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I have no view by these advices, to lead your taste; I only want to persuade you of the necessity of knowing your own minds, which, though seemingly very easy, is what your sex very seldom attain, on many important occasions in life, but particularly on this of which I am speaking. There is not a quality I more anxiously wish you tò possess, than that collected decisive spirit which rests on itself, which enables you to see where your true happiness lies, and to pursue it with the most determined resolution. In matters of business, follow the advice of those who know them better than yourselves, and in whose integrity you can confide; but in matters of taste, that depend upon your own feeling, consult no one friend whatever, but consult with your own hearts.
If a gentleman makes his addresses to you, or gives you reason to believe he will do so, before
affections to be engaged, endeavour in the most prudent and se. cret manner, to procure from your friends every necessary information concerning him, such as his character for sense, his morals, his temper, fortune, and family, whether it be distinguished for parts and worth, or for their folly, knavery, and loathsome hereditary diseases. When your friends inform you, they have done their duty. If they go further, they have not the deference for you which a becoming dignity on your part would effectually command. Whatever your views are in marrying, take every possible precaution to prevent their being disappointed. If fortune and the pleas. sures it brings, are your aim, it is not sufficient that the settlement of a jointure and children's provisions should be amply and properly secured, it is necessary that you should enjoy the fortune during your own life. The principal security you can have for this, will depend on your marrying a good natured, generous man, who despises money, and who will let you live where you can best enjoy that pleasure, that pomp and parade of life, for which you married him.
On the same Subject, in Continuation. Dear Daughters,
FROM what I wrote, in my last, you will easily see, that I could never pretend to advise whom you
ry; but I can with great confidence advise whom you should not marry
Avoid a companion that may entail any hereditary disease on your posterity; particularly, that most dreadful of all human calamities, madness. It is the height of imprudence, to run into such danger, and, in my opinion, highly criminal.
Do not marry a fool ; he is the most untractable of all ani. mals ; he is led by his passions and caprices, and is incapable of hearing the voice of reason. It may probably, too, hurt your vanity, to have husbands for whom you have reason to blush and tremble, every time they open their lips in company. But the worst circumstance that attends a fool, is his constant jealousy of his wife's being thought to govern him. This renders it impossible to lead him, and he is continually doing absurd and disagreeable things, for no other reason but to shew he dares do them.
A rake is always a suspicious husband, because he has only known the most worthless of your sex. He likewise entails the worst diseases on his wife, and children, if he has the misfortune to have any.
If you have any sense of religion yourselves, do not think of husbands who have none. If they have tolerable understandings, they will be glad that you have religion, for their own sake, and for the sake of their families. If they are weak men, they will be continually teazing and shocking you about your principles.- If you have children, you will suffer the most bitter distress, in seeing all your endeavours to form their minds to virtue and piety, all your endeavours to secure their present and eternal happiness, frustrated and turned into ridicule.
As I look on your choice of a husband, to be of the greatest consequence to your happiness, I hope you will make it with the utmost circumspection. Do not give way to a sudden sally of passion, and dignify it with the name of love. Genuine love is not founded in caprice; it is founded in nature; on honourable views, on virtue, on similarity of taste and sympathy of souls. If you have these sentiments you will never marry any one, when you are not in that situation, in point of fortune, which is necessary to the happiness of either of you. What that competency may be, can only be determined by your own tastes. It would be upgenerous in you to take advantage of a lover's attachment, to plunge him into distress; and, if he has any honour, no personal gratification will ever tempt him to enter into any connection which will render you unhappy: If you have as much between you as to satisfy all your demands, it is sufficient. I shall conclude, with endeavouring to remove a difficulty which must occur to any woman of reflection, on the subject of marriage.
What is to become of all these refinements of delicacy, that dignity of manner which checked all familiarities, and suspended desire in respectful and awful admiration? In answer to this, I shall only observe, that if motives of interest or vanity have had any share in your resolutions to marry, none of these chimerical notions will give you any pain ; nay, they will very quickly appear as ridiculous in your own eyes as they probably always do in the eyes of your husbands. They have been sentiments which floated in your imaginations, but have never reached your hearts. But, if these sentiments have been truly genuine, and if you have had the singular happy fate to attach those who understand them, you have no reason to be afraid.
Marriage, indeed, will not at once dispel the enchantment raised by an external beauty ; but the virtues and graces that first warmed the heart; and reserve and delicacy which always left the lover something farther to wish, and often made him doubtful of your sensibility or attachment, mayand ought ever to remain. The tumult of passion will necessarily subside ; but it will be succeeded by an endearment that affects the heart in a more equal, more sensible, and tender manner. But I must check myself, and not indulge in descriptions that may mislead you, and that too sensibly awake the remembrance of my happier days, which perhaps it were better for me to forget for ever.
I have thus given you my opinion, on some of the most important articles of your future life, chiefty calculated for that period, when you are just entering the world. I have endeavoured to avoid some peculiarities of opinion, which from their contradiction to the general practice of the world I might reasonably have suspected were not so well founded. But, in writing to you, I am afraid any heart has been too full, and too warmly interested, to allow me to keep this resolution. This may have produced some embarrassment, and some seeming contradiction. What I have written has been the amusement of some solitary hours, and has served to divert some melancholy reflections. You will at least be pleased with it, as the last mark of your father's love and af tection.
I am, &c.
From a Gentleman to a Lady, professing an aversion to tes
dious formality in Courtship. Dear Madam,
I REMEMBER that one of the ancients in describing a youth in love, says, " he has neither wisdom enough to speak, nor to hold his tongue.” If this be a just description, the sincerity of my passion will admit of no dispute : and whenever in your company I behave like a fool, forget not that you are answerable for my incapacity. Having made bold to declare this much, I must presumě to say, that a favourable reception of this, will, I am certain, make me more worthy of your notice; but your disdain would be what I believe myself incapable ever to surmount. To try by idle fallacies, and airy compliments, to prevail on your judgment, is a folly for any man to attempt who knows you. No, Madam, your good sense and endowments have raised you far above the necessity of practising the mean artifices which prevail upon the less deserving of your sex : you are not to be so lightly deceived ; and, if you were, give me leave to say, I should not think you deserving of the trouble that would attend such an attempt.
This, I must own, is no fashionable letter from one who, I am sure, loves up to the greatest hero of romance ; but as I would hope that the happiness I sue for, should be lasting, it is certainly most eligible to take no step to procure it but what will bear reflection ; for I should be happy to see you mine, even when both have outlived the taste of every thing that has not virtue and reason to support it. I am, Madam, notwithstanding this unpolished address,
Your most respectful admirer,
And obedient humble servant.
LETTER XXVII. The Lady's Answer, encouraging a further declaration.
I AM very little in love with the fashionable methods of courtship: sincerity, with me, is preferable to complimentş. Yet I see no reason why common decency should be discarded. There is something so odd in your style, that when I know whether you are in jest or earnest, I shall be less at a loss to answer you. Mean time, as there is abun. dant room for rising, rather than siuking, in your complaisance, you may possibly have chosen wisely, to begin first at the lower. If this be the case, I know not what your
succeeding addresses may produce : But I tell you fairly, that your present makes no great impression, yet perhaps as much as you intend, on
Your humble servant.
LETTER XXVIII. From the Gentleman to the Lady, more openly declaring his
passion. Dear Madam,
NOW I have the hope of not being despised for my aeknowledged affection, I declare to you, with the utmost sincerity, that I have long had a most sincere passion for you; but I have seen gentlemen led such dances, when they have given up their affections to the lovely tyrants of their hearts, and could not help themselves, that I had no courage to begin an address in the usual forms, even to you, of whose good sense and generosity, I nevertheless had a good opin
You have favoured me with a few lines, which I most kindly thank
for. And I do assure you, Madam, if you will be pleased to encourage my honourable suit, you shall have so just an account of my circumstances and pretensions, as I hope will entitle me to your favour in the honourable light in which I profess myself, dear Madam,
Your most obliged and faithful admirer.
The Lady in Reply, putting the matter to a sudden issue. Sir,
AS we are both so well inclined to avoid unnecessary trouble, as well as unnecessary compliments, I think proper to acquaint you, that Mr. Dunford, of Baltimore, has the management of all my affairs, and is a man of such probity and honour, that I do nothing, in any matters of consequence, without him. I have no dislike to your person; and if you approve of what Mr. Dunford can acquaint you with, in relation to me, and I approve of his report in your favour, I shall