But, my dear friend, are you not in danger of falling into a too thoughtful and gloomy way? By the latter part of your last letter, we are afraid you are; and my mamma, and Mrs. Jones, and Mrs. Peters, enjoin me to write, to caution you on that head. But there is the less need of it, because your prudence will always suggest to you reasons, as it does in that very letter, that must out-balance your fears. Think little, and hope much, is a good lesson in your case, and to a lady of your temper; and I hope Lady Davers will not in vain have given you that caution. After all, I dare say your thoughtfulness is but symptomatical, and will go off in proper time.
But to wave this: let me ask you, is Mr. B.’s conduct to you as respectful, I don’t mean fond, when you are alone together, as in company?—Forgive me—But you have hinted two or three times, in your letters, that he always is most complaisant to you in company; and you observe, that wisely does he act in this, as he thereby does credit with every body to his own choice. I make no doubt, that the many charming scenes which your genius and fine behaviour furnish out to him, must, as often as they happen, inspire him with joy, and even rapture: and must make him love you more for your mind than for your person:—but these rapturous scenes last very little longer than the present moment. What I want to know is, whether in the steadier parts of life, when you are both nearer the level of us common folks, he give up any thing of his own will in compliment to yours? Whether he acts the part of a respectful, polite gentleman, in his behaviour to you; and breaks not into your retirements, in the dress, and with the brutal roughness of a fox-hunter?—Making no difference, perhaps, between the field or his stud (I will not say kennel) and your chamber or closet?—Policy, for his own credit-sake, as I mentioned, accounts to me well, for his complaisance to you in public. But his regular and uniform behaviour to you, in your retirement, when the conversation between you turns upon usual and common subjects, and you have not obliged him to rise to admiration of you, by such scenes as those of your two parsons, Sir Jacob Swynford, and the like: is what would satisfy my curiosity, if you please to give me an instance or two of it.
Now, my dearest Mrs. B., if you can give me a case, partly or nearly thus circumstanced, you will highly oblige me:
First, where he has borne with any infirmity of your own; and I know of none where you can give him such an opportunity, except you get into a vapourish habit, by giving way to a temper too thoughtful and apprehensive:
Next, that, in complaisance to your will, he recedes from his own in any one instance:
Next, whether he breaks not into your retirements unceremoniously, and without apology or concern, as I hinted above.