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N° 58. SATURDAY, AUGUST 14, 1779.
Veniam damas petimusque vicissim.
The mutual complaints of Mr. and Mrs. Gold, which have been communicated in a former paper, together with some complaints of similar family-distresses, which I have received from other Correspondents, often remind me of the happy effects which my friends Horatio and Emilia have experienced from an opposite temper and conduct.
Horatio, though he obtained a very liberal education, lived till the age of twenty-five almost entirely in the country. The small fortune which he inherited from his father being about this time increased by his succeeding to a distant relation, he afterwards spent some years in this city, in London, and in making the usual tour on the continent. Soon after his return, he married the young
and beautiful Emilia, to whom he had become warmly attached, not so much on account of her beauty, as from an expression of a sweet, though lively temper, which marked her countenance—which, when admitted to a more intimate acquaintance, he found to be justified by her conversation and manners.
Émilia's father was addicted to pleasure and expense, and her mother, though more accomplished, of a similar disposition. In their family she had been accustomed to a life of more than ordinary gaiety.
Though Horatio felt, in all its extent, that passion which is nowise favourable to a just estimation of character, these circumstances had not escaped his notice, and he failed not to observe that Emilia had acquired a stronger attachment to the pleasures of a town life, than was either right in itself, or agreeable to that preference for domestic society, and the quiet of a country life, which he had always felt, and which he still wished to gratify:
In place, however, of acquainting Emilia with his taste in these particulars, he judged it better to let her enjoy that style of life to which she had been accustomed, not doubting, from the natural good sense and sweetness of her disposition, that her own taste might gradually be corrected ; and that as his should from time to time fall under her observation, it might contribute to the change.
He took up his residence, therefore, in the town; and though Emilia went into company, and frequented public places more than he could have wished, he complied with her inclination in these particulars, partook of her amusements when he was not necessarily engaged, and, when he did so, carefully avoided betraying that indifference or disgust which he often felt.
While Horatio, however, gave way to the taste of Emilia, he never lost the inclination, nor neglected the means, of reforming it.
Amidst the gaiety to which she had been accustomed, Emilia had early formed a taste for the elegant writers, both of this country and of France ; and the same sensibility and delicacy of mind, which led her to admire them, made her no less sensible of the beauties of a polished and refined conversation. It was this which had first gained the affections of Horatio ; it was to this he trusted for effecting the reformation he desired.
He was at pains, therefore, to cultivate and encourage this literary taste in Emilia.—He frequently took occasion to turn the conversation to subjects of literature, and to dwell on the beauties, or mention the striking passages, of this or that author; and would often engage Emilia in a fine poem, an affecting tragedy, or an interesting novel, when, but for that circumstance, she would have been exhausting her spirits at a ball, or wasting the night at cards.
Nor was he less studious in forming her taste for company than for books. Though he had never aimed at an extensive acquaintance, Horatio enjoyed the friendship of several persons of both sexes endowed with those elegant manners, and that delicate and cultivated understanding, which render conversation at once agreeable and instructive.
Of these friends he frequently formed parties at his house. Emilia, who had the same disposition oblige, which she, on all occasions, experienced from him, was happy to indulge his inclinations in this particular; and, as she was well qualified to bear a part in their conversation, and of a mind highly sensible of its charms, these parties gradually became more and more agreeable to her.
In this manner, her books, the conversation of select companies, and the care of her children, which soon became a most endearing office to the tender and feeling heart of Emilia, furnished her with a variety of domestic occupations; and as these gradually led her to go less into mixed company and public amusements, she began to lose her habitual relish for them. As she easily observed how agreeable this change was to the taste of Horatio, that circumstance gave her mind more and more a domestic turn.
The same delicacy from which he at first gave way to her taste for company and public amusements, made Horatio avoid showing that preference which he entertained for a country life.
For some time he was entirely silent on the subject. Though he now and then made excursions to the country, it was only occasionally when his business rendered it necessary; and, though Emilia could not but observe that the manner in which he passed his time there, in adding to the beauties of his place, and in an easy intercourse with a few neighbours, was highly agreeable to him; he never expressed an inclination of fixing his general residence in the country, or even of her accompanying him in his occasional visits to Rosedale.
His visits became, however, gradually more frequent ; and as they generally continued for some weeks, those little absences gave a sort of pain to Emilia, to whom no society was now so agreeable as that of Horatio ; she became desirous of accompanying him to the country.
Their first visits were short, and at considerable intervals; but as he omitted no means of rendering them agreeable to her, she seldom left it without regret, and was often the first to
propose their return.
At length Emilia, who now observed that her husband was nowhere so happy as in the country, and had herself come to feel the same predilection for the calm cheerfulness and innocent amusements of a country life, took occasion to acquaint him with this change in her sentiments, and to express the same inclination, which, she was persuaded, he entertained, of abandoning a town life, and fixing their constant residence at Rosedale.
A proposal so agreeable to Horatio was readily complied with ; and Emilia and he have ever since passed their time in that delightful retreat, occupied
with the education of their children, the improvement of their place, and the society of a few friends equally happy in themselves, and beloved by all around them.
Thus has Horatio, the gentleness of whose mind is equal to the strength of his understanding, by a prudent as well as delicate complacency, gradually effected that change which an opposite conduct might have failed of producing; and which, at the same time, would probably have been the source of mutual chagrin, and rendered both him and his wife unhappy.
Nor was the reformation solely on her part. By leading him to partake in company and amusements, Emilia was the means of correcting the natural reserve of Horatio's manner; and as the example of his plain, though animated conversation, led her sometimes to moderate the vivacity and sprightliness of her's, which sometimes approached towards levity; so her vivacity communicated an agreeable gaiety and cheerfulness to the discourse of Horatio.
If, in the above account, I have pointed out more strongly the effects of complacency in Horatio than in Emilia, it ought to be remembered that this virtue is much seldomer to be met with in the one sex than the other. A certain pride attends the firmness of men, which makes it generally much more difficult for them to acquire this complacency of temper, which it always requires much discipline and often the rod of adversity and disappointment, to subdue.
If men truly possess that superiority of understanding over women, which some of them seem to suppose, surely this use of it is equally ungenerous and imprudent. They would, I imagine, show that superiority much more effectually, in endeavouring