The Modern Griselda, by Maria Edgeworth

Chapter 7.

“Each widow to her secret friend alone

Whisper’d; — thus treated, he had had his own.”

Mr. Bolingbroke waited with impatience for Griselda’s appearance the next morning; but he waited in vain: the lady breakfasted in her own apartment, and for two hours afterwards remained in close consultation with Mrs. Nettleby, whom she had summoned the preceding night by the following note:

“I have been prevented from spending this evening with you, my dearest Mrs. Nettleby, by the strangest conduct imaginable: am sure you will not believe it when I tell it to you. Come to me, I conjure you, as early to-morrow as you possibly can, that I may explain to you all that has passed, and consult as to the future. My dearest friend, I never was so much in want of an adviser. Ever yours,


At this consultation, Mrs. Nettleby expressed the utmost astonishment at Mr. Bolingbroke’s strange conduct, and assured Griselda, that if she did not exert herself, all was lost, and she must give up the hope of ever having her own way again as long as she lived.

“My dear,” said she, “I have had some experience in these things; a wife must be either a tyrant or a slave: make your choice; now is your time.”

“But I never knew him say or do any thing unkind before,” said Griselda.

“Then the first offence should be properly resented. If he finds you forgiving, he will become encroaching; ’tis the nature of man, depend upon it.”

“He always yielded to me till now,” said Griselda; “but even when I was ready to go into fits, he left me, and what could I do then?”

“You astonish me beyond expression! you who have every advantage — youth, wit, accomplishments, beauty! My dear, if you cannot keep a husband’s heart, who can ever hope to succeed?”

“Oh! as to his heart, I have no doubts of his heart, to do him justice,” said Griselda; “I know he loves me — passionately loves me.”

“And yet you cannot manage him! And you expect me to pity you? Bless me, if I had half your advantages, what I would make of them! But if you like to be a tame wife, my dear — if you are resolved upon it, tell me so at once, and I will hold my tongue.”

“I do not know well what I am resolved upon,” said Griselda, leaning her head in a melancholy posture upon her hand: “I am vexed, out of spirits, and out of sorts.”

“Out of sorts! I am not surprised at that: but out of spirits! My dear creature, you who have every thing to put you in spirits. I am never so much myself as when I have a quarrel to fight out.”

“I cannot say that is the case with me, unless where I am sure of the victory.”

“And it is your own fault if you are not always sure of it.”

“I thought so till last night; but I assure you last night he showed such a spirit!”

“Break that spirit, my dear, break it, or else it will break your heart.”

“The alternative is terrible,” said Griselda, “and more terrible perhaps than you could imagine, or I either till now: for would you believe it, I never loved him in my life half so well as I did last night in the midst of my anger, and when he was doing every thing to provoke me?”

“Very natural, my dear; because you saw him behave with spirit, and you love spirit; so does every woman; so does every body; show him that you have spirit too, and he will be as angry as you were, and love you as well in the midst of his anger, whilst you are doing every thing to provoke him.”

Griselda appeared determined to take this good advice one moment, and the next hesitated.

“But, my dear Mrs. Nettleby, did you always find this succeed yourself?”

“Yes, always.”

This lady had the reputation indeed of having broken the heart of her first husband; how she would manage her second was yet to be seen, as her honeymoon was but just over. The pure love of mischief was not her only motive in the advice which she gave to our heroine; she had, like most people, mixed motives for her conduct. She disliked Mr. Bolingbroke, because he disliked her; yet she wished that an acquaintance should be kept up between him and her husband, because Mr. Bolingbroke was a man of fortune and fashion.

Griselda promised that she would behave with that proper spirit, which was to make her at once amiable and victorious; and the friends parted.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54