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THE postman's knocks at my door have
been latterly more frequent than usual; and
out of the increased number of letters left
for me, it has happened that an unusually
large proportion have contained wedding
cards. Just as there seem to be certain days
when all the beautiful women in London
take to going out together, certain days when
all the people we know appear to be
conspiring to meet us at every turn in one
afternoon's walkso there seem to be times and
seasons when all our friends are inexplicably
bent on getting married together. Capricious
in everything, the law of chances is especially
whimsical, according to my experience, in its
influence over the solemnisation of matrimony.
Six months ago, there was no need for me to
leave a single complimentary card anywhere,
for weeks and weeks together. Just at the
present time, I find myself perpetually wasting
my money in cab-hire, and wearing out my
card-case by incessant use. My friends are
marrying recklessly in all sorts of opposite
directions, and are making the bells a greater
nuisance than usual in every parish of

These curious circumstances have set me
thinking on the subject of marriage, and
have recalled to my mind certain reflections
in connection with that important change in
life, which I first made when I was not quite
such an incurably-settled old bachelor as I
am at the present moment. It occurred to
me, at that past time, and it occurs to me
still, that, while great stress is laid in
ordinary books and ordinary talk on the personal
interest which a man has himself, and on the
family interest which his near relations have
also, in his marrying an affectionate and
sensible woman, sufficient importance has not
been attached to the interest of another sort,
which the tried and worthy friends of his
bachelor days ought to feel, and, for the most
part, do feel, in his getting a good wife. It
really and truly depends upon her, in more
cases than I should like to enumerate,
whether her husband's friendships are to be
continued, after his marriage, in all their
integrity, or are only to be maintained as a
mere social form. It is hardly necessary for
me to repeatbut I will do so, in order to
avoid the slightest chance of misconstruction
that I am here speaking only of the
worthiest, the truest, the longest-tried friends of
a man's bachelor days. Towards these every
sensible married woman feels, as I believe,
that she owes a duty for her husband's sake.
But, unfortunately, there are such female
phenomena in the world as fond wives and devoted
mothers, who are anything rather than sensible
women the moment they are required to
step out of the sphere of their conjugal and
maternal instincts. Women of this sort have
an unreasonable jealousy of their husbands in
small things; and on the misuse of their
influence to serve the interests of that
jealousy, lies but too often the responsibility of
severing such friendships as no man can hope
to form for the second time in the course of
his life. By the severing of friendships, I do
not mean the breaking off of all intercourse,
but the fatal changing of the terms on which
a man lives with his friendthe casting of
the first slight shadow which alters the look
of the whole prospect. It is astonishing by
what a multitude of slight threads the firm
continuity of brotherly regard is maintained.
Many a woman has snapped asunder all the
finer ligaments which once connected her
husband and his friend; and has thought it
enough if she left the two still attached by
the coarser ties which are at the common
disposal of all the world. Many a woman
delicate, affectionate, and kind within her
own narrow limitshas committed that
heavy social offence, and has never felt
afterwards a single pang of pity or remorse.

These bold words will be unpopular enough,
I am afraid, with certain readers; but I am
an old bachelor, and I must have licence to
speak the crabbed truth. I respect and
admire a good husband and father, but I cannot
shake off the equally sincere reverence that
I feel for a good friend; and I must be
allowed to tell some married ladieswhat
Society ought to tell them a little oftener
that there are other affections, in this world,
which are noble and honourable,  besides
those of conjugal and parental origin. It
may be an assertion of a very shocking and
unexpected kind, but I must nevertheless be
excused for saying, that some of the best
wives and mothers in the land have given
the heart-ache to some of the best friends.

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