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FROM MY OWN APARTMENT, AUGUST 19. I have heard, it has been advised by a diocesan to his inferior clergy, that, instead of broaching opinions of their own, and uttering doctrines which may lead themselves and hearers into errors, they would read some of the most celebrated sermons, printed by others for the instruction of their congregations. In imitation of such preachers at second-hand, I shall transcribe from Bruyere one of the most elegant pieces of raillery and satire which I have ever read. He describes the French as if speaking of a people not yet discovered, in the air and style of a traveller.
• I have heard talk of a country, where the old men are gallant, polite, and civil ; the young men, on the contrary, stubborn, wild, without either manners or civility. They are free from passion for women at the age when in other countries they begin to feel it, and prefer beasts, victuals, and ridiculous amours before them. Amongst these people, he is sober who is never drunk with any thing but wine;
the too frequent use of it has rendered it flat and insipid to them : they endeavour by brandy, or other strong liquors, to quicken their taste, already extinguished, and want nothing to complete their debauches, but to drink aqua-fortis. The women of that country hasten the decay of their beauty, by their artifices to preserve it: they paint their cheeks, eyebrows, and shoulders, which they lay open, together with their breasts, arms, and ears, as if they were afraid to hide those places which they think will please, and never think they show enough of them. The physiognomies of the people of that country are not at all neat, but confused and embarrassed with a bundle of strange hair, which they prefer before their natural: with this they weave something to cover their heads, which descends down half way their bodies, hides their features, and hinders you from knowing men by their faces. This nation has, besides this, their God and their king. The grandees go every day, at a certain hour, to a temple they call a church ; at the upper end of that temple there stands an altar consecrated to their God, where the priest celebrates some mysteries, which they call holy, sacred, and tremendous. The great men make a vast circle at the foot of the altar, standing with their backs to the priests and the holy mysteries, and their faces erected towards their king, who is seen on his knees upon a throne, and to whom they seem to direct the desires of their hearts, and all their devotion. However, in this custom there is to be remarked a sort of subordination; for the people appear adoring their prince, and their prince adoring God. The inhabitants of this region call it-it is from forty-eight degrees of latitude, and more than eleven hundred leagues by sea, from the Iroquois and Hurons.'
Letters from Hampstead say, there is a coxcomb arrived there, of a kind which is utterly new. The fellow has courage, which he takes himself to be obliged to give proofs of every hour he lives. He is ever fighting with the men, and contradicting the women. A lady, who sent him to me, superscribed him with this description out of Suckling:
I am a man of war and might,
No. 58. TUESDAY, AUGUST 23, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines —
- nostri est farrago libelli.
JUV. Sat. i. 85, 86.
Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream,
WHITE'S CHOCOLATE-HOUSE, AUGUST 22. Poor Cynthio, who does me the honour to talk to me now and then very freely of his most secret thoughts, and tells me his most private frailties, owned to me, that though he is in his very prime of life, love had killed all his desires, and he was now as much to be trusted with a fine lady, as if he were eighty. That one passion for Clarissa has taken up,' said he, “my whole soul; and all my idle flames are extinguished, as you may observe ordinary fires are often put out by the sunshine.'
This was a declaration not to be made but upon the highest opinion of a man's sincerity; yet as much a subject of raillery as such a speech would be, it is certain, that chastity is a nobler quality, and as much to be valued in men as in women. The mighty Scipio, 'who,' as Bluffe says in the comedy, 'was pretty fellow in his time,' was of this mind, and is celebrated for it by an author of good sense. When he lived, wit, and humour, and raillery, and public success, were at as high a pitch at Rome, as at present in England ; yet, I believe,
there was no man in those days thought that general at all ridiculous in his behaviour in the following account of him.
Scipio, at four-and-twenty years of age, had obtained a great victory; and a multitude of prisoners, of each sex, and all conditions, fell into his possession : among others, an agreeable virgin in her early bloom and beauty. He had too sensible a spirit to see the most lovely of all objects without being moved with passion : besides which, there was no obligation of honour or virtue to restrain his desires towards one who was his by the fortune of
But a noble indignation, and a sudden sorrow, which appeared in her countenance, when the conqueror cast his eyes upon her, raised his curiosity to know her story. He was informed, that she was a lady of the highest condition in that country, and contracted to Indibilis, a man of merit and quality. The generous Roman soon placed himself in the condition of that unhappy man, who was to lose so charming a bride; and though a youth, a bachelor, a lover, and a conqueror, immediately resolved to resign all the invitations of his passion, and the rights of his power to restore her to her destined husband. With this purpose he commanded her parents and relations, as well as her
husband, to attend him at an appointed time. When they met, and were waiting for the general, my author frames to himself the different concern of an unhappy father, a despairing lover, and a tender mother, in the several persons who were so related to the captive. But, for fear of injuring the delicate circumstances with an old translation, I shall proceed to tell you that Scipio appears to them, and leads in his prisoner into their presence. The Romans, as noble as they were, seemed to allow themselves a little too much triumph over the conquered; therefore, as Scipio approached, they all threw themselves on their knees, except the lover of the lady: but Scipio, observing in him a manly sullenness, was the more inclined to favour him, and spoke to him in these words :
It is not the manner of the Romans to use all the power they justly may: we fight not to ravage countries, or break through the ties of humanity. I am acquainted with your worth, and your interest in this lady : fortune has made me your master; but I desire to be your friend. This is your wife, take her, and may the gods bless you with her! But far be it from Scipio to purchase a loose and momentary pleasure at the rate of making an honest man unhappy.'
Indibilis's heart was too full to make him any answer; but he threw himself at the feet of the general, and wept aloud. The captive lady fell into the same posture, and they both remained so, till the father burst into the following words: 'O divine Scipio ! the gods have given you more than human virtue. O glorious leader! Owondrous youth! does not that obliged virgin give you, while she prays to the gods for your prosperity, and thinks you sent down from them, raptures, above all the transports which you could have reaped from the possession of her injured person ?' The temperate Scipio answered him without much emotion, and, saying, “Father, be a friend to Rome,' retired. An immense sum was offered as her ransom ; but he sent it to her husband, and, smiling, said, “This is a trifle after what I have given him already; but let Indibilis know, that chastity at my age is a much more difficult virtue to practise than generosity.'
I observed Cynthio was very much taken with