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every thing which relates to the conduct of a family. Fru. gality is indeed a very considerable part of it; but not the whole. It is the judicious government of a little communi. ty inhabiting one house, and usually allied by all the soft bands of affinity and consanguinity. The person who exe. cutes such a government, should be eminently furnished with prudence and benevolence.
The rage for fashionable levities, which has pervaded even the lower ranks, is singularly adverse to the knowledge and the virtues which domestic life demands. Dress occupies the greater part both of the time and attention of many; and the consequence is, too often, ruin in polite life, bankruptcy in the commercial, and misery and disgrace to all.
It might be attended with great advantage to the community, and to the happiness of particular persons, if some part of the time and attention bestowed on the ornamental parts of education, were transferred to those arts, which teach the prudent management of domestic concerns. The care of children in the age of infancy requires considerable skill as well as tenderness; and how should she know how to enter upon it, whose whole time has been spent in learning the polite accomplishments, which, though they add much to gracefulness, make no pretensions to utility ? She must be guided entirely by servants, nurses, and medical practitioners; but surely it would be safer and pleasanter to possess such a skill, as should prevent her from lying entirely at the mercy of ignorance, vanity, officiousness, and presumption.
As to music, which some ladies spend so much time in learning, it is well known that they seldom practise it when they have entered into the married state. Many other fe. minine accomplishments there are, which cease to attract attention, when once their possessors are engaged in the care of a family. It is therefore probable, that the time consumed in the acquisition of things which are confessedly
of no use to them, might be employed in acquiring such knowledge as would enable them to contribute greatly to the happiness of the man to whom they should give their hands and hearts, and of the children which might be the pledges of their conjugal love.
I by no means refer them to Xenophon or Socrates for instruction in domestic management. Their own parents should communicate the result of their experience and observation on the subject. Above all, they should inspire them with a love of home, and the pleasures and virtues of an affectionate family association. Some
appear to be not insensible to female charms, alledge in excuse for their not soliciting some lady in marriage, that such are the expensive manners, dress, and amusements of the fashionable part of the sex, so little their skill in conducting a family, and such their ignorance of economy, that to be married is often to be ruined even in the midst of affluence. willing to incur the danger of dissipating their fortunes in supporting a woman, who can contribute nothing to the alle. viation of their cares by domestic prudence and discreet economy. In
every view it appears most clearly, that nothing would contribute more to the happiness of females, and indeed of men and families in general, than a cultivation of that unostentatious knowledge, which is in hourly request, and without which there can be little permanent security in the most exalted rank, and most abundant affluence. Socrates judged wisely, therefore, in ranking economics among the most useful and honourable of the arts and sciences.
I HAVE now and then observed, my dearest cousin. (through all your cares and endeavours to conceal it,) that there are some few rufflings that happen between you and your husband ; and which, I fear, must make some moments pass with more uneasiness to you, than a woman of so much goodness deserves. The friendship that has subsisted so long between our families, and the great affection I have for you, makes this give me more pain than it may perhaps give even to yourself; for I know the steadiness of your mind, and the prudence you have in alleviating every thing that would disturb a less settled temper; and make some wives fly out into violences, that would render them ridiculous as well as wretched. But as an indifferent stander-by may see more than the best gamester, when engaged deep in a difficult party, I shall venture to give you some of my sen. timents, in hopes that they may still more awaken your own, or at least be improved by your reflections upon them.
It were to be wished, that all married people would lay this down for their first and great principle; that they can never be happy in themselves, unless they are well with their partners. Their connexions, views, and interests are paturally so suited, that the one cannot be happy, if the other is miserable. In so strict a union, if you are not well with one another, what can you do to avoid being miserable ? You must either be perpetually hunting after reasons to fly from your own house, or else you must sit jarring together, like a couple of bad instruments that are almost always out of tune.
The most necessary thing then for a married woman, to to make herself happy, is, to endeavour to please her hus. band; and one comfort is, that the very endeavouring to please, goes a great way towards obtaining its end. Com. placency as naturally begets kindness, as a disobliging behaviour does aversion.
'Tis not enough to avoid doing or saying any thing that you know would be disagreeable to your husband ; but one should be inclined to do or say every thing that is likely to be agreeable to him. A woman that thoroughly considers this, and puts it in practice, can scarcely ever fail of making both her husband and herself happy.
One considerable help and advantage that you have towards this, is the being so thoroughly acquainted with one another's tempers and inclinations. There is a good deal of opportunity for this (if your match was not huddled up with that haste which some people are in, for settling the most important step in their whole lives) during the time of courtship; and usually much more after : these two lights are so very different, that between them you may see into the whole character of a man, how far he is ready to submit, and how far to domineer. With a proper observation, you may come in time to discover every bent of his temper, and to open all the more hidden folds of his heart. Now, when one is well aware of every thing that may displease, it is easy to avoid it; and when one knows what is pleasing, scarcely any thing can be wanting but the will to please.
I would particularly desire you to look on nothing that may displease, as a trifle, However unimportant the thing may be in itself, the displeasing and disagreeing is a serious evil; and married people differ much oftener about trifles than about things of weight. Let either husbands or wives recollect a little, and I fear they will find what I say
to be more true than they might at first imagine it to have been.
The best way for a married woman to carry her point often, is to yield sometimes. Yielding in a married woman, is as useful as flying is to an unmarried one ; for both of these methods most naturally obtain what they seem to avoid. And if a woman has any vanity, (as every human creature has more or less of it in their composition,) I think that passion might be gratified this way, as well as any other ; for to get the better of one's self is, at least, as glorious as to get the better of any other person whatever ; and you would, besides, have the inward satisfaction of considering, that, in all such cases, you do not yield out of cowardice, but prudence; and that you enjoyed the superiority of knowing what you ought to do, much better than the obsti. nate man, who seems outwardly to have carried his point, when in reality you have carried yours.
I do not mean by this, to set you on a life of artifice and dissimulation. I rather think that such methods as these, and such a scheme of pleasing, would in time grow pleasing to yourself; and that it would be the most likely of any, either to introduce or increase a real mutual love and good will between you and your husband. But how, my dear cousin, have I thus forgotten myself, for a page or two to. gether! and whilst I am writing to you, have really written a letter for the world. For you, I dare say, have no occasion for my rules ; and have thought over every thing that I have said long before I set pen to paper. You will, however, forgive one who wishes you as well as he does him. self; and who would most extremely rejoice to see that serenity of mind, which all the world thinks to be in you,