I Would Rather Die

I found this story in Judith Schneid Lewis's In the Family Way: Childbearing in the British Aristocracy 1760-1860.

Lewis gives a lot of real-life examples of marriages in the British aristocracy in order to support her research on domesticity. One such story talks about a marriage of convenience that ended . . . unhappily.

"Elizabeth, Lady Webster, could not accept a loveless marriage. Born Elizabeht Vassall (1771-1845), she was the heiress of a fabulously wealthy West India planter. She was married at the age of fifteen to am an many years her senior [twenty-four years, to be exact; he was thirty nine at the time of theiir marriage], Sir Godfrey Webster, owern of Battle Abbey. It was a union in which breeding and money complemented each other nicely; unfortuantely their personalitieis did not.

"Within two weeks of the marriage, Sir Godfrey threatened suicide. After several years of overt and covert hostility and hte births of several Webster children, she refused to sleep with her husband any longer" (45).

Not long after, she eloped with Lord Holland. Sir Godfrey divorced her and two days after it was finalized she married Lord Holland. Sir Godfrey killed himself three years later. Her second marriage lasted over forty years and was far, far happier.

I guess the lesson to take away from this is that if your husband is so unhappy being married to you that he threatens suicide on your honeymoon, you should probably just cut your losses. That's hard to bounce back from.

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