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* * * * * The homogeneity and persistence of the dictums described above should not be taken as indicative of reality. Whilst prescriptive and fictional writers throughout the eighteenth century repeated warnings about the evils of lust and criticisms of parents only concerned with money, there was a clear disjunctive between their ideals and the realities of betrothal. A wealthy or noble family could not ignore the social and economic implications of marriage, however many writers condemned such considerations. 56 And, it is equally empirically unfounded to assert that romantic love and lust were always transient, resulting in marriages that were doomed to failure.
Rather, such dictates represent a paradigm that appealed to readers, but a paradigm necessarily tempered in accordance with the realities of their own situations.
Such stereotypes do not, therefore, allow for the complexities of actual lives.
They ignore the possibility that money and status might have been sexually alluring to a prospective spouse or that parents might have directed offspring to suitors that they thought personally suitable rather than economically viable. 57 Indeed, the rationale of prescriptive literature would have been nullified if rejection of money or lust as reasons for tying the conjugal knot had been the norm. If all marriages had been based on liking and compatibility, then such diatribes would have been short-lived as not pertinent. For example, the effectiveness of the jibes and barbs in Hogarth's Marriage A-La-Mode is contingent upon the cognisance of the viewer, on a shared cultural code.
Whilst the number of such unions between the up-and-coming bourgeoisie and impoverished members of the aristocracy may have been statistically few, it was their popularity as a stereotype and as a point of discussion that was important in terms of visual representation.
Mingay, English Landed Society, pp.28-36 and passim.
Vickery, The Gentleman's Daughter, p.44 Stella Tillyard's warning that responses to this literature were "gestural rather than significant," can be demonstrated by a brief consideration of two case studies. 58 Henry Fox, 1st Lord Holland wrote of his sister-in-Iaw's prospective husband, Thomas Bunbury: "Not rich enough, but 'tis a match of her own making, and happiness don't depend on riches."59 Whilst this 'soundbite' suggests clear disapprobation of materialistic marriages, the situation was actually more complex. For one thing, Fox had eloped with his own wife, resulting in her temporary banishment from her family, and had fervently opposed Lord Hardwicke's bill as a consequence, perceiving it as a personal attack. 60 These particulars both suggest that he was inevitably distrustful of money as a foundation for contentment and that his own relationship hardly fell within the boundaries of the prescriptive ideal. Equally, it cannot be inferred from his statement that money was deemed of little consequence in the union of Sarah Lennox and Mr Bunbury. Negotiations were complex and protracted and Bunbury's father certainly considered their family's lack of lucre serious enough to write to Fox that he hoped to give his future daughter-in-law, "as little reason as possible[,] or her Family for Her[,] to resent of her new alliance."61 In such unions between families of considerable social standing and wealth, money was inevitably a consideration.
Similar examples can be found with regard to romantic unions. In a letter to the Reverend William Freind, the young Elizabeth Robinson wrote that "vanity is apt 58 S. Tillyard, Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah Lennox 1740-1832 (London, 1994), polOl 59 Henry Fox, 1sl Lord Holland, 'Memoir on the Events Attending the Death of George II, and the Accession of George III', in The Life and Letters of Lady Sarah Lennox, eds. the Countess of Ilchester and Lord Stavordale, 2 Vols. (London, 1901), I, po67 Tillyard, Aristocrats, pp.20-9, 88 61 BL Add MSS 51425, fo92, Mr Wo Bunbury to Henry Fox, 1st Lord Holland, 11 March 1762 to seek the admirer, rather than the friend, not considering that the passion of love may, but the effect of esteem can never, degenerate into dislike."62 Decontextualised, this quote might again effectively be employed as an example of a parallel sentiment to those so predominant in published literature and satirical engravings. However, her own relationship with her future husband, Edward Montagu, was clearly based on more than esteem and respect. She wrote to him in August 1743: "MY DEAREST, The happiest moments I have spent since I parted from you, were those I employed in reading your letter: accept the sincerest thanks a grateful and tender heart can make to the most kind and generous love... "63 Whilst it is as equally dangerous to accept the statement of the second letter as it is to trust the first, this example demonstrates that, whilst prescriptive writings did influence individual lives, that influence was more ambiguous and partial than suggested by writers such as Stone. Historical actors could be platitudinous when it suited them, but might form relationships that were far from accordant with prescribed ideals when it did not.
* * * * * The preferred ideal to the commercial union or that based on romance or lust was the companionate marriage. Throughout the period, writers recommended that wedlock be founded upon the partialities of the couple, preferably seconded by parental approval, and that selection should be inspired by mutual affection and goodElizabeth Montagu. The Queen o/the Blue-Stockings: Her Correspondence/rom 1720-1761.
ed. E.J. Climenson. 2 Vols. (London. 1906). I. p. 109 Elizabeth Montagu. I. p.159 liking. Daniel Defoe, deeming marriage without such attachment to be unlawful, irrational and prohibitive of happiness, expressed these principles repeatedly;
it is... absolutely necessary to the Happiness of a married Life, that the Persons marrying should have not only an Aquaintance with one another before Marriage, but that they should be engaged to each other by a solid and durable Affection... choosing and being the real choice of each other: This is not a small and trifling thing, it is the chief Article of Matrimony...64 Such "solid and durable affection," integral to the successful marriage, was far removed from the romantic passion to be found in novels and in the declarations of Rakes. Texts were rather peppered with nouns such as "Friendship" and "Esteem" and it was thought to be liking and respect that would sustain the relationship between husband and wife. 65 Whilst lust and ardour, stimulated by youth and beauty, would evaporate once desire had been satiated, love, stimulated by a person of exemplary morals and propitious characteristics, would blossom and develop as time passed. As the author of Reflections on Courtship and Marriage argued; "love, considered merely Defoe, Conjugal Lewdness, pp.28, 59. He similarly argued pp.98, 100-9 that free choice should be allowed, marriage being "a state of Life in which so much of humane Felicity is really placed, and in which Men may be so compleatly happy or miserable;" Without such mutual affection, "the essential part of the contract", the union would constitute matrimonial whoredom and be doomed to misery, an affront to God who had been lied to in the ceremony and resultant of "Family Confusions, violent Contentions, unsufferable Passions, raging at one another in vile Language, Quarrels, Feuds, Fightings, or at least Insultings of one another."
See Richardson, A Collection of the Moral and Instructive Sentiments, pp.158, 326:
"Marriage is the highest state of friendship" and "Marriage is the highest state of Friendship that mortals can know"; Fielding, Tom Jones, p.251: "Esteem and gratitude are the proper motives to love."
as a passion, will naturally have but a short duration; like all other passions it is changeable, transient, and accidental. But friendship and esteem are derived from principles of reason and thought."66 Thus, in many novels, it is not of passion and attraction of which heroes speak when they eventually express their feelings to heroines. In Evelina, Lord Orville finally drops on one knee after pages of misunderstandings and a painfully slowly developing relationship to exclaim: "I revere you! I esteem and I admire you above all human beings! - you are the friend to whom my soul is attached as to its better half!", which profession causes the heroine to fall into a faint. 67 As the century progressed, an increasing number of writers did allow passion some place in the conjugal process. However, they warned and informed readers that the initial ardour of courtship would (and should be allowed to) mellow naturally into the almost platonic emotions to be found in marriage. In 1777, Hester Chapone promised a 'new-married lady' that, as "the delirium of passion" subsides, "a milder and more serene happiness succeeds." Her advice, therefore, was to cultivate one's husband's friendship before the early emotion palled in order to create a bond to take its place. 68 Mary Wollstonecraft, an ardent opponent of James Fordyce in most respects, expressed remarkably similar views to the cleric on this issue. Whilst he had Franklin, Reflections on Courtship and Marriage, p.23. D. Hume in 'Of Polygamy and Divorces'. in D. Hume (1741-2), (London, 1963), p.193 Essays: Moral, Political and Literary similarly segregated the two in familiar terms, describing love with such adjectives as "restless", "impatient", and as "full of caprices and variations: arising in a moment from a feature, from an air, from nothing, and suddenly extinguishing after the same manner." Friendship on the other hand, the true basis for wedlock. is described as "a calm and sedate affection, conducted by reason and cemented by habit; springing from long acquaintance and mutual obligations."
F. Burney. Evelina; or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World (1778), ed.
E.A. Bloom (Oxford, 1982). pp.351-2 H. Chapone. A Letter to a New-Married Lady (London. 1777), pp.13-4 preached that true love "has less emotion; it has more solidity: it is less earthly; it is more divine. It is love mellowed into friendship," Wollstonecraft recommended, "calmly let passion subside into friendship." However, in the context of Vindication of the Rights of Women, the emphasis on friendship between husband and wife served to reinforce the author's polemic in favour of improvements in women's education.
Wollstonecraft claimed that contemporary provision for the instruction of young girls created wives who were either alluring in their infantile characters or despots, ruling their husbands through cunning rather than superiority. Only when women were allowed to exercise their capacities for reason and intellectual thought could they achieve the friendship with their husbands that so many writers advocated. She bitterly complained that, as things stood, not only did men have nobody at home to whom they might impart ideas and sentiments, but they were likely to be driven into "more agreeable, may I be allowed to use a significant French word, piquant society."69 Wollstonecraft was not unprecedented in her view that women needed better education in order to provide companionship for husbands, thereby retaining their spouse's affections and sustaining the marriage. Much earlier, The Tatler had expressed a desire that women should fill their leisure hours with profitable and instructive activities to "furnish them with Reflections and Sentiments proper for the Companions of reasonable Men" and Eliza Haywood had promised husbands that they would benefit most from women's "Amendment." A wife, far from being a mere housekeeper, should be "the repository of his dearest Secrets, the Moderator of his fiercer Passions, the Softener of his most anxious Cares, and the constantly chearful 69 Fordyce, Sermons, II, p.76; M. Wollstonecraft, 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women' (1792), in J. Todd, ed. Mary Wollstonecra/t: Political Writings (Oxford, 1994), pp.l37, 162, 195 and entertaining Companion of his more unbended Moments." Of course, there were limits. Haywood was careful to warn that she was not advising that women should "go into the Pulpit, nor harangue at the Bar."70 Similarly, Mr Wilson in Fielding's Joseph Andrews, having denied that he had ever found a man "capable of making juster observations on life or of delivering them more agreeably" than his wife, refutes Parson Adams's imputation that his wife is a learned woman who considers herself above household affairs. She is, he is quick to qualify, "a notable housewife, and few gentlemen's housekeepers understand cookery or confectionery better."71 The ability of husband and wife to enjoy mutual activities was thus integral to the companionate ideal. It required a certain compatibility and many writers recommended equality of temper, fortune, age, property, religion and even constitution as prerequisites to a successful marriage. 72 Without such reciprocal understanding, the marriage would flounder and the incompatible individuals would be forced to go their separate ways. Jonathan Swift described the disintegration of a relationship between an old divine and his young, noble born wife in his poem, The Progress of Marriage. As "no common ligament...binds/ The various textures of their minds,! Their thoughts, and actions, hopes, and fears,/ less corresponding than their years," the conclusion is inevitable.1 3 The antithesis to such perversion was The Tatler no.248 (9 November 1710). in The Tatler. III. p.267; Haywood. The Female Spectator. pp.101-3 71 H. Fielding. 'The History ofthe Adventures of Joseph Andrews' (1742). in A. Humphreys. ed.