« AnteriorContinuar »
in every trifle ; and, as a sign of certain decay of affection, the word “perhaps,' was introduced in all their discourse. "I have a mind to go to the park,' says she; “but, perhaps, my dear, you will want the coach on some other occasion.'
He would very willingly carry her to the play ; but perhaps she had rather go to lady Centaur's and play at ombre.' They were both persons of good discerning, and soon found that they mortally hated each other, by their manner of hiding it. Certain it is, that there are some genios which are not capable of pure affection, and a man is born with talents for it as much as for poetry or any other science.
Osmyn began too late to find the imperfection of his own heart; and used all the methods in the world to correct it, and argue himself into return of desire and passion for his wife, by the contemplation of her excellent qualities, his great obligations to her, and the high value he saw all the world except himself did put upon her. But such is man's unhappy condition, that though the weakness of the heart has a prevailing power over the strength of the head, yet the strength of the head has but small force against the weakness of the heart. Osmyn, therefore, struggled in vain to revive departed desire; and for that reason resolved to retire to one of his estates in the country, and pass away his hours of wedlock in the noble diversions of the field : and in the fury of a disappointed lover, made an oath to leave neither stag, fox, or hare living, during the days of his wife. Besides that countrysports would be an amusement, he hoped also that his spouse
would be half killed by the very sense of seeing this town no more, and would think her life ended as soon as she left it. He communicated his design to Elmira, who received it, as now she
did all things, like a person too unhappy to be relieved or afflicted by the circumstance of place. This unexpected resignation made Osmyn resolve to be as obliging to her as possible ; and if he could not prevail upon himself to be kind, he took a resolution at least to act sincerely, and communicate frankly to her the weakness of his temper, to excuse the indifference of his behaviour. He disposed his household in the way to Rutland, so as he and his lady travelled only in the coach, for the convenience of discourse. They had not gone many miles out of town, when Osmyn spoke to this purpose:
My dear, I believe I look quite as silly now I · am going to tell you I do not love you, as when I first told
I did. We are now going into the country together, with only one hope for making this life agreeable, survivorship: desire is not in our power; mine is all
What shall we do to carry it with decency to the world, and hate one another with discretion ?'
The lady answered, without the least observation on the extravagance of his speech:
‘My dear, you have lived most of your days in a court, and I have not been wholly unacquainted with that sort of life. In courts, you see good-will is spoken with great warmth, ill-will covered with great civility. Men are long in civilities to those they hate, and short in expressions of kindness to those they love. Therefore, my dear, let us be well bred still; and it is no matter, as to all who see us, whether we love or hate ; and to let you see how much you are beholden to me for my conduct, I have both hated and despised you, my dear, this half year ; and yet neither in language or behaviour has it been visible but that I loved you tenderly. There
fore, as I know you go out of town to divert life in pursuit of beasts, and conversation with men just above them ; so, my life, from this moment, I shall read all the learned cooks who have ever writ; study broths, plasters, and conserves, till from a fine lady I become a notable woman. We must take our minds a note or two lower, or we shall be tortured by jealousy, or anger. Thus, I am resolved to kill all keen passions, by employing my mind on little subjects, and lessening the easiness of my spirit; while you, my dear, with much ale, exercise, and ill company, are so good as to endeavour to be as contemptible, as it is necessary for my quiet I should think you.'
At Rutland they arrived, and lived with great but secret impatience for many successive years, till Osmyn thought of a happy expedient to give their affairs a new turn. One day he took Elmira aside, and spoke as follows:
“My dear, you see here the air is so temperate and serene; the rivulets, the groves, and soil, so extremely kind to nature, that we are stronger and firmer in our health since we left the town; so that there is no hope of a release in this place : but if you will be so kind as to go with me to my estate in the hundreds of Essex, it is possible some kind damp may one day or other relieve us. If you will condescend to accept of this offer, I will add that whole estate to your jointure in this county'
Elmira, who was all goodness, accepted the offer, removed accordingly, and has left her spouse in that place to rest with his fathers.
This is the real figure in which Elmira ought to be beheld in this town: and not thought guilty of an indecorum, in not professing the sense, or bearing the habit of sorrow, for one who robbed her of all
the endearments of life, and gave her only common civility instead of complacency of manners, dignity of passion, and that constant assemblage of soft desires and affections, which all feel who love, but none can express.
WILL'S COFFEE-HOUSE, AUGUST 10. Mr. Trueman, who is a mighty admirer of dramatic poetry, and knows I am about a tragedy, never meets me, but he is giving admonitions and hints for my conduct. • Mr. Bickerstaff,' said he, 'I was reading last night your second act you were so kind to lend me: but I find you depend mightily upon the retinue of your hero to make him magnificent. You make guards, and ushers, and courtiers, and commons, and nobles, march before ; and then enters your prince, and says, they cannot defend him from his love. Why, prythee, Isaac, who ever thought they could ? Place me your loving monarch in a solitude, let him have no sense at all of his grandeur, but let it be eaten up with his passion. He must value himself as the greatest of lovers, not as the first of princes: and then let him say a more tender thing than ever man said beforefor his feather and eagle's beak are nothing at all. The man is to be expressed by his sentiments and affections, and not by his fortune or equipage. You are also to take care, that at his first entrance he says something which may give us an idea of what we are to expect in a person of his way of thinking. Shakspeare is your pattern. In the tragedy of Cæsar he introduces his hero in his nightgown. He had at that time all the power of Rome ; deposed consuls, subordinate generals, and captive princes might have preceded him; but his genius was above such mechanic methods of showing
greatness. Therefore, he rather presents that great soul debating upon the subject of life and death with his intimate friends, without endeavouring to prepossess his audience with empty show and pomp. When those who attend him talk of the many omens which had appeared that day, he answers :
“ Cowards die many times before their deaths;
• When the hero has spoken this sentiment, there is nothing that is great, which cannot be expected from one, whose first position is the contempt of death to so high a degree, as making his exit a thing wholly indifferent, and not a part of his care, but that of heaven and fate.'
ST. JAMES'S COFFEE-HOUSE, AUGUST 10. Letters from Brussels, of the fifteenth instant, N. S., say, that Major-General Ravignan returned on the eighth, with the French King's answer to the intended capitulation for the citadel of Tournay; which is, that he does not think fit to sign the capitulation, except the allies will grant a cessation of arms in general, during the time in which all acts of hostility were to have ceased between the citadel and the besiegers. Soon after the receipt of this news, the cannon on each side began to play. There are two attacks against the citadel, commanded by General Lottum and General Schuylemberg, which are both carried on with great success; and it is not doubted but the citadel will be in the hands of the allies before the last day of this VOL. II.