Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

when you can bring yourself to comprehend and relish the good sense of others, you will arrive in time to think rightly yourself, and become a reasonable and agreeable companion. This must produce in your husband a true rational love and esteem for you, which old age will not diminish. He will have regard for your judgment and opinion in matters of the greatest weight; you will be able to entertain each other, without a third person to relieve you by finding discourse. The endowments of your mind will even make your person more agreeable to him; and when you are alone, your time will not lie heavy upon your hands, for want of some triffing amusement.

As little respect as I have for the generality of your sex, it hath sometimes moved me with pity to see the lady of the house forced to withdraw immediately after dinner, and this in families where there is not much drinking; as if it were an established maxim, that women are incapable of conversation. In a room where both sexes meet, if the men are discoursing upon any general subject, the ladies never think it their business to partake in what passes ; but, in a separate club, entertain each other with the price and choice of lace and silk, and what dresses they liked or disapproved at the church or play-house : and when you are among yourselves, how naturally, after the first compliments,

do

you apply your hands to each others lappets, and ruffles, and mantuas, as if the whole business of your lives, and the public concern of the world, depended upon the cut and colour of your dresses : as divines say, that some people take more pains to be damn'd, than it would cost them to be saved ; so your sex employ more thought, inemory, and application to be fools, than would serve to make themi wise and useful. When I reflect on this, I cannot conceive you to be human

H

creatures ;

[ocr errors]

creatures; but a sort of species, hardly a degree above a monkey, who has more diverting tricks, than

any of you, is an animal less mischievous and expensive, might in time be a tolerable critic in velvet and brocade, and for aught I know, would equally become them.

I would have you look upon finery as a necessary folly, as all great ladies did whom I have ever known. I do not desire you to be out of the fashion, but to be the last and least in it. I expect that your dress should be one degree below what your fortune can afford; and in your own heart I would wish you to be an utter contemner of all distinctions which a fine petticoat can give you, because it will neither make you, richer, handsomer, younger, better-natured, more virtuous or wise than if it hung upon a peg:

If you are in company with men of learning, though they happen to discourse of arts and sciences, out of your compass, you will get more advantage by listening to them, than from all the nonsense and frippery of your own sex; but if they be men of breeding as well as learning, they will seldom engage in any conversation where you. ought not to be a hearer, and in time have your parts. If they talk of the manners and customs of the several kingdoms of Europe, of travels into remoter nations, of the siate of their own countries, or of the great men and actions of Greece and Rome; if they give their, judgment upon English and French writers, either in verse or prose, or of the nature and limits of virtue and vice, it is a shame for an English lady not to relish such discourses, not to improve by them, and endeavour, by reading and information, to have her share in those entertainments: rather than turn aşide, as it is the usual custom, and consult with the woman who sits next her about a new cargo of fans.

It is a little hard that not one gentleman's daughter in a thousand should be brought to read or understand her own natural tongue, or be judge of the easiest books that are written in it, as any one may find, when they are disposed to mangle a play or a novel, where the least word out of the common road is sure to disconcert them. It is no wonder, when they are not so much as taught to spell in their childhood, nor can ever attain to it in their whole lives. I advise you, therefore, to read aloud more or less every day to your husband, if he will perinit you, or to any other friend (but not a female one) who is able to set you right ; ànd as for spelling, you may 'comppss it in time, by making collections from the books you read.

I know very well that those who are commonly called learned women, have lost all manner of credit, by their impertinent talkativeness and conceit of themselves; but there is an easy remedy for this, if you once consider that after the pains you may be at, you never can arrive in point of learning, to the perfection of a school boy. The reading I would advise you to, is only for the improvement of your own good sense, which will never fail of being mended by discretion. It is a wrong method and ill choice of books, that makes those learned ladiesjustso much worsefor what they have read, and therefore it shall be my care to direct you better, a task for which I take myself to be not ill qualified, because I have spent more time, and have had more opportunities than many others, to oßserve and discover from what sources the various follies of women are derived.

Pray observe how insignificant things are the common race of ladies, when they have passed their youth and beauty, how contemptible they appear to the men, and yet more contemptible to the younger part of their own sex, and have no

H 2

relief

relief but in passing their afternoons in visits where they are never acceptable, and their evenings at cards among each other, while the former part of the day is spent in spleen and envy, or in vain endeayours to repair by art and dress the ruins of time; whereas I have known ladies at sixty, to whom all the polite part of the court and town paid their acidresses, without any farther_view, than that of enjoying the pleasure of their conversation.

I am ignorant of any one quality that is amiable in a man, which is not equally so in a woman; I do not except even modesty and gentleness of nature, nor do I know one vice or folly which is not equally detestable in both; there is indeed one infirmity which seems to be generally allowed you, I mean that of cowardice ; yet there should seem to be something very capricious, that when women profess their admiration for a colonel or a captain, on account of his valour, they should fancy it a very graceful becoming quality in themselves to be afraid of their own shadows ; to scream in a barge when the weather is calmest, or in a coach at the ring;'to run from a cow at a hundred yards distance; to fall into fits at the sight of a spider, an earwig, or a frog; at least if cowardice be a sign of cruelty (as it is generally granted) I can hardly think it an accomplishment so desirable as to be thought worth improving by affectation.

And as the same virtue equally becomes both sexes, so there is no quality whereby women endeavour to distinguish themselves from men, for which they are not just so much the worse, except that only of reservedness, which, however, as you generally manage it, is nothing else but affectation or hypocrisy; for as you cannot too much discountenance those of our sex who presume to take unbecoming liberty before you, so you ought to be

wholly

wholly unconstrained in the company of deserving men, when you have had sufficient experience of their discretion,

There is never wanting in this town a tribe of bold, swaggering, rattling ladies, whose talents pass among coxcombs for wit and humour ; their excellency lies in rude choaking expressions, and what they call running a man down. If a gentleman in their company, happens to have a blemish in his birth or person; if any misfortune hath befallen his family or himself, for which he is ashamed, they will be sure to give him broad hints of it with out any provocation. I would recommend you to the acquaintance of a common prostitute, rather than to that of such termagants as these. I have often thought that no man is obliged to suppose such creatures to be women, but to treat them like insolent rascals, disguised in female habits, who ought to be stript and kicked down stairs.

I will add one thing, although it be a little out of place, which is to desire that you will learn to value and esteem your husband for those good qualities he really possesseth, and not to fancy others in him which he certainly hath not; for, although this latter is generally understood to be a mark of love, yet it is indeed nothing but affectation or ill judgment. It is true he wants so very few accomplishments, that you are in no great danger of erring on this side, but my caution is occasioned by a lady of your acquaintance, married to a very valuable

person, whom yet she is so unfortunate as to be always commending for those perfections to which he can least pretend.

I can give you no advice upon the article of erpence, only I think you ought to be well informed how much your husband's revenue amounts to, and be so good a computer as to keep within it, in that part of the management which falls to your

H 3

share ;

« ElőzőTovább »