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husband can do in the way of prevention ; and that is, to give no ground for it. And here, it is not sufficient that he strictly adhere to his marriage vow; he ought further to abstain from every act, however free from guilt, calculated to awaken the slightest degree of suspicion in a mind, the peace of which he is bound by every tie of justice and humanity not to disturb, or, if he can avoid it, to suffer it to be disturbed by others. A woman that is very fond of her husband, and this is the case with nine-tenths of English and American women, does not like to share with another any, even the smallest portion, not only of his affection, but of his assiduities and applause; and, as the bestowing of them on another, and receiving payment in kind, can serve no purpose other than of gratifying one's vanity, they ought to be abstained from, and especially if the gratification be to be purchased with even the chance of exciting uneasiness in her, whom it is your sacred duty to make as happy as you can.
For about two or three years after I was married, I, retaining some of my military manners, used, both in France and America, to romp most famously with the girls that came in my way; till one day, at Philadelphia, my, wife said to me, in a very gentle manner, * Don't do that: I do not like it.” That was quite enough: I had never thought on the subject before: one hair of her head was more dear to me than all the other women in the
world, and this I knew that she knew; but I now saw that this was not all that she had a right to from me; I saw, that she had the further claim upon me that I should abstain from every thing that might induce others to believe that there was any other woman for whom, even if I were at liberty, I had any affection. I beseech young married men to bear this in mind; for, on some trifle of this sort, the happiness or misery of a long life frequently turns. Íf the mind of a wife be disturbed on this score, every possible means ought to be used to restore it to peace; and though her suspicions be perfectly groundless; though they be wild as the dreams of madmen; though they may present a mixture of the furious and the ridiculous, still they are to be treated with the greatest lenity and tenderness; and if, after all, you fail, the frailty is to be lamented as a misfortüne, and not punished as a fault, seeing that it must have its foundation in a feeling towards you, which it would be the basest of ingratitude, and the most ferocious of cruelty, to repay by harshness of any description. To
As to those husbands who make the unjust suspicions of their wives a justification for making those suspicions just; as to such as can make a sport of such suspicions, rather brag of them than otherwise, and endeavour to aggravate rather than assuage them; as to such I have nothing to say, they being far without the scope of any advice that I can offer. But
to such as are not of this description, I have a remark or two to offer with respect to measures of prevention.'
And, first, I never could see the sense of its being a piece of etiquette, a sort of mark of good breeding, to make it a rule that man and wife are not to sit side by side in a mixed company; that if a party walk out, the wife is to give her arm to some other than her husband; that if there be any other hand near, his is not to help her to a seat or into a carriage. I never could see the sense of this ; but I have always seen the nonsense of it plainly enough; it is, in short, amongst many other foolish and mischievous things that we do in aping the manners of those whose riches (frequently ill-gotten) and whose power imbolden them to set, with impunity, pernicious examples; and to their examples this nation owes more of its degradation in morals than to any other source. The truth is, that this is a piece of false refinement: it, being interpreted, means, that so free are the parties from a liability to suspicion, so innately virtuous and pure are they, that each man can safely trust his wife with another man, and each woman her husband with another woman. But this piece of false refinement, like all others, overshoots its mark; it says too much; for it says that the parties have lewd thoughts in their minds. This is not the fact, with regard to people in general; but it must have been the origin of this set of consummately ridiculous and contemptible rules.
Now I would advise a young man, especially if he have a pretty wife, not to commit her unnecessarily to the care of any other man; not to be separated from her in this studious and ceremonious manner; and not to be ashamed to prefer her company and conversation to that of any other woman. I never could discover any good breeding in setting another man, almost expressly, to poke his nose up in the face of my wife, and talk nonsense to her; for, in such cases, 'nonsense it generally is. It is not a thing of much consequence, to be sure; but when the wife is young, especially, it is not seemly, at any rate, and it cannot possibly lead to any good, though it may not lead to any great evil. And, on the other hand, you may be quite sure that, whatever she may seem to think of the matter, she will not like you the better for your attentions of this sort to other women, especially if they be young and handsome: and as this species of fashionable nonsense can do you no good, why gratify your love of talk, or the vanity of any woman, at even the risk of exciting uneasiness in that mind, of which it is your most sacred duty to preserve, if you can, the uninterrupted tranquillity ?
The truth is, that the greatest security of all against jealousy in a wife is to show, to prove, by your acts, by your words also, but more es. pecially by your acts, that you prefer her to all the world; and, as I said before, I know of no act that is, in this respect, equal to spending
in her company every moment of your leisure time. Everybody knows, and young wives better than anybody else, that people, who can choose, will be where they like best to be, and that they will be along with those whose company they best like. The matter is very plain, then, and I do beseech you to bear it in mind. Nor do I see the use, or sense, of keeping a great deal of company as it is called. What company can a young man and woman want more than their two selves, and their children, if they have any ? If here be not company enough, it is but a sad affair. The pernicious cards are brought forth by the company-keeping; the rival expenses, the sittings up late at night, the seeing of the ladies home," and a thousand squabbles and disagreeable consequences. But, the great thing of all is, that this hankering after company, proves, clearly proves, that you want something beyond the society of your wife; and that she is sure to feel most acutely: the bare fact contains an imputation against her, and it is pretty sure to lay the foundation of jealousy, or of something still worse.
If acts of kindness in you are necessary in all cases, they are especially so in cases of her illness, from whatever cause arising. I will not suppose myself to be addressing any husband capable of being unconcerned while his wife's life is in the most distant danger from illness, though it has been my very great mortification to know in my lifetime, two or three