“you men are better controlled by women whom you love

The letter Sarah Cary wrote to her son Sam in Grenada on November 11, 1791 contains lots of gossip about what is happening in their circle: engagements, marriages and the like. In it she says that she believed that women should marry for love when she was young, but now she thinks there is merit in careful consideration of other aspects of the relationship and concludes that it is more important for the man to love the woman than vice versa. Interesting, don’t you think?

Retreat, ChelseaMy Dear Boy,–My last letter to you was forwarded by the Maxwell, which I hope you got safe. I now sit down to acquaint you with everything passing here in our domestic circle that I think can in any way interest you. . . . Harriet has made a conquest of Mr. Rose. . . . The gentleman is fond of her to distraction, as the term is; but she, not fancying his person, will, I suspect, reject him, for which we old folks, papa in particular, think her a f—-[fool?]. My dear Marget, on her part, declares openly in favor of the sentiments of her dear Harriet, and thinks a young lady should not dispose of her person without her affections, and, on the whole, prefers love in a cottage with a man of her choice, to the wealth of the Indies with one she could never love. I confess these were also my sentiments once when a girl, but as we grow into years and learn to deliberate, we think differently. If Miss H. does not absolutely dislike, and has no partiality for any one else, we may reasonably conclude she will be tolerably happy with Mr. R. How many anxieties will she escape by uniting herself to a man who loves her, and whose love perhaps may increase by that steady serenity she will always possess, whether she gives pain or pleasure! Those wives who love the least, and at the same time conduct prudently, I have always thought, possessed more abundantly their husbands’ esteem; while other poor, simple souls, whose every motive is to give pleasure to the object on whom they dote, are often refused with coldness. In short, you men are better controlled by women whom you love than by those who love you.

Sarah Cary’s letter can be found in Caroline G. Curtis, The Cary Letters (Cambridge, Mass.: Riverside Press, 1891), pages 89-90 online HERE..

posted June 16th, 2014 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Marriage


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