A continuing series by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove
My husband said this to me at breakfast today. Gentle reader, is there a worse piece of advice? For, bless me, men do not think, do they?
My father is a civilized creature: refined, well-mannered, and fond of the drawing-room. Too late I learned that most gentlemen are not this way!
Are you in the market for a husband? Perhaps what I have learned about men will be of use.
When outdoors, men are surprisingly destructive. They mess about with guns, or in boats, or on horseback. Is there a pond? The men will throw rocks in it. Do you wish to stroll along a quiet country lane? The men will whack at this or that with sticks. Or attempt bird calls. Or low at cattle in the pasture, or be on the lookout for partridges—which they will later attempt to shoot! Honestly, can they never leave anything be?
They are also untidy. The dirt a man brings in, my word! And they are oblivious to the damage they cause their clothes. It is most unfair. For they are not the ones to slave over repairs to rips or missing buttons! Fortunately, my sister Anne visits often and is handy with a needle.
Men care too much about conquering this or that. It’s all about becoming the fastest rider, or the best shot, or the most intrepid driver. They are competitive about everything, even courtship! I was the prettiest, most accomplished, most gently-bred girl in our district and let me tell you, I was much admired. Quite naturally, Charles Musgrove was wild to marry me. But it was all about the conquest. Now that I am his wife, he’d rather shoot birds.
Men are willfully dense as well. In our village, I have a position to maintain. It looks poorly for the wife of the future squire to wear the same dreary hat to church week after week. Especially when someone like Mrs Poole, who is much beneath us, so often has a new one! When I attempt to explain this—in detail, mind you—my husband adopts a bovine stare. Then he shrugs. “I wear the same hat,” he says, as if this answers everything. “Why can’t you?”
To men, a purchase is only about money spent. But I say, what about advantage gained? “Clothing makes the man” is my father’s motto, and believe you me, clothing also makes the woman! For example, we smile to see Miss Elizabeth Bennet win the heart of Mr Darcy. But would she have caught his eye if her mother hadn’t been vigilant about dressing her fashionably? Mrs Bennet is often criticized, but I applaud her efforts. Looking one’s best is always a good investment!
Men shrug off contrary opinions. Mrs Poole’s physician, for instance, advised convalescence in a southern clime. But would her husband listen? It’s nothing to me if Mrs Poole loses her precious health, for she is both pert and presumptuous. But if her dolt of a husband had followed that doctor’s advice, other men in Uppercross might have done the same for their wives. After all, a summer at the seaside would do anybody a world of good—most especially me!
Men’s reasoning is often illogical. Yes, it is! I’ll illustrate with a most obvious example. Men place an inordinate amount of attention on a woman’s shapely figure. And yet, these same husbands are also keen on…shall we say…procreation. Do they not understand that producing a dozen children in as many years quite ruins their wife’s waistline? I ask you!
And men say that we women are fools…
I trust my insights will aid you in not thinking like a man.
Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross
Have you discovered Mercy’s Embrace?
Romance, adventure, and Admiral Patrick McGillvary are waiting …
Mary’s “portrait” is Afternoon Stroll by Giovanni Boldini