Friday, October 12, 1711.
‘… Difficili Bile Tumet Jecur.’
The present Paper shall consist of two Letters, which observe upon Faults that are easily cured both in Love and Friendship. In the latter, as far as it meerly regards Conversation, the Person who neglects visiting an agreeable Friend is punished in the very Transgression; for a good Companion is not found in every Room we go into. But the Case of Love is of a more delicate Nature, and the Anxiety is inexpressible if every little Instance of Kindness is not reciprocal. There are Things in this Sort of Commerce which there are not Words to express, and a Man may not possibly know how to represent, what yet may tear his Heart into ten thousand Tortures. To be grave to a Man’s Mirth, unattentive to his Discourse, or to interrupt either with something that argues a Disinclination to be entertained by him, has in it something so disagreeable, that the utmost Steps which may be made in further Enmity cannot give greater Torment. The gay Corinna, who sets up for an Indifference and becoming Heedlessness, gives her Husband all the Torment imaginable out of meer Insolence, with this peculiar Vanity, that she is to look as gay as a Maid in the Character of a Wife. It is no Matter what is the Reason of a Man’s Grief, if it be heavy as it is. Her unhappy Man is convinced that she means him no Dishonour, but pines to Death because she will not have so much Deference to him as to avoid the Appearances of it. The Author of the following Letter is perplexed with an Injury that is in a Degree yet less criminal, and yet the Source of the utmost Unhappiness.
I have read your Papers which relate to Jealousy, and desire your Advice in my Case, which you will say is not common. I have a Wife, of whose Virtue I am not in the least doubtful; yet I cannot be satisfied she loves me, which gives me as great Uneasiness as being faulty the other Way would do. I know not whether I am not yet more miserable than in that Case, for she keeps Possession of my Heart, without the Return of hers. I would desire your Observations upon that Temper in some Women, who will not condescend to convince their Husbands of their Innocence or their Love, but are wholly negligent of what Reflections the poor Men make upon their Conduct (so they cannot call it Criminal,) when at the same time a little Tenderness of Behaviour, or Regard to shew an Inclination to please them, would make them Entirely at Ease. Do not such Women deserve all the Misinterpretation which they neglect to avoid? Or are they not in the actual Practice of Guilt, who care not whether they are thought guilty or not? If my Wife does the most ordinary thing, as visiting her Sister, or taking the Air with her Mother, it is always carried with the Air of a Secret: Then she will sometimes tell a thing of no Consequence, as if it was only Want of Memory made her conceal it before; and this only to dally with my Anxiety. I have complained to her of this Behaviour in the gentlest Terms imaginable, and beseeched her not to use him, who desired only to live with her like an indulgent Friend, as the most morose and unsociable Husband in the World. It is no easy Matter to describe our Circumstance, but it is miserable with this Aggravation, That it might be easily mended, and yet no Remedy endeavoured. She reads you, and there is a Phrase or two in this Letter which she will know came from me. If we enter into an Explanation which may tend to our future Quiet by your Means, you shall have our joint Thanks: In the mean time I am (as much as I can in this ambiguous Condition be any thing) SIR,