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N° 95. SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 1780.
To the Author of the MIRROR.
As you have, by several of your publications, given proof that you do not think the occurrences of a domestic life unworthy your attention, I shall with. out farther preface, address you on a subject full as deserving of it as any yet offered to your consideration. It is now above four years since I became the wife of a gentleman, my equal in rank and fortune ; and what was more material, of a disposition and turn of mind every way suitable to mine. His estate lies at a considerable distance from the capital ; but as it is situated in an agreeable neighbourhood, and as we have both a taste for reading, and Mr. B. is not averse to rural employments, we spent our time as happily as possible till about half a year ago, that my ill stars directed me to renew my acquaintance with a young lady, who had been my companion at school, and who now came on a visit to a relation who lived at no great distance from our house.
Before I proceed in my story, I must beg a candid consideration of it. From the introduction to the disagreable part of it, you will be apt to imagine that I am one of those self-tormentors justly ridiculed by the ingenious author of the Jealous Wife. No such thing, Mr. Mirror; my husband's attention to other women never gave me the slightest uneasiness. Convinced of his attachment, satisfied with his treatment of me, I never expected
him to be blind to the charms of a beautiful woman, or insensible of the merit of an agreeable one ; nor had I the mistaken policy of many wives, of never suffering a tolerable female to enter my doors, or of courting the intimacy of some tall elderly maiden, that I might gain by the comparison. No, Sir ; I depended wholly upon my unremitting attention to please Mr. B. for the continuance of his attachment. Nor can I in the least reproach myself with giving cause for the abatement I too plainly perceive in it. But to return to my story. I was much pleased at seeing my old school-fellow : we had been parted many years, and I found the wild lively romp improved into an elegant woman. She still, however, retained a good deal of the heedless manner that marked her childish days; and, though she has an excellent understanding, she never seemed to make use of it in the regulation of her conduct or behaviour. She expressed herself much pleased at finding me so happily settled : Mr. B. appeared to her a most amiable man, and
children (particularly my little Bess) she said were angels. Her attention to them, I own, endeared me to her very much; though indeed, Mr. Mirror, no one can help loving them, for they are charming children. Her good-humoured playful ways made the little creatures doat on her. At my return from walk. ing, I have frequently found her on her knees on the floor, building card-houses for their entertainment, Mr. B. has observed to me, on those occasions, how amiable it was in a young admired woman, who spent her life in the usual round of folly and dissipation, to preserve such natural and right feelings. He generally concluded his observations with saying, that he believed she would make a most excellent wife. I for a long time agreed with him in opinion, and used to tell her
before his face, the fine things Mr. B. said of her. She received them in a rattling good-humoured way, insisting that her conduct in the married state would depend on her husband's : for she declared that she did not find in herself that exalted turn of mind to love virtue for its own sake, and she believed she would make but an indifferent wife to half the men in the world. Such conversation generally produced an argument between her and Mr. B. which, as it was carried on with spirit and temper, had no other effect than making them still more pleased with one another. If she found the argument growing serious, she would call over the children, and, putting them on their father's knee, desire them to kiss him into good humour, which never failed having the effect; or if she said a flippant thing to him, with which he seemed half offended, she used to take his hand, and smile so sweetly in his face, it was impossible for him to continue displeased with her; and generally a kiss, and a game at billiards, sealed their reconciliation. I own to you, I began not to relish her behaviour; yet it seemed so unpremeditated, and so perfectly corresponding with her general character, that I did not know how to make her sensible of the impropriety of it. I even doubted my own judgment of the matter. I had, for some time, lived so much out of the gay world, that I did not know but Maria's very great freedom of manner might be the fashionable behaviour of the people she had been accustomed to see: if so, how was she to blame? or why should I be uneasy, knowing her to be a woman of honour, surely incapable of so base an action as endeavouring to alienate my husband's affections from me? By such reasoning I strove to quell the first emotions (jealous, if you will have them so) that rose in my breast. But, alas, Mr. MIRROR, to what purpose! I have every hour fresh cause of uneasiness. About a week ago I went suddenly into the parlour, and found Maria sitting on Mr. B.'s knee, her head leaning on his shoulder: he looked a little out of countenance ; but she was not in the least distressed at my appearance, but asked me, with her usual good-humour, what made me look so grave ? then, slapping Mr. B. gently on the cheek, said, “It is your fault, you • harsh thing you ! when I knew her formerly, she ( used to be all life and spirits.' He answered (coldly I thought), that it was his wish ever to see me in spirits, and that he was sorry he was not so happy as to hit on a method to make me so. I turned my head aside, to hide the starting tear. Maria, as if guessing at my emotion, put her arm about my neck, and, drawing round my averted face, said, in a loud whisper, - My dear Mrs. B. • how can you indulge such weakness ?' Mr. B. snatched up his hat, and left the room; I heard the word • childish,' as he shut the door. I remember the time when he could not bear the least cloud on my looks, without tenderly enquiring the cause'; but now he seems often to forget that I am present, while Maria engrosses his whole attention. I have been for some days deprived of his company, and have spent the time in reflecting seriously on my situation. The more I consider it, the more it appears to me of a particular and distressing nature. I have at last determined to request your opinion of it, and, through the channel of your paper, to give Maria a hint, that to keep clear of the grossness of vice, is not sufficient for the delicacy of the female character; and that the woman, who, by an alluring and refined coquetry, engages the thoughts and interests the feelings of a married man, is a more dangerous, and perhaps not a less criminal
companion, than the avowed wanton, who excites a short-lived passion, soon extinguished by remorse, and, if I may be allowed the expression, fully compensated for by the returning tenderness of the re
I am, &c.
To the Author of the Mirror. Mr. MIRROR, I MARRIED, for love, a most charming woman, who has made me the happy father of two very fine children: I have a thousand a-year estate, and enjoy a most perfect state of health; yet a very slight and contemptible cause was near destroying all
those fair prospects of happiness, by interrupting the harmony of a union founded on mutual liking, and cemented by mutual esteem. In your observa tions on the female world, you have suffered to escape your notice a dangerous and most destructive race, whose hearts, hardened by vanity, are equally impenetrable to the shafts of love, and insensible of the charms of friendship; yet the business of their lives is to excite passions they never mean to gratify, and sentiments they are incapable of returning. My dear Mrs. B. unfortunately for us both, some months ago renewed an intimacy, formed in her childish days, with one of those females. To Maria I was introduced as the husband of her friend; as such I was received by her, without reserve, and soon treated with the most flattering distinction. Maria possesses all those powers of allurement which men for ever condemn, and can never withstand : she can assume every shape that is fitted to captivate the senses, or delight the ima