Page images
PDF
EPUB

dies,* where a French woman offering to undress and dress herself before the lover of the play, and assuring his mistress that it was very usual in France, the lady tells her that is a secret in dress she never knew before, and that she was so unpolished an English woman, as to resolve never to learn even to dress before her husband.

There is something so gross in the carriage of some wives, that they lose their husband's hearts for faults, which, if a man has either good-nature or good-breeding, he knows not how to tell them of. I am afraid, indeed, the ladies are generally most faulty in this particular: who, at their first giving into love, find the way so smooth and pleasant, that they fancy it is scarce possible to be tired in it.

There is so much nicety and discretion required to keep love alive after marriage, and make conversation still new and agreeable after twenty or thirty years, that I know nothing which seems readily to promise it, but an earnest endeavour to please on both sides, and superior good sense on the part of the man.

By a man of sense I mean one acquainted with business and letters.

A woman very much settles her esteem for a man, according to the figure he makes in the world, and the character he bears among

his As learning is the chief advantage we have over them, it is, methinks, as scandalous and inexcusable for a man of fortune to be illiterate, as for a woman not to know how to behave herself on the most ordinary occasions. It is this which sets the two sexes at the greatest distance; a woman is vexed and surprised, to find nothing more in

Own

sex.

* The Funeral, or Grief Alamode, by Steele.

the conversation of a man, than in the common tattle of her own sex.

Some small engagement at least in business not only sets a man's talents in the fairest light, and allots him a part to act in which a wife cannot well intermeddle, but gives frequent occasion for those little absences, which, whatever seeming uneasiness they may give, are some of the best preservatives of love and desire.

The fair sex are so conscious to themselves, that they have nothing in them which can deserve entirely to engross the whole man, that they heartily despise one, who, to use their own expression, is always hanging at their apron-strings.

Lætitia is pretty, modest, tender, and has sense enough; she married Erastus, who is in a post of some business, and has a general taste in most parts of polite learning. Lætitia, wherever she visits, has the pleasure to hear of something which was handsomely said or done by Erastus. Erastus, since his marriage, was more gay in his dress than ever, and in all companies is as complaisant to Lætitia as to any other lady. I have seen him give her her fan when it has dropped, with all the gallantry of a lover. When they take the air together, Erastus is continually improving her thoughts, and, with a turn of wit and spirit which is peculiar to him, giving her an insight into things she had no notions of before. Lætitia is transported at having a new world thus opened to her, and hangs upon the man that gives her such agreeable informations. Erastus has carried this point still further, as he makes her daily not only more fond of him, but infinitely more satisfied with herself. Erastus finds a justness or beauty in whatever she says or observes, that Lætitia herself was not aware of; and by his assistance she has discovered an hundred good qualities and accomplishments, in herself, which she never before once dreamed of. Erastus, with the most artful complaisance in the world, by seyeral remote hints, finds the means to make her say or propose almost whatever he has a mind to, which he always receives as her own discovery, and gives her all the reputation of it.

Erastus has a perfect taste in painting, and carried Lætitia with him the other day to see a colJection of pictures. I sometimes visit this happy couple. As we were last week walking in the long gallery before dinner, . I have lately laid out some money in paintings,' says Erastus; “I bought that Venus and Adonis purely upon Læti- tia's judgment; it cost me threescore guineas, and I was this morning offered an hundred for it." I turned towards Lætitia, and saw her cheeks glow with pleasure, while at the same time she cast a look upon Erastus, the most tender and affectionate I ever beheld.

Flavilla married Tom Tawdry; she was taken with his laced coat and rich sword-knot; she has the mortification to see Tom despised by all the worthy part of his own sex. Tom has nothing to do after dinner, but to determine whether he will pare his nails at St. James's, White's, or his own house. He has said nothing to Flavilla since they were married which she might not have heard as well from her own woman. He however takes great care to keep up the saucy ill-natured authority of a husband. Whatever Flavilla happens to assert, Tom immediately contradicts with an oath by way of preface, and, "My dear, I must tell you you talk most confoundedly silly.' Flavilla had a heart naturally as well disposed for all the tenderness of love as that of Lætetia ; but as

love seldom continues long after esteem, it is difficult to determine, at present, whether the unhappy Flavilla hates or despises the person most whom she is obliged to lead her whole life with.

X.

No. 507. SATURDAY, OCT. 11, 1712.

Defendit numerus, junctæque umbone phalanges.

JUV. Sat. ii. 46. Preserv'd from shame by numbers on our side.

THERE is something very sublime, though very fanciful, in Plato's description of the Supreme Being; that “truth is his body, and light his shadow. According to this definition, there is nothing so contradictory to his nature as error and falsehood. The Platonists have so just a notion of the Almighty's aversion to every thing which is false and erroneous, that they looked upon truth as no less necessary than virtue to qualify a human soul for the enjoyment of a separate state. For this reason, as they recommended moral duties to qualify and season the will for a future life, so they prescribed several contemplations and sciences to rectify the understanding. Thus Plato has called mathematical demonstrations the cathartics or purgatives of the soul, as being the most proper means to cleanse it from error, and give it a relish of truth; which is the natural food and nourishment of the understanding, as virtue is the perfection and happiness of tre will

There are many authors'who have shown wherein the malignity of a lie consists, and set forth in proper colours the heinousness of the offence. I shall here consider one particular kind of this crime, which has not been so much spoken to; I mean that abominable practice of party-lying. This vice is so very predominant among us at present, that a man is thought of no principles who does not propagate a certain system of lies. The coffee-houses are supported by them, the press is choaked by them, eminent authors live upon them. Our bottle conversation is so infected with them, that a party-lie is grown as fashionable an entertainment as a lively catch, or a merry story. The truth of it is, half the great talkers in the nation would be struck dumb were this fountain of discourse dried up. There is however one advantage resulting from this detesta'ble practice: the very appearances of truth are so little regarded, that lies are at present discharged in the air, and begin to hurt nobody. When we hear a party-story from a stranger, we consider whether he is a whig or a tory that relates it, and immediately conclude they are words of course, in which the honest gentleman designs to recommend hi "zeal, without any concern for his veracity. A man is looked upon as bereft of common sense, that gives credit to the relations of party writers; nay, his own friends shake their heads at him, and consider him in no other light than an officious tool, or a well-meaning idiot. When it was formerly the fashion to husband a lie, and trump it up in some extraordinary emergency, it generally did execution, and was not a little serviceable to the faction that made use of it: but at present every man is upon his guard: the artifice has been too often repeated to take effect.

I have frequently wondered to see men of pro

« PreviousContinue »