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No. 52. TUESDAY, AUGUST 9, 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 7.
DELAMIRA RESIGNS HER FAN.
stood in suspense, as to their fate in their passion to the beauteous Delamira ; but all their hopes are lately vanished, by the declaration that she has made of her choice to take the happy Archibald * for her companion for life. Upon her making this known, the expense of sweet powder and jessamine are considerably abated; and the mercers and milliners complain of her want of public spirit, in not concealing longer a secret which was so much the benefit of trade. But so it has happened ; and no one was in confidence with her in carrying on this treaty, but the matchless Virgulta, whose despair of ever entering the matrimonial state made her, some nights before Delamira's resolution was published to the world, address herself to her in the following manner:
LONG had the crowd of the
* The Honourable Lord Archibald Hamilton of Motherwell, son to William third Duke of Hamilton, was probably the happy Archibald here meant, who about this time married Lady Jane Hamilton, youngest daughter of James Earl of Abercorn.
• Delamira ! you are now going into that state of life wherein the use of your charms is wholly to be applied to the pleasing only one man. That swimming air of your body, that janty bearing of your head over one shoulder, and that inexpressible beauty in your manner of playing your fan, must be lowered into a more confined behaviour; to show that you would rather shun than receive addresses for the future. Therefore, dear Delamira, give me those excellences you leave off, and acquaint me with your manner of charming : for I take the liberty of our friendship to say, that when I consider my own stature, motion, complexion, wit, or breeding, I cannot think myself any way your inferior; yet do I go through crowds without wounding a man, and all my acquaintance marry round me, while I live a virgin unasked, and I think unregarded.
Delamira heard her with great attention, and, with that dexterity which is natural to her, told her, that 'all she had above the rest of her sex and contemporary beauties, was wholly owing to a fan, which was left her by her mother, and had been long in the family, which whoever had in possession, and used with skill, should command the hearts of all her beholders : and since,' said she, smiling, “I have no more to do with extending my conquests or triumphs, I will make you a present of this inestimable rarity. Virgulta made her expressions of the highest gratitude for so uncommon a confidence in her, and desired she would show her what was peculiar in the management of that utensil, which rendered it of such general force while she was mistress of it.' Delamira replied, • You see, madam, Cupid is the principal figure painted on it; and the skill in playing this fan is, in your several motions of it, to let him appear as little as possible ; for honourable lovers fly all endeavours to ensnare them; and your Cupid must hide his bow and arrow, or he will never be sure of his game. You may observe, continued she, • that in all public assemblies, the sexes seem to separate themselves, and draw up to attack each other with eye-shot : that is the time when the fan, which is all the armour of a woman, is of most use in our defence; for our minds are construed by the waving of that little instrument, and our thoughts appear in composure or agitation, according to the motion of it. You may observe, when Will Peregrine comes into the side-box, Miss Gatty flutters her fan as a fly does its wings round a candle ; while her eldest sister, who is as much in love with him as she is, is as grave as a vestal at his entrance ; and the consequence is accordingly. He watches half the play for a glance from her sister, while Gatty is overlooked and neglected. I wish you heartily as much success in the management of it, as I have had : if you think fit to go on where I left off, I will give you a short account of the execution I have made with it.
• Cymon, who is the dullest of mortals, and though a wonderful great scholar, does not only pause, but seems to take a nap with his eyes open between every other sentence in his discourse : him have I made a leader in assemblies; and one blow on the shoulder as I passed by him has raised him to a downright impertinent in all conversations. The airy Will Sampler is become as lethargic by this my wand, as Cymon is sprightly. Take it, good girl, and use it without mercy; for the reign of beauty never lasted full three years, but it ended in marriage, or condemnation to virginity. As you fear, therefore, the one, and hope for the other, I expect an hourly journal of your triumphs; for I have it by certain tradition, that it was given to the first who wore it, by an enchantress, with this remarkable power, that it bestows a husband in half a year on her who does not overlook her proper minute ; but assigns to a long despair the woman who is well offered, and neglects that proposal. May occasion attend your charms, and your
charms slip no occasion ! Give me, I say, an account of the progress
forces at our next meeting ; and you shall hear what I think of my new condition. I should meet my future spouse this moment. Farewell. Live in just terror of the dreadful words, SHE WAS.'
FROM MY OWN APARTMENT, AUGUST 8. I had the honour this evening to visit some ladies, where the subject of the conversation was modesty ; which they commended as a quality quite as becoming in men as in women. I took the liberty to say, ‘it might be as beautiful in our behaviour as in theirs, yet it could not be said, it was as successful in life : for as it was the only recommendation in them, so it was the greatest obstacle to us, both in love and business. A gentleman present was of my mind, and said, that we must describe the difference between the modesty of women and that of men, or we should be confounded in our reasonings upon it; for this virtue is to be regarded with respect to our different ways of life. The woman's province is to be careful in her economy, and chaste in her affection: the man's to be active in the improvement of his fortune, and ready to undertake whatever is consistent with his reputation for that end.' Modesty, therefore, in a woman, has a certain agreeable fear in all she enters upon; and in men it is composed of a right judgment of what is proper for them to attempt. From hence it is, that a discreet man is always a modest one. It is to be noted that modesty in a man is never to be allowed as a good quality, but a weakness, if it suppresses his virtue, and hides it from the world, when he has at the same time a mind to exert himself. A French author says very justly, that modesty is to the other virtues in a man, what shade in a picture is to the parts of the thing represented. It makes all the beauties conspicuous, which would otherwise be but a wild heap of colours. This shade in our actions must, therefore, be very justly applied; for if there be too much, it hides our good qualities, instead of showing them to advantage.
Nestor in Athens was an unhappy instance of this truth; for he was not only in his profession the greatest man of that age, but had given more proofs of it than any other man ever did; yet, for want of that natural freedom and audacity which is necessary in commerce with men, his personal modesty overthrew all his public actions. Nestor was in those days a skilful architect, and in a manner the inventor of the use of mechanic powers; which he brought to so great perfection, that he knew to an atom what foundation would bear such a superstructure: and they record of him, that he was so prodigiously exact, that, for the experiment's sake, he built an edifice of great beauty, and seeming strength; but contrived so as to bear only its own weight, and not to admit the addition of the least particle. This building was beheld with much ad