Abbildungen der Seite

bracing me), I have all possible inclination to believe what you say, but you would impose upon me impossibilities. I know the amorous complexion of your infidels, I see you are ashamed of them, and I will never mention them to you more.

I found so much good sense and truth in all she said, that I could scarcely contradict her; and I owned at first, that she had reason to prefer the morals of the Musselmen, to our ridiculous customs, which are surprisingly opposite to the very severe maxims of Christianity. And notwithstanding our foolish manners, I am of opinion that a woman, determined to find her happiness in the love of her husband, must give up the extravagant desire of being admired by the public; and that a husband who loves his wife, must deprive himself of the reputation of being a gallant. You see that I suppose two persons very extraordinary ; it is not then very surprising, such a union should be rare in a country, where it is necessary, in order to be happy, to despise the established maxims.

I am, &c.

LETTER XXXII. To a very young Lady, on her marriage. By Dr. Swift. 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


will want much advice to divert you from falling into many errours, fopperies and follies, to which your sex is subject. I have always borne an entire friendship for your father and mother; and the person they have chosen for your husband, hath 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 too much into the world; whereby you avoided many wrong steps which others have taken, and have fewer ill inpressions 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, whe soon grows weary of acting the lover, and treating his

dearest to you.

wife like a mistress, but wants a reasonable companion, and a true friend, through every stage of his life. It must therefore be 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 are to avoid : 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

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 companies 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 their nature ; whereas I suppose, if the votes of wise men were gathered, a 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 yo!r nearest relations, or the very

maids of your chamber. This proceeding is so exactly odious and disgustful to all who have either good breeding or good sense, that they assign too 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 civility and distinction froin you. Conceal your esteem 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 froin those ladies who affect abundance of uneasi. ness 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; who will not eat a bit of dinner or supper if the husband happens to stay out; and receive him at his return with such a medly of chiding and kindness, catechising him where he has 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 elatter on such occasions would liberally have paid a messenger, for bringing them news that their husbands had broke 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 our's, 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 brocade, if the ladies will but allow a suitable addition of care in the cleanliness and sweetness of their persons. For the satyrical 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 by cutting off her head, for his ears were offended by her tongue, and his nose by her hair and teeth.”

I am, &c.


To the same Lady. By the same. Madam,

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 amongst the ladies who are your equals or superiours, provided they have nothing of what is cominonly called an ill reputation, you think you are safe : and this, in the style of the world, will pass for good company. Whereas I am afraid, it will be hard for you to pick out one female acquaintance in this town, from whom you will not be in manifest danger of contracting some foppery, affectation, vanity, folly, or vice. Your only safe way of conversing with them, is by a firm resolution to proceed in your practice and behaviour directly contrary to whatever they shall say or do. And this I take to be a good general rule, with very few exceptions. For instance, in the doctrines they usually deliver to young married women for managing their husbands, their several accounts of their own conduct in that particular, to recommend it to your imitation, the reflections they make upon others of their own sex for acting differently, their directions how to come off with victory upon any dispute or quarrel you may have with your husband, the arts by which you may discover, and practice upon his weak side, when to work by flattery and insinuation, when to melt him with tears, and when to engage him with a high hind: In these, and a thousand other cases, it will be prudent to retain as many of their lectures in your memory as you can, and then determine to act in full opposition to them all.

I hope your husband will interpose his authority to limit you in the trade of visiting. Half a dozen fools are in all conscience as many as you should require: And it will be sufficient for you to see them two or three times a year; for I think the fashion does not exact, that visits should be paid oftener to friends.

I advise that your company at home should consist of men rather than of women. To say the truth, I never yet knew a tolerable woman to be fond of her own sex.

I confess, when both are mixed and well chosen, and put their best qualities forward, there may be an intercourse of civility and good will; which, with the addition of some degree of good sense, can make conversation or any amusement agreeable. But a knot of ladies, got together by themselves, is a very school of impertinence and detraction-and it is well if those be the worst.

Let your men acquaintance be of your husband's choice, and not recommended to you by any she companions; because they will certainly fix a coxcomb upon you, and it will cost you some time and pains before you can arrive at the knowledge of distinguishing such an one from a man of sense.

Never take a favourite waiting maid into your cabinet council, to entertain you with histories of those ladies whom she hath formerly served, of their diversions and dresses; te

[ocr errors]

insinuate how great a fortune you brought, and how little yoti are allowed to squander; to appeal to her from 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 and dislike ; to engage you by her insinuations, into misunderstandings with your best friends, to represent all things in false colours, and to be the commun emissary of scandal.

But the grand affair of your life will be, to gain and preserve the friendship aud 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 sobriety and virtue. But neither good nature nor virtue will suffer him to esteem you against his judgment; and although he is not capable of using you ill, yet you will in time grow a thing indifferent, and perhaps contemptible, 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 the mixture of any ridiculous passion which has no being but in plays and romances. You must therefore use all endeavours to attain to some degree of those accomplishments which your husband most values in other people, and for which he is most valued himself. You must get a collection of history and travels, which I would recommend to you, and spend some hours every day, in reading them, and making extracts from them, if your memory be weak. You must invite persons of knowledge and understanding to an acquaintance with you, by whose conversation you may learn to correct your taste and judg. ment; 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 must produce in your husband a true rational love and esteem for you, which old age will not diminish. He will have 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

« ZurückWeiter »