School of Love: Dorimon and Alithea

In 1773 answers for the lovelorn could be found in The London Magazine. It was an eighteen century magazine that covered all sorts of interesting topics such as the British theatre, political themes, societal concerns, historical stories, and information about foreign royalty, such as Marie Antoinette or the Princesse de Lamballe. However, for those needing advice on the question of love their questions were answered by the School of Love.

Love -- Cover to the London Magazine for 1773

Cover to the London Magazine for 1773. Author’s collection.

Among those who had concerns about their love life was an eighteenth century married woman named Charlotte. She posed the following question to the School of Love:

“My husband and I have lived happily for seven years. Of late his affections have begun to wander from me: I do not know upon what account, but I fear there is some other woman behind the screen. — In any case, what am I to do?”[1]

“The finishing of an Alderman’s picture.” The lover adding horns to her husband’s portrait watched by the wife lying on a bed. January 1773. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

The School of Love responded with the following answer:

“Madame,

Having seen your complaint in the School for Love, beg to offer my advice in so interesting a case. You may say you find your husband’s affections have begun to wander from you. Are you certain in your heart, that you have given him no cause? Is your behaviour equally tender with that of the first and second years of your union? Do you now discover the same pleasure in being with him as at first?

Sorry am I to say it, too many of our sex give but too just cause for complaint. As I am a stranger to you I cannot determine that point; but will suppose you the injured person. I will, as far as is in my power, point out a path, which if you follow a man must be wholly lost not at last to turn to the right road.

You imagine a woman behind the screen (to use your own words) in that case your task is more difficult; but if you reclaim him, the greater your triumph. Beware of discovering the least symptoms of that green-eyed monster jealousy; be always ready with a smile to meet him, appear joyful at his return, never complain of his absence, but rejoice at his presence; convince him by ten thousand winning assiduities, that he is all the world to you.

Too many ladies are apt to adopt a different method; and can it be supposed that any one will come home with pleasure to frowns and reproaches? Put the case to ourselves; we should not, had we those advantages that men have; that is a point to be considered; for if home is displeasing, the bottle is always ready to receive them — should he discover an inclination to take you out with him, by all means go, it will shew your desire to please him; it will regain his wandering heart, which has only roved; if he has behaved well for seven years, there is no doubt of his having a sincere attachment for you: I am almost assured if you follow my rules, you will make your company and home so pleasant, that if he has made any improper connexion, he will fling it from him, as a cloak in hot weather which is troublesome.

Your’s Charlotte G.

P.S. I would beg you to peruse the Female Spectators: there is a story of Dorimon and Alithea: be you Alithea, he will be Dorimon.*[2]

love


*The story of Dorimon and Alithea is briefly told by author Ann Messenger. She states:

“Dorimon and Alithea … and have a son. Dorimon, who has had little other experience of women, then falls in love with Melissa, who bears him a child, which is put out to nurse at a baby farm. Alithea discovers all, rescues the baby, and brings it home to play with her own child. Dorimon happens along, and when she tells him who the baby is and that she has adopted … and loves him, [Dorimon] reforms.”[3]

References:

  • [1] The London Magazine, Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer, Volume 42, 1773, p. 163.
  • [2] Ibid, p. 163-164.
  • [3] Messenger, Ann, His and Hers, 2015, p. 139.

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