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Henry Fielding: Joseph Andrews and Shamela (London. 1993). p.253. This imputation draws on the stock figure of fun of the learned lady. See. for example. A. Brown The Eighteenth-Century Feminist Mind (Brighton. 1987). pp.41-2. 117 72 See Defoe. Conjugal Lewdness. pp.218. 225-7; 'Philogamus·. The Present State of Matrimony. pp.31-2 J. Swift. 'The Progress of Marriage' in Jonathan Swift. p.243 personified and consolidated at the end of the century in the fonn of the exemplary Lord and Lady Percival in Maria Edgeworth's Belinda. The "union of interests, occupations, taste, and affection" that exists between Lady Anne and her husband, includes her provision of entertaining and capable companionship.74 It is thus apparent that compatibility, companionship and affection founded upon liking were constant features of prescriptive dictums on wedlock. Writers had long decried money as a sole reason for marriage and, whilst the threat of clandestine unions based on sexual attraction had been heightened by the advent and proliferation of the novel, libidinous desires had never been seen as an adventitious basis for matrimony. What changed most dramatically, consolidating the companionate marriage, was its idealisation and elevation through the rise of sensibility. The new emphasis on emotion and on empathy between individuals brought the standard features of the ideal marriage onto a new and important plane of discourse.
Marriage and Society, p.63 drudges, or the slaves of our pleasures, but as our companions and equals. "76 Many presented this new 'equality' in the nuptial relationship as a progression from a less enlightened past. A spokesman for Maria Edgeworth's views in Literary Ladies claimed that the new companionate relationship had replaced an older, more courtly notion of gallantry between the sexes. From being "the champions and masters of the fair sex," men were "now become their friends and companions," from romance had emerged "the real pennanent pleasures of domestic life" and from adulation had arisen friendship.77 However, a more common fonnulation of this advancement was to emphasise the civilised nature of contemporary society by comparing its treatment of women to that in savage, barbarous or primitive communities. In the latter, according to Lord Kames, women are "considered as objects of animal love" and the relationship between the sexes is that of master and slave. He then contrasts this with the refined and cultivated British view of wives as "faithful friends and agreeable companions," as "bosom friends," and of marriage as "two persons equal in rank."78 Indeed, not only was parity claimed in the relationship between spouses, but many of these writers asserted that females had dominion over men. This was an 76 Gregory, A Father's Legacy, p.6 77 Edgeworth, Literary Ladies, p.29 78 H. Home, Lord Kames, Sketches of the History of Man 4 Vols. (1778) (Edinburgh and London, 2nd edition, 1788), II, pp.41-2, 90. However, Lord Kames's view of marriage as a union of 'two persons equal in rank' was not as egalitarian as may first appear. Although he states p.20 that husband and wife "govern and are governed reciprocally," the means by which they reign are very
different: ''The man bears rule over his wife's person and conduct, she bears rule over his Inclination:
he governs by law: she by persuasion." Thomas Gisborne in his Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex. p.17 agreed with the idea of equality in marriage as a mark of civilisation: "When nations begin to emerge from gross barbarism, every new step which they take towards refinement is commonly marked by a gentler treatment, and a more reasonable estimation of women. And every improvement in their opinions and conduct respecting the female sex prepares the way for additional progress on civilisation. " important development as writers of the previous century had dictated female obedience, condemning wifely assertion as transgressive. One of the earliest works to indicate a shift in tone was the much quoted The Lady's New Year's Gift; or, Advice to a Daughter by the Marquess of Halifax, first published in 1688 and reprinted many times throughout the eighteenth century. He instructed his offspring that, due to their superior rationality, men have natural authority in marriage, a governance that may
seem "a little uncourtly." However, this authority could easily be overthrown:
You have it in your power not only to free yourselves but to subdue your masters, and without violence throw both their natural and legal authority at your feet... You have more strength in your looks than we have in our laws, and more power by your tears than we have by our arguments,?9 Numerous writers throughout the following century echoed Halifax's ideas. In a paraphrase of the Marquess, Wetenhall Wilkes recommended that a woman whose husband is 'Irregular' should combat his deficiencies with a meek, soft, obliging and complacent temper as "her looks have more Power than his Laws, and a few sweet Words from her can soften all his fury."80 The softening and beneficent influence of wives, capable of tempering masculine sternness and austerity, was thus central in the elevation of women into the moral guardians of the home. For example, Fordyce's George Savile. Marquess of Halifax, 'The Lady's New Year's Gift; or, Advice to a Daughter' (1688), in J.P. Kenyon, ed., Halifax: Complete Works (Harmondsworth, 1969), pp.277-8 80 Wilkes, A Letter o/Genteel and Moral Advice, p.120. Bishop Fleetwood in Relative Duties, pp.224-5 recommended similar behaviour towards a troublesome husband: "All Men love Power and Superiority, and a meek and quiet Spirit seems to yield it to them, even when it takes it from them, and disarms them."
first sermon entitled, "On the Importance of the Female Sex, especially the Younger Part" remarked on the propitious influence of women's "soft persuasion" and went on to praise the virtuous female's maintenance of her family's "honour and peace."81 The sentimentalisation and elevation of marriage and parenthood was also critical in creating new models of masculinity. It was no longer merely necessary for a man to be active and successful in the public world, he also needed to be recognised as a kind and affectionate husband and father. The Tatler, for example, eulogised over the loving husband as having "a Simplicity of behaviour, and a certain Evenness of Desire" that was entirely laudatory.82 Such a character, far from suggesting a weakening of masculine authority, could actually be used to justify public responsibility. As argued by the Reverend Fordyce in 1776, tender treatment and loving behaviour towards wives and offspring marked a civilised society, whilst indifference and a mocking attitude to women signified a degenerate age: "It is certain, that savages, and those who are but little removed from their condition, have seldom behaved to women with much respect or tenderness. On the other hand, it is known, that in civilised nations they have ever been objects of both." Whilst he emphasised women's natural subordination and advised that submissiveness and dependency should characterise both their behaviour and their condition, he asked his fellow men: "Is it noble in us, is it generous, is it manly, to look upon them with a supercilious eye, or, because they are in our power, to exult in their debility?"83 81 Fordyce, Sermons to Young Women, I, pp.3-28 The Tatler no.49 (2 August 1709), in The Tatler, I, p.349 83 J. Fordyce, The Character and Conduct of the Female Sex, and the Advantages to be Derived by Young Men from the Society of Virtuous Women. A Discourse in Three Parts, Delivered in Monkwell-Street Chapel, January I, 1776 (London, 1776), pp. 6, 8,40-41. My italics The Tatler had rendered the association between a virtuous masculine public persona and private probity explicit in its characterisation of the exemplary man as having "Industry and Frugality in his private Affairs and Integrity and Address in Publick."84 The Spectator went further in overtly founding male authority in the public domain upon fulfilment of domestic duties. It questioned whether there could be anything more base... than... treating a helpless creature with unkindness, who has had so good an opinion of him as to believe what he said relating to one of the greatest Concerns of life, by delivering her Happiness in this World to his Cares and Protection? Must not that man be abandoned even to all Manner of humanity...Is anything more unlike a gentleman... ? Ought such a one to be trusted in his public affairs ?85 Such writers thus employed the traditional model of the family as a microcosm of the state, of the rectitude of the domestic sphere as critical to that of the nation, of the good father, the good son and the good husband as the good citizen. Rather than opposing the public and the private, they saw lines of influence as flowing from the family to the state, founding ability to govern the latter wisely and competently on ability to govern the former likewise. 86 The connection was particularly explicit in the
poem, Hymen, published at the end of the century:
84 The Tatler no.175 (23 May 1710), in The Tatler. II, p.457 The Spectator no.236 (30 November 1711), in The Spectator, II, p.417. My italics 86 L. Davidoff, Worlds Between: Historical Perspectives on Gender and Class (Cambridge, 1995), p.250
In such a utopia, the statesman proclaimed to the public at large to bear the name of "rank adulterer" would falter in his influence, gUilty of "every vice, that can / Destroy his country, and disgrace the man."87 Not only did literature come to express such sentiments, but an ever-increasing readership was exposed to its dictates. James Raven has proposed that, whilst a mere 45 new prose fiction titles were issued in Britain between 1700 and 1709, the successive decades witnessed an eruption of such writing. He has identified the years between the mid 1730s and mid 1740s as the period of most significant increase, production escalating from 95 new titles published between 1730 and 1739 to 210 between 1740 and 1749. 88 This expansion was aided by a boom in the number of publishers, both in London and in the provinces, able to utilise increasingly effective networks of sale and distribution and the availability of new marketing tools such as advertising space. 89 Similarly, the number of newspapers rapidly increased, the first dailies emerging at this time, whilst the popular periodical grew to be an increasingly 87 Hymen: A Poem (London. 1794). pp.27-8 88 J. Raven. British Fiction 1750-1770: A Chronological Check-List of Prose Fiction Printed in Britain and Ireland (London. Toronto and Newark. 1987). pp.3. 9-10 89 Raven. British Fiction, pp. 3. 9-10. 25 powerful cultural force, more available, more varied and more popular from the 1690s onwards. 90 This increase both responded to and, as convincingly argued by Kathryn Shevelow, helped to promote a wide reading public. By providing society with accessible, affordable and entertaining material, literary forms such as the periodical helped to popularise the activity of reading and thus created and consolidated their own audiences. This development was assisted by a sharp increase in the extent of the lettered population in the later seventeenth century.91 OJ. Barker-Benfield has proposed that Britain was at the forefront of increasing standards of literacy, assisted by improvements in and the wider availability of education. Whilst a mere 30% of men and 11 % of women were literate in the mid seventeenth century, these figures had risen to 60% of men and 40% of women by 1750. Even those with limited funds were brought into the market by phenomena such as circulating libraries (spreading rapidly post 1740), the serialisation of novels such as Clarissa and the burgeoning availability of second-hand books, remainders and cheap piracies. 92 For those in the more affluent sectors of society, increasing prosperity both freed more money for the purchase of such consumer goods and created more leisure time in which to enjoy them. Thus, as Margaret Hunt has explained, the nation became, "in a new way, a nation of books - thousands upon thousands of them, on almost every conceivable M. Hunt, The Middling Sort: Commerce, Gender and the Family in England 1680-1780 (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1996), p.180; K. Shevelow, Women and Print Culture: The Construction of Femininity in the Early Periodical (London and New York, 1989), chapter 2, especially p.24 91 Shevelow, Women and Print Culture, pp.28-35 GJ. Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago and London, 1992), pp.162-5 topic, pored over, swapped, stolen, and cherished by people at every level of society from members of parliament to plowmen. "93 * * * * * These new ideals and their increasing dissemination can be closely related to that mid eighteenth-century transition in marital portraiture briefly described in the comparison between Mr and Mrs Andrews and Mr and Mrs Hallett. One of the first paintings to demonstrate this shift was William Hogarth's David Garrick and his Wife, Eva Maria of 1757 (fig. 11 ). The actor and impressario is portrayed in the act of artistic endeavour (composing a prologue to Samuel Foote's play, Taste) whilst his wife steals up behind him, seemingly with the intention of purloining his pen. Roses blossom in his jacket pocket in a romantic gesture whilst his portrait on her bracelet returns the compliment. 94 Dr. Hoadly observed this narrative element and commented upon it; "it is not so much fancy as to be affected or ridiculous and yet enough to raise it from the formal inanity of a mere portrait."95 This clearly acknowledged the inventive nature of the image and its design as a break with tradition.