fair lady, hand, arm, and manly strength, as she pauses before a high-backed stile which crosses the path, leading, if we mistake not, to the village church. Beneath this picture, reader, in Roman capitals, are the words:–“BEFORE MARRIAGE.”

We turn to the second picture; and there may be seen the same high-backed stile, the same path, and the same passengers. Painfully and awkwardly is the lady represented as endeavouring, unaided, to climb the rails, while beyond her is the companion of her former walk–her companion still, but not her helper–slowly sauntering on, and looking back with an ominous frown, as though chiding the delay. Beneath this picture are the significant words:–“AFTER MARRIAGE.”

One could wish these pictures were only pictures; but, in sober earnest, they are allegories, and too truthfully portray what passes continually before our eyes: the difference, to wit, between the two states there presented. Truly, indeed, has it been said, “Time and possession too frequently lessen our attachment to objects that were once most valued, to enjoy which no difficulties were thought insurmountable, no trials too great, and no pain too severe. Such, also, is the tenure by which we hold all terrestrial happiness, and such the instability of all human estimation! And though the ties of conjugal affection are calculated to promote, as well as to secure permanent felicity, yet many, it is to be feared, have just reason to exclaim,

“‘Once to prevent my wishes Philo flew;
But time, that alters all, has altered you.’

“It is, perhaps, not to be expected that a man can retain through life that assiduity by which he pleases for a day or a month. Care, however, should be taken that he do not so far relax his vigilance as to induce a belief that his affection is diminished. Few disquietudes occur in domestic life which might not have been prevented; and those so frequently witnessed, generally arise from a want of attention to those mutual endearments which all have in their power to perform, and which, as they are essential to the preservation of happiness, should never be intentionally omitted.”

This witness, dear reader, is true. The neglect of those little attentions which every married couple have it in their power to show to each other, daily, hourly, is a sure method of undermining domestic happiness. Let every married reader bear this in mind, and reflect upon it; for it is an undeniable truth.