For this reason, I forbear saying any thing on so nice a subject as your letter to your sister. It must be right, because you think it so—and if it be taken as it ought, that will show you that it is. But if it beget insults and revilings, as it is but too likely, I find you don’t intend to let me know it.
You were always so ready to accuse yourself for other people’s faults, and to suspect your own conduct rather than the judgment of your relations, that I have often told you I cannot imitate you in this. It is not a necessary point of belief with me, that all people in years are therefore wise; or that all young people are therefore rash and headstrong: it may be generally the case, as far as I know: and possibly it may be so in the case of my mother and her girl: but I will venture to say that it has not yet appeared to be so between the principals of Harlowe-place and their second daughter.
You are for excusing them beforehand for their expected cruelty, as not knowing what you have suffered, nor how ill you are: they have heard of the former, and are not sorry for it: of the latter they have been told, and I have most reason to know how they have taken it—but I shall be far from avoiding the fault, and as surely shall incur the rebuke, if I say any more upon this subject. I will therefore only add at present, That your reasonings in their behalf show you to be all excellence; their returns to you that they are all——Do, my dear, let me end with a little bit of spiteful justice—but you won’t, I know—so I have done, quite done, however reluctantly: yet if you think of the word I would have said, don’t doubt the justice of it, and fill up the blank with it.
You intimate that were I actually married, and Mr. Hickman to desire it, you would think of obliging me with a visit on the occasion; and that, perhaps, when with me, it would be difficult for you to remove far from me.
Lord, my dear, what a stress do you seem to lay upon Mr. Hickman’s desiring it!—To be sure he does and would of all things desire to have you near us, and with us, if we might be so favoured—policy, as well as veneration for you, would undoubtedly make the man, if not a fool, desire this. But let me tell you, that if Mr. Hickman, after marriage, should pretend to dispute with me my friendships, as I hope I am not quite a fool, I should let him know how far his own quiet was concerned in such an impertinence; especially if they were such friendships as were contracted before I knew him.
I know I always differed from you on this subject: for you think more highly of a husband’s prerogative than most people do of the royal one. These notions, my dear, from a person of your sense and judgment, are no way advantageous to us; inasmuch as they justify the assuming sex in their insolence; when hardly one out of ten of them, their opportunities considered, deserves any prerogative at all. Look through all the families we know; and we shall not find one-third of them have half the sense of their wives. And yet these are to be vested with prerogatives! And a woman of twice their sense has nothing to do but hear, tremble, and obey—and for conscience-sake too, I warrant!