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continual monotony which by setting your adversary to sleep effectually precludes reply? an event which is always to be considered as decisive of the victory, or at least as reducing it to a drawn battle :—you and Somnus divide the prize.
Thus prepared for an engagement, you will next, if
you have not already done it, study the weak part of the character of your enemy-your husband, I mean: if he be a man of high spirit, jealous of command and impatient of controul, one who decides for himself, and who is little troubled with the insanity of minding what the world says of him, you must proceed with extreme circumspection ; you must not dare to provoke the combined forces of the enemy to a regular engagement, but harass him with perpetual petty skirmishes: in these, though you gain little at a time, you will gradually weary the patience, and break the spirit of your opponent. If he be a man of spirit, he must also be generous; and what man of generosity will contend for trifles with a woman who submits to him in all affairs of consequence, who is in his power, who is weak, and who loves him ?
“ Can superior with inferior power contend ?” No; the spirit of a lion is not to be roused by the teasing of an insect.
But such a man as I have described, besides being as generous as he is brave, will probably be of an active temper: then have
an inestimable advantage; for he will set a high value upon a thing for which you have none-time; he will acknowledge the force of your arguments merely from a dread of
their length; he will yield to you in trifles, particularly in trifles which do not militate against his authority; not out of regard for you, but for his time; for what man can prevail upon himself to debate three hours about what could be as well decided in three minutes ?
Lest amongst infinite variety the difficulty of immediate selection should at first perplex you, let me point out that matters of taste will afford you, of all others, the most ample and incessant subjects of debate. Here you have no criterion to appeal to. Upon the same principle, next to matters of taste, points of opinion will afford the most constant exercise to your talents. Here you will have an opportunity of citing the opinions of all the living and dead you have ever known, besides the dear privilege of repeating continually :-“Nay, you must allow that.” Or, “ You can't deny this, for it's the universal opinion every body says so! every body thinks so! I wonder to hear you express such an opinion! Nobody but yourself is of that way of thinking !" with innumerable other phrases, with which a slight attention to polite conversation will furnish you. This mode of opposing authority to argument, and assertion to proof, is of such universal utility, that I pray you to practise it.
If the point in dispute be some opinion relative to your character or disposition, allow in general, that
you are sure you have a great many faults ;" but to every specific charge, reply, “ Well, I am sure I don't know, but I did not think that was one of my
faults ! nobody ever accused me of that before! Nay, I was always remarkable for the contrary; at least before I was acquainted with you, sir: in my own family I was always remarkable for the contrary ; ask any of my own friends; ask
of them; they must know me best.”
But if, instead of attacking the material parts of your character, your husband should merely presume to advert to your manners, to some slight personal habit which might be made more agreeable to him ; prove, in the first place, that it is his fault that it is not agreeable to him; ask which is most to blame, she who ceases to please, or he who ceases to be pleased ? *--His eyes are changed, or opened. But it may perhaps have been a matter almost of indifference to him, till you undertook its defence : then make it of consequence by rising in eagerness, in proportion to the insignificance of your object ; if he can draw consequences, this will be an excellent lesson: if you are so tender of blame in the veriest trifles, how unimpeachable must you be in matters of importance. As to personal habits, begin by denying that you have any; or in the paradoxical language of Rousseau t declare that the only habit you have is the habit of having none; as all personal habits, if they have been of any long standing, must have become involuntary, the unconscious culprit may assert her innocence without hazarding her veracity.
However, if you happen to be detected in the
+ Emilius and Sophia.
very fact, and a person cries, Now, now, you are doing it!” submit, but declare at the same moment“ That it is the very first time in your
whole life that
you were ever known to be guilty of it; and therefore it can be no habit, and of course nowise reprehensible.”
Extend the rage for vindication to all the objects which the most remotely concern you ; take even inanimate objects under your protection. Your dress, your furniture, your property, every thing which is or has been yours defend, and this
upon ciples of the soundest philosophy; each of these things all compose a part of your personal merit;* all that connected the most distantly with your idea gives pleasure or pain to others, becomes an object of blame or praise, and consequently claims your support or vindication.
In the course of the management of your house, children, family, and affairs, probably some few errors of omission or commission
husband's pervading eye; but these errors, admitting them to be errors, you will never, if you please, allow to be charged to any deficiency in memory, judgment, or activity, on your part.
There are surely people enough around you to divide and share the blame ; send it from one to another, till at last, by universal rejection, it is proved to belong to nobody. You will say, however, that facts remain unalterable ; and that in some unlucky instance, in the changes and chances of human affairs, you may be proved to have been to blame. Some stubborn evidence may appear against you ; still
* Vide Huine,
you may prove an alibi, or balance the evidence. There is nothing equal to balancing evidence ; doubt is, you know, the most philosophic state of the human mind, and it will be kind of you to keep your
husband perpetually in this sceptical state.
Indeed the short method of denying absolutely all blameable facts, I should recommend to pupils as the best; and if in the beginning of their career they may startle at this mode, let them depend upon it that in their future practice it must become perfectly familiar. The nice distinction of simulation and dissimulation depends but on the trick of a syllable ; palliation and extenuation are universally allowable in self-defence; prevarication inevitably follows, and falsehood “ is but in the next degree.”
Yet I would not destroy this nicety of conscience too soon. It may be of use in your first setting out, because you must establish credit; in proportion to your credit will be the value of
In the mean time, however, argument and debate are allowed to the most rigid moralist. You can never perjure yourself by swearing to a false opinion.
I come now to the art of reasoning : don't be alarmed at the name of reasoning, fair pupils ; I will explain to you my meaning.
If, instead of the fiery-tempered being I formerly described, you should fortunately be connected with