Whenever an offer is made in writing, you should reply to it as soon as possible; and, having in this case none of the embarrassment of a personal interview, you can make such a careful selection of words as will best convey your meaning. If the person is estimable, you should express your sense of his merit, and your gratitude for his preference, in strong terms; and put your refusal of his hand on the score of your not feeling for him that peculiar preference necessary to the union he seeks. This makes a refusal as little painful as possible, and soothes the feelings you are obliged to wound. The gentleman’s letter should be returned in your reply, and your lips should be closed upon the subject for ever afterwards. It is his secret, and you have no right to tell it to any one; but, if your parents are your confidential friends on all other occasions, he will not blame you for telling them.
Never think the less of a man because he has been refused, even if it be by a lady whom you do not highly value. It is nothing to his disadvantage. In exercising their prerogative of making the first advances, the wisest will occasionally make great mistakes, and the best will often be drawn into an affair of this sort against their better judgment, and both are but too happy if they escape with only the pain of being refused. So far from its being any reason for not accepting a wise and good man when he offers himself to you, it should only increase your thankfulness to the overruling providence of God, which reserved him for you, through whose instrumentality he is still free to choose.
There is no sure remedy for disappointed affection but vital religion; that giving of the heart to God which enables a disciple to say, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none on earth that I desire in comparison of Thee.” The cure for a wounded heart, which piety affords, is so complete, that it makes it possible for the tenderest and most constant natures to love again. When a character is thus disciplined and matured, its sympathies will be called forth only by superior minds; and, if a kindred spirit presents itself as a partner for life, and is accepted, the union is likely to be such as to make the lady rejoice that her former predilection was overruled.
Some young persons indulge a fastidiousness of feeling in relation to this subject, as though it were indelicate to speak of it. Others make it the principal subject of their thoughts and conversation; yet they seem to think it must never be mentioned but in jest. Both these extremes should be avoided. Marriage is an ordinance of God, and therefore a proper subject of thought and discussion, with reference to personal duty. It is a matter of great importance, having a direct bearing upon the glory of God and the happiness of individuals. It should, therefore, never be approached with levity. But, as it requires no