Henrietta Batthyány: World Wisdom

THE FOLLOWING TEXT was written in 1875 by Henrietta Batthyány under the title World Wisdom, or— Experiences of a Matron; or, The Female Chesterfield’s Advice to her Friends. It is not a translation, she originally wrote it in English.

Batthyány is the name of an old distinguished Hungarian Magnate family. Henrietta was probably born around 1830 in Vienna, her oldest poems are from 1847, I could not find out her maiden name. She wrote in German and English, sometimes French, never Hungarian. Her last dated poem is from March 1892. In a letter to the Times, published August 12, 1896, she is mentioned as “now deceased.”

  1. Young men are mistaken if they think youth is their surest card to win the heart.
  2. Middle-aged men of rank, good looks, money and station have a better chance.
  3. And not, as young men are apt to think, of these externals.
  4. But because there is more to fascinate and interest a woman in them.
  5. Women like ripe fruit.
  6. Young men blunder into mistakes and messes, and bundle out again.
  7. The world excuses them on account of their youth, inexperience, and passions, and blames the woman.
  8. Middle-aged men seldom blunder; if they do, they get out unscrupulously.
  9. The world excuses them on account of their rank, riches, prospects, and money, and because it (the world) expects to share all this when its turn comes.
  10. Married men must never blunder, as it depends on their wives how they get out of it.
  11. The world hardly excuses the married man, if found out, because it excepts nothing from him; he was received en confiance.
  12. It is a case of wolf in sheepskin.
  13. Besides, he becomes a convenient scapegoat.
  14. The world

    “Condones the sins it is inclined to
    By damning those it has no mind to.”

  15. If a married man wants to be a gay Lothario, he must not make an enemy of his wife.
  16. Certainly not incense her against the object of his flame.
  17. He puts a weapon into his wife’s hand.
  18. If she is a Cocotte, his wife can do her no harm.
  19. The man must have the moral courage to protect his wife from any real or even supposed slight from the suspected “object.” Whether a Cocottish liaison, or a platonic friendship, or a romantic desire to be some unprotected females good genius—as long as the connection is unavowed or secret, he must forbid any pin-pricks given to his wife, either an impudent stare or a misdirected message.
  20. He must have the moral courage to risk the displeasure of his secret friends and keep them in order, rather than insult his wife by defending them to her, for she has no protection but him.
  21. A wife is helpless against unavowable lady friends.
  22. A man may be quite at his ease if he has a liaison with a lady of good position, and no reputation. She does not fear scandal.
  23. A man may be quite at his ease if he has a liaison with a lady of position and reputation. She will avoid scandal.
  24. A man may have a liaison, or platonic friendship, or any other rubbish with a lady under his own rank or station in society; it does not hurt him.
  25. But it ruins the lady, or at least does her grievous harm.
  26. She may never know it, being ignorant of the world, or not mixing with it.
  27. The world risks its wife, never its daughter.
  28. A middle-aged man who has not sown his oats and wants to, must be careful
  29. He has too much reputation, prestige and power at stake. He would not like to loose this, and his conscience will bother him, and he is sure to be awkward.
  30. N’est pas scélérat qui veut.
  31. A married man ought to be in league with his wife and confide in her—outspoken or unspoken—she is his best ally in any flirtation
  32. If she is frolicsome too, she will be delighted.
  33. If she don’t love him, she will guard his honour more than her own, for pride’s sake, or family’s sake or name.
  34. If she loves him, she will be damned for him.
  35. A real good wife is not always actuated by jealousy for his purse or person, but mostly for his honour and credit.
  36. She does not like to see him making a fool of himself, and will always help him out of any mess, even with women.
  37. But she cannot bear—it is against human nature—to see him made a fool of by other women, even female angels, and he not seeing it.
  38. Which he never does.
  39. But others do.
  40. The less you do, the less you put your foot in it. (Freddy.)
  41. Never marry a man who is always looking at his watch, he is sure to be fidgetty. (Mrs. Herbert.)

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