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For my own part, I should be very much troubled were I endued with this divining quality, though it should inform me truly of every thing that can befall me. I would not anticipate the relish of any happiness, nor feel the weight of any misery, before it actually arrives.
I know but one way of fortifying my soul against these gloomy presages and terrors of mind, and that is, by securing to myself the friendship and protection of that Being who disposes of
events, and governs futurity. He sees, at one view, the whole 10 thread of my existence, not only that part of it which I have
already passed through, but that which runs forward into all the depths of eternity. When I lay me down to sleep, I recommend myself to his care; when I awake, I give myself up to his direction. Amidst all the evils that threaten me, I will look up to him for help, and question not but he will either avert them, or turn them to my advantage. Though I know neither the time nor the manner of the death I am to die, I am not at all solicitous about it; because I am sure that He knows them
both, and that he will not fail to comfort and support me under 20 them.-C.
No. 15. On the vanity and frivolity of women; true and false
happiness; illustrated by the characters and lives of Aurelia and
OVID, Ars. Am. i. 159. Light minds are pleased with trifles. When I was in France, I used to gaze with great astonishment at the splendid equipages and party-coloured habits of that fantastic nation. I was one day in particular contemplating a lady, that sat in a coach adorned with gilded Cupids, and finely painted with the loves of Venus and Adonis. The coach was drawn by six milk-white horses, and loaded behind with the same number of powdered footmen. Just before the lady were a couple of beautiful pages, that were stuck among the harness,
and, by their gay dresses and smiling features, looked like the 30 elder brothers of the little boys that were carved and painted in every corner of the coach.
The lady was the unfortunate Cleanthe, who afterwards gave
an occasion to a pretty melancholy novel. She had for several years received the addresses of a gentleman, whom after a long and intimate acquaintance she forsook, upon the account of this shining equipage, which had been offered to her by one of great riches, but a crazy constitution. The circumstances in which I saw her, were, it seems, the disguises only of a broken heart, and a kind of pageantry to cover distress; for in two months after she was carried to her grave with the same pomp and magni
ficence; being sent thither partly by the loss of one lover, and 10 partly by the possession of another.
I have often reflected with myself on this unaccountable humour in womankind, of being smitten with every thing that is showy and superficial; and on the numberless evils that befal the sex, from this light fantastical disposition. I myself remember a young lady that was very warmly solicited by a couple of importunate rivals, who, for several months together, did all they could to recommend themselves, by complacency of behaviour and agreeableness of conversation. At length, when the competition
was doubtful, and the lady undetermined in her choice, one of 20 the young lovers very luckily bethought himself of adding a
supernumerary lace to his liveries, which had so good an effect, that he married her the very week after.
The usual conversation of ordinary women very much cherishes this natural weakness of being taken with outside appearance. Talk of a new-married couple, and you immediately hear whether they keep their coach and six, or eat in plate : mention the name of an absent lady, and it is ten to one but you learn something of her gown and petticoat. A ball is a great help to discourse, and
a birth-day furnishes conversation for a twelvemonth after. A 30 furbelow of precious stones, an hat buttoned with a diamond, a
brocade waistcoat: or petticoat, are standing topics. In short, they consider only the drapery of the species, and never cast away a thought on those ornaments of the mind, that make persons illustrious in themselves and useful to others. When women are thus perpetually dazzling one another's imaginations, and filling their heads with nothing but colours, it is no wonder that they are more attentive to the superficial parts of life, than the solid and substantial blessings of it. A girl who has been
trained up in this kind of conversation, is in danger of every em40 broidered coat that comes in her way. A pair of fringed gloves
may be her ruin. In a word, lace and ribbands, silver and gold galoons , with the like glittering gewgaws, are so many lures to women of weak minds or low education, and, when artificially displayed, are able to fetch down the most airy coquette from the wildest of her flights and rambles.
True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise: it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one's self; and in the next, from the friendship and conversation
of a few select companions: it loves shade and solitude, and 10 naturally haunts groves and fountains, fields and meadows; in
short, it feels everything it wants within itself, and receives no addition from multitudes of witnesses and spectators. On the contrary, false happiness loves to be in a crowd, and to draw the eyes of the world upon her. She does not receive any satisfaction from the applauses which she gives herself, but from the admiration which she raises in others. She flourishes in courts and palaces, theatres and assemblies, and has no existence but when she is looked upon.
Aurelia, though a woman of great quality, delights in the 20 privacy of a country life, and passes away a great part of her time
in her own walks and gardens. Her husband, who is her bosom friend, and companion in her solitudes, has been in love with her ever since he knew her. They both abound with good sense, consummate virtue, and a mutual esteem; and are a perpetual entertainment to one another. Their family is under so regular an economy, in its hours of devotion and repast, employment and diversion, that it looks like a little commonwealth within itself. They often go into company, that they may return with the
greater delight to one another; and sometimes live in town, not 30 to enjoy it so properly as to grow weary of it, that they may
renew in themselves the relish of a country life. By this means they are happy in each other, beloved by their children, adored by their servants, and are become the envy, or rather the delight, of all that know them.
How different to this is the life of Fulvia! she considers her husband as her steward, and looks upon discretion and good housewifery as little domestic virtues, unbecoming a woman of quality. She thinks life lost in her own family, and fancies herself out of the world when she is not in the Ring !, the play-house,
!1 See note to page 83.
or the drawing-room: she lives in a perpetual motion of body and restlessness of thought, and is never easy in any one place, when she thinks there is more company in another. The missing of an opera the first night, would be more afflicting to her than the death of a child. She pities all the valuable part of her own sex, and calls every woman of a prudent modest retired life, a poor-spirited and unpolished creature. What a mortification would it be to Fulvia, if she knew that her setting herself to view
is but exposing herself, and that she grows contemptible by being 10 conspicuous ?
I cannot conclude my paper, without observing, that Virgil has very finely touched upon this female passion for dress and show, in the character of Camilla; who, though she seems to have shaken off all the other weaknesses of her sex, is still described as a woman in this particular. The poet tells us, that, after having made a great slaughter of the enemy, she unfortunately cast her eye on a Trojan, who wore an embroidered tunic, a beautiful coat of mail, with a mantle of the finest purple. "A golden bow,'
says he, ‘hung upon his shoulder; his garment was buckled with 20 a golden clasp; and his head covered with a helmet of the same
shining metal.' The Amazon immediately singled out this well dressed warrior, being seized with a woman's longing for the pretty trappings that he was adorned with.
Totumque incauta per agmen Fæmineo prædæ et spoliorum ardebat amore. This heedless pursuit after these glittering trifles, the poet, by a nice concealed moral, represents to have been the destruction of his female hero.-C.
Against the authors of libels and lampoons ; Socrates and
Sævit atrox Volscens, nec teli conspicit usquam
VIRG. Æn. ix. 420.
DRYDEN. There is nothing that more betrays a base ungenerous spirit, than the giving of secret stabs to a man's reputation. Lampoons and satires, that are written with wit and spirit, are, like poisoned darts, which not only inflict a wound, but make it incurable. For this reason I am very much troubled when I see the talents of humour and ridicule in the possession of an ill-natured man. There cannot be a greater gratification to a barbarous and inhuman wit, than to stir up sorrow in the heart of a private person,
to raise uneasiness among near relations, and to expose whole 10 families to derision, at the same time that he remains unseen and
undiscovered. If, besides the accomplishments of being witty and ill-natured, a man is vicious into the bargain, he is one of the most mischievous creatures that can enter into a civil society. His satire will then chiefly fall upon those who ought to be the most exempt from it. Virtue, merit, and everything that is praiseworthy, will be made the subject of ridicule and buffoonery. It is impossible to enumerate the evils which arise from these arrows that fly in the dark, and I know no other excuse that is or can
be made for them, than that the wounds they give are only 20 imaginary, and produce nothing more than a secret shame or
sorrow in the mind of the suffering person. It must indeed be confessed, that a lampoon or a satire do not carry in them robbery or murder; but at the same time, how many are there that would not rather lose a considerable sum of money, or even life itself, than be set up as a mark of infamy and derision ? and in this case a man should consider that an injury is not to be measured by the notions of him that gives, but of him that receives it.
Those who can put the best countenance upon the outrages of this nature which are offered them, are not without their secret