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Letter to a Dissenting Minister s Wife [ The foJlowing Letter has been communicated to us as no unsuitable companion to the " Letter to a Young Dissenting Minister / ' Vol . VI . ( 181 n , p . 471 . Kd . ]
t ^^ i " L' ' - ^ m ^^^^ m ^ m ^ m THOUG H I have followed you in idea , my dearest daughter , almost from hour to hour since you left us , amidst the various scenes through which I pleased myself with supposing you to be passing , 1 have not thought it necessary , or even seasonable , to
trouble you with either my good wishes or mv advice ; because I was sure you would give ray affection full credit for the former ; and because I had no doubt of your conducting yourself , through the various circumstances attendant on vour change of character ,
with that modest nnd unaffected propriety , which would render the latter quite unnecessary , had I been qualified to offer it in this stage of your proceedings . But now that the
ceremonials attending your first introduction are over , and you are beginning to think of settling upon a plain domestic plan , will you allow me to pour forth some of the overflowings of a father ' s heart , which has often , of
late , engaged the head to meditate on your future duties and prospects ? On the qualities which a man of sense will most regard in the choice of a wife , you have read the judicious remarks of Dr . Aikin , * on the general duties of a wife you have availed yourself of the advice of Mr . Gisborne ,
and you have perused the strong and often coarse , though too often wellfounded , strictures of Mrs . Wollstonecraft . I need not , therefore , say any thing to you oil the general rights and obligations of husband and wife : you are neither of you , I trust , disposed
to be jealous of each other ' s rights , or grudging in the discharge of mutual obligations . You will not be disposed to exclaim with Mrs . Wollstonecrufr , " Is a wife to be an upper servant , to provide her husband ' s meals and take care of his lineu ? " No : not as an
upper servant j but as a companion and helper , to make his home comfortable and his meals pleasant , when he returns from acting the part of a fellow-servant , in the discharge of * Letters to a Son . Vol . I .
those public or more private duties , by which he is to make the necessary provision for the common mainteliance . But to have done with generals : it was my object to point out some of
those particular duties which may be required from the wife of a minister , connected with such a congregation as that at . Such a person may render herself a help-meet for her husband in various respects .
In order to form a full idea of-all the ways in which she may be so , it is necessary that she carefully consider the nature of his profession , and the ends of it . No less than the religious and moral improvement of all his hearers , in order to their usefulness here , and their happiness hereafter .
To answer such important purposes he is not to be a mere lecturer , to make his weekly appearance before them with a set discourse ; he is to be , their teacher , their exemplar , their friend and counsellor ; the mediator between his richer and poorer hearers , the director of the charities of the
former , and the consoler of the latter in distress ; the institutor and manager of useful plans for religious education of the young , and the religious information of persons of all ages ; in short , the promoter of religious truth and practice , both by precept and example .
In most of these respects he may be materially assisted by his wife : in many she may , with great advantage , be his proxy . If she be not fitted or disposed to
help him in any of them , he is greatly to be pitied , and , perhaps , even in some degree to be blamed : it is , at least , a sign that he has made a very injudicious choice . The conduct of a minister ' s wife may often benefit or
mislead his nock , almost as much as his own . I have somewhere read , that in the Protestant churches of Hungary , a minister has been degraded " whose wife has indulged herself in amusements which bespeak the gaiety of a mere lover of the world , rather than the gravity of a Christian matron : "
a severity said to be grounded on the supposition , '•* that a wife having promised obedience to her husband , can do nothing but what he either directs or approves . " It might have been grounded on the apostolic precept , that the deaconesses " must be grave ,
£ , etter to a Dissenting Minister ' s Wife . 5 Q ;
vol . xn . 4 u
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Oct. 2, 1817, page 597, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2469/page/25/