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If the application to women were justly turned, the address of Plattery, though it implied at the same time an admonition, would be much more likely to suceeed. Should a captivated lover, in a billet, let his mistress know, that her piety to her parents, her gentleness of behaviour, her prudent economy with respect to her own little affairs in a virgin condition, had improved the passion which her beauty had inspired him with, into so settled an esteem for her, that of all women breathing he wished her his wife; though his commending her for qualities she knew she had as a virgin, would make her believe he expected from her an answerable conduct in the character of a matron, I will answer for it, his suit would be carried on with less perplexity.
Instead of this, the generality of our young women, taking all their notions of life from gay writoings, or letters of love, consider themselves as goddesses, nymphs, and shepherdesses.
By this romantic sense of things, all the natural relations and duties of life are forgotten; and our fe male part of mankind are bred and treated, as if they were designed to inhabit the happy fields of Arcadia, rather than be wives and mothers in Old England. It is, indeed, long since I had the happiness to conperse familiarly with this sex, and therefore have been fearful of falling into the error which recluse men are very subject to that of giving false representations of the world, from which they have retired, by imaginary schemes drawn from their own reflections. An old man cannot easily gain admittance into the dressing-room of ladies ; I therefore thought it time well-spent to turn over Agrippa,
my Occult Art to give my old Cornelian ring the same force with that of Gyges, which I have lately spoken of
By the help of this I went pinobserved to a friend's house of mine, and fol
lowed the chamber-maid invisibly about twelve of the clock into the bed-chamber of the beauteous Flavia, his fine daughter, just before she got up.
I drew the curtain ; and being wrapped up in the safety of my old age, could with much pleasure, without passion, behold her sleeping with Waller's poems, and a letter fixed in that part of him where every woman thinks herself described. The light flashing upon her face awakened her : she opened her eyes, and her lips too, repeating that piece of false wit in that admired poet:
" Auch Helen was: and who can blame the boy,
That in so bright a flame consum'd his Troy?”
This she pronounced with a most bewitching sweetness ; but after it fetched a sigh, that methought had more desire than languishment: then took out her letter, and read aloud, for the pleasure, I suppose, of hearing soft words in praise of herself, the following epistle:
MADAM, · I sat near you at the opera last night; but knew no entertainment from the vain show and noise about me, while I waited wholly intent upon the motion of your bright eyes, in hopes of a glance, that might restore me to the pleasures of sight and hearing in the midst of beauty and harmony. It is said, the hell of the accursed' in the next life arises from an incapacity to partake the joys of the blessed, though they were to be admitted to them. Such I am sure, was my condition all this evening; and if you, my Deity, cannot have so much mercy, as to make me by your influence capable of tasting the satisfactions of life, my being is ended, which consisted only in your favour.'
The letter was hardly read over, when she rushed out of bed in her wrapping gown, and consulted her glass for the truth of his passion. She raised her head, and turned it to a profile, repeating the last lines, My being is ended, which consisted only in your favour. The goddess immediately called her maid, and fell to dressing that mischievous face of hers, without any manner of consideration for the mortal who had offered up his petition. Nay, it was so far otherwise, that the whole time of her woman's combing her hair was spent in discourse of the impertinence of his passion, and ended in declaring resolution, 'if she ever had him, to make him wait.' She also frankly told the favourite gipsy that was prating to her, that her passionate lover had put it out of her power to be civil to him, if she were inclined to it; for, said she, “if I am thus celestial to my lover, he will certainly so far think himself disappointed, as I grow into the familiarity and form of a mortal woman.'
I came away as I went in, without staying for other remarks than what confirmed me in the opinion, that it is from the notions the men inspire them with, that the women are so fantastical in the value of themselves. This imaginary pre-eminence which is given to the fair sex, is not only formed from the addresses of people of condition ; but it is the fashion and humour all orders to go regularly out of their wits, as soon as they begin to make love. I know at this time three goddesses in the New Exchange; and there are two shepherdesses that sell gloves in Westminster-hall.
No. 140. THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 1709-10.
- Aliena negotia centum
HOR. SAT. ii. 6. 33.
SHEER-LANE, MARCH 1. Having the honour to be by my great grandmother a Welshman, I have been among some choice spirits of that part of Great Britain, where we solaced ourselves in celebration of the day of St. David. I am, I confess, elevated above that state of mind which is proper for Lucubration ; but I am the less concerned at this, because I have for this day or two last past observed, that we novelists have been condemned wholly to the pastry-cooks, the eyes of the nation being turned upon greater matters. This, therefore, being a time when none but my
immediate correspondents will read me, I shall speak to them chiefly at this present writing. It is the fate of us who pretend to joke, to be frequently understood to be only upon the droll when we are speaking the most seriously, as appears by the following letter to Charles Lillie.
MR. LILLIE, 'It being professed by 'Squire Bickerstaff, that his intention is to expose the vices and follies of the age, and to promote virtue and good-will amongst mankind; it must be a comfort to a person labouring under great straits and difficulties, to read any thing that has the appearance of succour. I should be glad to know, therefore, whether the intelligence, given in his Tatler of Saturday last, of the intended charity of a certain citizen of London, to maintain the education of ten boys in writing and accompts till they be fit for trade, be given only to encourage and recommend persons to the practice of such noble and charitable designs; or whether there be a person who really intends to do so. If the latter, I humbly beg 'Squire Bickerstaff's pardon for making a doubt, and impute it to my ignorance; and most humbly crave, that he would be pleased to give notice in his Tatler, when he thinks fit, whether his nomination of ten boys be disposed of, or whether there be room for two boys to be recommended to him; and that he will permit the writer of this to present him with two boys, who, it is humbly presumed, will be judged to be very remarkable objects of such charity. Sir,
“ Your most humble servant.” “ London, Feb. 28, 1709-10."
I am to tell this gentleman in sober sadness, and without jest, that there really is so good and charitable a man as the benefactor inquired for in his letter, and that there are but two boys yet named. The father of one of them was killed at Blenheim, the father of the other at Almanza. I do not here give the names of the children, because I should take it to be an insolence in me to publish them, in a charity which I have only the direction of as a sera vant to that worthy and generous spirit, who bestows upon them this bounty, without laying the bondage of an obligation. What I have to do is to tell them, they are beholden only to their Maker, to kill in them, as they grow up, the false shame of poverty,