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bargain, but those whose affection is really placed on the person.
Though I be, as you know very well, but a very aukward lover myself, yet as I have some opportunities of observing the conduct of others who are much better skilled in the affair of courtship than I am, I often think it is owing to lucky chance more than to good management, that there are not more unhappy marriages than usually are.
It is natural for a young fellow to like the acquaintance of the females, and customary for him to keep them company when occasion serves : some one of them is more agreeable to him than the rest ; there is something he knows not what pleases him, he knows not how, in her company.. This I take to be what is called love with the greatest part of us, and I must own my dear E. it is a hard game such a one as you has to play when you meet with such a lover. You cannot refuse but he is sincere, and yet though you use him ever so favorably, perhaps in a few months, or at farthest in a year or two, the same unaccountable fancy may make him as distractedly fond of another, whilst you are quite forgot. I am aware that perhaps the next time I have the pleasure of seeing you, you may bid me take my
own lesson home, and tell me that the passion I have professed for you is perhaps one of those transient flashes I have been describing; but I hope, my dear E., you will do me the justice to believe me, when I assure you, that the love I have for you is founded on the sacred principles of virtue and honour, and by consequence so long as you continue possessed of those amiable qualities which first inspired my passion for you, so long must I continue to love you. Believe me, my dear, it is love like this alone which can render the married state happy. People may talk of flames and raptures as long as they please; and a warm fancy, with a flow of youthful spirits, may make them feel something like what they describe; but sure I am, the nobler faculties of the mind with kindred feelings of the heart, can only be the foundation of friendship, and it has always been my opinion, that the married life was only friendship in a more exalted degree.
If you will be so good as to grant my wishes, and it should please providence to spare us to the latest periods of life, I can look forward and see, that even then, though bent down with wrinkled age; even then, when all other worldly circumstances will be indifferent to me, I will regard my E. with the tenderest affection, and for this plain reason, because she is still possessed of those noble qualities, improved to a much higher degree, which first inspired my affection for her.
“O! happy state when souls each other draw, “ When love is liberty, and nature law.”
I know, were I to speak in such a style to many a girl, who thinks herself possessed of no small share of sense, she would think it ridiculous--but the language of the heart is, my dear E., the only courtship I shall ever use to you.. . . :
When I look over what I have written, I am sensible it is vastly different from the ordinary style of courtship-but I shall make no apologyI know your good nature will excuse what your good sense may see amiss.
. . I HAVE often thought it a peculiarly unlucky circumstance in love, that though in every other situation in life, telling the truth is not only the safest, but actually by far the easiest way of proceeding. A lover is never under greater difficulty in acting, or more puzzled for expression, than when his passion is sincere, and his intentions are honorable. I do not think that it is very difficult for a person of ordinary capacity to talk of love and fondness, which are not felt, and to make vows of constancy and fidelity, which are never intended to be performed, if he be villain enough to practise such detestable conduct : but to a man whose heart glows with the principles of integrity and truth; and who sincerely loves a woman of amiable person, uncommon refinement of sentiment, and purity of manners--to such a
one, in such circumstances, I can assure you, my dear, from my own feelings at this present moment, courtship is a task indeed. There is such a number of foreboding fears, and distrustful anxieties croud into my mind when I am in your company, or when I sit down to write to you, that what to speak or what to write I am altogether at a loss.
There is one rule which I have hitherto practised, and which I shall invariably keep with you, and that is, honestly to tell you the plain truth. There is something so mean and unmanly in the arts of dissimulation and falsehood, that I am surprised they can be used by any one in so noble, so generous a passion as virtuous love. No, my dear E. I shall never endeavour to gain your favor by such detestable practices. If you will be so good and so generous as to admit me for your partner, your companion, your bosom friend through life; there is nothing on this side of eternity shall give me greater transport ; but I shall never think of purchasing your hand by any arts unworthy of a man, and I will add, of a Christian. There is one thing, my dear, which I earnestly request of you, and it is this; that you would soon either put an end to my hopes by a peremptory refusal, or cure me of my fears by a generous consent.
It would oblige me much if you would send