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LETTER LXXV. The young Gentleman's Answer. My Dear Angel,- Is there any medium between pleasure and pain ? can mourning and mirth be reconciled ? will my dear charmer believe that, whilst I was reading her letter with the greatest pleasure, I was shedding tears for an affectionate parent ? Thus Divine Providence thinks proper to mix some gall with our portion in life. It is impossible for me to describe the variety of passions now struggling in my breast : Ten thousand blessings to my charmer on the one hand, and as many tears to a beloved parent on the other. I conceived a notion of two impossibilities ; one of which I am obliged to struggle with, the other, thanks to you, is over. I thought I could not live without my dear and honoured mother, nor enjoy one moment's comfort, unless I could call you mine ! but I am now obliged to submit to the one, whilst I have the pleasing prospect of being in possession of the other. Will my dear sympathize with me, or will she bear with human passions ? and although all my hope of temporal happiness is centered in you, yet I doubt not but you will excuse my shedding a tear over the remains of a dear parent, whom I am now going to commit to the tomb. My dear creature, were it possible for me to describe the many virtues of that worthy woman who is now no more, you would draw a veil over the partiality of filial duty. Her last words were these : “My dear child, I am now going to pay that debt imposed on the whole human race, in consequence of our first parent's disobedience. You know what instuctions I have given you from time to time ; and let me beg of you to adhere to them so far as they are consistent with the will of God, revealed in his word. May you be happy in the possession of that young lady on whom you have placed your affections ; but may both you and she remember that real happiness is not to be found in this world ; and you must consider your life in this world as merely a state of probation. To the Almighty God I recommend you—"
She was going on when the thread of life was broken, and she ceased to be any more. Such was the last end of my dear mother, whose remains are to be interred this evening ; and as soon as I can settle every thing with her executors, I will (as it were) fly to meet you.
God grant that our happiness in this life may be conducive towards promoting our everlasting felicity hereafter. I am as before, yours while life remains.
LETTER LXXVI. From the Lady, after Marriage, to her Cousin,
unmarried. Dear Cousin,-I have now changed my name, and instead of liberty must subscribe wife. What an awkward expression, say some ! how pleasing, say others ! but let that be as it may, I have been married to my dear Charles these three months, and I can freely acknowledge that I never knew happiness till now. To have a real friend to whom I can communicate my secrets, and who on all occasions is ready to sympathize with me, is what I never before experienced. All these benefits, my dear cousin, I have met with in my beloved husband. His principal care seems to bė, to do every thing possible to please me; and is there not something called duty incumbent on me? Perhaps you will laugh at the word duty, and say that it imports some hing like slavery : but nothing is more false ; for even the life of a servant is as pleasant as any other,
when he obeys from motives of love instead of fear. For my own part, my dear, I cannot say that I am unwilling to be obedient, and yet I am not commanded to be so by my husband ! You have often spoken contemptuously of the marriage state, and I believe your reasons were, that most of those whom you knew were unhappy ; but that is an erroneous way of judging. It was designed by the Almighty, that men and women should live together in a state of society, that they should become mutual helps to each other; and if they are blessed with children, to assist each other in giving them a virtuous education. Let me therefore beg that my dear cousin will no longer despise that state for which she was designed, and which is calculated to make her happy. But then, my dear, there are two sorts of men you must studiously avoid, I mean misers and rakes. The first will take every opportunity of abridging your necessary expenses, and the second will leave you nothing for a subsistence. The first, by his penuriousness, will cause you to suffer from imaginary wants; the second by his prodigality, will make you a real beggar. But your own good sense will point out the propriety of what I have mentioned. Let me beg that you will come and spend a few weeks with us; and if you have any taste for rural and domestic life, I doubt not but you will be pleased.
I am your affectionate cousin.
LETTER LXXVII. From a young Merchant in London, to a Widow
Lady in the Country. Madam,—Ever since I saw you at the Wells, when I was on a journey to Bristol, my mind has been continually ruminating on your many accomplishments. And although it is possible this may
be rejected, yet can no longer conceal a passion which has preyed upon my spirits these six weeks. I have been settled in business about three years ; my success has been equal to my expectations, and is likewise increasing. My family is respectable, though not rich ; and as to the disparity of our ages, a few years will not make any difference, where the affections are placed on so worthy an object. I can only say, madam, that I prefer you to all the young ladies I have seen, and if business continues to increase, I shall be greatly in want of one of your prudence to manage my domestic affairs. Be assured, madam, that whatever time I can spare from the necessary duties of my profession, shall be devoted to your company, and every endeavour used to make your life more agreeable and happy. As you have relations in London, they will give you every necessary information concerning my character and circumstances, although I have not the pleasure of being known to them. If you will favour me with an answer to this, it will be ever esteemed as a particular favour, and acknowledged with the sincerest respect by your real admirer.
LETTER LXXVIII. The Lady's Letter to her Brother, an 1ttorney in
the Temple, concerning the above. Dear Brother,—You know that in all affairs of importance I have constantly acted by your advice as I am still determined to do ; and therefore have sent you enclosed the copy of a letter which I received by the post, from a young gentleman in London, whom I have seen at the Wells. His behaviour here was polite without affectation, and an air of sincerity appeared in all he said. With respect to the subject he writes of, I will give you my own thoughts, and delay sending an answer until I have had your opinion.
I am at least a dozen years older than him, and possibly love, contracted where there is such difference in the ages of parties, may terminate in want of respect on one side, and jealousy on the other. At present I am so pestered with rakes and coxcombs, that I would almost willingly give my hand to the first worthy person that offers. Indeed I have another reason for entering into the marriage state, and that is, I would choose, as I advance in years, to have a friend to whom I might at all times be able to open my mind with freedom, and who would treat me with that tenderness which my sex entitles me to. I have been a widow six years, and whatever others may say, I have found it attended with many inconveniences, and far from that pleasing life many are ready to imagine. But after all, I will be directed by you, as my only real friend to whom I can apply; if you think proper you may inquire, and when I hear from you, I will send him an answer.--I am your affectionate sister.
The Brother's Answer. Dear Sister,—I am glad to hear of your prudence in not being over hasty in an affair of so great importance, and upon which your happiness or misery in this world will inevitably depend. Your reasons against remaining any longer in a state of widowhood are what I much approve of, and it will give me great pleasure to promote your interest and happiness as far as I am able. I have inquired conceruing Mr Morton, and every one gives him an excellent character. I have likewise conversed with him, and find he is a very sensible young man.