« PředchozíPokračovat »
and all that I contend for in her behalf, and in this case I may use the saying of an eminent wit, who, upon some great men's pressing him to forgive his daughter who had married against his consent, told them he could refuse nothing to their instances, but that he would have them remember there was difference between giving and forgiving.
I must confess, in all controversies between parents and their children, I am naturally prejudiced in favour of the former. The obligations on that side can never be acquitted, and I think it is one of the greatest reflections upon human nature, that paternal instinct should be a stronger motive to love than filial gratitude; that the receiving of favours should be a less inducement to a good-will, tenderness, and commiseration, than the conferring of them; and that the taking care of any person should endear the child or dependent more to the parent or benefactor, than the parent or benefactor to the child or dependent; yet so it happens, that for one cruel parent we meet with a thousand undutiful children. This is, indeed, wonderfully contrived, as I have formerly observed, for the support of every living species; but at the same time that it shows the wisdom of the Creator, it discovers the imperfection and degeneracy of the creature.
The obedience of children to their parents is the basis of all government, and is set forth as the measure of that obedience which we owe to those whom Providence hath placed over us.
It is father Le Compte, if I am not mistaken, who tells us how want of duty in this particular is punished among the Chinese, insomuch that if a son should be known to kill, or so much as to strike his father, not only the criminal, but his whole family would be rooted out, nay, the inhabitants of the
place where he lived would be put to the sword, nay, the place itself would be razed to the ground, and its foundations sown with salt. For, say they, there must have been an utter depravation of manners in that clan or society of people who could have bred up among them so horrible an offender. To this I shall add a passage out of the first book of Herodotus. That historian, in his account of the Persian customs and religion, tells us, it is their opinion that no man ever killed his father, or that it is possible such a crime should be in nature; but that if any thing like it should ever happen, they conclude that the reputed son must have been illegitimate, supposititious, or begotten in adultery. Their opinion in this particular shows sufficiently what a notion they must have had of undutifulness in general.
No. 190. MONDAY, OCTOBER 8, 1711.
Servitus crescit nova.-
HOR. OD. ii. 8. 18.
SINCE I made some reflections upon the general negligence used in the case of regard towards women, or in other words, since I talked of wenching, Í have had epistles upon that subject, which I shall, for the present entertainment, insert as they lie before
"As your speculations are not confined to any
part of human life, but concern the wicked as well
"Give me leave, Sir, to give you my history. You are to know that I am a daughter of a man of a good reputation, tenant to a man of quality. The heir of this great house took it in his head to cast a favourable eye upon me, and succeeded. I do not pretend to say he promised me marriage; I was not a creature silly enough to be taken by so foolish a story; but
he ran away with me up to this town, and introduced me to a grave matron, with whom I boarded for a day or two with great gravity, and was not a little pleased with the change of my condition, from that of a country life to the finest company, as I believed, in the whole world. My humble servant made me to understand that I should be always kept in the plentiful condition I then enjoyed; when after a very great fondness towards me, he one day took his leave of me for four or five days. In the evening of the same day my good landlady came to me, and observing me very pensive, began to comfort me, and with a smile told me I must see the world. When I was deaf to all she could say to divert me, she began to tell me with a very frank air that I must be treated as I ought, and not take these squeamish humours upon me, for my friend had left me to the town; and, as their phrase is, she expected I would see company, or I must be treated like what I had brought myself to. This put me into a fit of crying: and I immediately, in a true sense of my condition, threw myself on the floor, deploring my fate, calling upon all that was good and sacred to succour me. While I was in all this agony, I observed a decrepid old fellow come into the room, and looking with a sense of pleasure in his face at all my vehemence and transport. In a pause of my distresses I heard him say to the shameless old woman who stood by me, 'She is certainly a new face, or else she acts it rarely.' With that the gentlewoman, who was making her market of me, in all the turns of my person, the heaves of my passion, and the suitable changes of my posture, took occasion to commend my neck, my shape, my eyes, my limbs. All this was accompanied with such speeches as you may have heard horse-coursers make in the sale of nags, when they are warranted for their
soundness. You understand by this time that I was left in a brothel, and exposed to the next bidder who could purchase me of my patroness. This is so much the work of hell; the pleasure in the possession of us wenches abates in proportion to the degrees we go beyond the bounds of innocence; and no man is gratified, if there is nothing left for him to debauch. Well, sir, my first man, when I came upon the town, was Sir Jeoffry Foible, who was extremely lavish to me of his money, and took such a fancy to me that he would have carried me off, if my patroness would have taken any reasonable terms for me; but as he was old, his covetousness was his strongest passion, and poor I was soon left exposed to be the common refuse of all the rakes and debauchees in town. I cannot tell whether you will do me justice or no; till I see whether you print this or not; otherwise, as I now live with Sal,* I could give you a very just account of who and who is together in this town. You perhaps won't believe it; but I know of one who pretends to be a very good protestant, who lies with a Roman Catholic: but more of this hereafter, as you please me. There do come to our house the greatest politicians of the age; and Sal is more shrewd than anybody thinks. Nobody can believe that such wise men could go to bawdy-houses out of idle purposes. I have heard them often talk of Augustus Cæsar, who had intrigueswith the wives of senators, not out of wantonness but stratagem.
"It is a thousand pities you should be so severely virtuous as I fear you are; otherwise after one visit or two, you would soon understand that we women of the town are not such useless correspondents as
* A celebrated courtesan and procuress of those times.