Maria or the Wrongs of Woman
"I RESUME my pen to fly from thought. I was married; and we hastened to
London. I had purposed taking one of my sisters with me; for a strong motive for
marrying, was the desire of having a home at which I could receive them, now
their own grew so uncomfortable, as not to deserve the cheering appellation. An
objection was made to her accompanying me, that appeared plausible; and I
reluctantly acquiesced. I was however willingly allowed to take with me Molly,
poor Peggy's daughter. London and preferment, are ideas commonly associated
in the country; and, as blooming as May, she bade adieu to Peggy with weeping
eyes. I did not even feel hurt at the refusal in relation to my sister, till hearing
what my uncle had done for me, I had the simplicity to request, speaking with
warmth of their situation, that he would give them a thousand pounds a-piece,
which seemed to me but justice. He asked me, giving me a kiss, 'If I had lost my
senses?' I started back, as if I had found a wasp in a rose-bush. I expostulated.
He sneered: and the demon of discord entered our paradise, to poison with his
pestiferous breath every opening joy.
"I had sometimes observed defects in my husband's understanding; but, led
astray by a prevailing opinion, that goodness of disposition is of the first
importance in the relative situations of life, in proportion as I perceived the
narrowness of his understanding, fancy enlarged the boundary of his heart. Fatal
error! How quickly is the so much vaunted milkiness of nature turned into gall, by
an intercourse with the world, if more generous juices do not sustain the vital
source of virtue!
"One trait in my character was extreme credulity; but, when my eyes were
once opened, I saw but too clearly all I had before overlooked. My husband was
sunk in my esteem; still there are youthful emotions, which, for a while, fill up the
chasm of love and friendship. Besides, it required some time to enable me to see
his whole character in a just light, or rather to allow it to become fixed. While
circumstances were ripening my faculties, and cultivating my taste, commerce
and gross relaxations were shutting his against any possibility of improvement,
till, by stifling every spark of virtue in himself, he began to imagine that it no
"Do not let me lead you astray, my child, I do not mean to assert, that any
human being is entirely incapable of feeling the generous emotions, which are
the foundation of every true principle of virtue; but they are frequently, I fear, so
feeble, that, like the inflammable quality which more or less lurks in all bodies,
they often lie for ever dormant; the circumstances never occurring, necessary to
call them into action.
"I discovered however by chance, that, in consequence of some losses in
trade, the natural effect of his gambling desire to start suddenly into riches, the
five thousand pounds given me by my uncle, had been paid very opportunely.
This discovery, strange as you may think the assertion, gave me pleasure; my
husband's embarrassments endeared him to me. I was glad to find an excuse for
his conduct to my sisters, and my mind became calmer.