« PreviousContinue »
LOVE AND WILL.
INDING, upon inquiry, that Steele's little periodical paper, called “The Lover," is still less known than we supposed, we shall here give some account of it, and then pro
ceed to some other reflections to which it has given rise. We have already intimated,* that it was one of the numerous publications of the kind to which Steele's necessities and lively impulses united gave birth, and which, for similar reasons, were speedily brought to a close. Tonson collected the forty papers of which it consisted into a duodecimo volume, in which he included a political paper entitled “ The Reader,” which reached only its ninth number; and this is the book now before us. The dedication to Garth is surmounted by one of those rude little wood-cuts or copperplates, half flower and half figure, formerly, we believe, called head-pieces (perhaps still so, otherwise we know not the technical word). It presents us with Sir Samuel's coats of arms (two lions passant gardant between three-cross crosslets) supported, or rather attended, by two Cupids : one with a lyre for the doctor's poetry, and the other holding his professional emblem, the staff of Æsculapius. The first number is, in like manner, graced with a head of Queen Anne, and so is that of “The Reader.” We reckon upon our own reader's not being averse to the mention of these amenities, partly from his love of anything connected with books, and
* In an article on “Garth, Physicians, and Love Letters," in "Men, Women, and Books.” – Ed.
partly because they help to show the manners and feelings of the times; and we confess we have another regard for them ourselves, owing to school recollections, and to the minutes of bliss we snatched, during the hardness of our tasks, from those figures of Venuses and Amphitrites, which sail along the tops of Ovid and other classics in the edition of Mattaire.
Steele, whether as an attraction, or a blind (if the latter, it was the most transparent of all blinds), puts forth his “ Lover," as “written in imitation of the “Tatler.?" He supposes himself to be one “Marmaduke Myrtle," a tender-hearted and speculative gentleman “about town," crossed in love, assisted in his lucubrations by four others, who have met with various good or ill success in their honorable passion for some lady, particularly one Mr. Severn, a young gentleman who is his “hero,” and whom he describes in the most exquisite manner of the “Tatler,” as one that treats every woman of a “certain age" so respectfully, “that in his company she can never give herself the compunction of having lost anything which made her agreeable.” Of this hero, however, we hear nothing further but in one paper, and the author makes but the like mention of one of his other assistants. In short, beautiful as some of the papers are, and touched with equal knowledge of the world and delicacy of feeling, it did not “take,” and Steele soon got tired. It went upon too exclusive a subject, and professed too open an intention of discountenancing the town ideas of love, to be acceptable to those who could have brought a man of wit his greatest number of readers; while, on the other hand, Steele had such a healthy and unhypocritical sense of the corporeal as well as spiritual part of the passion, that he offended such of his readers as had chosen to take
him for a kind of sermonizer on love. In one of his papers is an account of an accident which happened to a young lady on horseback in the cross-country road, between Hampstead and Highgate, and which with an exquisite mixture of playfulness and delicacy, he represented as furnishing a sort of compulsory, -but charming, reason why the young gentleman who happened to be with her was to be accepted as her husband. With this anecdote some “heavy rogue,” as he truly calls him in a contemporary publication, chose to pick one of those quarrels which, by the degrading turn of their thoughts and the stupidity of their ostentation, create the indecency of which they complain ; and this, no doubt, did him a disservice with the dull and commonplace, and added to the perplexity arising from his own mixed pretensions. To complete his causes of failure, he was a zealous politician, and, before he had written a dozen papers, could not help falling foul of the Tories; which in a gentleman so absorbed in the belle passion as Mr. Myrtle, was certainly not so well, and must have frightened such of his fair readers as patched their cheeks on the Tory side, and could only fall in love on high-church principles.*
* About the Middle of Last Winter I went to see an Opera at the Theatre in the Haymarket, where I could but take notice of two Parties of very fine Women, that had placed themselves in the Opposite Side-Boxes, and seemed drawn up in a kind of Battle-Array one against another. After a short Survey of them, I found they were Patched differently; the Faces on one Hand being spotted on the Right side of the Forehead, and those upon the other on the Left. I quickly perceived that they cast hostile Glances upon one another ; and that their Patches were placed in those different Situations, as Party-Signals to distinguish Friends from Foes. In the Middle-Boxes, between those two opposite Bodies, were several Ladies who patched indifferently on both sides of their Faces, and seemed to sit there with no other Intention but to see the Opera. Upon inquiry I found that the Body of the Amazons on my Right Hand, were Whigs, and those on my Left, Tories; And that those who had
In our last number, we extracted from this book two charmingly pathetic letters, which brought the reader acquainted with a pair of real lovers. * It shall now furnish us with a tragedy of a different sort, though pretending to be equally founded on love, and (as the paragraph advertisements say) of “startling interest.” Steele says he had it from a gentleman who was “an eye-witness of several parts of it.” The relief which the feelings experienced amidst the terrors of the former story arose from the sweetness of its affections. In the present, the love is of as bitter a sort as the catastrophe, but consoles us by driving matters to a pitch of the ludicrous in the very excess of its will. The heroine is a great spoiled child, who insists upon tearing her lover's breast open, and taking him with her into the other world, just as a smaller one might its drum.
“ About ten years ago,” says Steele, “there lived at Vienna a German count, who had long entertained a secret amour with a young lady of a considerable family. After a correspondence of gallantries, which had lasted two or three years, the father of the young count, whose family was reduced to a low condition, found out a very advantageous match for him; and made his son sensible, that he ought in common prudence to close with it. The count, upon the first opportunity, acquainted his mistress very fairly with what had passed, and laid the whole mat
placed themselves in the Middle-Boxes were a Neutral Party, whose Faces had not yet declared themselves. These last, however, as I afterwards found, diminished daily, and took their Party with one Side or the other; inasmuch as that I observed, in several of them, the Patches which were before dispersed equally, are now all gone over to the Whig or Tory Side of the Face. — ADDISON, The Spectator, No. 81.– ED.
* See the article on “Garth, Physicians, and Love-Letters," in "Men, Women, and Books.” – ED
ter before her with such freedom and openness of heart, that she seemingly consented to it. She only desired of him that they might have one meeting more, before they parted for ever. The place appointed for this their meeting was a grove, which stands at a little distance from the town. They conversed together in this place some time, when on a sudden the lady pulled out a pocket-pistol, and shot her lover into the heart, so that he immediately fell dead at her feet. She then returned to her father's house, telling every one she met what she had done. Her friends, upon hearing her story, would have found out means for her to make her escape; but she told them she had killed her dear count, because she could not live without him ; and that, for the same reason, she was resolved to follow him by whatever way justice should determine. She was soon seized, but she avowed her guilt; rejected all excuses that were made in her favor, and only begged that her execution might be speedy. She was sentenced to have her head cut off, and was apprehensive of nothing but that the interest of her friends would obtain a pardon for her. When the confessor approached her, she asked him where he thought was the soul of her dead count. He replied that his case was very dangerous, considering the circumstances in which he died. Upon this so desperate was her frenzy, that she bid him leave her, for that she was resolved to go to the same place where the count was. The priest was forced to give her better hopes for the deceased, from considerations that he was upon the point of breaking off so criminal a commerce, and leading a new life, before he could bring her mind into a temper fit for one who was so near her end. Upon the day of her execution she dressed herself in all her ornaments, and walked toward the scaffold more like a bride than a con