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Advice to Young Men eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 294 pages of information about Advice to Young Men.

LETTER IV

TO A HUSBAND

152.  It is in this capacity that your conduct will have the greatest effect on your happiness; and a great deal will depend on the manner in which you begin.  I am to suppose that you have made a good choice; but a good young woman may be made, by a weak, a harsh, a neglectful, an extravagant, or a profligate husband, a really bad wife and mother.  All in a wife, beyond her own natural disposition and education is, nine times out of ten, the work of her husband.

153.  The first thing of all, be the rank in life what it may, is to convince her of the necessity of moderation in expense; and to make her clearly see the justice of beginning to act upon the presumption, that there are children coming, that they are to be provided for, and that she is to assist in the making of that provision.  Legally speaking, we have a right to do what we please with our own property, which, however, is not our own, unless it exceed our debts.  And, morally speaking, we, at the moment of our marriage, contract a debt with the naturally to be expected fruit of it; and, therefore (reserving further remarks upon this subject till I come to speak of the education of children), the scale of expense should, at the beginning, be as low as that of which a due attention to rank in life will admit.

154.  The great danger of all is, beginning with servants, or a servant.  Where there are riches, or where the business is so great as to demand help in the carrying on of the affairs of a house, one or more female servants must be kept; but, where the work of a house can be done by one pair of hands, why should there be two; especially as you cannot have the hands without having the mouth, and, which is frequently not less costly, inconvenient and injurious, the tongue?  When children come, there must, at times, be some foreign aid; but, until then, what need can the wife of a young tradesman, or even farmer (unless the family be great) have of a servant?  The wife is young, and why is she not to work as well as the husband?  What justice is there in wanting you to keep two women instead of one?  You have not married them both in form; but, if they be inseparable, you have married them in substance; and if you are free from the crime of bigamy, you have the far most burthensome part of its consequences.

155.  I am well aware of the unpopularity of this doctrine; well aware of its hostility to prevalent habits; well aware that almost every tradesman and every farmer, though with scarcely a shilling to call his own; and that every clerk, and every such person, begins by keeping a servant, and that the latter is generally provided before the wife be installed:  I am well aware of all this; but knowing, from long and attentive observation, that it is the great bane of the marriage life; the great cause of that penury, and of those numerous and tormenting embarrassments, amidst which conjugal felicity can seldom long be kept alive, I give the advice, and state the reasons on which it was founded.

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