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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

On Women and Matrimony

By George Washington (1732–1799)

[Letter to Lund Washington.—Rocky Hill, 20 September, 1783.]

DEAR LUND: Mrs. Custis has never suggested in any of her letters to Mrs. Washington (unless ardent wishes for her return, that she might then disclose it to her, can be so construed) the most distant attachment to D. S.; but, if this should be the case, and she wants advice upon it, a father and mother, who are at hand and competent to give it, are at the same time the most proper to be consulted on so interesting an event. For my own part, I never did, nor do I believe I ever shall, give advice to a woman, who is setting out on a matrimonial voyage; first, because I never could advise one to marry without her own consent; and, secondly, because I know it is to no purpose to advise her to refrain, when she has obtained it. A woman very rarely asks an opinion or requires advice on such an occasion, till her resolution is formed; and then it is with the hope and expectation of obtaining a sanction, not that she means to be governed by your disapprobation, that she applies. In a word, the plain English of the application may be summed up in these words; “I wish you to think as I do; but, if unhappily you differ from me in opinion, my heart, I must confess, is fixed, and I have gone too far now to retract.”

If Mrs. Custis should ever suggest anything of this kind to me, I will give her my opinion of the measure, not of the man, with candor, and to the following effect. “I never expected you would spend the residue of your days in widowhood; but in a matter so important, and so interesting to yourself, children, and connections, I wish you would make a prudent choice. To do which, many considerations are necessary; such as the family and connections of the man, his fortune (which is not the most essential in my eye), the line of conduct he has observed, and the disposition and frame of his mind. You should consider what prospect there is of his proving kind and affectionate to you; just, generous, and attentive to your children; and how far his connections will be agreeable to you; for when they are once formed, agreeable or not, the die being cast, your fate is fixed.” Thus far, and no farther, I shall go in my opinions. I am, dear Lund, etc.