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N° 57. SATURDAY, MAY 16, 1713.

Quàm multa injusta ac prava fiunt moribus!

TER. Heaut. Act. iv. Sc. 7.

How many unjust and wrong things are authorised by custom!

Ir is of no small concern to me, that the interests of virtue are supplanted by common custom and regard for indifferent things. Thus mode and fashion defend the most absurd and unjust proceedings, and nobody is out of countenance for doing what every body practises, though at the same time there is no one who is not convinced in his own judgment of the errors in which he goes on with the multitude. My correspondent, who writes me the following letter, has put together a great many points which would deserve serious consideration, as much as things which at first appearance bear a weightier aspect. He recites almost all the little arts that are used in the way to matrimony, by the parents of young women. There is nothing more common than for people, who have good and worthy characters, to run, without respect to the laws of gratitude, into the most exorbitant demands for their children, upon no other foundation than that which should incline them to the quite contrary, the unreserved affection of the lover. I shall at this time, by inserting my correspondent's letter, lay such offences before all parents and daughters respectively, and reserve the particular instances to be considered in future precautions.



I HAVE for some time retired myself from the town and business to a little seat, where a pleasant champain country, good roads, and healthful air, tempt me often abroad; and being a single man, have contracted more acquaintance than is suitable to my years, or agreeable to the intentions of retirement I brought down with me hither. Among others, I have a young neighbour, who, yesterday, imparted to me the history of an honourable amour, which has been carried on a considerable time with a great deal of love on his side, and (as he says he has been made to believe) with something very unlike aversion on the young lady's. But so matters have been contrived, that he could never get to know her mind thoroughly. When he was first acquainted with her, he might be as intimate with her as other people; but since he first declared his passion, he has never been admitted to wait upon her, or to see her, other than in public. If he went to her father's house, and desired to visit her, she was either to be sick or out of the way, and nobody would come near him in two hours, and then he should be received as if he had committed some strange offence. If he asked her father's leave to visit her, the old gentleman was mute. If he put it negatively, and asked if he refused it, the father would answer with a smile, "No, I do not say so neither." If they talked of the fortune, he had considered his circumstances, and it every day diminished. If the settlements came into debate, he had considered the young gentleman's estate, and daily increased

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his expectations. If the mother was consulted, she was mightily for the match, but affected strangely to shew her cunning in perplexing matters. It went off seemingly several times, but my young neighbour's passion was such that it easily revived upon the least encouragement given him but tired out with writing (the only liberty allowed him), and receiving answers at cross purposes, destitute of all hopes, he at length wrote a formal adieu; but it was very unfortunately timed, for soon after he had the long wished-for opportunity of finding her at a distance from her parents. Struck with the joyful news, in heat of passion, resolute to do any thing rather than leave her, down he comes post, directly to the house where she was, without any preparatory intercession after the provocation of an adieu. She, in a premeditated anger to shew her resentment, refused to see him. He in a kind of fond phrenzy, absent from himself, and exasperated into rage, cursed her heartily; but returning to himself, was all confusion, repentance, and submission. But in vain; the lady continued inexorable, and so the affair ended in a manner that renders them very unlikely ever to meet again. Through the pursuit of the whole story (whereof I give but a short abstract) my young neighbour appeared so touched, and discovered such certain marks of unfeigned love, that I cannot but be heartily sorry for them both. When he was gone, I sat down immediately to my scrutoir, to give you the account, whose business, as a Guardian, it is to tell your wards what is to be avoided, as well as what is fit to be done. And I humbly propose, that you will, upon this occasion, extend your instructions to all sorts of people concerned in treaties of this nature, (which of all others do most

nearly concern human life) such as parents, daughters, lovers, and confidents of both sexes. I desire leave to observe, that the mistakes in this courtship (which might otherwise probably have succeeded happily) seem chiefly these four, viz.

1. The father's close equivocal management, so as always to keep a reservation to use upon occasion, when he found himself pressed.

2. The mother's affecting to appear extremely artful.

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3. A notion in the daughter (who is a lady of singular good sense and virtue) that no man can love her as he ought, who can deny any thing her parents demand.

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4. Carrying on the affair by letters and confidants, without sufficient interviews.


I think you cannot fail obliging many in the world, besides my young neighbour and me, if you please to give your thoughts upon treaties of this nature, wherein all the nobility and gentry of this nation (in the unfortunate method marriages are at present in) come at one time or other unavoidably to be engaged; especially it is my humble request, you will be particular in speaking to the following points, to wit,

1. Whether honourable love ought to be mentioned first to the young lady, or her parents?

2. If to the young lady first, whether a man is obliged to comply with all the parents demand afterwards, under pain of breaking off dishonourably?

3. If to the parents first, whether the lover may insist upon what the father pretends to give, and refuse to make such settlement as must incapacitate him for any thing afterwards; without just imputation of being mercenary, or putting a slight upon

the lady, by entertaining views upon the contingency of her death?

4. What instructions a mother ought to give her daughter upon such occasions, and what the old lady's part properly is in such treaties, her husband being alive?

5. How far a young lady is in duty obliged to observe her mother's directions, and not to receive any letters or messages without her knowledge?

6. How far a daughter is obliged to exert the power she has over her lover, for the ease and advantage of her father and his family; and how far she may consult and endeavour the interest of the family she is to marry into?

7. How far letters and confidants of both sexes may regularly be employed, and wherein they are improper?

8. When a young lady's pen is employed about settlements, fortunes, or the like, whether it be an affront to give the same answers as if it had been in the hand-writing of those that instructed her.

Lastly, be pleased at your leisure to correct that too common way among fathers, of publishing in the world, that they will give their daughters twice the fortune they really intend, and thereby drawing young gentlemen, whose estates are often in debt, into a dilemma, either of crossing a fixed inclination, contracted by a long habit of thinking upon the same person, and so being miserable that way; or else beginning the world under a burden they can never get quit of.

"Thus, sage sir, have I laid before you all that does at present occur to me on the important subject of marriage; but before I seal up my epistle, I must desire you farther to consider, how far treaties of this sort come under the head of bargain

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