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I MR. SPECTATOR,
I AM young, and very much inclined to follow the paths of innocence; but at the same time, as I have a plentiful fortune, and am of quality, I am unwilling to resign the pleasures of distinction, some little satisfaction in being admired in general, and much greater in being beloved by a gentleman, whom I design to make my husband. But I have a mind to put off entering into matrimony till another winter is over my head, which (whatever, musty sir, you may think of the matter) I design to pass away in hearing music, going to plays, visiting, and all other satisfactions which fortune and youth, protected by innocence and virtue, can procure for,
Your most humble servant,
My lover does not know I like him, therefore having no engagements upon me, I think to stay and know whether I may like any one else better.'
I have heard Will Honeycomb say, “A woman seldom writes her mind but in her postscript.' I think this gentiewoman has sufficiently discovered her's in this. I will lay what wager she pleases against her present favourite, and can tell her, that she will like ten more before she is fixed, and then will take the worst man she ever liked in her life. There is no end of affection taken in at the eyes only; and you may as well satisfy those eyes with seeing, as controul any passion received by them only. It is from loving by sight, that coxcombs so frequently succeed with women, and very often a
young lady is bestowed by her parents to a man who weds her as innocence itself, though she has, in her own heart, given her approbation of a different man in every assembly she was in the whole year before. What is wanting among women as well as among men, is the love of laudable things, and not to rest only in the forbearance of such as are reproachful.
How far removed from a woman of this light imagination is Eudosia! Eudosia has all the arts of lise and good-breeding with so much ease, that the virtue of her conduct looks more like instinct than choice. It is as little difficult to her to think justly of persons and things, as it is to a woman of different accomplishments to move ill or look awkward. That which was, at first, the effect of instruction, is grown into an habit; and it would be as hard for Eudosia to indulge a wrong suggestion of thought, as it would be to Flavia, the fine dancer, to come into a room with an unbecoming air.
But the misapprehensions people themselves have of their own state of mind, is laid down with much discerning in the following letter, which is but an extract of a kind epistle from my charming mistress Hecatissa, who is above the vanity of external beauty, and is the better judge of the perfections of the mind.
• I write this to acquaint you, that very many ladies, as well as mysell, spend many hours more than we used at the glass, for want of the female library, of which you promised us a catalogue. I hope, sir, in the choice of authors for us, you will have a particular regard to books of devotion. What they are, and how many, must be your chief care; for upon the propriety of such writings depends a
great deal. I have known those among us who think, if they every morning and evening spend an hour in their closet, and read over so many prayers in six or seven books of devotion, all equally nonsensical, with a sort of warmth, (that might as well be raised by a glass of wine, or a dram of citron) they may all the rest of their time go on in whatever their particular passion leads them to. The beauteous Philautia, who is (in your language) an idol, is one of these votaries; she has a very pretty furnished closet, to which she retires at her appointed hours. This is her dressing-room, as well as chapel; she has constantly before her a large looking-glass; and upon the table, according to a very witty aụthor,
Together lie her prayer-book and paint,
At once t’improve the siuner and the saint. It must be a good scene, if one could be present at it, to see this idol by turns lift up her eyes to heaven, and steal glances at her own dear person. It cannot but be a pleasing conflict between vanity and humiliation. When you are upon this subject, choose books which elevate the mind above the world, and give a pleasing indifference to little things in it. For want of such instructions I am apt to believe so many people take it in their heads to be sullen, cross, and angry, under pretence of being abstracted from the affairs of this life, when at the same time they betray their fondness for them by doing their duty as a task, and pouting and reading good books for a week together. Much of this I take to proceed from the indiscretion of the books themselves, whose very titles of weekly preparations, and such limited godliness, lead people of ordinary capacities into great errors, and raise in them a mechanical religion, entirely distinct from
morality. I know a lady so given up to this sort of devotion, that though she employs six or eight hours of the twenty-four at cards, she never misses one constant hour of prayer, for which time another holds her cards, to which she returns with no little anxiousness till two or three in the morning. All these acts are but empty shows, and, as it were, compliments made to virtue; the mind is all the while untouched with any true pleasure in the pursuit of it. From hence I presume it arises, that so many people call themselves virtuous, from no other pretence to it but an absence of ill. There is Dulciamara, the most insolent of all creatures to her friends and domestics, upon no other pretence in nature, but that (as her silly phrase is) “ no one can say black is her eye.” She has no secrets, forsooth, which should make her afraid to speak her mind, and therefore she is impertinently blunt to all her acquaintance, and unseasonably imperious to all her family. Dear sir, be pleased to put such books into our hands, as may make our virtue more inward, and convince some of us, that in a mind truly virtuous, the scorn of vice is always accompanied with the pity of it. This and other things are impatiently expected from you by our whole sex; among the rest by,
N° 80. FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 1711.
Cælum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.
HOR. 1 Ep. xi. 27.
In the year 1688, and on the same day of that year, were born in Cheapside, London, two females of exquisite feature and shape; the one we shall call Brunetta, the other Phillis. A close intimacy be. tween their parents made each of them the first acquaintance the other knew in the world. They played, dressed babies, acted visitings, learned to dance and make curtesies together. They were inseparable companions in all the little entertainments their tender years were capable of : which innocent happiness continued until the beginning of their fifteenth year, when it happened that Phillis had an head dress on, which became her so very well, that instead of being beheld any more with pleasure for their amity to each other, the eyes of the neighbourhood were turned to remark them with comparison of their beauty. They now no longer enjoyed the ease of mind and pleasing indolence in which they were formerly happy, but all their words and actions were misinterpreted by each other, and every excellence in their speech and behaviour was looked upon as an act of emulation to surpass the other. These beginnings of disinclis nation soon improved into a formality of behaviour, a general coldness, and by natural steps into an irre, concilable hatred.