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that she returned to her seat in less than a twelvemonth. This young matron is looked upon as the most rising member of the society, and will, probably, be in the president's chair before she dies.
“ These ladies, upon their first institution, resolved to give the pictures of their deceased husbands to the club-room, but two of them bringing in their dead at full length, they covered all the walls : upon which they came to a second resolution, that every matron should give her own picture, and set it round with her husbands in miniature.
“As they have most of them the misfortune to be troubled - with the cholic, they have a noble cellar of cordials and strong waters.
When they grow maudlin, they are very apt to commemorate their former partners with a tear. But ask them which of their husbands they condole, they are not able to tell you, and discover plainly that they do not weep so much for the loss of a husband, as for the want of one.
“The principal rule, by which the whole society are to govern themselves, is this, to cry up the pleasures of a single life
upon all occasions, in order to deter the rest of their sex from marriage, and engross the whole world to themselves.
They are obliged, when any one makes love to a member of the society, to communicate his name, at which time the whole assembly sit upon his reputation, person, fortune, and good humour; and if they find him qualified for a sister of the club, they lay their heads together how to make him
By this means they are acquainted with all the widow-hunters about town, who often afford them great diversion. There is an honest Irish gentleman, it seems, who knows nothing of this society, but at different times has made love to the whole club.
“ Their 'conversation often turns upon their former husbands, and it is very diverting to hear them relate their arts and stratagems, with which they amused the jealous, pacified the choleric, or wheedled the good-natured man, until at last, to use the club phrase, “They sent him out of the house with his heels foremost.'
“The politics which are most cultivated by this society of she-Machiavels, relate chiefly to these two points, How to treat a lover, and How to manage a husband. As for the first set of artifices, they are too numerous to come within the
your paper, and shall therefore be reserved for a second letter.
“The management of a husband is built upon the following doctrines, which are universally assented to by the whole club. Not to give him his head at first. Not to allow him too great freedoms and familiarities. Not to be treated by him like a raw girl, but as a woman that knows the world. Not to lessen anything of her former figure. To celebrate the generosity, or any other virtue, of a deceased husband, which she would recommend to his successor. all his old friends and servants, that she may have the dear man to herself. To make him disinherit the undutiful chil. dren of any former wife. Never to be thoroughly convinced of his affection, until he has made over to her all his goods and chattels.1 “ After so long a letter, I am, without more ceremony,
" Your humble servant, &c.
To turn away
No. 562. FRIDAY, JULY 2.
-Præsens, absens ut sies. TER. “It is a hard and nice subject for a man to speak of himself (says Cowley): it grates his own heart to say anything of disparagement, and the reader's ears to hear anything of praise from him.” Let the tenor of his discourse be what it will, upon this subject, it generally proceeds from vanity. An ostentatious man will rather relate a blunder or an absurdity he has committed, than be debarred from talking of his own dear person.
Some very great writers have been guilty of this fault. It is observed of Tully in particular, that his works run very much in the first person, and that he takes all occasions of doing himself justice. "Does he think (says Brutus) that his consulship deserves more applause than my putting
After all the severity of this satire, it should be remembered, that the author ventured on a widow, the Countess of Warwick; who, to speak in the language of this letter, fairly laid him out, within the compass of four years: an exploit, for which her ladyship seems to have been well entitled to the chair of this society.
Cæsar to death, because I am not perpetually talking of the ides of March, as he is of the nones of December ?” I need not acquaint my learned reader, that in the ides of March Brutus destroyed Cæsar, and that Cicero quashed the conspiracy of Catiline in the calends of December. How shocking soever this great man's talking of himself might have been to his contemporaries, I must confess I am never better pleased than when he is on this subject. Such openings of the heart give a man a thorough insight into his personal character, and illustrate several passages in the history of his life : besides, that there is some little pleasure in discovering the infirmity of a great man, and seeing how the opinion he has of himself agrees with what the world entertains of him.
The gentlemen of Port-Royal, who were more eminent for their learning and their humility than any other in France, banished the way of speaking in the first person out of all their works, as arising from vain-glory and self-conceit. To show their particular aversion to it, they branded this form of writing with the name of an egotism ; a figure not to be found among the ancient rhetoricians.
The most violent egotism which I have met with in the course of my reading, is that of Cardinal Wolsey, Ego et rex meus, “I and my king; as perhaps the most eminent egotist that ever appeared in the world, was Montagne, the author of the celebrated Essays. This lively old Gascon has woven all his bodily infirmities into his works, and after having spoken of the faults or virtues of
immediately publishes to the world how it stands with himself in that particular. Had he kept his own counsel, he might have passed for a much better man, though, perhaps, he would not have been so diverting an author. The title of an essay promises, perhaps, a discourse upon Virgil or Julius Cæsar; but when you look into it, you are sure to meet with more upon Monsieur Montagne than either of them. The younger Scaliger, who seems to have been no great friend to this author, after having acquainted the world that his father sold herrings, adds these words ; La grande fadaise de Mon
Such openings of the heart give a man a thorough insight into his personal character—without doubt: and he might have said-raise one's ideas of it, when the writer or speaker has such a heart to lay open as Cicero had.
tagne, qui a escrit qu'il aimoit mieux le vin blanc
-que diable a-t-on à faire de sçavoir ce qu'il aime? “For my part, (says Montagne,) I am a great lover of your white wines. - What the devil signifies it to the public, (says Scaliger,) whether he is a lover of white wines or of red wines ?”
I cannot here forbear mentioning a tribe of egotists for whom I have always had a mortal aversion, I mean the authors of memoirs, who are never mentioned in any works but their own, and who raise all their productions out of this single figure of speech.
Most of our modern prefaces savour very strongly of the egotism. Every insignificant author fancies it of importance to the world to know that he writ his book in the country, that he did it to pass away some of his idle hours, that it was published at the importunity of friends, or that his natural temper, studies, or conversations, directed him to the choice of his subject.
-Id populus curat scilicet. Such informations cannot but be highly improving to the reader.
In works of humour, especially when a man writes under a fictitious personage, the talking of one's self may give some diversion to the public; but I would advise every other writer never to speak of himself, unless there be something very considerable in his character; though I am sensible this rule will be of little use in the world, because there is no man who fancies his thoughts worth publishing, that does not look upon himself as a considerable person.
I shall close this paper with a remark upon such as are egotists in conversation : these are generally the vain or shallow part of mankind, people being naturally full of themselves when they have nothing else in them. There is one kind of egotists which is very common in the world, though I do not remember that any writer has taken notice of them; I mean those empty, conceited fellows, who repeat as sayings of their own, or some of their particular friends, several jests which were made before they were born, and which every one who has conversed in the world has heard a hundred times over. A forward young fellow of my acquaintance was very guilty of this absurdity: he would be always laying a new scene for some old piece of wit, and telling us, “ s'hat as he and Jack such-a-one were together, one or t’other of them had such a conceit on such an occasion;" upon which he would laugh very heartily, and wonder the company did not join with him. When his mirth was over, I have often reprehended him out of Terence,“ Tuumne, obsecro te, hoc dictum erat ? vetus credidi.”. But finding him still incorrigible, and having a kindness for the young coxcomb, who was otherwise a good-natured fellow, I recommended to his perusal the Oxford and Cambridge jests, with several little pieces of pleasantry of the same nature. Upon the reading of them, he was under no small confusion to find that all his jokes had passed through several editions, and that what he thought was a new conceit, and had appropriated to his own use, had appeared in print before he or his ingenious friends were ever heard of. This had so good an effect upon him, that he is content at present to pass for a man of plain sense in his ordinary conversation, and is never facetious but when he knows his company.
No. 565. FRIDAY, JULY 9.
-Deum namque ire per omnes Terrasque, tractusque maris, cælumque profundum. Virg. I was yesterday about sun-set walking in the open fields, till the night insensibly fell upon me. I at first amused myself with all the richness and variety of colours, which appeared in the western parts of heaven: in proportion as
1 What he thought was a new conceit, and had appropriated to his own se.] The reader may, perhaps, think (for the writer himself, in a careless humour, appears to have done so) that the copulative and connects the verbs thought and appropriated, whereas it connects the verbs was and appropriated, and even then the last of these verbs has no substantive belonging to it. For the passage, if regularly pointed and filled up, stands thus—what [as] he thought was a new conceit, and [he] had appropriated to his own use. Still, to make what the nominative case in the former part of this passage, and the accusative in the latter, even though it had been repeated in its place, as it is not, is very irregular, and even barbar
The whole may be reformed by changing was into to be "what he thought to be a new conceit, and had appropriated to his own use Quod novum putabat esse dictum, et sibi vindicaverat.
? The fine imagery of this introduction is presented to us in all the force and beauty of expression.