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share ; and not to put yourself in the number of those politic ladies, who think they gain a great point when they have teazed their husbands to buy them a new equipage, a laced head, or a fine petticoat; without once considering what long scores remain unpaid to the butcher.
I desire you will keep this letter in your cabinet, and often examine impartially your whole conduct by it, and so God bless you, and make you a fair example to your sex, and a perpetual comfort to your husband and your parents. I am, with great truth and affection,
And humble Servant, &c.
Mrs. Thrale to a Gentleman on his Marriage.
MY DEAR SIR, I RECEIVED the news of your marriage with infinite delight, and hope that the sincerity with which I wish your happiness, may excuse the liberty I take, in giving you a few rules, whereby more certainly to obtain it. I see you smile at my wrong-headed kindness, and reflecting on the charms of your bride, cry out in a rapture, that you are happy enough without my rules. I know you are ; but after one of the forty years, which I hope you will pass pleasingly together, are over, this letter may come in turn, and rules for felicity may not be found unnecessary, however some of them may appear impracticable.
Could that kind of love be kept alive through the married state, which makes the charm of a single one, the sovereign good would no longer be
sought for ; in the union of two faithful lovers it would be found ; but reason shews us, that this is impossible, and experience informs us, that it never was so ; we must preserve it as long, and supply it as happily, as we can.
When your present violence of passion subsides, however, and a more cool and tranquil affection takes its place, be not hasty to censure yourself as indifferent, or to lament yourself as unhappy; you have lost that only which it was impossible to retain, and it were graceless, amid the pleasures of a prosperous summer, to regret the blossoms of a transient spring. Neither unwarily condemn your bride's insipidity, till you have rccollected, that no object, however sublime, no sounds, however charming, can continue to transport us with delight, when they no longer strike us with novelty. "The skill to renovate the powers of pleasing is said indeed to be possessed by some women in an eminent degree, but the artifices of maturity are seldom seen to adorn the innocence of youth; you have made your choice, and ought to approve it.
Satiety follows quick upon the heels of possession; and to be happy, we must always have something in view. The person of your lady is already all your own, and will not grow more pleasing in your eyes I doubt, though the rest of your sex will think her handsomer for these dozen
Turn therefore all your attention to her mind, which will daily grow brighter by polishing. Study some easy science together, and acquire a similarity of tastes, while you enjoy a community of pleasures.
You will, by this means, have many images in common, and be freed from the necessity of separating, to find amusement; nothing is so dangerous to wedded love, as the possibility of either being happy out of the company of the other; endeavour therefore to cement the present intimacy on every side ;
let your wife never be kept ignorant of your income, your expences, your friendships, or aversions ; let her know your very faults, but make them amiable by your virtues; consider all concealment as a breach of fidelity; let her never have any thing to find out in your character, and remember, that from the moment one of the partners turns spy upon the other, they have commenced a state of hostility.
Seek not for happiness in singularity; and dread a refinement of wisdom as a deviation into folly. Listen not to those sages who advise you always to scorn the counsel of a woman, and if
you comply with her requests, pronounce you to be wife-ridden. Think not any privation, except of positive evil, an excellence, and do not congratulate yourself, that your wife is not a learned lady, that she never touches a card, or is wholly ignorant how to make a pudding. Cards, cookery, and learning, are all good in their places, and may all be used with advantage.
With regard to expence, I can only observe, that the money laid out in the purchase of distinction is seldom or ever profitably employed We live in an áge, when splendid furniture and glittering equipage are grown too common to catch the notice of the meanest spectator, and for the greater ones, they only regard our wasteful folly with silent contempt, or open indignation. This may perhaps be a displeasing reflection, but the following consideration ought to make amends. The age we live in pays, I think, peculiar attention to the higher distinctions of wit, knowledge, and virtue, to which we may more safely, more cheaply, and more honorably aspire. The giddy flirt of quality frets at the respect she sees paid to Lady Edgecumbe, and the gay dunce sits pining for a partner, while Jones, the orientalist, leads up the ball.
I said, that the person of your lady would not grow more pleasing to you, but pray
let her never suspect that it
less that a woman will pardon an affront to her understanding much sooner than one to her person, is well known; nor will any of us contradict the assertion. All our attainments, all our arts are employed to gain and keep the heart of man; and what mortification can exceed the disappointment, if the end be not obtained ! There is no reproof, however pointed, no punishment, however severe, that a woman of spirit will not prefer to neglect; and if she can endure it without complaint, it only proves, that she means to make herself amends by the attention of others, for the slights of her husband
For this, and for every reason, it behoves a married man not to let his politeness fail, though his ardor may abate, but to retain, at least, that general civility towards his own lady, which he is so willing to pay to every other, and not shew a wife of eighteen or twenty years old, that every man in company can treat her with more complaisance, than ħe, 'who so often vowed to her eternal fondness.
It is not my opinion, that a young woman should be indulged in every wild wish of her gay heart or giddy head, but contradiction may be softened by domestic kindness, and quiet pleasures substituted in the place of noisy ones. Public amusements are not indeed so expensive as is sometimes imagined, but they tend to alienate the minds of married people from each other. A well-chosen society of friends and acquaintance, more eminent for virtue and good sense, then for gaiety and splendour, where the conversation of the day may afford comment for the evening, seems the most rational pleasure this great town can afford ; and to this, a game at cards now and then gives an additional relish.
That your own superiority should always be seen, but never felt, seems an excellent general rule. A wife should outshine her husband in nothing, not even in her dress. If she happens to have a taste for the trilling distinctions that finery can confer, suffer her not for a moment to fancy, when she appears in public, that Sir Edward or the Colonel are finer gentlemen than her husband. The bane of married happiness among the city men in general has been, that finding themselves unfit for polite life, they transferred their vanity to their ladies, dressed them up gaily, and sent them out gallanting, while the good man was to regale with port-wine or rum-punoh, perhaps among mean companions, after the compting-house was shut ; this practice produced the ridicule thrown on them in all our comedies and novels since commerce began to prosper. But now that I am so near the subject, a word or two on jealousy may not be amiss ; for though not a failing of the present age's growth, yet the seeds of it are too certainly sown in every warm bosom for us to neglect it as a fault of no consequence. If you are ever tempted to be jealous, watch your wife narrowly, but never teaze her : tell her your jealousy, but conceal your suspicion ; let her, in short, be satisfied that it is only your odd temper, and even troublesome attachment, that makes you follow her ; but let her not dream that you ever doubted seriously of her virtue, even for a moment. If she is disposed towards jealousy of you, let me beseech you to be always explicit with her, and never mysterious : be above delighting in her pain, of all things, do your business, nor pay your visits, with an air of concealment, when all you are doing might as well be proclaimed perhaps in the parish vestry. But I will hope better than this of your tenderness and of your virtue, and will release you from a