« EelmineJätka »
and aimed at the vicious man, or the writer; not at the vice, or at the writing.
I have here only pointed at the whole species of False Humorists; but as one of my principal designs in this paper is to beat down that malignant spirit which discovers itself in the writings of the present age, I shall not scruple, for the future, to single ont any of the small wits, that infest the world with such compositions as are ill-natured, immoral, and absurd. This is the only exception wbich I shall make to the general rule I bave prescribed myself, of attacking multitudes, since every honest man ought to look upon bimself as in a natural state of war with the libeller and lampooner, and to annoy them wherever they fall in his way. This is but retaliativg upon them, and treating them as they treat others.
LÆTITIA AND DAPHNE,
Fervidus tecum puer, et solutis
HOR. 1 Od. xxx. 5.
From every spring, and every plain;
A FRIEND of mine has two daughters, whom I
will call Lætitia and Daphne; the former is one of the greatest beauties of the age in which she lives, the latter no way remarkable for any charms in her person. Upon this one circumstance of their outward form, the good and ill of their lives seem to turn. Lætitia has not, from her very childhood, beard any thing else but commendations of her features and com. plesion, by which means she is no other than nature made her, a very beautiful outside. The consciousness of her charms bas rendered her insupportably vain and insolent towards all who have to do with her. Daphne, who was almost twenty before one civil thing had ever been said to her, found herself obliged to acquire some accomplishments to make up for the want of those attractions which she saw in her sister. Poor Daphne was seldom submitted to in a debate wherein she was concerned; her discourse had nothing to recommend it but the good sense of it, and she was always under a necessity to have very well considered what she was to say before she uttered it; while Læ. titia was listened to with partiality, and approbation sat in the countenances of those she conversed with, before she communicated what she had to say. These canses bave produced suitable effects, and Lætitia is as insipid a companion, as Daphne is an agreeable one. Lætitia, confident of favour, has studied no arts to please; Daphne, despairing of any inclination towards ber person, has depended only on her merit. Lætitia has always something in her air that is sullen, grave, and disconsolate. Daphne has a countenance that appears cheerful, open, and unconcerned. A young gen. tleman saw Lætitia
winter at a play, and became her captive. His fortune was such, that he wanted very little introduction to speak his sentiments to her father. The lover was admitted with the utmost free. dom into the family, where a constrained behaviour, severe looks, and distant civilities, were the highest favoars he could obtain of Lætitia; while Daphne used him with the good humour, familiarity, and in. nocence of a sister :-insomuch that he would often say to her, “ Dear Daphne, wert thon but as hand, some as Lætitia.” She received such language with that iugenuous and pleasing mirth, which is natural to
a woman without design. He still sighed in vain for Lætitia, but found certain relief in the agreeable conversation of Daphne. At length, heartily tired with the haughty impertinence of Lætitia, and charmed with the repeated instances of good-humour be had observed in Daphne, be one day told the latter, that he had something to say to her he hoped she would be pleased with—" Faith, Daphne," continued he, “ I am in love with thee, and despise thy sister sincerely." The manner of his declaring himself gave his mistress occasion for a very hearty laughter." Nay,” says he, “ I knew you would laugh at me, but I will ask your father.” He did so; the father received his intelligence with no less joy than surprise, and was very glad he had now no care left but for his beauty, which he thought he could carry to market at his leisure. I do not know anything that has pleased me so much a great while, as this conquest of my friend Daphne's. All her acquaintance congratnlated her upon her chancc-medley, and langh at that premeditating mur. derer her sister. As it is an argument of a light mind, to think the worse of ourselves for the imperfections of our persons, it is equally below us to value onrselves upon the advantages of them. The female world seem to be almost incorrigibly gone astray in this particular; for which reason I shall recommend the following extract out of a friend's letter*, to the professed beauties, who are a people almost as unsufferable as the professed wits.
• Monsieur St. Evremond has concluded one of his Essays with affirming, that the last sighs of a handsomne wonian are not so much for the loss of her life, as of her beauty. Perhaps this raillery is pnrsued too far, yet it is turned upon a very obvious remark, that woman's strongest passion is for her own beauty, and that she values it as her favourite distinction. From
* Mr. Jobn Hugbes.
hence it is that all arts, which pretend to improve it or preserve it, meet with so general a reception among the sex. To say nothing of many false helps and contraband wares of beauty, which are daily vended in this great mart, there is not a maiden gentlewoman of a good family, in any county of Souib Britain, who has not heard of the virtues of May-dew, or is unfur. nished with some receipt or other in favour of her complexion; and I have knowu a physician of learn. ing and sense, after eight years study in the university, and a course of travels into most countries of Europe, owe the first raising of his fortunes to a cosmetic wash.
« This bas given me occasion to consider how so universal a disposition in womankind, which springs from a laudable motive, the desire of. pleasing, and proceeds upon an opinion, not altogether groundless, that natare may be helped by art, may be torued to their advantage. And, methinks, it would be an acceptable service to take them out of the hands of quacks and pretenders, and to prevent their imposing upon themselves, by discovering to them the true secret and art of improving beanty.
• In order to this, before I touch upon it directly, it will be necessary to lay down a few preliminary max. ims, viz.
" That no woman can be handsome by the force of featnres alone, any more than she can be witty only by the help of speech :
• Tbat pride destroys all symmetry and grace, and affectation is a more terrible enemy to fine faces than the small-pox:
· That no woman is capable of being beautiful, who is not incapable of being false :
• And, That what would be odious in a friend, is deformity in a mistress.
« From these few principles, thus laid down, it will be easy to prove, that the true art of assisting beauty consists in embellishing the whole person by the proper ornaments of virtuous and commendable qualities.
By this help alone it is, that those who are the favou. That rite work of nature, or, as Mr. Dryden expresses it, the porcelain clay of humankind, become animated, and are in a capacity of exerting their charms : and those who seem to have beeu neglected by her, like models wrought in haste, are capable in a great measure of finishing what she has left imperfect.
• It is, methinks, a low and degrading idea of that sex, which was created to refine the joys, and soften the cares of humanity, by the most agreeable parti. cipation, to consider them merely as objects of sight. -This is abridging them of their natural extent of power, to put them upon a level with their picture at Kneller's. How much nobler is the contemplation of beauty, heightened by virtue, and commanding our esteem and love, while it draws our observation! How faint and spiritless are the charms of a coquette, when compared with the real loveliness of Sophronia's innocence, piety, good-humonr, and truth; virtues which add a new softness to her sex, and even beautify her beauty! That agreeableness, which must other. wise have appeared no longer in the modest virgin, is now preserved in the tender mother, the prudent friend, and the faithful wife. Colours artfully spread upon canvass may entertain the eye, but not affect the heart; and she who takes no care to add to the natural graces of her person any excelling qualities, may be allowed still to amuse, as a picture; but not to triumph, as a beauty.
When Adam is introduced by Milton, describing Eve in Paradise, and relating to the angel the impres. sions he felt upon seeing her at her first creation, he does not represent her like a Grecian Venus, by her shape or features; but by the Justre of her mind, which shone in them, and gave them their power of charming.
“ Grace was in all her steps, Heav'n in her eye, In all her gestures, diguity and love!"