Abbildungen der Seite

Meffalina is the profeffed mistress of mankind; she has left the bed of her husband and her beauteous offspring, to give a loose to want of fhame and fulness of defire. Wretched Nocturnus, her feeble keeper! How the poor creature fribbles" in his gait, and skuttles from place to 'place to dispatch his neceffary affairs in painful daylight, that he may return to the conftant twilight preserved in that scene of wantonnefs, Meffalina's bedchamber! How does he, while he is abfent from thence, confider in his imagination the breadth of his porter's fhoulders, the fpruce nightcap of his valet, the ready attendance of his butler! any of all whom he knows the admits, and profeffes to approve of. This, alas! is the gallantry, this the freedom of our fine gentlemen; for this they preferve their liberty, and keep clear of that bugbear, marriage. But he does not understand either vice or virtue, who will not allow, that life without the rules of morality is.a wayward uneafy being, with fnatches only of pleafure; but, under the regulation of virtue, a reafonable and uniform habit of enjoyment. I have seen, in a play of old Haywood's, a fpeech at the end of an act, which touched this point with much fpirit. He makes a married man in the play, upon fome endearing occafion, look at his fpoufe with an air of fondefs, and fall in the following re flection on his condition.


Oh marriage! happiest, easiest, safest state;

Let debauchees and drunkards fcorn thy rites,

Who, in their naufeous draughts and lufts, profane Both thee and heav'n, by whom thou wert ordain'd. How can the favage call it lofs of freedom,

Thus to converfe with, thus to gaze at

A faithful, beauteous friend?

Blush not, my fair one, that thy love applauds thee,

Nor be it painful to my wedded wife,

That my full heart o'erflows in praise of thee.
Thou art by law, by intereft, paffion, mine:
Paffion and reafon join in love of thee.

Thus, through a world of calumny and fraud,



We pafs both unreproach'd, both undeceiv'd;
While in each other's interest and happiness,
We without art all faculties employ,
And all our fenfes without guilt enjoy.

NO. 50. THURSDAÝ, August 4, 1709.

The History of Orlando the Fair. Chap. I.

White's Chocolate-boufe, August 17.

WHATEVER malicious men may fay of our Lucubra→ tions, we have no defign but to produce unknown merit, or place in a proper light the actions of our contemporaries who labour to diftinguish themfelves, whether it be by vice or virtue. For we fhall never give accounts to the world of any thing but what the lives and endeavours of the perfons of whom we treat make the basis of their fame and reputation. For this reafon, it is to be hoped that our appearance is reputed a public benefit; and, though certain perfons may turn what we mean for panegyric into fcandal, let it be answered once for all, that if our praifes are really defigned as a raillery, fuch malevolent perfons owe their fafety from it only to their being too inconfiderable for hiftory. It is not every man who deals in rats-bane, or is unfeafonably amorous, that can adorn ftory like Æfculapius; nor every ftock-jobber of the India company can affume the port, and perfonate the figure of Aurengezebe. My noble ancestor, Mr. Shakespear, who was of the race of the Staffs, was not more fond of the memorable Sir John Falftaff, than I am of thofe worthies; but the Latins have an admirable admonition expreffed in three words, to wit, Ne quid nimis, which forbids my indulging myfelf on thofe delightful fubjects, and calls me to do juffice to others, who make no lefs figures in our generation: of fuch, the first and most renowned is

[ocr errors]


295 that eminent hero and lover Orlando the handsome, whose difappointments in love, in gallantry, and in war, have banished him from public view, and made him voluntarily enter into a confinement, to which the ungrateful age would otherwife have forced him. Ten luftra and more are wholly paffed fince Orlando first appeared in the metropolis of this ifland: his defcent is noble, his wit humorous, his perfon charming. But to none of thefe recommendatory advantages was his title fo undoubted, as that of his beauty. His complexion was fair, but his countenance manly; his ftature of the tallest, his fhape the most exact: and though in all his limbs he had a proportion as delicate as we fee in the works of the most skilful ftatuaries, his body had a ftrength and firmnefs little inferior to the marble of which fuch images are formed. This made Orlando the univerfal flame of all the fair fex; innocent virgins fighed for him, as Adonis; experienced widows, as Hercules. Thus did this figure walk alone the pattern and ornament of our fpecies, but of course the envy of all who had the fame paffions, without his fuperior merit, and pretences to the favour of that inchanting creature, woman. However, the generous Orlando believed himfelf formed for the world, and not to be engroffed by any particular affection. He fighed not for Delia, for Chloris, for Chloe, for Betty, nor my lady, nor for the ready cham bermaid, nor diftant baronefs: woman was his mistress, and the whole fex his feraglio. His form was always irrefiftible: and, if we confider that not one of five hundred can bear the leaft favour from a lady without being exalted above himself; if also we must allow, that a smile from a fide-box has made Jack Spruce half mad; we cannot think it wonderful that Orlando's repeated conquefts touched his brain: fo it certainly did, and Orlando became an enthusiast in love; and in all his addrefs contracted fomething out of the ordinary course of breeding and civility. However, powerful as he was, he would still add to the advantages of his perfon, that of a profeffion which the ladies always favour, and immediately commenced foldier. Thus equipped for love and honour, our hero feeks diftant climes and adventures, and leaves the despairing




No. 50. nymphs of Great Britain to the courtships of beaus and witlings until his return. His exploits in foreign nations and courts have not been regularly enough communicated unto us, to report them with that veracity which we profefs in our narrations: but, after many feats of arms (which those who were witneffes to them have fuppreffed out of envy, but which we have had faithfully related from his own mouth in our public ftreets), Orlando returns home full, but not loaded, with years. Beaus born in his abfence made it their business to decry his furniture, his dress, his manner; but all fuch rivalry he fuppreffed (as the philofopher did the sceptic, who argued there was no fuch thing as motion) by only moving. The beauteous Villaria, who only was formed for his paramour, became the object of his affection. His first speech to her was as follows:

Madam, it is not only that nature has made us two the most accomplished of each fex, and pointed to us to obey her dictates in becoming one; but that there is also an ambition in following the mighty perfons you have favoured. Where kings and heroes, as great as Alexander, or fuch as could perfonate Alexander, have bowed, permit your general to lay his laurels.'

According to Milton;

The fair with conscious majesty approv❜d
His pleaded reafon-

Fortune having now fupplied Orlando with neceffaries for his high taste of gallantry and pleasure, his equipage and economy had fomething in them more fumptuous and gallant than could be received in our degenerate age; therefore his figure, though highly graceful, appeared exotic, that it affembled all the Britons under the age of fixteen, who faw his grandeur, to follow his chariot with fhouts and acclamations; which he regarded with the


contempt which great minds affect in the midst of applaufes. I remember, I had the honour to fee him one day ftop, and call the youths about him, to whom he fpake as follows:

• Good baftards-Go to fchool, and do not lose your time in following my wheels: I am loth to hurt you, because I know not but you are all my own offspring. Hark ye, you firrah, with the white hair, I am fure you are mine: there is half a crown. Tell your mother, This, with the half crown I gave her when I got you, comes to five fhillings. Thou haft coft me all that, and yet thou art good for nothing. Why, you young dogs, did you never see a man before? Never fuch a one as you, -noble general, replied a truant from Westminster.' Sirrah, I believe thee: there is a crown for thee. Drive on Coachiman.'

[ocr errors]

This vehicle, though facred to love, was not adorned with doves: fuch an hieroglyphic denoted too languishing a paffion. Orlando therefore gave the eagle, as being of a conftitution which inclined him rather to feize his prey with talons, than pine for it with mur


From my own Apartment, August 2.

I HAVE received the following letter from Mr. Powel of the Bath, who, I think, runs from the point between us, which I leave the whole world to judge.

• SIR,


HAVING a great deal of more advantageous bufinefs at prefent on my hands, I thought to have deferred anfwering your Tatler of the twenty-first inftant until the company was gone, and feafon over; but having



« ZurückWeiter »