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ceed-in method, I shall consider them, first as they relate to the mind; secondly, as they relate to the body.
Could we look into the mind of a female gamester, we should see it full of nothing but trumps and mattadores. Her slumbers are haunted with kings, queens, and knaves. The day lies heavy upon her, until the play-season returns, when, for half a dozen hours together, all her faculties are employed in shuffling, cutting, dealing, and sorting out a pack of cards, and no ideas to be discovered, in a soul which calls itself rational
, excepting little square figures of painted and spotted paper. Was the understanding, that divine part in our composition, given for such an use ? Is it thus we improve the greatest talent human nature is endowed with ? What would a superior being think, were he shown this intellectual faculty in a female gamester, and, at the same time, told that it was by this she was distinguished from brutes, and allied to angels ?
When our women thus fill their imaginations with pips and counters, I cannot wonder at the story I have lately heard of a new-born child that was marked with the five of clubs.
Their passions suffer no less by this practice than their understandings and imaginations. What hope and fear, joy and anger, sorrow and discontent, break out all at once in a fair assembly, upon so noble an occasion as that of turning up a card! Who can consider, without a secret indignation, that all those affections of the mind which should be consecrated to their children, husbands, and parents, are thus vilely prostituted and thrown away upon a hand at loo? For my own part, I cannot but be grieved, when I see a fine woman fretting and bleeding inwardly from such trivial motives ; when I behold the face of an angel agitated and discomposed by the heart of a fury.
Our minds are of such a make, that they naturally give themselves up to every diversion which they are much accustomed to, and we always find that play, when followed with assiduity, engrosses the whole woman. She quickly grows uneasy in her own family, takes but little pleasure in all the domestic innocent endearments of life, and grows more fond of Pam than of her husband. My friend Theophrastus, the best of husbands and of fathers, has often complained to me, with tears in his eyes, of the late hours he is
forced to keep if he would enjoy his wife's conversation. When she returns to me with joy in her face, it does not arise, says he, from the sight of her husband, but from the good luck she has had at cards. On the contrary, says he, if she has been a loser, I am doubly a sufferer by it. She comes home out of humour, is angry with everybody, displeased with all I can do or say, and in reality for no other reason, but because she has been throwing away my estate. What charming bedfellows and companions for life are men likely to meet with, that choose their wives out of such women of vogue and fashion! What a race of worthies, what patriots, what heroes, must we expect from mothers of this make!
I come, in the next place, to consider the ill consequences which gaming has on the bodies of our female adventurers. It is so ordered, that almost everything which corrupts the soul, decays the body. The beauties of the face and mind are generally destroyed by the same means. This consideration should have a particular weight with the female world, who were designed to please the eye, and attract the regards of the other half of the species. Now there is nothing that wears out a fine face like the vigils of the card-table, and those cutting passions which naturally attend them. Hollow eyes, haggard looks, and pale complexions, are the natural indications of a female gamester. Her morning sleeps are not able to repair her midnight watchings. I have known a woman carried off half dead from bassette, and have many a time grieved to see a person of quality gliding by me in her chair at two o'clock in the morning, and looking like a spectre amidst a glare of flambeaux. In short, I never knew a thorough-paced female gamester hold her beauty two winters together.
But there is still another case in which the body is more endangered than in the former. All play-debts must be paid in specie, or by an equivalent. The man that plays beyond his income pawns his estate; the woman must find out something else to mortgage when her pin-money is gone: the husband has his lands to dispose of, the wife her person. Now, when the female body is once dipped, if the creditor
Decays the body.] Decay is a verb neuter, and cannot be used transitively. He should have said—“ makes the body decay."
Dipped.] A cant term, to express the demands which one has on this
be very importunate, I leave my reader to consider the con. sequences.
No. 121. THURSDAY, JULY 30.
Hinc exaudiri gemitus, iræque leonum. VIRG.
Roarings of the Lion. “ OLD NESTOR,
Ever since the first notice you gave of the erection of that useful monument of yours in Button's Coffee-house, I have had a restless ambition to imitate the renowned London 'prentice, and boldly venture my hand down the throat of your lion. The subject of this letter is a relation of a club whereof I am a member, and which has made a considerable noise of late, I mean the Silent Club. The year of our institution is 1694, the number of members twelve, and the place of our meeting is Dumb's Alley in Holborn. We look upon ourselves as the relics of the old Pythagoreans, and have this maxim in common with them, which is the foundation of our design, that · Talking spoils company. The president of our society is one who was born deaf and dumb, and owes that blessing to nature, which, in the rest of us, is owing to industry alone. I find, upon inquiry, that the greater part of us are married men, and such whose wives are remarkably loud at home: hither we fly for refuge, and enjoy at once the two greatest and most valuable blessings, company and retirement. When that eminent relation of yours, the Spectator, published his weekly papers, and gave us that remarkable account of his silence, (for you must know, though we do not read, yet we inspect all such useful essays,) we seemed unanimous to invite him to partake of our secrecy, but it was unluckily objected, that he had just then published a discourse of his at his own club, and had not arrived to that happy inactivity of the tongue, which we expected from a man of his understanding. You will wonder, perhaps, how we managed this debate, but it will be easily accounted for, when I tell effects of another; as when we say, such an one's estate is dipped, that is, in part mortgaged, or made over to his creditor: humorously applied, in this place, to the body or person of a female gamester.
that our fingers are as nimble, and as infallible interpreters of our thoughts, as other men's tongues are; yet even this mechanic eloquence is only allowed upon the weightiest occasions. We admire the wise institutions of the Turks, and other eastern nations, where all commands are performed by officious mutes; and we wonder that the polite courts of Christendom should come so far short of the majesty of the barbarians. Ben Johnson has gained an eternal reputation among us, by his play called the Silent Woman. Every member here is another Morose while the club is sitting, but at home may talk as much and as fast as his family occasions require, without breach of statute. The advantages we find from this Quaker-like assembly are many. We consider, that the understanding of man is liable to mistakes, and his will fond of contradictions; that disputes, which are of no weight in themselves, are often very considerable in their effects. The disuse of the tongue is the only effectual remedy against these. All party concerns, all private scandal, all insults over another man's weaker reasons, must there be lost, where no disputes arise. Another advantage, which follows from the first, (and which is very rarely to be met with,) is, that we are all upon the same level in conversation. A wag of my acquaintance used to add a third, viz. tbat, if ever we debate, we are sure to have all our arguments at our fingers' ends. Of all Longinus’s remarks, we are most, enamoured with that excellent passage, where he mentions Ajax's silence as one of the noblest instances of the sublime, and (if you will allow me to be free with a namesake of yours) I should think that the everlasting story-teller Nestor, had he been likened to the ass instead of our hero, he had suffered less by the comparison.
“I have already described the practice and sentiments of this society, and shall but barely mention the report of the neighbourhood, that we are not only as mute as fishes, but that we drink like fishes too: that we are like the Welshman's owl, though we do not sing, we pay it off with thinking: others take us for an assembly of disaffected persons, nay, their zeal to the government has carried them so far as to send, last week, a party of constables to surprise us; you may easily imagine how exactly we represented the Roman senators of old, sitting with majestic silence, and undaunted at the approach of an army of Gauls. If you approve
undertaking, you need not declare it to the world; your silence shall be interpreted as consent given to the honourable body of mutes, and in particular to
“ Your humble servant,
“P. S. We have had but one word spoken since the foundation, for which the member was expelled by the old Roman custom of bending back the thumb. He had just received the news of the battle of Hochstat, and being too impatient to communicate his joy, was unfortunately betrayed into a lapsus lingua. We acted on the principles of the Roman Manlius; and though we approved of the cause of his error as just, we condemned the effect as a manifest violation of his duty.”
I never could have thought a dumb man would have roared so well out of my lion's mouth. My next pretty correspondent, like Shakspeare's lion in Pyramus and Thisbe, roars an it were any nightingale. “MR. IRONSIDE,
July 28, 1713. I was afraid at first you were only in jest, and had a mind to expose our nakedness for the diversion of the town; but since I see that you are in good earnest, and have infallibility of your side, I cannot forbear returning my thanks to you for the care you take of us, having a friend who has promised me to give my letters to the lion, till we can communicate our thoughts to you through our own proper vehicle. Now you must know, dear sir, that if you do not take care to suppress this exorbitant growth of the female chest, all that is left of my waist must inevitably perish. It is at this time reduced to the depth of four inches, by what I have already made over to my neck. But if the stripping design, mentioned by Mrs. Figleaf yesterday, should take effect, sir, I dread to think what it will come to. In short, there is no help for it, my girdle and all must go. This is the naked truth of the matter. Have pity on me then, my dear Guardian, and preserve me from being so inhumanly exposed. I do assure you that I follow your precepts as much as a young woman can, who will live in the world without being laughed at. I have no hooped petticoat, and