BOOK XI. CONTAINING ABOUT THREE DAYS.
7. Chapter vii. In which Mrs Fitzpatrick concludes her history.
In which Mrs Fitzpatrick concludes her history.
While Mrs Honour, in pursuance of the commands of her mistress,
ordered a bowl of punch, and invited my landlord and landlady to
partake of it, Mrs Fitzpatrick thus went on with her relation.
"Most of the officers who were quartered at a town in our
neighbourhood were of my husband's acquaintance. Among these there was
a lieutenant, a very pretty sort of man, and who was married to a
woman, so agreeable both in her temper and conversation, that from our
first knowing each other, which was soon after my lying-in, we were
almost inseparable companions; for I had the good fortune to make
myself equally agreeable to her.
"The lieutenant, who was neither a sot nor a sportsman, was frequently
of our parties; indeed he was very little with my husband, and no more
than good breeding constrained him to be, as he lived almost
constantly at our house. My husband often expressed much
dissatisfaction at the lieutenant's preferring my company to his; he
was very angry with me on that account, and gave me many a hearty
curse for drawing away his companions; saying, `I ought to be d--n'd
for having spoiled one of the prettiest fellows in the world, by
making a milksop of him.'
"You will be mistaken, my dear Sophia, if you imagine that the anger
of my husband arose from my depriving him of a companion; for the
lieutenant was not a person with whose society a fool could be
pleased; and, if I should admit the possibility of this, so little
right had my husband to place the loss of his companion to me, that I
am convinced it was my conversation alone which induced him ever to
come to the house. No, child, it was envy, the worst and most
rancorous kind of envy, the envy of superiority of understanding. The
wretch could not bear to see my conversation preferred to his, by a
man of whom he could not entertain the least jealousy. O my dear
Sophy, you are a woman of sense; if you marry a man, as is most
probable you will, of less capacity than yourself, make frequent
trials of his temper before marriage, and see whether he can bear to
submit to such a superiority.--Promise me, Sophy, you will take this
advice; for you will hereafter find its importance." "It is very
likely I shall never marry at all," answered Sophia; "I think, at
least, I shall never marry a man in whose understanding I see any
defects before marriage; and I promise you I would rather give up my
own than see any such afterwards." "Give up your understanding!"
replied Mrs Fitzpatrick; "oh, fie, child! I will not believe so meanly
of you. Everything else I might myself be brought to give up; but
never this. Nature would not have allotted this superiority to the
wife in so many instances, if she had intended we should all of us
have surrendered it to the husband. This, indeed, men of sense never
expect of us; of which the lieutenant I have just mentioned was one
notable example; for though he had a very good understanding, he
always acknowledged (as was really true) that his wife had a better.
And this, perhaps, was one reason of the hatred my tyrant bore her.