Page images

gave her opportunities of playing the tyrant. She then contracted that awful cast of the eye and for. bidding frown, which she has not yet laid aside, and has still all the insolence of beauty without its charins. If she now attracts the eyes of any beholders, it is only by being remarkably ridiculous; even her own sex laugh at her affectation; and the men, who always enjoy an ill-natured pleasure in seeing an imperious beauty humbled and neglected, regard her with the same satisfaction that a free nation sees a tyrant in disgrace.

Will Honeycomb, who is a great admirer of the gallantries in King Charles the Second's reign, lately communicated to me a letter written by a wit of that age to his mistress, who it seems was a lady of Canidia's humour; and though I do not always approve of my friend Will's taste, I liked this letter so well, that I took a copy of it, with which I shall here present my reader:




Since my waking thoughts have never been able to influence you in my favour, I am resolved to try whether my dreams can make any impression on you. To this end I shall give you an account of a very odd one which

my fancy presented to me last night, within a few hours after I left you.

Methought I was unaccountably conveyed into the most delicious place mine eyes ever beheld : it was a large valley divided by a river of the purest water I had ever seen. The ground on each side of it rose by an easy ascent, and was covered with. flowers of an infinite variety, which, as they were reflected in the water, doubled the beauties of the place, or rather formed an imaginary scene more



beautiful than the real. On each side of the river was a range of lofty trees, whose boughs were loaded with almost as many birds as leaves. Every tree was full of harmony.

I had not gone far in this pleasant valley, when I perceived that it was terminated by a most magnificent temple. The structure was ancient and regular. On the top of it was figured the god Saturn, in the same shape and dress as the poets usually represent Time.

As I was advancing to satisfy my curiosity by a nearer view, I was stopped by an object far more beautiful than any I had before discovered in the whole place. I fancy, madam, you will easily guess that this could hardly be any thing but yourself: in reality it was so; you lay extended on the flowers by the side of the river, so that your hands, which were thrown in a negligent posture, almost touched the water. Your eyes were closed; but if your sleep deprived me of the satisfaction of seeing them, it left me at leisure to contemplate several other charms which disappear when your eyes are open. I could not but admire the tranquillity you slept in, especially when I considered the uneasiness you produce in so many others.

• While I was wholly taken up in these reflections, the doors of the temple flew open, with a very great noise; and lifting up my eyes, I saw two figures, in human shape, coming into the valley. Upon a nearer survey, I found them to be Youth and Love. The first was encircled with a kind of purple light, that spread a glory over all the place; the other held a flaming torch in his hand. I could observe, that all the way as they came towards us the colours of the flowers appeared more lively, the trees shot out in blossoms, the birds threw themselves into pairs, and serenaded them as they passed: the whole face of nature glowed with new beauties. They were no sooner arrived at the place where you lay, than they seated themselves on each side of you. On their approach methought I saw a new bloom arise in your face, and new charms diffuse themselves over your whole

person. You appeared more than mor. tal; but, to my great surprise, continued fast asleep, though the two deities made several gentle efforts to awaken you.

* After a short time, Youth (displaying a pair of wings, which I had not before taken notice of) flew off. Love still remained, and holding the torch which he had in his hand before your face, you still appeared as beautiful as ever. The glaring of the light in your eyes at length awakened you; when, to my great surprise, instead of acknowledging the favour of the deity, you frowned upon him, and struck the torch out of his hand into the river. The god, after having regarded you with a look that spoke at once his pity and displeasure, flew away. Immediately a kind of gloom overspread the whole place. At the same time I saw a hideous spectre enter at one end of the valley. His eyes were sunk into his head, his face was pale and withered, and his skin puckered up in wrinkles. As he walked on the sides of the bank the river froze, the flowers faded, the trees shed their blossoms, the birds dropped from off the boughs, and fell dead at his feet. By these marks I knew him to be Old Age. You were seized with the utmost horror and amazement at his approach. You endeavoured to have fled, but the phantom caught you in his arms. You may easily guess at the change you suffered in this embrace. For my own part, though I am still too full of the dreadful idea, I will not shock you with a description of it. I was so startled at the sight, that my sleep immediately left me, and I found myself awake, at leisure to consider of a dream which seems too extraordinary to be without a meaning. I am, madam, with the greatest passion,

Your most obedient,

• most humble servant, &c.'

[ocr errors]

N° 302. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1711-12.

· Lachrymæque decoræ,
Grutior et pulchro veniens in corpore virtus.

Virg. Æn. v. 343.
Becoming sorrows, and a virtuous mind
More lovely, in a beauteous fornu inshrin'd.

I READ what I give for the entertainment of this day with a great deal of pleasure, and publish it just as it came to my hands. I shall be very glad to find there are many guessed at for Emilia.

[ocr errors]


• If this paper has the good fortune to be honoured with a place in your writings, I shall be the more pleased, because the character of Emilia is not an imaginary but a real one. I have industriously obscured the whole by the addition of one or two circumstances of no consequence, that the person it is drawn from might still be concealed; and that the writer of it might not be in the least suspected, and for some other reasons, I choose not to give it in the form of a letter : but if, besides the faults of the composition, there be any thing in it more proper for a correspondent than the Spectator



himself to write, I submit it to your better judgment, to receive any other model you think fit.

• I am, sir,

* Your very humble servant.' There is nothing which gives one so pleasing a prospect of human nature, as the contemplation of wisdom and beauty : the latter is the peculiar portion of that sex which is therefore called fair; but the happy concurrence of both these excellencies in the same person, is a character too celestial to be frequently met with. Beauty is an over-weening self-sufficient thing, careless of providing itself any more substantial ornaments ; nay, so little does it consult its own interests, that it too often defeats itself, by betraying that innocence, which renders it lovely and desirable. As therefore virtue makes a beautiful woman appear more beautiful, so beauty makes a virtuous woman really more virtuous. Whilst I am considering these two perfections gloriously united in one person, I cannot help representing to my mind the image of Emilia.

Who ever beheld the charming Emilia, without feeling in his breast at once the glow of love, and the tenderness of virtuous friendship? The unstudied graces of her behaviour, and the pleasing accents of her tongue, insensibly draw you on to wish for a nearer enjoyment of them; but even her smiles carry in them

a silent reproof to the impulses of licentious love. Thus, though the attractives of her beauty play almost irresistibly upon you, and create desire, you immediately stand corrected, not by the severity, but the decency of her virtue. That sweetness and good-humour, which is so visible in her face, naturally diffuses itself into every word and action: a man must be a savage, who, at the sight of Emilia, is not more inclined to do her good, than gratify

« PreviousContinue »