Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter ii: Concerning Marriage - The Elements of Moral Philosophy
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chapter ii: Concerning Marriage - David Fordyce, The Elements of Moral Philosophy 
The Elements of Moral Philosophy, in Three Books with a Brief Account of the Nature, Progress, and Origin of Philosophy, ed. Thomas Kennedy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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Connection with the other SexWhen Man arrives to a certain Age, he becomes sensible of a peculiar Sympathy and Tenderness towards the other Sex; the Charms of Beauty engage his Attention, and call forth new and softer Dispositions than he has yet felt. The many amiable Qualities exhibited by a fair Outside, or by the mild Allurement of Female Manners, or which the prejudiced Spectator without much Reasoning supposes those to include, with several other Circumstances, both natural and accidental, point his View and Affection to a particular Object, and of course contract that general rambling Regard, which was lost and useless among the undistinguished Croud, into a peculiar and permanent Attachment to one Woman, which ordinarily terminates in the most important, venerable, and delightful Connection in Life.
The Grounds of this ConnectionThe State of the Brute Creation is very different from that of Human Creatures. The former are cloathed, and generally armed by their Structure, easily find what is necessary to their Subsistence, and soon attain their Vigour and Maturity; so that they need the Care and Aid of their Parents but for a short while; and therefore we see that Nature has assigned to them vagrant and transient Amours. The Connection being purely Natural, and formed merely for propagating and rearing their Offspring, no sooner is that End answered than the Connection dissolves of course. But the Human Race are of a more tender and defenceless Constitution; their Infancy and Non-age continue longer; they advance slowly to Strength of Body, and Maturity of Reason; they need constant Attention, and a long Series of Cares and Labours to train them up to Decency, Virtue, and the various Arts of Life. Nature has, therefore, provided them with the most affectionate and anxious Tutors, to aid their Weakness, to supply their Wants, and to accomplish them in those necessary Arts, even their own Parents, on whom she has devolved this mighty Charge, rendered agreeable by the most alluring and powerful of all Ties, Parental Affection. But unless both concur in this grateful Task, and continue their joint Labours, till they have reared up and planted out their young Colony, it must become a Prey to every rude Invader, and the Purpose of Nature, in the original Union of the Human Pair, be defeated. Therefore our Structure as well as Condition is an evident Indication, that the Human Sexes are destined for a more intimate, for a moral and lasting Union. It appears likewise, that the principal End of Marriage is not to propagate and nurse up an Offspring, but to educate and form Minds for the great Duties and extensive Destinations of Life. Society must be supplied from this original Nursery with useful Members, and its fairest Ornaments and Supports. But how shall the young Plants be guarded against the Inclemency of the Air and Seasons, cultivated and raised to Maturity, if Men, like Brutes, indulge to vagrant and promiscuous Amours?
Moral Ends of MarriageThe Mind is apt to be dissipated in its Views, and Acts of Friendship and Humanity; unless the former be directed to a particular Object, and the latter employed in a particular Province. When Men once indulge to this Dissipation, there is no stopping their Career, they grow insensible to Moral Attractions, and by obstructing, or impairing, the decent and regular Exercise of the tender and generous Feelings of the human Heart, they in time become unqualified for, or averse to, the forming a Moral Union of Souls, which is the Cement of Society, and the Source of the purest domestic Joys. Whereas a rational, undepraved Love, and its fair Companion, Marriage, collect a Man’s Views, guide his Heart to its proper Object, and by confining his Affection to that Object, do really enlarge its Influence and Use. Besides, it is but too evident from the Conduct of Mankind, that the common Tyes of Humanity are too feeble to engage and interest the Passions of the Generality in the Affairs of Society. The Connections of Neighbourhood, Acquaintance, and general Intercourse, are too wide a Field of Action for many; and those of a Public or Community are so for more, and in which they either care not, or know not how to exert themselves. Therefore Nature, ever wise and benevolent, by implanting that strong Sympathy which reigns between the Individuals of each Sex, and by urging them to form a particular Moral Connection, the Spring of many domestic Endearments, has measured out to each Pair a particular Sphere of Action, proportioned to their Views, and adapted to their respective Capacities. Besides, by interesting them deeply in the Concerns of their own little Circle, she has connected them more closely with Society, which is composed of particular Families, and bound them down to their good Behaviour in that particular Community to which they belong. This Moral Connection is Marriage, and this Sphere of Action is a Family. It appears from what has been said that, to adult Persons, who have Fortune sufficient to provide for a Family, according to their Rank and Condition in Life, and who are endued with the ordinary Degrees of Prudence necessary to manage a Family, and educate Children, it is a Duty they owe to Society, to marry.
An Objection answeredSome Pretenders to a peculiar Refinement in Morals think, however, that a single State is most conducive to the Perfection of our Nature, and to those sublime Improvements to which Religion calls us. Sometimes indeed the more important Duties we owe to the Public, which could scarce be performed, or not so well in the Married State, may require the single Life, or render the other not so honourable a Station in such Circumstances. But surely, it must be improving to the Social Affections to direct them to particular Objects whom we esteem, and to whom we stand in the nearest Relation, and to ascertain their Exercise in a Field of Action, which is both agreeable in itself, and highly advantageous to Society. The constant Exercise of Natural Affection, in which one is necessarily engaged in providing for, and training up one’s Children, opens the Heart, and must inure the Mind to frequent Acts of Self-denial and Self-command, and consequently strengthen the Habits of Goodness. The Truth of this is but too evident in those married Persons who are so unfortunate as to have no Children, who for want of those necessary Exercises of Humanity are too generally over-anxious about the World, and perhaps too attentive to the Affair of Oeconomy. Another Circumstance deserves to be remembered, that Men who are continually engaged in Study and Business, or anxiously intent on public Concerns, are apt to grow stern and severe, or peevish and morose, on account of the frequent Rubs they meet with, or the Fatigues they undergo in such a Course. The Female Softness is therefore useful to moderate their Severity, and change their Ill-humour into domestic Tenderness, and a softer kind of Humanity. And thus their Minds, which were over-strained by the Intenseness of their Application, are at once relaxed, and retuned for public Action. The Minds of both Sexes are as much formed one for the other by a Temperament peculiar to each, as their Persons. The Strength, Firmness, Courage, Gravity, and Dignity, of the Man, tally to the Softness, Delicacy, Tenderness of Passion, Elegance of Taste, and Decency of Conversation, of the Woman. The Male Mind is formed to defend, deliberate, foresee, contrive, and advise. The Female One to confide, imagine, apprehend, comply, and execute. Therefore the proper Temperament of these different Sexes of Minds, makes a fine Moral Union; and the well-proportioned Opposition of different or contrary Qualities, like a due Mixture of Discords in a Composition of Music, swells the Harmony of Society more than if they were all Unisons to each other. And this Union of Moral Sexes, if we may express it so, is evidently more conducive to the Improvement of each, than if they lived apart. For the Man not only protects and advises, but communicates Vigour and Resolution to the Woman. She, in her turn, softens, refines, and polishes him. In her Society he finds Repose from Action and Care; in her Friendship, the Ferment into which his Passions were wrought by the Hurry and Distraction of public Life, subsides and settles into a Calm; and a thousand nameless Graces and Decencies that flow from her Words and Actions, form him for a more mild and elegant Deportment. His Conversation and Example, on the other hand, enlarge her Views, raise her Sentiments, sustain her Resolutions, and free her from a thousand Fears and Inquietudes, to which her more feeble Constitution subjects her. Surely such Dispositions, and the happy Consequences which result from them, cannot be supposed to carry an unfriendly Aspect to any Duty he owes either to God, or to Man.
Duties of MarriageOf the Conjugal Alliance the following are the natural Laws. First, mutual Fidelity to the Marriage-bed. Disloyalty defeats the very End of Marriage, dissolves the natural Cement of the Relation, weakens the Moral Tye, the chief Strength of which lies in the Reciprocation of Affection; and by making the Offspring uncertain, diminishes the Care and Attachment necessary to their Education.
2. A Conspiration of Counsels and Endeavours to promote the common Interest of the Family, and to educate their common Offspring. In order to observe these Laws, it is necessary to cultivate, both before and during the married State, the strictest Decency and Chastity of Manners, and a just Sense of what becomes their respective Characters.
3. The Union must be inviolable, and for Life. The Nature of Friendship, and particularly of this Species of it, the Education of their Offspring, and the Order of Society, and of Successions which would otherwise be extremely perplexed, do all seem to require it. To preserve this Union, and render the matrimonial State more harmonious and comfortable, a mutual Esteem and Tenderness, a mutual Deference and Forbearance, a Communication of Advice, and Assistance, and Authority, are absolutely necessary. If either Party keep within their proper Departments, there need be no Disputes about Power or Superiority, and there will be none. They have no opposite, no separate Interests, and therefore there can be no just Ground for Opposition of Conduct.
PolygamyFrom this Detail, and the present State of things, in which there is pretty near a Parity of Numbers of both Sexes, it is evident that Polygamy is an unnatural State; and tho it should be granted to be more fruitful of Children, which however it is not found to be, yet it is by no means so fit for rearing Minds, which seems to be as much, if not more, the Intention of Nature, than the Propagation of Bodies.
Divorce, &c.In what Cases Divorce may be proper, what are the just Obstacles to Marriage, and within what Degrees of Consanguinity it may be allowed, we have not room to discuss here, and therefore we refer the Reader to Mr. Hutchinson’s ingenious Moral Compend. Book III. Chap. 1.6
[6.]Hutcheson, Philosophiae moralis.