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be far from shewing any gentleman, that I have either an insolent or a sordid spirit, especially to such as do me the honour of their good opinion.
I am, Sir,
Your humble servant.
From an Aunt to her Niece, who had given her a ludicrous
account of a sober Lover. Dear Niece,
I AM sorry you think Mr. Richards sounsuitable a lover. He is a serious, sober, good man; and surely, when seriousness and sobriety make a necessary part of the duty of a good husband, a good father, and a good master of a family, those characters should not be the subject of ridicule, in persons of our sex especially, who would reap advantages from them. But he talks of the weather when he first sees you, it seems; and would you have had him directly falt upon the subject of love, the moment he beheld you?
He gave you to understand, that if he liked your character on inquiry, as well as your person and behaviour, he should think himself very happy in such a wife; for that, I dare say, was more like his language, than what you put in his mouth; and let me tell you, it would have been a much stranger speech, had so cautious and serious a man said, without thorough knowledge of your character, that at the first sight, he was over head and ears in love with you.
I think, allowing for the ridiculous turn, your airy wit gives to the first visit, that, by your own account he acted like a prudent, serious, and worthy man, as he is, and like one who thought flashy compliments beneath him, in so serious an affair as this.
I think, dear niece, this not only a mighty safe way, as you call it, of travelling towards the land of matrimony, but also to the land of -happiness, with respect as well to the next world as to this. And it is to be hoped, that the better entertainment you so much wish for on your journey, may not leud you too much out of the way, and divert your mind from the principal view which you ought to have at your journey's end.
In short, I should rather have wished, that you could bring your mind nearer to his standard, than that he should bring down his to your level. And you would have found more satisfaction in it, than you imagine, could you have brought yourself to a little more of that solemn appearance, which you treat so lightly, and which, I think, in him, is much more than mere appearance.
Upon the whole, dear niece, I am sorry, that a woman of virtue and morals, as you are, should treat so ludicrously a serious and pious frame of mind, in an age, wherein good examples are so rare, and so much wanted ; though, at the same time, I am far from offering to prescribe to you in so arduous an affair as a husband; and wish you and Mr. Richards too, since you are so differently disposed, matched more suitable to each other's minds, than you are likely to be together.
I am, Your truly affectionate aunt.
LETTER XXXI. A letter from Lady Wortley Montague, against a Maxim
of Mons. Rochefoucalt's, * That Marriages are conveni. ent, but never delightful.”
IT appears very bold in me to attempt to destroy a maxim' established by so celebrated a genius as Mons. Rechefoucalt, and implicitly received by a nation, which calls itself the only perfectly polite nation in the world, and which has, for so long a time, given laws of gallantry to all Europe.
But, full of the ardour which the truth inspires, I dare to advance the contrary; and assert boldly, that it is marriagelove only, which can be delightful to a good mind.
We cannot taste the sweets of perfect love, but in a wellsuited marriage. Nothing so much distinguishes a little mind, as to stop at words. What signifies that custom, (for which we see very good reasons), of making the name of husband and wife ridiculous ? A husband signifies, in the general interpretation, a jealous mortal, a quarrelsome tyrant, or a good sort of a fool, on whom we may impose any thing; a wife is a domestic dæmon, given to this poor man to deceive and torment him. The conduct of the generality of people, justifies these two characters. But I say again, What signify words ? A well-regulated marriage, is not like those of ambitiou and interest. It is two lovers who
Hve together. Let a priest pronounce certain words, let an attorney sign certain papers, I look upon these preparations as a lover does on a ladder of cords, that he fixes to the window of his mistress.
I know there are some people of false delicacy, who maintain that the pleasures of love, are only due to difficulties and dangers.' They say, very wittingly, the rose would not be the rose without thorns, and a thousand other trifles of that nature, which makes so little impression on my mind, that I am persuaded, was I a lover, the fear of hurting her I loved, would make me unhappy, if the possession was accoma panied with dangers to her. The life of married lovers, is very different: they pass it in a chain of mutual obligations and marks of benevolence, and bave the pleasures of forming the entire happiness of the object beloved ; in whicla point I place perfect enjoyment.
The most trifling cares of economy, become noble and delicate, when they are heightened by sentiments of tenderness. To furnish a room, is no longer furnishing a room, it is ornamenting a place where I expect my lover: to order a supper is not simply giving orders to a cook, it is amusing myself in regaling him I love. These necessary occupations, regarded in this light by a lover, are pleasures, infinitely more sensible and lively, than cards, and public places, which make the happiness of the multitude incapable of true pleasure. A passion happy and contented, softens every movement of the soul, and gilds each object that we look on.
To a happy lover, (I mean one married to his mistress), if he has any employment, every thing becomes agrecable, when he can say to himself, it is to serve ber I love. If fortune is favourable, for that does not depend on merit, and gives success to his undertaking, all the advantages he receives are offerings due to her charins. He enjoys his glory, his rank, his riches, but as they regard her he loves. In misfortune, it is his consolation, to retire to a person, who feels his sorrow, and to say to himself, in her arms, "My "happiness does not depend on the caprice of fortune; here " is my assured asylum against all grief; your esteem makes
me insensible to the injustice of a court, the ingratitude * of a master. I feel a sort of pleasure in the loss of my
estate, as that misfortune gives me new proofs of your s virtue and tenderness. How little desirable is grandeur *** to persons already happy! We have no need of flatterers
“ or equipage; I reign in your heart, and I possess in your
person all the delights of nature." In short, there is no situation of which the melancholy may not be softened by the company of the person we love. Even an illness is not without its pleasures when we are attended by one we love. I should never have done, was I to give you a detail of all the charms of a union in which we find, at once, all that flatters the senses in the most delicate and most extended pleasure ; but I cannot conclude without mentioning the satisfaction of seeing each day increase the amiable pledges of our tender friendship, and the occupation of improving them according to their different sexes. We abandon ourselves to the tender instinct of nature, refined by love. We admire in the daughter the beauty of the mother, and respect in the son the appearance of understanding and natural probity which we esteem in the father.
A man when he marries his mistress ought to forget that she then appears adorable to him; and consider that she is but a simple mortal, subject to diseases, caprice, and illhumour. 'He must prepare his constancy to support the loss of her beauty, and collect a fund of complacency, which is necessary for the continual conversation of the person who is most agreeable, and the least unequal. The woman on her side, must not expect a continuance of flatteries and obedience. She must dispose herself to obey agreeably; a science very difficult, and of consequence, of great merit to a man capable of feeling.–She must strive to heighten the charins of a mistress, by the good sense and solidity of a friend. When two persons prepossessed with sentiments so reasonable, are united by eternal ties, all nature smiles upon them, and the most common objects become charming
I esteem much the morals of the Turks, an ignorant people but very polite in my opinion. A gallant, convicted of having debauched a married woman, is looked upon by them with the same horrour as an abandoned woman by us ; : he is sure never to make his fortune, and every one would be ashamed to give a considerable employment to a man sus. pected of being guilty of so enormous a crime.- What would
in that moral nation, were they to see one of our anti-knight-errants, who was always in pursuit of adventures to put innocent young women in distress, and ruin the honour of the women of fashion ; who regard beauty, youth, rank, and virtue, but as so many spurs to incite their desire
to ruin, and who place all their glory in appearing artful seducers ; forgetting, that with all their care, they can never attain but to the second rank, the devils having long since been in possession of the first!
I own, that our barbarous manners are so well calculated for the establishment of vice, and misery, (which is inseparable from it), that they must have hearts and heads infinitely above the common, to enjoy the felicity of a marriage such as I have described. Nature is so weak, and so given to change, that it is difficult to support the best founded constancy amidst those many dissipations that our ridiculous customs have rendered inevitable. A husband, who loves his wife, is in pain to see her take the liberties which fashion allows; it appears hard to rufuse them to her, and he finds himself obliged to conform himself to the polite manners of Europe ; to see every day, her hands a prey to every one who will take them ; to hear her display, to the whole world, the charms of her wit; to shew her neck in full day; to dress for balls and shows, to attract admirers, and to listen to the idle flattery of a thousand fops. Can any man support his esteem for a creature so public, or, at least, does she not lose much of her merit.
To return to the oriental maxims, where the most beautiful women content themselves with limiting the power of their charms to him who has a right to enjoy them; they have too much honour to wish to make other men miserable, and are too sincere not to own they think themselves сараble of exciting a passion.
I remember a conversation I had with a lady of great quality at Constantinople, the most amiable woman lever knew in my life, and for whom I had afterwards the most tender friendship; she owned ingenuously to me, that she was content with her husband. What libertines you Christian people are! (she said); it is permitted to you to receive visits from as many men as you please ; and your laws permit you
without limitation the use of wine. I assured her she was very much misinformed ; that it was true we'received visits, but these visits were full of form and respect; and that it was a crime to hear a man talk of love, or for us to love any other than our husbands. Your husbands are very good (said she, laughing) to content themselves with so limited a fidelity. Your eyes, your hands, your conversation, are for the public, and what do you pretend to reserve for them! Pardon me, my beautiful Sultana, (added she, em