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Just as the major had done speaking, a gentleman called for a glass of water; and happening to say, after drinking it, that he found his constitution much mended since he had left off malt liquor, doctor Hectic, another of the strangers, immediately laid hold of this opportunity, and gave us a large account of the virtues of water; confirming what he advanced from the works of the most celebrated physicians. From the main subject, he made an easy transition to medicinal baths and springs. Nor were his researches bounded by our own country; he condescended to acquaint us with the properties of the springs of Bourbon, particularised the genuine smell of Spa water, applauded the wonderful effects of the Pyrmont mineral, and like a true patriot wound up his disquisitions, with preferring Astrop wells (within three miles of which he was born) to them all. It was now turned of eleven; when the major and doctor took their leave, and went away together in a hackney coach.
The company seemed inclinable to extend their usual time of sitting, in order to divert themselves after the night's fatigue. When Papilio, the third new comer, after two or three severe reflections on the oddity of some people's humours, who were for imposing their own idle
conceits as things worthy the attention of a whole company; though at the same time, their subjects are trivial, and their manner of treating them insipid. For my part, continued he, gentlemen; most people do me the honour to say, that few persons understand medals better than I do. To put the musty stories of these queer old men out of our heads, I will give you the history of a valuable medallion, which was sent me about three weeks ago from Venice. Without staying for any further mark of approbation than silence, he entered immediately on a long dissertation, in which he had scarcely proceeded ten minutes, before his auditors followed the example of an old Turkey merchant, who taking up his hat and gloves, went directly down stairs without saying a word, and left the disconcerted orator to harangue the walls.
THE SOCIETY OF WOMEN THE BEST
SCHOOL OF POLITENESS.
THE duke de Rochefoucault, who was esteemed the most brilliant wit in France, speaking of politeness, says, that a citizen will hardly acquire it at court, and yet may easily attain it in the camp. I shall not enter into the reason of this; but offer my readers a shorter, pleasanter, and more effectual method of arriving at the summit of genteel behaviour; that is, by conversing with the ladies.
So copious a subject as the praises of the fair, may, in the opinion of my readers, lay me under great difficulties. Every man of good understanding and fine sense, is in pain for one who has undertaken so hard a task. Hard indeed to me, who from many years' study of the sex
have discovered so many perfections in them, as scarce as many more years would afford me time to express. However not to disappoint my readers or myself, by foregoing that pleasure I feel in doing justice to the most amiable part of the creation, I will indulge the natural propensity I have to their service, and paint, though it be but in miniature, the excellencies they possess and the accomplishments which by reflection they bestow.
As when some poet, happy in his choice
And feel an ardour quite unknown before.
Those who from wrong ideas of things, have formed themselves into a dislike of the sex, will be apt to cry out, where would this fellow run? Has he so long studied women and does he not know what numbers of affected prudes, gay coquets, and giddy impertinents there are amongst them? Alas! gentlemen, what mistakes are these? How will you be surprized, when I prove to you, that you are in the same
sentiments with me; and that you will not have so warm resentments at these peccadilloes if you did not think the ladies more than mortal.
Are the faults you would pass by in a friend and smile at in an enemy, crimes of so deep a dye as not to be forgiven? And can this flow from any other principle, than a persuasion that they are more perfect in their nature than we, and their guilt the greater therefore, in deviating, even in the smallest degree, from that perfection? Or can there be a greater honour to the sex, than this dignity which even their enemies allow them? To say truth, virtue and women owe less to their friends, than to their foes; since the vicious, in both cases, charge their own want of taste, on the weakness of human nature; pursue grosser pleasures because they are at hand; and neglect the more refined, as things of which their capacities afford them no idea.
Born with a servile gust to sensual joy,