Know you not that a Rakish Disposition cannot be budged by rational argument or appeal to a Higher Authority?
Prior to writing my books, I made a name for myself as a reputable advice giver for everyday difficulties and anxieties, thus becoming a master in the epistolary arts. I have received thousands of letters from all kinds of people asking for my advice upon matters of the heart. One common yet highly perilous situation with which I am often presented concerns matters relating to libertines and rakes, or those creatures who take liberties with a woman's character. Therefore, it may not be amiss, in the following scribble, to relate this kind of a letter for the benefit of my gentle readers who may find themselves in a similar pickle.
"I just turned nineteen years of age," so runs a typical letter. "I live on an estate in Derbyshire. I play the harpsichord and the chamber-organ, compose odes, and ride my horses. Last month I went to a ball at my sister's estate in South Yorkshire where I met Mr.Adams who favored me with two dances. A happy flow of conversation ultimately prevailed between us. Indeed his powers of conversation were considerable. Within a few days of the ball, Adams has gained greatly on my affections. The trouble, however, is that my family and my friends claim that Adams has an inferior reputation. The principle thing objected to Adams is that he is immoral in his loves, that is, he is a creature who is known as a libertine. They claim that he has ruined many of the fair sex.
"Oh! Mr.Richardson, please advise me. When I confronted him with these charges, he made solemn vows of reformation, and everlasting truth and obligingness, all in the style of extreme humility. Indeed I believe that no man is beyond reformation, even the most despicable wretch, which Mr. Adams is certainly not. What do you think, Mr Richardson? Does a reformed rake make the best husband?"
So very common is this kind of a pickle, and so great are the dangers of falling into company of such rakes, that I become vapourish when I contemplate the lives of so many women who have been ruined when following this dangerous notion, namely, that a reformed rake makes the best husband.
I must, therefore, condemn this notion in the strongest possible degree. For if the most shining example of her sex, Miss Clarissa, could not reform the libertine Lovelace into a virtuous husband, what chance do other women, of less exalted merit than Clarissa, have in similar endeavors? The world has more Lovelaces and Adamses than you may realize, ladies. Furthermore, even if you could make some changes to his character, would you not still have to put up with his vile friends, or do you intent to reform their natures as well? And what, pray tell, do you intend to do when the women he has ruined in the past all come out and make attempts to slander your own reputation, in order that they may fleece a fine sum of money from their former lover and thereby have vengeance on him? Foolish creature! Know you not that a rakish disposition cannot be budged either by rational argument or appeal to a higher Authority?
Therefore, ladies, be content with lackluster husbands. For my part, however, I must apologize because I am personally, so to speak, off the market.