« ForrigeFortsett »
and their dresses ; to infinuate how great a fortune you brought, and how little you are allowed to squander ; to appeal to herfrom your husband, and to be determined by her judgment, because you are sure it will be always for you; to receive and discard servants by her approbation or dislike ; to engage you, by her insinuations, in milunderstandings with your best friends; to represent all things in false colours, and to be the common emissary of scandal.
But the grand affair of your life will be, to gain and preserve the friendship and esteem of your husband. You are married to a man of good education and learning, of an excellent understanding, and an exact taste. It is true, and it is happy for you, that these qualities in him are adorned with great modesty, a most amiable sweetness of temper, and an unusual disposition to fobriety and virtue. But neither good-nature nor virtue will suffer him to esteem you againit his judgment; and although he is not capable of using you ill, yet you will in time grow a thing indifferent, and perhaps contemprible ; unless you can supply the loss of youth and beauty with more durable qualities
You have but a very few years to be young and handsome in the eyes of the world; and as few months to be so in the eyes of a husband who is not a fool ; for I hope you do not still dream of charms and raptures, which marriage ever did, and ever will put a sudden end to.
Besides, yours was a match of prudence and common good-liking, without any mixture of that ridiculous passion, which hath no being but in play-books and romances.
You must therefore use all endeavours to attain to fome degree of those accomplishments, which your husband most values in other people, and for which he is most valued himself. You mult improve your mind by closely pursuing such a method of study as I shall direct or approve of. You muit get a collection of history and travels, which I will recommend to you, and spend some bours, every day in reading them, and making extracts from them, if your memory he weak. You must invite persons of knowledge and underítanding to an acquaintance with you, by whose conversa
tion you may learn to correct your taste and judgment ; and when you can bring yourself to comprehend and relish the good sense of others, you will arrive in time to think rightly yourself, and to become a reasonable and agreeable companion. This muft produce in your husband a true rational love and esteem for you, which old age will not diminish. He will have a 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 perfon more agreeable to him; and when you are alone, your time will not lie heavy upon your hands for want of some trifling amusement.
As little respect as I have for the generality of your sex, it hath fometimes 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 all conversation. In a room where both sexes meet, if the men are discourfing upon any general subject, the ladies never think it their business to partake in what passeth ;-but, in a separate club, entertain each other with the price and choice of lace, and filk, and what drefses they liked or disapproved at the church or the 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 or colour of your dresses ? As divines say, that some people take more pains to be damned, than it would coft ihem to be faved; fo your fex employs more thought, memory, and application to be fools, than would serve to make them wife and useful. When I reflect on this, I cannot conceive you to be human creatures,' but a fort of species hardly a degree above a monkey; who hath 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 bave you look upon finery as a necessary folly;
which all great ladies did, whom I have ever known. I do not desire you to be out of the fashion, but to be the laft and least in it. I expect, that your dress thall be one degree lower than your fortune can afford ; and, in your own heart, I could wish you to be an utter contemner of all distinctions which a finer 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, tho' they happen to discourse of arts and sciences out of your compass, yet you will gain more advantage by liftening to them, than from all
the nonsense and frippery of your own fex ; but if they be men of breeding as well as learning, they will feldom engage in any conversation where you ought not to be a hearer, and in time have your part. If they talk of the manners and customs of the several kingdoms of Europe, of travels into remoter nations, of the state of their own country, or of the great men and actions of Greece and Rome ; if they give their judgment upon English and French writers, either in verfe or prose, or of the nature and limits of virtue and vice; it is a shame for an English lady not to relish fuch discourses, not to improve by them, and endeavoar, by reading and information, to have her share in those entertainments, rather than turn aside, as it is the usual Custom, and consult with the woman who fits 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 underitand - her own natural tongue, or be judge of the easiest books
that are written in it; as any one may find, who can have the patience to hear them, 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 ; and 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 permit you, or to any other friend (but not a female one) who is able to set you right. And as for spelling, you may com
pass pass 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 all the pains you may be at, you never can arrive, in point of learning, to the perfection of a schoolboy. The reading I would advise you to, is only for 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 ladies just so much the worse for what they have read. And therefore it shall be my care to direct you better ; a taik 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 observe 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 relief, but in pafling their after. noons 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 endeavours to repair, by art and dress, the ruins of; tine. Whereas I have known ladies at fixty, to whom all the polite part of the court and town paid their addresses, 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 fo 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 is generally allowed you ; I mean that of cowardice. Yet there fhould seem to be something very capricious, that when women profess their admiration for a colonel or a cap-. tain, 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 calmeft, 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 defirable, as to be thought worth improving by affectation.
AND as the fame virtues equally become 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 marage 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 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, whofe talents pass among coxcombs for wit and humour ; their excellency lies in rude choking expresfions, and what they cail running a man down. If a gentleman in their company happens to have any blemish in his birth or perfon, if any misfor. tune hath befallen his family or himself, for which he is alhamed, they will be sure to give him broad hints of it without 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 stripped, 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 which he really poffefseth, 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