Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

rel; and when I myself, who make the proposal, shall be free of their company.

To conclude: what if our government had a poetlaureat here, as in England ? what if our university had a professor of poetry here, as in England ? what if our Lord Mayor had a city bard here, as in England ? and, to refine upon England, what if every corporation, parish, and ward in this town, had a poet in fee, as they have not in England ? Lastly, what if every one, so qualified, were obliged to add one more than usual to the number of his domestics, and, beside a fool and a chaplain, (which are often united in one person,) would retain a poet in his family? for, perhaps, a rhymer is as necessary among servants of a house, as a Dobbin with his bells at the head of a team. But these things I leave to the wisdom of my superiors.

While I have been directing your pen, I should not forget to govern my own, which has already exceeded the bounds of a letter: I must therefore take my leave abruptly, and desire you, without farther ceremony, to believe that I am,

Sir,
Your most humble servant,

J. S.

A LETTER

TO

A VERY YOUNG LADY,

ON

HER MARRIAGE.*

MADAM, THE hurry and impertinence of receiving and paying visits on account of your marriage being now over, you are beginning to enter into a course of life, where you will want much advice to divert you from falling into many errors, fopperies, and follies, to which your sex is subject. I have always borne an entire friendship to your father and mother ; and the person they have chosen for your husband has been, for some years past, my particular favourite. I have long wished you might come together, because I hoped that, from the goodness of your disposition, and by following the counsel of wise friends, you might in time make yourself worthy of him. Your parents were so far in the right, that they did not produce you much into the world, whereby you avoided many wrong steps which others have taken, and have fewer ill impressions to be removed; but they failed, as it is generally the case, in too much neglecting to cultivate your mind ; without which, it is impossible to acquire or preserve the friendship and esteem of a wise man, who soon grows weary of acting the lover, and treating his wife like a mistress, but wants a reasonable companion, and a true friend through every stage of his life. It must be therefore your business to qualify yourself for those offices ; wherein I will not fail to be your director, as long as I shall think you deserve it, by letting you know how you are to act, and what you ought to avoid.

* “ This letter ought to be read by all new-married women, and will be read with pleasure and advantage by the most distinguished and accomplished ladies.” Thus saith my Lord Orrery; but he ought to have added, that much of their pleasure may consist in the reflection, that the piece was composed for the instruction of another. There is so little reverence for the individual who is addressed, and such a serious apprehension expressed lest she may fall into the worst of the errors pointed out, that one can hardly wonder the precepts of so stern a Mentor were received by the lady to whom they were addressed with more pique than complacence. Much regard is expressed for her parents and husband; but as to herself, there is only a distant prospect held forth, that in time, and with good counsel, she might become worthy of the man of her choice. Mrs Pilkington pretends that this letter was written on Lady Betty Moore's marriage with Mr George Rochfort. But Mr Faulkner, who is the more sound authority, supposes it addressed to Mrs John Rochford, daughter of Dr Staunton.

And beware of despising or neglecting my instructions, whereon will depend not only your making a good figure in the world, but your own real happiness, as well as that of the person who ought to be the dearest to you.

I must therefore desire you, in the first place, to be very slow in changing the modest behaviour of a virgin : it is usual in young wives, before they have been many weeks married, to assume a bold forward look and manner of talking, as if they intended to signify in all com

VOL. IX.

[ocr errors]

their na

panies that they were no longer girls, and consequently that their whole demeanour, before they got a husband, was all but a countenance and constraint

upon ture: whereas, I suppose, if the votes of wise men were gathered, a very great majority would be in favour of those ladies, who, after they were entered into that state, rather chose to double their portion of modesty and reservedness.

I must likewise warn you strictly against the least degree of fondness to your husband before any witness whatsoever, even before your nearest relations, or the very maids of your chamber. This proceeding is so exceeding odious and disgustful to all, who have either good breeding or good sense, that they assign two very unamiable reasons for it; the one is gross hypocrisy, and the other has too bad a name to mention. If there is any difference to be made, your husband is the lowest person in company either at home or abroad, and every gentleman present has a better claim to all marks of ci. vility and distinction from

you.

Conceal and love in your own breast, and reserve your kind looks and language for private hours, which are so many in the four and twenty, that they will afford time to employ a passion as exalted as any that was ever described in a French romance.

Upon this head I should likewise advise you to differ in practice from those ladies, who affect abundance of uneasiness, while their husbands are abroad; start with every knock at the door, and ring the bell incessantly for the servants to let in their master; will not eat a bit at dinner or supper, if the husband happens to stay out; and receive him at his return with such a medley of chiding and kindness, and catechizing him where he has

your esteem

been, that a shrew from Billingsgate would be a more easy and eligible companion.

Of the same leaven are those wives, who, when their husbands are gone a journey, must have a letter every post, upon pain of fits and hysterics ; and a day must be fixed for their return home, without the least allowance for business, or sickness, or accidents, or weather : upon which I can only say, that, in my observation, those ladies, who are apt to make the greatest clutter on such occasions, would liberally have paid a messenger for bringing them news, that their husbands had broken their necks on the road.

You will perhaps be offended, when I advise you to abate a little of that violent passion for fine clothes, so predominant in your sex. It is a little hard, that ours, for whose sake you wear them, are not admitted to be of

your council. I may venture to assure you, that we will make an abatement at any time of four pounds a-yard in a brocade, if the ladies will but allow a suitable addition of care in the cleanliness and sweetness of their persons. For the satirical part of mankind will needs believe, that it is not impossible to be very fine and very filthy; and that the capacities of a lady are sometimes apt to fall short, in cultivating cleanliness and finery together. I shall only add, upon so tender a subject, what a pleasant gentleman said concerning a silly woman of quality; that nothing could make her supportable but cutting off her head ; for his ears were offended by her tongue, and his nose by her hair and teeth.

I am wholly at a loss how to advise you in the choice of company, which, however, is a point of as great importance as any in your life. If your general acquaintance be among the ladies, who are your equals or superiors, pro

« PredošláPokračovať »