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soul is festered with them; the gangrene is gone too far to be ever cured; the inflammation will rage to all eternity.
In this, therefore (say the Platonists) consists the punishment of a voluptuous man after death; he is tormented with desires which it is impossible for him to gratify, solicited by a passion that has neither objects nor organs adapted to it; he lives in a state of invincible desire and impotence, and always burns in the pursuit of what he always despairs to possess. It is for this reason (says Plato) that the souls of the dead appear frequently in cemeteries, and hover about the places where their bodies are buried, as still hankering after their old brutal pleasures, and desiring again to enter the body that gave them an opportunity of fulfilling them.
Some of our most eminent divines have made use of this Platonic notion, so far as it regards the subsistence of our passions after death, with great beauty and strength of reason. Plato indeed carries the thought very far, when he grafts upon it his opinion of ghosts appearing in places of burial; though, I must confess, if one did believe that the departed souls of men and women wandered up and down these lower regions, and entertained themselves with the sight of their species, one could not devise a more proper hell for an impure spirit than that which Plato has touched upon.
The ancients seem to have drawn such a state of torments in the description of Tantalus, who was punished with the rage of an eternal thirst, and set up to the chin in water that fled from his lips whenever he attempted to drink it.
Virgil, who has cast the whole system of Platonic philosophy, so far as it relates to the soul of man,
into beautiful allegories, in the sixth book of his Æneid gives us the punishment of a voluptuary after death, not unlike that which we are here speaking of :
Lucent genialibus altis
They lie below on golden beds displayed,
-DRYD. That I may a little alleviate the severity of this my speculation (which otherwise may lose me several of my polite readers), I shall translate a story that has been quoted upon another occasion by one of the most learned men of the present age, as I find it in the original. The reader will see it is not foreign to my present subject, and I dare say will think it a lively representation of a person lying under the torments of such a kind of Tantalism, or Platonic hell, as that which we have now under consideration. Monsieur Pontignan, speaking of a loveadventure that happened to him in the country, gives the following account of it:2 —
· When I was in the country last summer, I was often in company with a couple of charming women who had all the wit and beauty one could
1 Æn. vi. 603.
2 This story is told by the Chevalier Pontignan in the Academie Galante, 1710, p. 125.
desire in female companions, with a dash of coquetry, that from time to time gave me a great many agreeable torments. I was, after my way, in love with both of them, and had such frequent opportunities of pleading my passion to them when they were asunder, that I had reason to hope for particular favours from each of them. As I was walking one evening in my chamber with nothing about me but my nightgown, they both came into my room and told me they had a very pleasant trick to put upon a gentleman that was in the same house, provided I would bear a part in it. Upon this they told me such a plausible story, that I laughed at their contrivance, and agreed to do whatever they should require of me. They immediately began to swaddle me up in my nightgown with long pieces of linen, which they folded about me till they had wrapped me in above an hundred yards of swathe: my arms were pressed to my sides, and my legs closed together by so many wrappers one above another, that I looked like an Egyptian mummy. As I stood bolt upright upon one end in this antique figure, one of the ladies burst out a laughing, “And now, Pontignan,” says she, “we intend to perform the promise that we find you have extorted from each of us. You have often asked the favour of us, and I dare say you are a better bred cavalier than to refuse to go to bed to ladies that desire it of you." After having stood a fit of laughter, I begged them to uncase me, and do with me what they pleased. “No, no,” say they, “we like you very well as you are;” and upon that ordered me to be carried to one of their houses, and put to bed in all my swaddles. The room was lighted up on all sides; and I was laid very decently between a pair of sheets, with my head (which was, indeed, the only part I could move) upon a very high pillow : this was no sooner done, but my two female friends came into bed to me in their finest night-clothes. You may easily guess at the condition of a man that saw a couple of the most beautiful women in the world undressed and abed with him, without being able to stir hand or foot. I begged them to release me, and struggled all I could to get loose; which I did with so much violence that about midnight they both leaped out of the bed crying out they were undone : but seeing me safe they took their posts again, and renewed their raillery. Finding all my prayers and endeavours were lost, I composed myself as well as I could; and told them that if they would not unbind me, I would fall asleep between them, and by that means disgrace them for ever : but alas ! this was impossible; could I have been disposed to it, they would have prevented me by several little ill-natured caresses and endearments which they bestowed upon me. As much devoted as I am to womankind, I would not pass such another night to be master of the whole sex. My reader will doubtless be curious to know what became of me the next morning : why, truly, my bedfellows left me about an hour before day, and told me if I would be good and lie still, they would send somebody to take me up as soon as it was time for me to rise : accordingly about nine o'clock in the morning an old woman came to unswathe me. I bore all this very patiently, being resolved to take my revenge of my tormentors, and to keep no measures with them as soon as I was at liberty; but
upon asking my old woman what was become of the two ladies, she told me she believed they were by that time within sight of Paris, for that they went away in a coach and six before five o'clock in the morning.'
No 91. Thursday, June 14, 1711
In furias ignemque ruunt, Amor omnibus idem.
- Virg., Georg. iii. 244. NHOUGH the subject I am now going upon I would be much more properly the founda
tion of a comedy, I cannot forbear inserting the circumstances which pleased me in the account a young lady gave me of the loves of a family in town, which shall be nameless; or rather for the better sound, and elevation of the history, instead of Mr. and Mrs. such a one, I shall call them by feigned names. Without further preface, you are to know that within the liberties of the city of Westminster lives the Lady Honoria, a widow about the age of forty, of a healthy constitution, gay temper, and elegant person. She dresses a little too much like a girl, affects a childish fondness in the tone of her voice, sometimes a pretty sullenness in the leaning of her head, and now and then a downcast of her eyes on her fan. Neither her imagination nor her health would ever give her to know that she is turned of twenty; but that in the midst of these pretty softnesses and airs of delicacy and attraction, she has a tall daughter within a fortnight of fifteen, who impertinently comes into the room, and towers so much towards