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I must confess it has been my ambition, in the course of my writings, to restore, as well as I was able, the proper ideas of things. And as I have attempted this already on the subject of marriage in several papers,
I shall here add some further observations which occur to me on the same head.
Nothing seems to be thought, by our fine gentlemen, so indispensable an ornament in fashionable life, as love. “A knight errant,' says Don Quixote,
without a mistress, is like a tree without leaves ;' and a man of mode among us, who has not some fair one to sigh for, might as well pretend to appear dressed without his perriwig. We have lovers in prose innumerable. All our pretenders to rhyme are professed inamoratos; and there is scarce a poet, good or bad, to be heard of, who has not some real or supposed Saccharissa to improve his vein.
If love be any refinement, conjugal love must be certainly so in a much higher degree. There is no comparison between the frivolous affectations of attracting the
of women with whom you are only captivated by way of amusement, and of whom perhaps you know nothing more than their features, and a regular and uniform endeavour to make yourself valuable, both as a friend and lover, to one whom you have chosen to be the companion of your life. The first is the spring of a thousand fopperies, silly artifices, falsehoods, and perhaps barbarities; or at best rises no higher than to a kind of dancingschool breeding, to give the person a more sparkling air. The latter is the parent of substantial virtues and agreeable qualities, and cultivates the mind while it improves the behaviour. The passion of love to a mistress, even where it is most sincere, resembles too much the flame of a fever: that to a wife is like the vital heat.
I have often thought, if the letters written by men of good-nature to their wives were to be compared with those written by men of gallantry to their mistresses, the former, notwithstanding any inequality of style, would appear to have the advantage. Friendship, tenderness, and constancy, dressed in a simplicity of expression, recommend themselves by a more native elegance, than passionate raptures, extravagant encomiums, and slavish adoration. If we were admitted to search the cabinet of the beautiful Narcissa, among heaps of epistles from several admirers, which are there preserved with equal care, how few should we find but would make any one sick in the reading, except her who is flattered by them? But in how different a style must the wise Benevolus, who converses with that good sense and good humour among all his friends, write to a wife who is the worthy object of his utmost affection ? Benevolus, both in public and private, and all occasions of life, appears to have every good quality and desirable ornament. Abroad he is reverenced and esteemed ; at home beloved and happy. The satisfaction he enjoys there settles into an habitual complacency, which shines in his countenance, enlivens his wit, and seasons his conversation. Even those of his acquaintance, who have never seen him in his retirement, are sharers in the happiness of it; and it is very much owing to his being the best and best beloved of husbands, that he is the most stedfast of friends, and the most agreeable of companions.
There is a sensible pleasure in contemplating such beautiful instances of domestic life. The happiness of the conjugal state appears heightened to the highest degree it is capable of when we see two persons of accomplished minds not only united in the same interests and affections, but in their taste of the same improvements and diversions. Pliny,
one of the finest gentlemen and politest writers of the age in which he lived, has left us, in his letter to Hispulla, his wife's aunt, one of the most agreeable family pieces of this kind I have ever met with. I shall end this discourse with a translation of it; and I believe the reader will be of my opinion, that conjugal love is drawn in it with a delicacy which makes it appear to be, as I have represented it, an ornament as well as a virtue.
• PLINY TO HISPULLA.
As I remember the great affection which was between you
excellent brother, and know you love his daughter as your own, so as not only to express the tenderness of the best of aunts, but even to supply that of the best of fathers; I am sure it will be a pleasure to you to hear that she proves worthy of her father, worthy of you, and of your and her ancestors. Her ingenuity is admirable ; her frugality extraordinary. She loves me, the surest pledge of her virtue; and adds to this a wonderful disposition to learning, which she has acquired from her affection to me. She reads my writings, studies them, and even gets them by art. You would smile to see the concern she is in when I have a cause to plead, and the joy she shews when it is
She finds means to have the first news brought her of the success I meet with in court, how I am heard, and what decree is made. If I recite any thing in public, she cannot refrain from placing herself privately in some corner to hear, where, with the utmost delight, she feasts upon my applauses. Sometimes she sings my verses, and accompanies them with the lute, without any master except love, the best of instructors. From these instanees I take the most certain omens of our perpe
tual and increasing happiness; since her affection is not founded on my youth and person, which must gradually decay, but she is in love with the immortal part of me, my glory and reputation. Nor indeed could less be expected from one who had the happiness to receive her education from you, who in your house was accustomed to every thing that was virtuous and decent, and even began to love me by your recommendation. For, as you had always the greatest respect for my mother, you were pleased from my infancy to form me, to commend
me, kindly to presage I should be one day what my wife fancies I am. Accept, therefore, our united thanks; mine, that you have bestowed her on me; and hers, that
have given me to her, as a mutual grant of joy and felicity.'
N° 526. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1712.
-Fortius utere loris.
OVID. Met. ii. 127.
Keep a stiff rein.
young gentlemen mentioned in the following letter, and do not care to chastise them with my own hand, until I am forced by provocation too great to be suffered without the absolute destruction of my spectatorial dignity. The crimes of these offenders are placed under the observation of one of my chief officers, who is posted just at the entrance of the pass be
tween London and Westminster. As I have great confidence in the capacity, resolution, and integrity, of the person deputed by me to give an account of enormities, I doubt not but I shall soon have before me all proper notices which are requisite for the amendment of manners in public, and the instruction of each individual of the human species in what is due from him in respect to the whole body of mankind. The present paper shall consist only of the above-mentioned letter, and the copy of a deputation which I have given to my trusty friend Mr. John Sly; wherein he is charged to notify to me all that is necessary
the delinquents mentioned by my correspondent, as well as all others described in the said deputation.
TO THE SPECTATOR-GENERAL OF GREAT
* I Grant it does look a little familiar, but I must
• Being got again to the further end of the Widow's coffee-house, I shall from hence give you some account of the behaviour of our hackneycoachmen since my last. These indefatigable gentlemen, without the least design, I dare say, of self interest or advantage to themselves, do still ply as volunteers day and night for the good of their country. I will not trouble you with enumerating many particulars, but I must by no means omit to inform you of an infant about six foot* high, and between twenty and thirty years of age, who was seen in the arms of a hackney-coachman, driving by Will's cof