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of another to gratify. Let his pride be in his wife and family, let him give them all the conveniences of life in such a manner as if he were proud of them; but let it be his own innocent pride, and not their exorbitant desires, which are indulged by him. In this case all the little arts imaginable are used to soften a man's heart, and raise his passion above his understanding. But in all concessions of this kind, a man should consider whether the present he makes flows from his own love, or the importunity of his beloved. If from the latter, he is her slave; if from the former, her friend. We laugh it off, and do not weigh this subjection to women with that seriousness which so important a circumstance deserves. Why was courage given to a man, if his wife's fears are to frustrate it? When this is once indulged, you are no longer her guardian and protector, as you were designed by nature; but, in compliance to her weaknesses, you have disabled yourself from avoiding the misfortunes into which they will lead you both, and you are to see the hour in which you are to be reproached by herself for that very compliance to her. It is indeed the most difficult mastery over ourselves we can possibly attain, to resist the grief of her who charms us; but let the heart ake, be the anguish never so quick and painful, it is what must be suffered and passed through, if you think to live like a gentleman, or be conscious to yourself that you are a man of honesty. The old argument, that 'you do not love me if you deny me this,' which first was used to obtain a trifle, by habitual success will oblige the unhappy man who gives way to it to resign the cause even of his country and his honour.
N° 511. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 1712.
Quis non invenit turba quod amaret in illa ?
OVID. Art. Am. i. 175. - Who could fail to find, In such a crowd, a mistress to his mind ?
Finding that my last letter took, I do intend to continue my epistolary correspondence with thee, on those dear confounded creatures, women. Thou knowest all the little learning I am master of is upon that subject: I never looked in a book, but for their sakes. I have lately met with two pure stories for a Spectator, which I am sure will please mightily, if they pass through thy hands. The first of them I found by chance in an English book, called Herodotus, that lay in my friend Dapperwit's window, as I visited him one morning. It luckily opened in the place where I met with the following account. He tells us that it was the manner among the Persians to have several fairs in the kingdom, at which all the young unmarried women were annually exposed to sale. The men who wanted wives came hither to provide themselves. Every woman was given to the highest bidder, and the money which she fetched laid aside for the public use, to be employed as thou shalt hear by and by. By this means the richest people had the choice of the market, and culled out all the most extraordinary beauties. As soon as the fair was thus picked, the refuse was to be distributed among the poor, and among those who could not go to the price of a beauty. Several of these married the agreeables,
without paying a farthing for them, unless somebody chanced to think it worth his while to bid for them, in which case the best bidder was always the purchaser. But now you must know, Spec, it happened in Persia, as it does in our own country, that there was' as many ugly women as beauties or agreeables ; so that by consequence, after the magistraies had put off a great many, there were still a great many that stuck upon their hands. In order therefore to clear the market, the money which the beauties had sold for was disposed of among the ugly; so that a poor man, who could not afford to have a beauty for his wife, was forced to take up with a fortune; the greatest portion being always given to the most deformed. To this the author adds, that every poor man was forced to live kindly with his wife, or, in case he repented of his bargain, to return her portion with her to the next publicsale.
"What I would recommend to thee on this occasion is, to establish such an imaginary fair in Great Britain: thou couldst make it very pleasant, by matching women of quality with cobblers and carmen, or describing titles and garters leading off in great ceremony shopkeepers' and farmers’daughters. Though, to tell thee the truth, I am confoundedly afraid, that as the love of money prevails in our island more than it did in Persia, we should find that some of our greatest men would choose out the portions, and rival one another for the richest piece of deformity; and that, on the contrary, the toasts and belles would be bought up by extravagant heirs, gamesters, and spendthrifts. Thou couldst make very pretty reflexions upon this occasion in honour of the Persian politicians, who took care, by such marriages, to beautify the upper part of the species, and to make the greatest
persons in the government the most graceful. But this I shall leave to thy judicious pen.
“I have another story to tell thee, which I likewise met with in a book. It seems the general of the Tartars, after having laid siege to a strong town in China, and taken it by storm, would set to sale all the women that were found in it. Accordingly he put each of them into a sack, and, after having thoroughly considered the value of the woman who was inclosed, marked the price that was demanded for her upon the sack. There was a great confluence of chapmen, that resorted from every part, with a design to purchase, which they were to do ' unsight unseen.' The book mentions a merchant in particular, who, observing one of the sacks to be marked pretty high, bargained for it, and carried it off with him to his house. As he was resting with it upon a halfway bridge, he was resolved to take a survey of his purchase: upon opening the sack, a little old woman popped her head out of it; at which the adventurer was in so great a rage, that he was going to shoot her out into the river. The old lady, however, begged him first of all to hear her story, by which he learned that she was sister to a great mandarin, who would infallibly make the fortune of his brother-in. law as soon as he should know to whose lot she fell. Upon which the merchant again tied her up in his sack, and carried her to his house, where she proved an excellent wife, and procured him all the riches from her brother that she had promised him.
"I fancy, if I was disposed to dream a second time, I could make a tolerable vision upon this plan. I would suppose all the unmarried women in London and Westminster brought to market in sacks, with their respective prices on each sack. The first sack that is sold is marked with five thousand pound.
Upon the opening of it, I find it filled with an admirable housewife, of an agreeable countenance. The purchaser, upon hearing her good qualities, pays down her price very cheerfully. The second I would open should be a five hundred pound sack. The lady in it, to our surprise, has the face and person of a toast. As we are wondering how she came to be set at so low a price, we hear that she would have been valued at ten thousand pound, but that the public had made those abateinents for her being a scold. I would afterwards find some beautiful, modest, and discreet woman, that should be the top of the market: and perhaps discover half a dozen romps tied up together in the same sack, at one hundred pound a head. The prude and the coquette should be valued at the same price, though the first should go off the better of the two. I fancy thou wouldst like such a vision, had I time to finish it ; because, to talk in thy own way, there is a moral in it. Whatever thou mayest think of it, pr’ythee do not make any of thy queer apologies for this letter, as thou didst for my last. The women love a gay lively fellow, and are never angry at the railleries of olie who is their known admirer. I am always bitter upon them, but well with them.