“I know the thing that’s most uncommon / (Envy be silent and attend) / I know a reasonable woman / Handsome and witty, yet a friend” – Alexander Pope
Men are portrayed as careworn, regretful, miserable and bitter. Women are their problem.
The book contains many quotes from Charles Dickens, who in 1838 produced a list of pros and cons for getting married (via):
Children — (if it Please God) — Constant companion, (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one, —object to be beloved & played with. — better than a dog anyhow.– Home, & someone to take care of house — Charms of music & female chit-chat. — These things good for one’s health. — but terrible loss of time. —
My God, it is intolerable to think of spending one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, & nothing after all. — No, no won’t do. — Imagine living all one’s day solitarily in smoky dirty London House. — Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music perhaps — Compare this vision with the dingy reality of Grt. Marlbro’ St.
Freedom to go where one liked — choice of Society & little of it. — Conversation of clever men at clubs — Not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle. — to have the expense & anxiety of children — perhaps quarelling — Loss of time. — cannot read in the Evenings — fatness & idleness — Anxiety & responsibility — less money for books &c — if many children forced to gain one’s bread. — (But then it is very bad for ones health to work too much)
Perhaps my wife wont like London; then the sentence is banishment & degradation into indolent, idle fool —
Dickens married. He and his wife had ten children.