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MALE AND FEMALE COQUETRY.—A FATHER'S ADVICE TO HIS
THERE is a case where a woman may coquet justifiably to the utmost verge which her conscience will allow. It is where a gentleman purposely declines to make his addresses till such time as he thinks himself perfectly sure of her con. sent. This at bottom is intended to force a woman to give up the undoubted privilege of her sex, the privilege of re. fusing; it is intended to force her to explain herself, in effect, before the gentleman deigns to do it, and by this means to oblige her to violate the modesty and delicacy of her sex, and to invert the clearest order of nature. All this sacri. fice is proposed to be made, merely to gratify a most despi. cable vanity in a man who would degrade the very woman whom he wishes to make his wife.
It is of great importance to distinguish whether a gentleman who has the appearance of being your lover, delays to speak explicitly, from the motive I have mentioned, or from a diffidence inseparable from true attachment. In the one case, you can scarcely use him too ill; in the other, you ought to use him with great kindness; and the greatest kind. ness you can show him, if you are determined not to listen to his addresses, is to let him know it as soon as possible.
I know the many excuses with which women endeavour to justify themselves to the world, and to their own con. sciences, when they act otherwise. Sometimes they plead ignorance, or at least uncertainty, of the gentleman's
real sentiments. That may sometimes be the case. Sometimes they plead the decorum of their sex, which enjoins an equal behaviour to all men, and forbids them to consider any man as a lover till he has directly told them
Perhaps few women carry their ideas of female delicacy and decorum so far as I do. But I must say you are not entitled to plead the obligation of these virtues in opposition to the superior ones of gratitude, justice, and human. ity. The man is entitled to all these, who prefers you to the rest of your sex, and perhaps whose greatest weakness is this very preference. The truth of the matter is, vanity, and the love of admiration, is so prevailing a passion among you, that you may be considered to make a very great sacrifice whenever you give up a lover, till every art of coquetry fails to keep him, or till he forces you to an explanation. You can be fond of the love, when you are indifferent to, or even when you despise, the lover.
But the deepest and most artful coquetry is employed by women of superior taste and sense, to engage and fix the heart of a man whom the world, and whom they themselves esteem, although they are firmly determined never to marry him. But his conversation amuses them, and his attachment is the highest gratification to their vanity ; nay, they can sometimes be gratified with the utter ruin of his fortune, fame and happiness. God forbid I should ever think so of all your sex! I know many of them have principles, have generosity and dignity of soul, that elevates them above the worthless vanity I have been speaking of. Such a woman,
I am persuaded, may always convert a lover, if she cannot give him her affections, into a warm and steady friend, provided he is a man of sense, resolution, and candour. If she explains herself to him with a generous openness and freedom, he must feel the stroke as a man; but he will likewise bear it as a man: what he suffers, he will suffer in silence. Every sentiment of esteem will remain; but love, though it requires very little food
and is easily surfeited with too much, yet it requires
He will view her in the light of a married woman; and though passion subsides, yet a man of a candid and generous heart always retains a tenderness for a woman he has once loved, and who has used him well, beyond what he feels for any
other of her sex. If he has not confided his own secret to any body, he has an undoubted title to ask you not to divulge it. If a woman chooses to trust any of her companions with her own unfortunate attachments, she may, as it is her own affair alone ; but if she has any generosity or gratitude, she will not betray a secret which does not belong to her.
Male coquetry is much more inexcusable than female, as well as more pernicious; but it is rare in this country. Very few men will give themselves the trou. ble to gain or retain any woman's affections, unless they have views on them either of an honourable or dishonourable kind. Men employed in the pursuit of business, ambition, or pleasure, will not give themselves the trouble to engage a woman's affections, merely from the vanity of conquest, and of triumphing over the heart of an innocent and defenceless girl. Besides, people
value much what is entirely in their power. A man of parts, sentiment, and address, if he lays aside all regard to truth and humanity, may engage the hearts of fifty women at the same time, and may likewise conduct his coquetry with so much art, as to put it out of the power of any of them to specify a single expression that could be said to be directly expressive of love.
This ambiguity of behaviour, this art of keeping one in suspense, is the great secret of coquetry in both sexes. It is the more cruel in us, because we can carry it what length we please, and continue it as long as we please,
without your being so much as at liberty to complain or expostulate : whereas we can break our chain, and force you to explain, whenever we become impatient of our situation.
MATRIMONY TOO OFTEN RIDICULED—AND BEAUTY TOO HIGHLY
Nothing can be more contrary to reason or public utility, than the conversation and writings of those who turn matrimony into ridicule; yet it is in many cases as weakly defended, as it is unjustly attacked.
Those who treat marriage with ridicule, act in direct and deliberate opposition to the order of Providence, and to the constitution of the society of which they are members. The true reason why they are borne with so patiently, is, that the Author of our nature has implanted in us instinc. tive propensities, which are by much too strong for their feeble attacks. But if we are to estimate the malignity of a man's conduct or sentiments, not from their effect, but from their native tendency, and his inward disposition, it is not easy to imagine any thing more criminal, than an attempt to bring marriage into disesteem. It is plainly an effort, not only to destroy the happiness, but to prevent the existence of human nature. A man who continues through life in a single state, ought, in justice, to endeavour to satisfy the public that his case is singular, and that he has some insuperable'obstacle to plead in his excuse. If, instead of this, he reasons in defence of his own conduct, and takes upon him to condemn that of others, it is at once incredible and absurd : that is to say, he can scarcely be believed to be sincere. And whether he be sincere or not, he deserves to be detested.
In support of the last part of my remark, let it be observed, that those who write in defence of marriage, usually give such sublime and exalted descriptions, as
are not realized in one case out of a thousand; and therefore cannot be a just motive to a considerate man. Instead