« ForrigeFortsett »
rays culminating from the equator : to which might be added many instances of the like kind in several other arts and sciences.
I shall in my next papers give an account of the many particular beauties in Milton, which would have been too long to insert under those general heads I have already treated of, and with which I intend to conclude this piece of criticism, L.
N° 298. MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1711-12.
Nusquam tuta fides
Virg. Æn. iv. 373.
Honour is no where safe.
" Lond. Feb. 9, 1711-12. • I am a virgin, and in no case despicable, but yet such as I am I must remain, or else become, it is to be feared, less happy; for I find not the least good effect from the just correction you some time since gave that too free, that looser part of our sex which spoils the men; the same connivance at the vices, the same easy admittance of addresses, the same vitiated relish of the conversation of the greatest rakes (or in a more fashionable way of expressing one's self, of such as have seen the world most) still abounds, increases, multiplies.
* The humble petition, therefore, of many of the most strictly virtuous and of myself is, that you will once more exert your authority, and that according to your late promise, your full, your impartial authority, on this sillier branch of our kind; for why should they be the uncontrollable mistresses of our
fate? Why should they with impunity indulge the males in licentiousness whilst single, and we have the dismal hazard and plague of reforming them when married ? Strike home, sir, then, and spare not, or all our maiden hopes, our gilded hopes of nuptial felicity are frustrated, are vanished, and you yourself, as well as Mr. Courtly, will, by smoothing over immodest practices with the gloss of soft and harmless names, for ever forfeit our esteem. Nor think that I am herein more severe than need be; if I have not reason more than enough, do you
and the world judge from this ensuing account, which, I think, will prove the evil to be universal.
• You must know then, that since your reprehension of this female degeneracy came out, I have had a tender of respects from no less than five persons, of tolerable figure too as times go: but the misfortune is, that four of the five are professed followers of the mode. They would face me down, that all women of good sense ever were, and ever will be, latitudinarians in wedlock; and always did, and will give and take, what they profanely term conjugal liberty of conscience.
• The two first of them, a captain and a merchant, to strengthen their arguments, pretend to repeat after a couple of ladies of quality and wit, that Venus was always kind to Mars; and what soul that has the least spark of generosity can deny a man of bravery any thing? And how pitiful a trader that, whom no woman but his own wife will have correspondence and dealings with? Thus these; whilst the third, the country squire, confessed, that indeed he was surprised into good breeding, and entered into the knowledge of the world unawares ; that dining the other day at a gentleman's house, the person who entertained was obliged to leave him
with his wife and nieces; where they spoke with so much contempt of an absent gentleman for being so slow at a hint, that he resolved never to be drowsy, unmannerly, or stupid, for the future at a friend's house; and on a hunting morning not to pursue the game either with the husband abroad, or with the wife at home.
The next that came was a tradesman, no less full of the age than the former; for he had the gallantry to tell me, that at a late junket which he was invited to, the motion being made, and the question being put, it was by maid, wife, and widow, resolved nemine contradicente, that a young sprightly journeyman is absolutely necessary
of business : to which they had the assent and concurrence of the husbands present. I dropt him a curtsey, and gave him to understand that was his audience of leave.
• I am reckoned pretty, and have had very many advances besides these; but have been very averse to hear any of them, from my observation on those above mentioned, until I hoped some good from the character of my present admirer, a clergyman. But I find even among them there are indirect practices in relation to love, and our treaty is at present a little in suspense,
until some circumstances are cleared. There is a charge against him among the women, and the case is this: It is alleged, that a certain endowed female would have appropriated herself to, and consolidated herself with a church which my divine now enjoys (or, which is the same thing, did prostitute herself to her friend's doing this for her): that my ecclesiastic, to obtain the one, did engage himself to take off the other that lay on hand ; but that on his success in the spiritual, he again renounced the carnal.
I put this closely to him, and taxed him with disingenuity. Heto clear himself made the subsequent defence, and that in the most solemn manner possible:—that he was applied to, and instigated to accept of a benefice :—that a conditional offer thereof was indeed made him at first, but with' disdain by him rejected:—that when nothing (as they easily perceived) of this nature could bring him to their purpose, assurance of his being entirely unengaged before-hand, and safe from all their after-expectations, (the only stratagem left to draw him in) was given him :that pursuant to this the donation itself was without delay, before several reputable witnesses, tendered to him gratis, with the open profession of not the least reserve, or most minute condition; but that yet immediately after induction, his insidious introducer (or her crafty procurer, which you will) industriously spread the report which had reached my ears, not only in the neighbourhood of that said church, but in London, in the university, in mine and his own country, and wherever else it might probably obviate his application to any other woman, and so confine him to this alone : in a word, that as he never did make any previous offer of his service, or the least step to her affection; so on his discovery of these designs thus laid to trick him, he could not but afterwards, in justice to himself, vindicate both his innocence and freedom, by keeping his proper distance.
. This is his apology, and I think I shall be satisfied with it. But I cannot conclude my tedious epistle without recommending to you not only to resume your former chastisement, but to add to your criminals the simoniacal ladies, who seduce the sacred order into the difficulty of either breaking a mercenary troth made to them, whom they ought not to deceive, or by breaking or keeping it offending against Him whom they cannot deceive. Your assistance and labours of this sort would be of great benefit, and your speedy thoughts on this subject would be very seasonable to,
Your most humble servant, T.
N° 299. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 1711-12.
Malo Venusinam, quàm te, Cornelia, mater
Juv. Sat. vi. 166.
It is observed, that a man improves more by reading the story of a person eminent for prudence and virtue, than by the finest rules and precepts of morality. In the same manner a' representation of those calamities and misfortunes which a weak man suffers from wrong measures, and ill concerted schemes of life, is apt to make a deeper impression upon our minds, than the wisest maxims and instructions that can be given us, for avoiding the like fol