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Thursday, May 31.
Oderunt peccare boni virtutis amore.
HOR. Ep. I. xvi. 51.
The good, for virtue's fake, abhor to fin.
I HAVE received very many letters of late, from my
female correfpondents, moft of whom are very angry with me for abridging their pleasures, and looking feverely upon things in themselves indifferent. But I think they are extremely unjust to me in this imputation; all that I contend for is, that thofe excellencies, which are to be regarded but in the fecond place, fhould not precede more weighty confiderations. The heart of man deceives him in fpite of the lectures of half a life spent in difcourfes on the fubjection of paffion; and I do not know why one may not think the heart of woman as unfaithful to itself. If we grant an equality in the faculties of both fexes, the minds of women are lefs cultivated with precepts, and confequently may, without difrefpect to them, be accounted more liable to illufion in cafes wherein natural inclination is out of the intereft of virtue. I fhall take up my present time in commenting upon a billet or two which came from ladies, and from thence leave the reader to judge whether I am in the right or not, in thinking it is poffible fine women may be mistaken.
The following address seems to have no other defign in it, but to tell me the writer will do what she pleases for all me.
'I AM young, and very much inclined to follow the
paths of innocence; but at the fame time, as I have a plentiful fortune, and am of quality, I am unwilling to refign the pleafures of diftinction, fome little
'fatisfaction in being admired in general, and much greater in being beloved by a gentleman, whom I defign to make my husband. But I have a mind to put off entering into matrimony till another winter is over my head, which, whatever, mufty fir, you may think ' of the matter, I defign to pass away in hearing mufic, going to plays, vifiting, and all other fatisfactions which fortune and youth, protected by innocence and virtue, can procure for,
• Your most humble fervant,
My lover does not know I like him; therefore, having no engagements upon me, I think to stay and 'know whether I may not like any one elfe better.'
I have heard WILL HONEYCOMв fay, 'A woman ⚫feldom writes her mind but in her poftfcript.' I think this gentlewoman has fufficiently difcovered hers in this. I'll lay what wager fhe pleases against her prefent favourite, and can tell her that she will like ten more before the is fixed, and then will take the worst man she ever liked in her life. There is no end of affection taken in at the eyes only; and you may as well fatisfy thofe eyes with feeing, as control any paffion received by them only. It is from loving by fight that coxcombs fo frequently fucceed with women, and very often a young lady is bestowed by her parents to a man who weds her as innocence itself, though she has, in her own heart, given her approbation of a different man in every affembly fhe was in the whole year before. What is wanting among women, as well as among men, is the love of laudable things, and not to reft only in the forbearance of fuch as are reproachful.
How far removed from a woman of this light imagination is Eudofia! Eudofia has all the arts of life and good-breeding with so much ease, that the virtue of her conduct looks more like an inftinct than choice. It is as little difficult to her to think juftly of perfons and things, as it is to a woman of different accomplishments to move ill or look aukward. That which was, at first, the effect of inftruction, is grown into an habit ; and it
would be as hard for Eudofia to indulge a wrong fuggeftion of thought, as it would be for Flavia, the fine dancer, to come into a room with an unbecoming air.
But the misapprehenfions people themselves have of their own state of mind, is laid down with much difcerning in the following letter, which is but an extract of a kind epiftle from my charming miftrefs Hecatiffa, who is above the vanity of external beauty, and is the better judge of the perfections of the mind.
'I WRITE this to acquaint you, that very many ladies, as well as myself, fpend many hours more than we ufed at the glafs, for want of the female library of which you promised us a catalogue. I hope, fir, in the choice of authors for us, you will have a particular regard to books of devotion. What they are, and how many, must be your chief care; for upon the propriety of fuch writings depends a great deal. I have ⚫ known thofe among us who think, if they every morning and evening fpend an hour in their clofet, and 'read over fo many prayers in fix or seven books of de⚫votion, all equally nonfenfical, with a fort of warmth,
that might as well be raised by a glass of wine, or a dram of citron, they may all the reft of their time go on in whatever their particular paffion leads them to. • The beauteous Philautia, who is, in your language, an idol, is one of thefe votaries; fhe has a very pretty furnished closet, to which the retires at her appointed hours: this is her dreffing-room, as well as chapel; fhe has conftantly before her a large looking-glass, and upon the table, according to a very witty au⚫thor,
Together lie her prayer-book and paint,
It must be a good fcene, if one could be present at it, to fee this idol by turns lift up her eyes to heaven, ⚫ and steal glances at her own dear perfon. It cannot but be a pleasing conflict between vanity and humilia'tion. When you are upon this fubject, choose books
' which elevate the mind above the world, and give a pleafing indifference to little things in it. For want of fuch inftructions, I am apt to believe fo many people take it in their heads to be fullen, crofs, and angry, under pretence of being abftracted from the affairs of this life, when at the fame time they betray their fond'nefs for them by doing their duty as a task, and pouting and reading good books for a week together. Much of this I take to proceed from the indifcretion of the books themfelves, whofe very titles of weekly preparations, and fuch limited godlinefs, lead people of ordinary capacities into great errors, and raife in them a mechanical religion, intirely diftinct from mọrality. I know a lady fo given up to this fort of devotion, that though fhe employs fix or eight hours of the twenty-four at cards, fhe never miffes one conftant hour of prayer, for which time another holds her < cards, to which the returns with no little anxiousness
till two or three in the morning. All thefe acts are but empty fhows, and, as it were, compliments made to virtue; the mind is all the while untouched with any true pleasure in the purfuit of it. From hence I prefume it arifes that fo many people call themselves virtuous from no other pretence to it but an absence of ill. There is Dulcianara is the moft infolent of all creatures to her friends and domeftics, upon no other pretence in nature but that, as her filly phrafe is, no one can fay black is her eye. She has no fecrets, forfooth, which fhould make her afraid to fpeak her mind, and therefore fhe is impertinently blunt to all her acquaintance, and unfeafonably imperious to all her family. Dear fir, be pleased to put fuch books in our hands, as may make our virtue more inward, and convince fome of us that in a mind truly virtuous the 'fcorn of vice is always accompanied with the pity of it. This and other things are impatiently expected from you by our whole fex; among the reft by,
Friday, June 1.
Calum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt. HOR. Ep. I. xi. 27.
Those that beyond-fea go, will fadly find,
IN the year 1688, and on the fame day of that year, were born in Cheapfide, London, two females of exquifite feature and fhape; the one we fhall call Brunetta, the other Phillis. A clofe intimacy between their parents made each of them the first acquaintance the other knew in the world: they played, dressed babies, acted vifitings, learned to dance and make curtefies, together. They were infeparable companions in all the little entertainments their tender years were capable of: which innocent happiness continued till the beginning of their fifteenth year, when it happened that Mrs. Phillis had an head-drefs on, which became her fo very well, that inftead of being beheld any more with pleasure for their amity to each other, the eyes of the neighbourhood were turned to remark them with comparison of their beauty. They now no longer enjoyed the ease of mind and pleafing indolence in which they were formerly happy, but all their words and actions were mifinterpreted by each other, and every excellence in their fpeech and behaviour was looked upon as an act of emulation to furpass the other. Thefe beginnings of difinclination foon improved into a formality of behaviour, a general coldnels, and by natural steps into an irreconcilable hatred.
These two rivals for the reputation of beauty, were in their ftature, countenance, and mien, fo very much alike, that if you were speaking of them in their absence, the words in which you described the one muft give you an idea of the other. They were hardly diftinguishable, you would think, when they were apart, tho'