Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

knowing years to Cælia. She made him no answer; but retired to her closet. He returned to the Temple, where he soon after received from her the following letter..

[ocr errors][merged small]

« You, who this morning were the best, are pow. the worst of men who breathe vital air. I am at once overwhelmed with love, hatred, rage, and disdain. Can infamy and innocence live together? I feel the weight of the one too strong for the comfort of the other. How bitter, Heaven! how bitter is my portion! How much have I to.say! but the infant which I bear about me stirs with my agitation. I am, Palamede, to live in Ihame, and this creature be heir to it. Farewell for ever!

3

18

NO. 199. TUESDAY, JULY 18, 1710.

K

WHEN we revolve in our thoughts such catastrophes as that in the history of the unhappy Cælia, there seems to be fomething so hazardous in the changing a single state of life into that of marriage, that, it may happen, all the precautions imaginable are not sufficient to defend a virgin from ruin by her choice. It seems a wonderful in consistence in the distribution of public justice, that a man who robs a woman of an ear-ring or a jewel, should be punished with death; but one, who, by false arts and insinuations, thould take from her her very self, is only to fuffer disgrace. This excellent young woman has nothing to confolate herself with but the reflection that her suffering ings are not the effect of any guilt or misconduct; and has, for her protection, the influence of a Power which, amidst the unjust reproach of all mankind, can give not only patience, but pleasure, to innocence in distress. :)

As the person, who is the criminal against Cælia, can not be sufficiently punished according to our present

law;

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ław; fo are there numberlefs unhappy persons without Temedy according to present custom. That great ill, which has prevailed among us in these later ages, is, the making even beauty and virtue the purchase of money. The generality of parents, and fome of those of quan lity, instead of looking out for introducing health of conftitution, frankness of spirit, or dignity of countenance into their families, lay out all their thoughts upon finding out matches for their estates, and not for their children. You shall have one form such a plot for the good of his family, that there shall not be fix men in England capable of pretending to his daughter. A second Thall have a son obliged, out of mere discretion, for feat of doing any thing below himself, to follow all the drabs in town. These fage parents meet; and, as there is no pass, no courtship between the young ones, it is no unpleasant observation to behold how they proceed to treaty. There is ever, in the behaviour of each,

rome. thing that denotes his circumstance; and honest Coupler, the conveyancer, says, he can distinguish upon sight of the parties, before they have opened any point of their business, which of the two has the daughter to sell, Coupler is of our club, and I have frequently heard him declaim upon this subject, and affert, that the marriage. settlements, which are now used, have grown fashionable even within his memory.

When the theatre, in fome late reigns, owed its chief fúpport to those scenes which were written to put matrimony out of countenance, and render that itate terrible, then it was that pin-money first prevailed; and all the other articles were inferted which create a diffidence, 'and intimate to the young people, that they are very soon to be in a state of war with each other; though this had seldom happened, except the fear of it had been expressed: Coupler will tell you also, that jointures were never frequent until the age before his own ; but the women were contented with the third part of the estate the law allotted them, and fcorned to engage with men whom they thought capable of abusing their children. He has also informed me that there who were the

oldest

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

oldest benchers when he came to the Temple, told him, abefirst, marriage-settlement of considerable length was the invention of an old ferjeant; who took the opportunity of two teity fathers, who were ever 'squabbling, to bring about an alliance between their children. These fellows knew each other to be knaves; and the serjeant took hold of their mutual diffidence for the benefit of the law, to extend the settlement to three skins of parchment.

To this great benefactor to the profession is owing the present current price of lines and words. Thus is tenderness thrown out of the question, and the great care is, What the young couple should do when they come to. hatel each other? I do not question but, from this one humour of settlements, might very fairly be deduced, not only our prefent défection in point of morals, but also our want of people. This has given way to such unreafonable gallantries, that a man is hardly reproachable that deceives an innocent woman, though the has ever so much merit, if she is below him in fortune. ...The man has no dilhonour following his treachery; and her own sex are fo debased by force of custom, as to say, in the case of the woman, How could be expeét he would marry her?

By this means the good offices, the pleasures, and graces of-life, are not put into the balance. The bridegroom has given his eftace out of himself; and he has no more Jeft but to follow the blind decree of his fate, whether he shall be succeeded by a fot, or a man of merit, in his fortune... On the other side, a fine woman, who has alfa a fortune, is fet up by way of auction; her first lover has ten to one againit him. The very hour after he has opened his heart and his rent-roll, he is made no other afe of but to raise her price: lhe.' and her friends lose non opportodity of publifhing it, to call in new bidders. While the poor dover very innocently, waits, until the olenipotentiaries at the ions of court have debated about the alliance, all the partisans of the lady throw difficult ties in the way, until other offers come in; and the man who came firit is not put in poffeffion, until she has been refused by half the town. If an abhorrence to fuch mer. cenary proceedings were well fettled in the minds of my

fair readers, those of merit would have a way opened to their advancement; nay, those who abound in wealth only would in reality find their account in it, It would not be in the power of their prude acquaintance, their waiters, their nurses, cousins, and whisperers, to persuade them, that there are not above twenty men in a kingdom, and those fuch as, perhaps, they may never fetleyes on, whom they can think of with discretion. As the case stands now, let any one consider, how the great heiresses, and those to whom they were offered, for no other reason but that they could make them suitable settlements, live together. What can be more infipid, if not loathsome, than for two persons to be at the head of a crowd, who have as little segard for them as they for each other; and behold one another in an affected senfe of prosperity, without the least relifh of that exquisite gladness at meeting, that sweet inquietude at parting, together with the charms ofovoice,

gesture, and that general benevolence between well chosen lovers, which makes all things please, and leaves not the least trifle indifferent.

But I am diverted from these sketches for future essays in behalf of my numerous clients of the fair fex, by a notice, fent to my office in Sheer-lane, That a blooming, widow, in the third year of her widowhood, and twentyfixth of her age, designs to take a colonel of twenty-eight. The parties request I would draw up their terms of coming together, as having a regard to my opinion against long and diffident settlements, and I have fent them the following indenture: We John and Mary

having estates for life, refolve to take each other. I John will venture my life to enrich thee Mary; and I Mary will confult my health to nurse thee John. To which we have interchangeably set our hands hearts, and seals, this 17th of July 1710...

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

NO, 200. THURSDAY, JULY 20, 1710.

[ocr errors]

Froń my own Apartment, July 9.

[ocr errors]

Having devoted the greater part of my time to the. service of the fair sex, I must ask pardon of my men correspondents if I postpone their commands, when I have any from the ladies which lie unanswered. That which follows is of importance.

7

• SIR,

You cannot think it strange if I, who know little of the world, apply to you for advice in the weighty affair of matrimony; since you yourself have often declared it to be of that consequence as to require the utmost deliberation. Without further preface, therefore, give me leave to tell you, that my father, at his death, left me a fortune sufficient to make me a match for any gentleman. My mother, for she is ftill alive, is very prefling with me to marry; and I am apt to think, to gra. tify her, I Ihall venture upon one of two gentlemen, who at this time make their addresses to me. My request is, that you would direct me in my choice; which that you may the better do, I shall give you their characters; and, to avoid confusion, desire you to call them by the names of Philander and Silvius.' Philander is young, and has a good estate ; Silvius is as young, and has a better. The former has had a liberal education, has seen the town, is . retired from thence to his estate in the country, is a man of few words, and much given to books. The latter was brought up under his father's eye, who gave him just learning enough to enable him to keep his accounts; but made him withal very expert in country business, such as ploughing, sowing, buying, felling, and the like. They are both very fober men, neither of their persons is difagreeable, nor did I know which to prefer until I bad beard them discourse; when the conversation of Philander

ro

« ZurückWeiter »