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Yet how does she know, although I would not have a young lady suspicious, but that
She, sweet lady, dotes,
Upon a spotted and inconstant man. For the men-it is needless to cloak it—are not all so good as the ladies would wish them; and, indeed, it is the nature of some hearts, both of man and woman, to be inconstant. And love is, after all, somewhat selfish, if one dared say it; besides, it is the nature of strong passion to exhaust itself, of which fair maidens ought to beware; for, saith the Scots song, versifying the proverb,
Ripest fruit is soonest rotten,
Hottest love is soonest cold;
Though they're slighted when they're old. That, however, is an unpleasant termination of the verse ; for ladies, as is well known, never grow old. But concerning what we are on, the worst and most dangerous thing in the case is, the dear sweet secresy with which these affairs are in general carried on, and the little opportunity there is for advice or warning being even offered. Then, if the heart of the maiden be soft, and the head be without experience, and the lover be rash and foolish, as is all quite likely-not to speak of his being wilfully deceitful and wickedly selfish, as has happened before now—then is the preparation for troubles well begun; and, if the maiden's nature is sincere and affectionate, this is, indeed, the beginning of sorrows,—for, as Shakspeare again saith,
This is the very ecstacy of love;
That does afflict our natures. And then some bad thing is done, which brings a long day of weary and unavailing repentance; and parents are sunk in distress and disappointment, and daughters are distraught and broken-hearted, and either go early to an eagerly-sought grave, or become old and soured in spirit before their time; and the tragedian or the novelist, perhaps, tells their tale ; for, unhappily, it is the nature of the female condition, as the proverb expresses it,
Make but one false step, and you fall to the bottom; which is a sad truth; but this is the way of the world. Alas! as Shakspeare saith,
Cupid is a knavish lad,
Thus to make poor females mad. However, these things do not happen every day; for it is not every mind, after all, that is capable of love in any high degree, so as to endanger the
breaking of hearts, and such tragical doings. Besides, many women's fancy is as fickle as men's can possibly be, and many a national proverb goes to verify this. Let one be taken from the Scots,-
A woman's mind is like the wind in a winter's night, gusty and uncertain ; or, as the English proverb hath it,
Winter weather and women's thoughts often change: and so the only danger is of rash engagements, or hasty steps, when the fit is on her. It is on this, and all the foregoing accounts, that the authority and experience of parents is, by all nations, held as of such paramount value in directing the choice of thoughtless youth of both sexes, particularly of females; and although the old people are in general, too much disposed to be mercenary, and to regard the matter in the light of a bargain, with too little reference to the feelings of youth, the latter, on the other hand, are, as already hinted, but little capable of judging judiciously with a wise reference to the whole of mature life, and all that is required for rational worldly comfort.
So, then, if I am permitted to be a little prosy and didactic upon so interesting a subject as this, I must say, that parents are likely to be in the right in discouraging their daughters from marrying for love, unless the love be backed by something more substantial and suitable to natural wants and station in life, which, I am sorry to say, is but seldom the case; for, in reality, as the Italians express it,
. In anzi il maritare,
Abbi l'habitare; We shall also find similar cautions handed down, if we consult the proverbs of other countries. Thus the Scots proverb saith,
A wee house has a mickle mouth; and that all married people know; so, though love and a cottage is all very pretty to talk about, yet, when poverty comes in at the door, love is exceedingly apt to fly out at the window ; and both the Italians and Spaniards have a proverb, which is also appropriated by the English which saith,
Who marrieth for love, hath good nights and sorry days; because, as the Scots proverb chooses to put the matter,
A kiss and a drink of water is but a wersh breakfast. Indeed, this sort of leanness in worldly substance, so far from being fattened by mere love, is very apt, from the frailty of human nature, to degenerate into very unpleasant feelings; as may be ascertained from twenty different quarters, for really love cannot stand an empty stomach, and does not at all thrive under worldly contempt; and accordingly the Scots, who are very picturesque in their proverbs, say,
Toom (i. e. empty) cribs make biting horses. an exceedingly wholesome parable, and full of instruction to young lovers. And so the Spaniards further say, as rhymed in English,
Before thou marry,
Be sure of a house wherein to tarry. Again, as to the choice of a husband, it is no easy matter to give advice, seeing how little it comes in the way of many worthy and welllooking young ladies to have an opportunity of much selection. Of all places, also, London is the worst for getting a husband ; for there the nature of society is such, that it is almost a dead impossibility. How this comes about, is too wide a subject for me to enter upon at this present sitting, but I may return to it again. In the meantime, I would not have sweet, sensible, handsome young ladies, to jump at every fellow who makes decided advances, or that even has the courage to pop the question ; for truly, to my certain knowledge, there are many of them that are no great catch, get them who will; and it would be much bet. ter to run the risk of dying an old maid, and taking to a tender friendship for the cat, than to take a ring from the hands of many a fellow that is going. It is not for me to speak evil of the lords of the creation, seeing that I am one of those lords myself; but really there are many of all sorts of lords that are no better than they ought to be; and sorry would I be to see my daughter (if I had one) tied to such as they. They are, therefore, good and sensible proverbs that say—
Better be alone than in ill company.
Better an empty house than a bad tenant; because of all things that are easiest to do and hardest to undo, is marriage; and, as another proverb has it,
You may soon tie a knot with your tongue, that you can never loose with your teeth; and, as the Scots proverb goes,
It's o'er late to jouk (stoop) when the head's off, . or
It's o’er late to cast the anchor when the ship's on the rock; so, as the other saying has it,
Better to sit still, than to rise and get a fall, or even
Lean liberty is better than fat slavery. At all events, in all matters, it is easier to avoid the thing at first, than to get free of it when too late, or, as the Scots saw saith, Better to keep the de'il without the door, than drive him out of the house.
As for the choice of a man with whom you are to spend the whole of your life, I have not room to tell you all that I would say; but it is a good advice of the proverb, if it could by any means be accomplished,
If you would know a man, eat a peck of salt with him; which would imply a good time's acquaintance with the gentleman,-a thing that is hardly conformable with Gretna Green marriages. As to the qualities of him you would make your husband, it is not for me to suggest on so nice a point; besides, saith another proverb,
A woman's because is no reason; and when a woman takes a fancy, either for or against a man, you might as well sing sonnets to a mile-stone, as try to convince her to the contrary, or to open her eyes to cool good sense, at least in the majority of cases. Nevertheless, he ought to be more than only what his tailor makes him, and be good for more than merely to please the lady's eye during the honey-moon; for, saith the Scots proverb,
Their belongs mair to a' plowman than whistling; which I take to be good sense, and very instructive to thoughtless maid. ens. All these considerations, however, and many more than I have time to urge, show very plainly that it is far from every man who wears a hat on his head, that is capable of making a virtuous girl happy. I know that there are some who are so anxious to be called Mistress this, . or Lady that, that they have no patience, but would actually say "Yes' to the first fool that should ask them the delicate question. Now this I take to be exceedingly ill-judged, which shows how fortunate it is that young ladies have parents and guardians to take care of them; for saith the Scots proverb,
Better rue sit than rue flit,
They must be scarce of horse-flesh, that would ride on the dog; and there are dogs, and puppies, too, going about, which fathers and mothers understand much better than young ladies. But if the young lady should think herself rather neglected compared to others, and that the time seems tedious ere she gets a house of her own, why, this is a complaint becoming so common, that one knows not what to say to it; for it is very clear that it is neither the most deserving ladies that get matches soonest, nor are the married always the most happy, however, they may flaunt it for a little while at the first : for it is a caustic old English rhyme which saith,
Marriage is like the foolish rout,
And they that are in would fain be out; and as for having patience, and all that, although it is, I grant, a teasing thing for a young lady to dress and dance, and play pianos, and look pretty, and be gallanted, and so forth, for a number of years, without getting one offer, (that can be called an offer ;) yet this has happened to a great portion of the young women, ever since marriage was invented, and it is a good sensible Scots proverb, which saith,
The pedlar often opens bis pack and sells nae wares, which is really a great pity, but how can he help it;—he must just persevere.
As for the reasons why young ladies may be long of getting, what they call settled in life, as I am speaking very plainly, I will add, that nothing frightens prudent young men more than those expensive habits and showy accomplishments which I have already hinted at, and few things are more fatal to a lady getting an honest sensible match, than that high gentility that knows not which end of it is uppermost, and which knows nothing but to show off and spend good money. This is the real secret why there are so many old maids, and why parrots and poodles are so dear, and husbands so scarce ; for, saith the Scots pror. erb,
Send your gentle blood to the market, and see what it will buy. and send your expensive education to market, and see what it will procure you, -perhaps a governess' place, and a seat at a stranger's table, and half a dozen spoiled children to plague you to death, and make you feel acutely the misery of dependance.
Had I time, I would add a few valuable saws about, how ladies ought to comport themselves after marriage; but I can only add now, that although it is allowable for dear happy creatures to be a little intoxicated for a month or two, yet they ought to sober down and learn to walk circumspectly; for it is a sombre saying of old Ben Syra, the wise man of the east, that The bride goes joyful to her marriage-bed, but knows not what shall
happen to her; and it is well ordered that she does not, for it is not fit that, in the bright and sunny day, the eye should be able to discern the stormy clouds afar off. However, this is not a subject to be dwelt upon here, for, if it be true that, even in marriage, the lady surrenders great part of her liberty, or, as the proverb saith,
She that hath got a man, hath got a master, it will immediately be seen how important it is to the ladies' happiness, that that master should be a man of sense; for, in any case, the lady is bound to honor and obey him to whom she has surrendered herself for life, and her happiness will be to pay faithfully her vows; for, saith Shakspeare solemnly,
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Too little payment for so great a debt.