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to deem the “last word” of more importance than the respect and affection of her husband, or the peace of her family; and the last word she will have.
She is often angry-as a matter of certain consequence. When a woman contends, and her voice is loud and harsh, we may expect a miracle as reasonably as the absence of anger. She becomes inflamed. Her wrath aggravates the grating tenor of her voice, and the latter again blows up the rising flames of anger and of rage, and the speech becomes rapid as well as clamorous ; violent gestures accompany; the face becomes flushed; the eye wild and fiery; the aspect menacing and frightful ; love, beauty, sweetness, grace, all are flown ; while the astonished husband stands aghast at the contrast between the object before him, and the fair being he used to love so well.
Yet all this might not be utterly ruinous, if the storms were seldom; but the unerring pen writes that the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping, aye, a continual dropping in a very rainy day. The region is desolate where this poor woman moves, and frets, and scolds. Transient and doubtful are the gleams of sunshine that struggle between the clouds. The thunders are often rolling; the wild storm-wind is often sweeping athwart the landscape, and its path is gloomy and desolate. Peace and prosperity come not there, and every lovely plant droops and fades.
" It is better to dwell in the wilderness than
with a contentious and angry woman;" so comfortless, so utterly cheerless, is the house and home where such a woman bears sway.
Her husband is full of fears. He fears for his neighbors. Fain would he avoid that himself and his family should be a nuisance amid the circle where he dwells. He could, with greater fortitude, endure for himself; but he is distressed that the eruptions within his own habitation should send their echoings abroad to the disturbance of other families, or that of the strangers that pass peacefully through the street.
He fears for his wife. What becomes of her peace, her piety, her influence, her reputation, her health, her progress toward perfection ?
He fears for his children. Alas! will they grow up peaceful and lovely amid these stormy and disastrous influences? Will they, save by extraordinary providence, be preserved from catching the dreadful infection with which their home is daily charged ?
He fears and mourns for himself. It is not too much to say of him that he is a disappointed and unfortunate man. The truth of the proverb finds a deep and affecting response in his soul. He thinks of the “wilderness," and wishes himself there. If not strongly fortified by virtuous principle, no marvel if he seeks those haunts that are even more dreadful than the desert, and those companions that are more dangerous and more hateful than the beasts of prey.
The Proud Woman.
She is a lover of brilliant dress. She is not careful for the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is, in the sight of God, of great price. She covets rather the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, and the putting on of apparel. We read of the chains, the bracelets, the mufflers of the head-bands, the ear-rings, the finger-rings--of mantles, and wimples, and crisping pins. Such was the blazonry of pride in the ancient days, and even among the daughters of Zion. And such it is in every age. The putting on of artificial ornaments is one of the prominent developments of this dreadful plague of the human heart. If there be beauty, it must be thus set off to the greatest imaginable advantage. If natural beauty be absent, a sort of factitious elegance must be secured by the aid of outward adorning. Thus it is that more than half of many precious lives is worse than wasted, and multitudes of hearts debased and corrupted.
She is haughty. Having an inordinate esteem for herself, she feels a corresponding disdain for others. There is a circle with which she deigns to associate; with the great multitude she has no sympathy, and for them she has no pleasant word -no smile of friendship-no sentiment of benevolence. These daughters, writes the prophet, are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks.” Of lofty bearing are they, nor, as they pass, can they so much as turn to look upon their more humble fellow-traveler to the tomb.
She is selfish. It is self that she worships, adorns, pampers. Instead of esteeming others better than herself, she reverses that evangelical rule, and none is so high in her esteem and admiration as her own person. In her thoughts she stands first of her sex, while others, in the comparison, are lightly esteemed. For herself, and her own immediate circle, she is alone interested. Provided her own gratification and aggrandizement are secured, she feels very little concern for all the rest of the world. All the beautiful charities of piety are strangers to her narrow and callous heart. She would not dispense with one of her expensive dresses, or useless ornaments, to soothe a widow in her affliction, or save a weeping family from starvation. She lives for self, and for self alone.
She is ignorant. Esteeming herself as better than others, is she correct? Counting others as undeserving of her notice, is she not mistaken? Contemplating this transient life, as given to be devoted to ostentation and vanity, has she not her first lessons yet to learn? Absorbed in selfishness, and forgetful of the grave, is she not blind ? Certainly there can be no surer evidence of ignorance the most deplorable than pride. The proud woman imagines that she is rich and increased in goods, and knoweth not that she is poor, and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked. The whole work of goodness and grace she has yet to study and learn. She is to put off her haughtiness, and become as a little child, and sit, with Mary, at Jesus' feet, and learn of him—all this she must yet do, if she shall ever enter into the kingdom of heaven. She is ridiculous. What, in the clear
of good sense, are many of the ornaments she puts on, and which she so highly values ? What of that “stretched forth neck,” those “wanton eyes,” that "walking and mincing as she goes ?” What of that self-esteem and self-adoration, too obvious to be concealed from the most superficial eye? And what of the supreme self-ignorance just alluded to? What would the proud woman say or think, were she assured that the ridicule of the multitude is fully equal to her own haughtiness? Hast thou never witnessed, within the refuges for the insane, a woman of lofty mien-of form strong, straight, and stiff-of pompous gait--and robed fantastically—and crowned withal—the self-imagined queen of some powerful state? And, as you looked, counted you the insane exhibition to be ridiculous ? And yet, not half so much so was it, as the outgoings of pride in another woman, reckoned to be rational.
She is hateful. For pride is always hateful in either sex, and at any age of life; a stain upon the character, that is unseemly and disgusting.