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one who calls himself Thyrsis, that his mistress has been demurring above these seven years. But imong all my plaintiffs of this nature, I most pity the unfortunate Philander, a man of a constant passion and plentiful fortune, who sets forth tha: the timorous and irresolute Sylvia has demurrec till she is past child-bearing. Strephon appears ly his letter to be a very choleric lover, and irrevcably smitten with one that demurs out of self-interst. He tells me with great passion that she has bibbled him out of his youth; that she drilled him in to five-andfifty, and that he verily believes she will drop him in his old age if she can find her acount in another. I shall conclude this narrative wth a letter from honest Sam Hopewell, a very plesant fellow, who, it seems, has at last married a lemurrer. I must only premise that Sam, who is a very good bottlecompanion, has been the divesion of his friends upon account of his passion eer since the year one thousand six hundred and eig|ty-one.
*DEAR SIR, YOU know very well mypassion for Mrs. Martha,
and what a dance sh has led me. She took me out at the age of twrand-twenty, and dodged with me above thirty yers. I have loved her till she is grown as grey as acat, and am with much ado become the master of }er person, such as it is at present. She is, however, in my eye a very charming old woman. We ften lament that we did not marry sooner, but she has nobody to blame for it but herself; you knd very well that she would never think of me yhilst she had a tooth in her head. I have put he date of my passion (anno
amoris trigesimo primo), instead of a posy, on my wedding-ring. I expect you should send me a congratulatory letter, or, if you please, an epithalamium upon this occasion. Mrs. Martha's and yours eternally,
In order to banish an evil out of the world that does not only produce great uneasiness to private persons, but has also a very bad influence on the public, I shall endeavour to show the folly of demurrage from two or three reflections, which I earnestly recommend to the thoughts of my fair readers.
First of all, I would have them seriously think on the shortness of their time. Life is not long enough for a coquette to play her tricks in. A timorous woman drops into her grave before she has done deliberating. Were the age of man the same that it was before the Flood, a lady might sacrifice half a century to a scruple, and be two or three ages in demurring. Had she nine hundred years good, she might hold out to the conversion of the Jews before she thought fit to be prevailed upon. But, alas ! she ought to play her part in haste when she considers that she is suddenly to quit the stage and make room for others.
In the second place, I would desire my female readers to consider that, as the term of life is short, that of beauty is much shorter. The finest skin wrinkles in a few years, and loses the strength of its colouring so soon, that we have scarce time to admire it. I might embellish this subject with roses and rainbows and several other ingenious conceits, which I may possibly reserve for another opportunity. There is a third consideration which I would likewise recommend to a demurrer, and that is the great danger of her falling in love when she is about threescore, if she cannot satisfy her doubts and scruples before that time. There is a kind of latter spring that sometimes gets into the blood of an old woman, and turns her into a very odd sort of an animal. I would therefore have the demurrer consider what a strange figure she will make if she chances to get over all difficulties, and comes to a final resolution in that unseasonable part of her life.
I would not however be understood, by anything I have here said, to discourage that natural modesty in the sex, which renders a retreat from the first approaches of a lover both fashionable and graceful; all that I intend, is, to advise them, when they are prompted by reason and inclination, to demur only out of form, and so far as decency requires. A virtuous woman should reject the first offer of marriage, as a good man does that of a bishopric; but I would advise neither the one nor the other to persist in refusing what they secretly approve. I would in this particular propose the example of Eve to all her daughters, as Milton has represented her in the following passage, which I cannot forbear transcribing entire, though only the twelve last lines are to my present purpose :-
The rib He formed and fashioned with his hands :
And in her looks, which from that time infused
She disappeared and left me dark; I waked
• This turn hath made amends; thou hast fulfilled
She heard me thus, and though divinely brought, Yet innocence and virgin modesty, Her virtue and the conscience of her worth, That would be wooed, and not unsought be won, Not obvious, not obtrusive, but retired, The more desirable, or to say all, Nature herself, though pure of sinful thought, Wrought in her so, that seeing me she turned ; I followed her : she what was honour knew, And with obsequious majesty approved My pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower I led her blushing like the morn.
No 90. Wednesday, June 13, 1711
-Magnus fine viribus ignis Incassum furit—
– VIRG., Georg. iii. 99. THERE is not, in my opinion, a consideration I more effectual to extinguish inordinate desires
in the soul of man, than the notions of Plato and his followers upon that subject. They tell us," that every passion which has been contracted by the soul during her residence in the body, remains with her in her separate state; and that the soul, in the body or out of the body, differs no more than the man does from himself when he is in his house or in open air. When, therefore, the obscene passions in particular have once taken root and spread themselves in the soul, they cleave to her inseparably, and remain in her for ever after the body is cast off and thrown aside. As an argument to confirm this their doctrine, they observe that a lewd youth who goes on in a continued course of voluptuousness, advances by degrees into a libidinous old man; and that the passion survives in the mind when it is altogether dead in the body; nay, that the desire grows more violent, and (like all other habits) gathers strength by age, at the same time that it has no power of executing its own purposes. If, say they, the soul is the most subject to these passions at a time when it has the least instigations from the body, we may well suppose she will still retain them when she is entirely divested of it. The very substance of the
i Plato, • Phædon,' $ 131.