« ForrigeFortsett »
them has a more particular title to that sex, it is modesty. I shall leave it to the divines to guard them against the opposite vice, as they may be overpowered by temptations ; it is suficient for me to bave warned them against it, as they may be led astray by instinct.
CHASTITY A VALUABLE VIRTUE IN A MAN.
I KNOW not how it is, that our sex has usurped a certain authority to exclude chastity out of the catalogue of masculine virtues; but as I am now talking to the world yet untainted, I will venture to recommend it as the noblest male qualification.
It is, methinks, very unreasonable, that the difficulty of attaining all other good habits, is what makes them honourable ; but in this case, the very attempt is become ridiculous : but, in spite of all the raillery of the world, truth is still truth, and will have beauties inseparable from it. I should, upon this occasion, bring examples of heroic chastity, were I not afraid of having my paper thrown away by the modish part of the town, who go no further at best, than the mere absence of ill, and are contented to be rather irreproachable, than praise-worthy. In this particular, a gentleman in the court of Cyrus, reported to his majesty the charms and beauty of Panthea : and ended his panegyric by telling him, that since he was at leisure, he would carry him to visit her. But that prince, who is a very great man to this day, answered the pimp, because he was a man of quality, without roughness, and said, with a smile, • If I should visit her upon your introduction, now I have leisure, I do not know but I might go again upon her own invitation, when I ought to be better employed. But when I cast about all the instances which I have met with in all my reading, I find not one so generous, so honest, and so noble, as that of Joseph in holy writ. When his master had trusted him so unreservedly (to speak it in the emphatical manner of the scripture) 'He knew not aught he had save the bread which he did eat,' he was so unhappy as to appear irresistibly beautiful to his mistress; but when this shameless woman proceeds to solicit him, how gallant is his answer? · Behold my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and hath committed all that he hath to my hand; there is none greater in the house than I, neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife.'
The same argument, which a base mind would have made to itself for commit. ing the evil, was to this brave man the greatest motive for forbearing it, that he could do it with impunity; the malice and falsehood of the disappointed woman naturally arose on that occasion, and there is but a short step from the practice of virtue to the hatred of it. It would therefore be worth serious consideration in both sexes, and the matter is of importance enough to them, to ask themselves whether they would change lightness of heart, indolence of mind, cheerful meals, untroubled slumbers, and gentle dispositions, for a constant pruriency which shuts out all things that are great or indifferent, clouds the imagination with insensibility and prejudice to all manner of delight, but that which is common to all creatures that extend their species.
A loose behaviour, and an inattention to every thing that is serious, flowing from some degree of this petulancy, is observable in the generality of the youth of both sexes in this age. It is the one common face of most public meetings, and breaks in upon the sobriety, I will not say severity, that we ought to exercise in churches. The pert boys and flippant girls are but faint followers of those in the same inclinations at more advanced years. I know not who can oblige them to mend their manners; all that I pretend to, is to enter my protest, that they are neither fine gentlemen nor fine ladies for this behaviour. As for the portraitures which I would propose, as the images of agreeable men and women, if they are not imitated or regarded, I can only answer, as I remember Mr. Dryden did on the like occasion, when a young fellow, just come from the play of Cleomenes, told him in raillery against the continency of his principal character, 'If I had been alone with a lady, I should not have passed my time like your Spartan;' - That may be,' answered the bard with a very grave face, but give me leave to tell you, sir, you are no hero.'
PAINTING DISAGREEABLE IN WOMEN.
A LADY's face, like the coat in the Tale of a Tub, if left alone, will wear well; but if you offer to load it with foreign ornaments, you destroy the original ground.
Among other matter of wonder on my first coming to town, I was much surprised at the general appearance of youth among the ladies. At present there is no distinction in their complexions, between a beauty in her teens and a lady in her grand climacteric: yet at the same time I could not but take notice of the wonderful variety in the face of the same lady. I have known an olive beauty on Monday grow very ruddy and blooming on Tuesday; turn pale on Wednesday; come round to the olive hue again on Thursday; and, in a word, change her complexion as often as her gown. I was amazed to find no old aunts in this town, except a few unfashionable people, whom nobody knows; the rest still continuing in the zenith of their youth and health, and falling off, like timely fruit, without any previous decay. All this was a mystery that I could not upriddle, till, on being introduced to some ladies, I nnluckily improved the hue of my lips at the expense of a fair oue, who unthinkingly had turned her cheek; and found that my kisses were given (as is observed in the epigram) like those of Pyramus, through a wall. I then discovered, that this sur. prizing youth and beauty was all counterfeit; and that (as Hamlet says) • God had given them one face, and they had made themselves another.'
I have mentioned the accident of my carrying off half a lady's face by a salute, that your courtly dames may learn to put on their faces a little tighter; but as for my own daughters, while such fashions prevail, they shall still remain in Yorkshire. There, I think, they are pretty safe; for this unnatural fashion will hardly make its way into the country, as this vamped complexion would not stand against the rays of the sun, and would inevitably melt away in a country dance. The ladies have, indeed, been always the greatest enemies to their own beauty, and seenu to have a design against their own faces. At one time the whole countenance was eclipsed in a black velvet mask; at another it was blotted with patches ; and at present it is crusted over with plaster of Paris. In those battered belles who still aim at conquest, this practice is in some sort excusable; but it is surely as ridiculous in a young lady to give up beauty for paint, as it would be to draw a good set of teeth merely to fill their places with a row of ivory.
Indeed so common the fashion among the young as well as the old, that when I am in a group of beauties, I consider them as so many pretty pictures; looking about me with as little emotion as I do at Hudson's : and if any thing fills me with admiration, it is the judicious arrangement of the tints, and delicate touches of the painter. "Art very often seenis almost to vie with nature: but my attention is too frequently diverted by considering the texture and hue of the skin beneath; and the picture fails to charm,