Is Marriage A
Lottery? by T. S. Arthur
An Extract From
Married Life, Its Shadows and Sunshine
"I AM afraid to marry," said a young lady, half jesting and half in
earnest, replying to something a friend had said.
"Why so, Ella?" asked one of the company, who had thus far chosen
rather to listen than join in the conversation of half a dozen gay
young girls. She was a quiet, matronly-looking individual, some few
years past the prime of life.
"For fear of being unhappy, Mrs. Harding," replied the first
"What an idea!" exclaimed a gay damsel, laughing aloud at the
singular fear expressed by Ella. "For my part, I never expect to be
happy until I am married."
"If marriage should make you any happier than you are now,
Caroline, the result will be very fortunate. Your case will form an
exception to the rule."
"Oh, no, Ella, don't say that," spoke up the one who had replied to
her first remark. "Happiness is the rule, and unhappiness the
"Then it happens strangely enough," returned Ella, smiling, "that
we are more familiar with the exceptions than the rule."
"No, my dear, that cannot for a moment be admitted. Far more of
happiness than misery results from marriage."
"Look at Ellen Mallory," was answered promptly, "and Mrs. Cummings,
and half a dozen others I could name."
"The two you have mentioned are painful instances, I must admit,
and form the exceptions of which I spoke; but the result is by no
means one that should excite our surprise, for it is a natural
consequence flowing from an adequate cause. If you marry as unwisely
as did the persons you mention, I have no doubt but you will be quite
as wretched as they are—it may be more so."
"I am sure Mr. Mallory is an elegant-looking man," said one of the
company, "and might have had his pick among a dozen more attractive
girls than ever Ellen Martine was."
"All as thoughtless and undiscriminating as she," remarked Mrs.
"Ellen is no fool," returned the last speaker.
"In the most important act of her whole life, she has certainly not
shown herself to be a wise woman," said Mrs. Harding.
"But how in the world was she to know that Mr. Mallory was going to
turn out so badly?" spoke up Ella.
"By opening her eyes, and using the ability that God has given her
to see," was answered by Mrs. Harding.
"Those eyes are wondrous wise, I ween,
That see what is not to be seen,"
the maiden replied.
"Do you then really think, Ella," said Mrs. Harding, "that a young
lady cannot make herself as thoroughly acquainted with a man's real
qualities as to put any serious mistake in marriage entirely out of
"To me, I must confess that marriage seems very much like a
lottery," answered Ella. "We may get a prize, but there are ten
chances to one of our getting a blank."
"If you choose to make it a lottery, it will no doubt become so;
but if entered into from right motives, there is no danger of this
being the case."
"I don't know what you call right motives," said one; "but I'll
tell you a necessary pre-requisite in the man who is to make me a
"Well, child, what is it?"
"Plenty of money. I'm not going to be a poor man's wife, and work
myself to death, all for love—no, not I!"
"I'll have a handsome man for a husband, or none," remarked
"Give me splendid talents," said a third.
"And what must you have, Ella?" asked Mrs. Harding, turning to the
one she addressed.
"All three, if I can get them," replied Ella.
"Beauty, wealth, and talents. These you think would satisfy you?"
"Oh, yes; I should be rather hard to please if they did not."
"Let me relate to you the histories of two friends of mine who
married young," said Mrs. Harding, without remarking upon what had
just been declared. "Perhaps they may contain lessons that it will be
of use for you all to get by heart."
"Oh, yes, do!" said the young ladies, gathering around Mrs.
Harding, who, after a short pause, related what follows.
"In my younger days," began Mrs. Harding, "I had two intimate
friends, to whom I was warmly attached. I loved them for their many
good qualities, and particularly for their unselfishness. To make
others happy, always appeared to give them a double pleasure. They
were nearly of the same age, and possessed equal external advantages;
but their characters were very different. Sarah Corbin, who was a few
months older than her friend and almost constant companion, Harriet
Wieland, was quiet, thoughtful, and observant; while Harriet, who had
great personal attractions, never appeared to look beneath the
surface. She believed every thing to be true that bore the semblance
of truth, to her all that glittered was gold. Like you, and most other
young ladies, we sometimes talked of marriage, and the qualifications
desirable in a good husband. Harriet, whether in a gay or sober mood,
always declared, like Ella here, that he who won her heart must have
riches, manly beauty, and brilliant talents. These she called man's
cardinal virtues. Sarah never had much to say on these matters, and,
when we asked her opinion, she generally replied evasively.
"A young man named Eaverson, answering pretty nearly to the beau
ideal of Harriet Wieland, came from a neighbouring city to reside in
this. He was connected with a wealthy and highly respectable family,
was really a handsome man, and possessed very fine abilities. He had
studied law, and opened his office here for the purpose of pursuing
it as a regular profession; but, not meeting with much practice at
first, he occupied a large portion of his time in literary pursuits,
writing for the magazines and reviews. He also published a small
volume of poetry, which contained many really brilliant specimens of
"Circumstances threw Eaverson into the circle of which we formed a
part, and we were consequently introduced to him. In the course of
time, he began to pay rather marked attentions to Sarah Corbin, at
which I felt a little surprised, as he had met Harriet Wieland quite
as often, and she was far more beautiful and showy, and more likely,
it seemed to me, to attract one like him than the other. Either Sarah
was unconscious that his attentions were more marked in her case, or
she did not wish her observation of the fact to be known, for all our
allusions to the subject were evaded with a seeming indifference that
left our minds in doubt. Such were our impressions at first; but the
sequel showed that she had marked his first advances with lively
interest, and understood their meaning quite as well as we did.
"About Eaverson there was every thing to attract the heart of a
maiden not well guarded; and Sarah found that it required the fullest
exercise of her reason to prevent her from letting every affection of
her mind go out and attach itself to an object that seemed, at first
sight, so worthy of her love. But by nature and from education she was
thoughtful and observant; and a wise mother had taught her that in
marriage external accomplishments and possessions were nothing, unless
united with virtuous principles and well-regulated passions. The
brilliant attractions of Eaverson strongly tempted her to take his
moral fitness for granted; but wiser counsels prevailed in her mind;
and with a vigorous hand laid upon her heart to keep down its errant
impulses, she exercised, with coolness and a well-balanced mind, the
powers of discrimination which God had given for her guidance through
All the time that this process was going on in her mind, we
remained in ignorance of the fact that she ever thought of the young
man, except when he was present, or his name introduced by others. To
her, all that related to marriage was too serious to form the theme
of ordinary conversation, light jests, or idle chit-chat. Rarely
indeed would she have any thing to say, when others spoke lightly or
jested on the subject. This being the case, now that her own mind had
become deeply interested in a matter of most vital importance to her
future welfare, she had no one to disturb the even balance of her
reflections by a thoughtless word, an untimely jest, or a false
opinion flowing from inexperience or a want of ability to read human
nature aright. Silently, freely, and with no biassing influence, in
the unapproachable chambers of her own thoughts did she weigh the
real character of Eaverson, as far as she could understand it,
against what was merely external and personal. The more marked the
attentions of the young man became, the more earnestly did she seek
to comprehend his real character. Every word he uttered in her
presence, every sentiment he expressed, every action and every look
were closely scanned, and their meaning, as having reference to
principles in the mind, sought to be understood. Such careful
scrutiny did not go unrewarded. When Eaverson, soon after her mind
was made up in regard to him, made an offer of his hand, the offer
was unhesitatingly declined. Sarah had seen enough to satisfy her,
that with all his talents, beauty, and wealth, he was wanting in
virtuous principles and a high sense of honour.
"I confess, that, with others, I was greatly surprised when the
fact of Sarah's having declined the hand of Eaverson became known. The
selection of her by one like him seemed so high a preference, and
such a marked tribute to her worth and virtue, that it was scarcely
credible that she could have remained indifferent to his love. But
she saw deeper than we did."
"'I cannot understand the reason of your refusal to accept Mr.
Eaverson's offer?' I said to Sarah, one day, when the conversation
took a turn that gave me an opportunity of alluding to the subject.
'Do you know any thing against him?'
"'Nothing further than the conclusions of my own mind, arising from
a careful observation of his sentiments, manners, and unguarded
expressions,' she replied.
"'Was it from such conclusions that you declined his offer?'
"'From these alone, for I know nothing of his history before he
came to this city, and nothing of his life since he has been here.'
"'May you not possibly be mistaken?'
"'No. From the moment he seemed in the least pleased with me, I
commenced observing him closely. It was not long before I heard him
utter a sentiment, while speaking to another, that showed him to
possess very false views of life in at least one particular. This I
noted, and laid it by in my memory for comparison with any thing else
I might see or hear.'
"'But you would not condemn a man for having erroneous views of
life?' said I.
"'Oh, no; not if his principles be pure. But if false views arise
from a perverted heart, then I would condemn the man. What I heard, I
noticed in order to determine, if possible, from what source it came.
A very long time did not pass, before I saw something that told me
very plainly that the false view which I have mentioned depended more
upon a perversion of the heart than an error in the understanding. I
likewise discovered, very soon, that when in conversation with me, he
was, evidently, more upon his guard, as to what sentiments he
declared, than he was when in conversation with others. But I need not
state particularly the whole process by which I arrived at conclusions
sufficiently clear to warrant my full and prompt rejection of his
"'In what estimation do you hold him?' I asked.
"'As a man without honour or virtue,' she said, decidedly.
"'That is a broad and severe judgment,' I replied.
"'So it is. I have made it for myself. Of course, I cannot expect
others to view him in the same light; nor do I believe many others
would form this conclusion from the evidences that were presented to
my mind. But, as for me, I have no doubt on the subject. Rather than
become his wife, I would suffer death; for a union with him would be,
to me, the depth of misery.'
"The seriousness with which Sarah spoke satisfied me that she
believed all she said, and had, at some cost of feeling, rejected an
offer of marriage that would have been an exceedingly desirable one,
had the character of the man who made it been fully approved.
"A short time after the rejection of his suit by Miss Corbin, I
noticed that Eaverson appeared more inclined to keep company with
Harriet Wieland than before. I could not help feeling regret at this,
for, notwithstanding I thought Sarah had judged the young man rather
severely, I was yet satisfied that there must be some ground for her
conclusions in regard to his character. Slight attentions, encouraged
by Harriet, soon became the bold advances of a lover. A few months
after his suit had been declined by Sarah, he offered himself to her
friend, and was unhesitatingly accepted.
"In the mean time, a young man, whom I will call Williamson, had
met Sarah occasionally, and showed a disposition to win, if possible,
her favourable regard. His exterior was by no means elegant; his
literary attainments were not great; nor was he in the enjoyment of
any thing beyond a moderate income. Place him and Eaverson in almost
any company, and the latter would nearly hide him from view. But,
with the most moderate pretensions, and unattractive exterior,
Williamson's character was formed upon a ground-work of good sense
and virtuous principles. He had little facility of expression, but he
thought clearly, and, in most things, acted from a sound judgment. He
was much pleased with Sarah before Eaverson attempted to gain her
affections; and noticed his advances. For the result he looked with
some interest. When it became clearly apparent that she had thrown him
off, Williamson was satisfied that she was a girl of discrimination
and sound sense, and immediately resolved that he would know her
better. The oftener he met her, and the nearer he observed her, the
more excellent did her character seem in his eyes. The result was an
offer of marriage, which was accepted by Sarah, as much to our
surprise as was her rejection of Eaverson.
"My two young friends were married about the same time. The wedding
of Harriet was a brilliant one, and she was the envy of dozens of
young girls who had hoped and tried to make a conquest of the man who
had chosen to unite his fortunes with hers. Sarah's nuptials were
celebrated in a less imposing manner, and created but little
sensation. Most of her friends thought she had done but poorly.
Whether this were so, will be seen in the sequel.
"Harriet, with all her want of reflection and in-sight into
character, was a young woman of strong feelings, and loved, when she
did love, with something like blind idolatry. Thus she loved her
husband. He was every thing to her, and she believed him as near
perfection as a mortal could well be. The first few months of her
married life passed swiftly away in the enjoyment of as high a degree
of felicity as her mind seemed capable of appreciating. After that, a
shadow fell upon her spirit—dim and almost imperceptible at first,
but gradually becoming denser and more palpable. Harriet had noticed,
from the first, that her husband but rarely spoke of his family, and
always evaded any questions that a natural curiosity prompted her to
make. If he received any letter from home, he carefully concealed the
fact from her. The wealth, respectability, and high standing of his
family made Harriet, as a matter of course, feel desirous of bearing a
more intimate relation to its members than she now did. The more she
thought about this, the less satisfied did she feel. It was the marked
dislike manifested by her husband to any reference to his family, that
first caused a coldness to pass over the heart of the young wife, and
a shadow to dim the bright sunshine of her spirits; for it induced the
thought that something might be wrong. Once give such a thought birth,
and let mystery and doubt continue to harass the mind, and peace is
gone for ever. A thousand vague suspicions will enter, and words,
looks, and actions will have a signification never apparent before.
"Thus it was with my young friend, ere six months had passed since
her wedding-day. To increase her anxious doubts, her husband seemed
to grow cold towards her. This might all be imagination, but the
idea, once in possession of her mind, found numberless sustaining
evidences. He went out more frequently in the evening and stayed out
later than at first. Sometimes he would sit silent and abstracted,
and only reply in monosyllables to her questions or remarks.
"One day he came home to dinner, looking graver than usual. But,
during the meal, there was an evident desire on his part to appear
cheerful and unconcerned; he talked more freely than usual, and even
made many light and jesting remarks. But the veil assumed was too
thin. Harriet's eyes saw through it, and rested only upon the sombre
reality beneath. As they were rising from the table, he said,
"'Harriet, dear! I must run on to New York this afternoon, on
business. The interest of a client in a large estate there requires
my immediate presence in that city.'
"Eaverson did not look his wife steadily in the face as he said
this although he plainly tried to do so. But this she did not remark
at the time. Her mind only rested upon the fact of his going away.
"'How long will you be gone?' she asked in a choking voice.
"'I will try and be back to-morrow. If not, you will at least see
me home on the day after.'
"'Why can't I—'
"She paused—her eyes fell to the floor, and the colour deepened on
"'Go with you?'
"It was in New York that the family of Eaverson resided.
"'Not now,' he quickly answered. 'I am compelled to go in too much
hurry; but the next time business takes me there you shall accompany
"Nothing could be more unsatisfactory than this. Was she not to be
introduced to his family, as his wife, formally? Was she only to go
to the city of their residence at some future time, when business
called her husband there? The thought caused a chill to pass through
her frame. She made no reply. But the paleness that overspread her
face, and the sadness that fell upon her countenance, revealed to her
husband, too plainly, her state of mind. He said nothing, however, to
dispel the gloom she felt. Words, he no doubt felt, would be
"The young wife parted with her husband it tears, and then retired
to her chamber, where she gave way to a paroxysm of grief, that had
its origin more in the accompanying mystery than in the fact of her
husband's absence. I say mystery, for she did not fully credit the
reason he had given for his hurried visit to New York, and felt that
there was a mystery connected with it, that, somehow or other, deeply
affected her happiness.
"After the mind of Harriet had grown calmer, she commenced
restoring to order the few articles in her chamber that had been
disarranged in the hurried preparation made by her husband for his
departure. As she was about placing the coat he had worn in the
morning, and which he had changed for another on going away, in the
wardrobe, her hand pressed against a letter in one of the pockets,
which a sudden curiosity tempted her to read. The direction was in a
small, delicate hand, and the post-mark New York. Hurriedly opening
it, when she saw this, she read its brief contents, which were as
"DEAR HENRY—I heard, indirectly, within the last hour, that you
were married. I cannot believe it, yet the thought has maddened me!
If you do not come to me by to-morrow night, I will go to you on the
following day—for the truth or falsity of what I have heard must be
verified to me at once. If it be true—God help the innocent heart
you have betrayed, and most cruelly wronged. It can only break!
"The trembling hands of the horror-stricken wife could hold the
fatal epistle no longer than to permit her eyes to rest upon the
signature. It then fell rustling to the floor, and she sat pale,
quivering in every nerve, and unconscious of any thing but a wild
whirling of all her senses.
"It was my fortune, or misfortune, to call upon my young friend
just at this time. I was told that she was in her chamber; and, as our
intimacy was very great, I took a liberty we were in the habit of
taking with each other, and went up to her, unannounced. My gentle tap
at her door not being answered, I opened it and went in. As I have
just described her, thus I found her. My entrance but partially
restored her self-command. She stared wildly at me, stretched out her
hands, and made an effort to speak. I sprang toward her, and she fell
forward against my bosom, with a deep groan that made me shudder. Thus
she lay for nearly five minutes as still as a statue. Then a slight
quiver ran through her frame, which was followed by a gush of tears.
For a long time she continued weeping and sobbing, but at length grew
calmer. All this time I could see an open letter lying upon the floor,
which I doubted not was the caused of this distressing scene. When the
self-command of Harriet was at last restored, and she began to reflect
upon the consequences likely to flow from another's witnessing the
wild agitation she had displayed, a shade of anxious confusion passed
over her face. At this moment her eye rested upon the fatal letter,
which she caught up eagerly and concealed. I asked no question, nor
made any remarks. She looked at me steadily for a moment, and then let
her eyes fall thoughtfully to the floor.
"'You are surprised and confounded, no doubt,' she at length said,
mournfully, 'at what you have seen. Pardon me if I refrain from
mentioning the cause. It is one of which I cannot speak.'
"I begged her not to reveal the cause of her affliction, if to do
so were at all in violation of what she deemed right; but to accept my
deepest sympathies, and to put it in my power, if that were possible,
to mitigate, in some degree, the pain of mind she was suffering.
"'That you cannot do,' said she. 'It is beyond the reach of human
"'May Heaven, then, give you strength to bear it,' I returned, with
"'Heaven only can,' she replied in a subdued voice.
"I could say no more, for my ignorance of the cause of her distress
put it out of my power to offer consolation, more particularly as it
was her expressed wish that I should remain in ignorance. I staid an
hour with her, during which time I learned that her husband had been
suddenly called to New York on business. It was one of the unhappiest
hours I ever spent in my life. On going away, I could not help
recalling the conversation I had once held with Sarah Corbin about Mr.
Eaverson, nor help feeling that there might be too much truth in her
declarations that she believed him to be a man without honour or
virtue. There was no doubt in my mind that Harriet's distress was in
some way connected with her husband's absence, and it occurred to me
that the letter I had seen upon the floor, and which she concealed so
eagerly, might not have been intended for her eyes, and might contain
things which for her to know would be fatal to her peace through life.
In this, my conjectures were of course true.
"I called in to see Mrs. Eaverson on the next day, reluctantly, but
from a sense of duty. I found her calm, but pale, and with a look of
distress. She said but little. No allusion whatever was made to the
condition in which I had found her on the previous afternoon. I sat
only half an hour, and then went away. I could not stay longer, for
my presence seemed oppressive to her, and hers was equally so to me.
"On the third day succeeding that on which Mr. Eaverson went to New
York, I saw a newspaper paragraph headed, 'Melancholy Circumstances.'
It related, briefly, that the daughter of respectable and wealthy
parents in New York had been deeply wronged about a year previous by
an unprincipled cousin, whom she passionately loved. The consequence
was, that the young man had to leave the city, under the promise of
never returning to it, unless he consented to marry his cousin. This
penalty was imposed by the father of the girl, who declared his
intention to shoot him if he ever saw him in New York. The result of
this baseness on the part of the young man was the utter estrangement
of his family. They threw him off entirely. But, as he had a handsome
fortune in his own right, and the cause of his removal from New York
did not become generally known, he soon found his way into the best
society in a neighbouring city. Some months afterwards he married a
lovely girl, who was all unconscious of the base retch into whose
keeping she had given the inestimable jewel of her love. A few days
since, the narration proceeded, the cousin, by some means or other,
obtained a knowledge of this fact. She wrote to him demanding an
interview, and threatening that if she did not obtain one in
twenty-four hours, she would immediately come to him and ascertain for
herself, if what she had heard were true. Alarmed for the peace of his
bride, the young man hurried on to New York, and, at the risk of his
life, gained an interview with the lovely girl he had so deeply
injured. He did not attempt to conceal the fact of his marriage, but
only urged the almost broken-hearted victim of his base dishonour not
to do any- thing that could bring to his wife a knowledge of his
conduct, as it must for ever destroy her peace. This confession
blasted at once and for ever all the poor girl's hopes. She gave her
betrayer one long, fixed, intense look of blended agony, reproach, and
shame, and then, without uttering a word, retired slowly from his
presence. She sought her mother, who, from the first, had rather drawn
her into her very bosom than thrown her off harshly, and related what
she had just heard. She shed no tear, she uttered no reproach, but
simply told what her mother had known for months too well. That night
her spirit left its earthly habitation. Whether she died of a broken
heart, or by her own hands, is not known. The family sought not to
investigate the cause,—to them it was enough to know that she was
dead and at peace.
"Whether this statement ever met the eye of Mrs. Eaverson is more
than I can tell. I did not venture to call upon her after I had seen
it. A few weeks subsequently I met her in the street on the arm of
her husband. She was sadly changed, and had the appearance of one
just recovering from a long and severe illness. Eaverson himself had
a look of suffering.
"The notoriety given by the publication of the acts of his base
conduct in New York caused Eaverson to feel little at ease in this
city. Some months afterwards he removed to the South with his wife,
much against the wishes of her friends. Harriet did not want to go,
but she could do no less than accompany her husband.
"Some three years afterwards, it was whispered about that Harriet
had left her husband and returned home to her father; but that the
matter was kept very quiet, and that she had not been seen by any of
her old friends. It was said, that after living some time at the
South, Mr. Eaverson grew indifferent towards his wife. A virtuous
woman, she could not but be deeply shocked on discovering her
husband's want of virtue. This she could not conceal; and its
appearance was a standing reproof and condemnation of his principles
and conduct. No bad man could endure this. Its effect would be
certain estrangement. From dislike towards his wife, his feelings
gradually deepened into hatred. Open abuse soon followed neglect;
when she fled from him, with two young children, and sought the
protection of her father's house.
"It was nearly a year after Harriet's return, before I saw her. I
could hardly believe, when I did meet her and grasp her hand, that
the pale, dejected, care-worn being who stood before me was the same
with the light-hearted, beautiful, gay young girl I had known but a
few years back. Alas! how surely does pain of mind forestall the work
"A few days after this meeting, which made me sad for weeks, I
spent an afternoon and evening with Mrs. Williamson, formerly Sarah
Corbin. She had two children, a boy and a girl, and was living
somewhat secluded, but with every comfort she could desire. Her
husband was a merchant in a good business. When he came home at
tea-time and met his wife, it was with one of those quiet but genuine
smiles that you know come from the heart. He welcomed me, as he always
did, with great cordiality; and then calling for Sarah, his eldest
child, who ran in from the next room the instant she heard his vice,
he took her upon his lap, and, after kissing her with great
tenderness, asked and answered a dozen little questions to her great
delight. At tea-time Mr. Williamson conversed more freely than was
usual with him when I was present. I noticed, as I had often done
before, that, on whatever subject he spoke, his remarks, though few,
were full of good sense, and indicative of close observation. The
slightest deviation from honour or integrity met with his decided
condemnation, while virtuous actions were as warmly approved. I could
perceive, from the expression of his wife's face, and the tones of her
voice when she spoke, that she not only held her husband in high
estimation, but loved him with a tenderness that had grown with years.
Qualities of mind and heart, not external attractions, such as
brilliant accomplishments, beauty, or wealth, had drawn her towards
him at first: these had won her young affections, and they had become
purer and brighter, and increased in attractive power as year after
year went by.
"On going home that evening, I could not help pausing and looking
back. Vividly, as it were but yesterday, came up before my mind my
two young friends when, as maidens, their hands were sought in
wedlock. I remembered how one, with true wisdom, looked below the
imposing exterior and sought for moral worth as the basis of
character in him who asked her hand; while the other, looking no
deeper than the surface, was dazzled by beauty, wealth, and talents.
The result you all have seen."
Mrs. Harding paused in the narrative. Half a dozen eager voices
instantly inquired the ultimate fate of Mrs. Eaverson. "A few years
after her return home," resumed the narrator, "she died. Her husband
during that period neither wrote to her nor visited her. What has
become of him I don't know. Mrs. Williamson is still living,
surrounded by a lovely family of children. Her oldest daughter has
just been married, and, to all present appearances, has united her
fate with one every way worthy of her hand. Mr. Williamson, or rather
Mr. Rierdon, as I should truly have called him, you all know."
"Mr. Rierdon!" exclaimed Ella. "It can't be possible you mean him?"
"Not old Mr. Rierdon!" exclaimed another. "Why he is respected and
loved by every one!"
"I know he is," returned Mrs. Harding, "and well deserves to be.
Yet, when a young man, he had nothing very imposing about him, and
was thought of but little account by a set of young and foolish
girls, just such as you are, whose heads were liable to be turned by
any dashing young fellow with more impudence than brains, or more
talent than principle, who happened to thrust himself forward and
push better men aside. I hope the lesson I have endeavoured to teach
you may not be lost entirely; and that when any one of you has an
offer of marriage, she will look rather at the heart than the
head—at the qualities instead of the accomplishments—of him who
makes it. If she does not, she will be in great danger of committing
the sad mistake made by my excellent but thoughtless young friend,
Harriet Wieland, of whom I never can think without pain."
Whether the narrative of Mrs. Harding had any good effect upon her
hearers, we do not know; but we would fain believe that it had; and
we hope our fair young readers will not forget the important lesson
it teaches. Let them be well assured that marriage is no lottery,
except where it is made so. Every one who will look at the moral
qualities of the object of her regard, instead of at what is merely
external, will see deep enough to enable her to come to a right
decision in regard to him. There is no necessity for mistakes in