Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A father's letter to a daughter, against a frothy French lover

Dear Polly,

I cannot say I look upon Mr. La Bonnet in the same favourable light that you seem to do. His frothy behavior may divert well enough as an acquaintance, but is very unsuitable, I think, to the character of a husband, especially an American husband, which I take to be a graver character than a French one.

This kind of gay gentleman has a very capricious and frivolous disposition; he is likely to be found tapping away at his electronic device day and night, in public or in private, during polite conversation or during casual tête-à-têtes. He strives to avoid serious meditation on the classics, and in all general manner refuses the cultivation of the intellect; in other words, he prefers watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC to reading Horace, Quintillian, or Dryden. He knows nothing of the art of writing letters, but instead he scrawls out emails in which he uses the most hideous language, with expressions like “LOL,” or “OMG,” or “How’s it hanging?” or some equally monstrous French equivalent therof, which I shall not name here as being completely inappropriate for a lady’s hearing.

He dances well; writes very indifferently. He is an artist at cards; but cannot cast accompts: Understands all the laws of chance; but not one of the land; Is very gallant; but may not be over affectionate: And is so tender of himself, that he will have little time to indulge anybody else. 

And one last charge, which is perhaps graver than any other charge I can lay against Mr. La Bonnet, that he or his family may well be secret socialists.

These, child, are my sentiments of him. If my description of this creature gives you an incoherent impression of him, it is because he is most incoherent in his own personality, as he lacks the basic principles that would fasten the diverse aspects of his personality together into a unified whole. Send him away from your life bag and baggage. You are not wholly ignorant of the world: I desire to guide not to force, your inclinations; and hope your calm reason will banish all farther thoughts of this gentleman, who, however you may like him for a partner at a Backstreet Boys concert, seems not so well qualified for a journey through the various trials, from which no station can exempt the married state. I am
                                                                                              Your affectionate father,

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