Sivut kuvina

" VIII. The widow Wildfire, relict of Mr. John Wildfire, fox-hunter, who broke his neck over a six bar gate. She took his death so much to heart, that it was thought it would have put an end to her life, had she not diverted her sorrows by receiving the addresses of a gentleman in the neighbourhood, who made love to her in the second month of her widowhood. This gentleman was discarded in a fortnight, for the sake of a young Templer, who had the possession of her for six weeks after, till he was beaten out by a broken officer, who likewise gave up his place to a gentleman at court. The courtier was as shortlived a favourite as his predecessors, but had the pleasure to see himself succeeded by a long series of lovers, who followed the widow Wildfire to the thirty-seventh year of her age, at which time there ensued a cessation of ten years, when John Felt, Haberdasher, took it in his head to be in love with her, and it is thought will very suddenly carry her off.

“IX. The last is pretty Mrs. Runnet, who broke her first husband's heart before she was sixteen, at which time she was entered of the club; but soon after left it, upon account of a second, whom she made so quick a dispatch of, that she returned to her seat in less than a twelvemonth. This young matron is looked upon as the most rising member of the society, and will, probably, be in the president's chair before she dies.

“These ladies, upon their first institution, resolved to give the pictures of their deceased husbands to the club-rom, but two of them bringing in their dead at full length, they covered all the walls : upon which they came to a second resolution, that every matron should give her own picture, and set it round with her husbands in miniature.

" As they have most of them the misfortune to be troubled with the cholic, they have a noble cellar of cordials and strong waters. When they grow maudlin, they are very apt to comme.

[ocr errors]

morate their former partners with a tear. But ask them which of their husbands they condole, they are not able to tell you, and discover plainly that they do not weep so much for the loss of a husband, as for the want of one.

“The principal rule, by which the whole society are to govern thernselves, is this, to cry up the pleasures of a single life upon all occasions, in order to deter the rest of their sex from marriage, and engross the whole male world to themselves.

They are obliged, when any one makes love to a member of the society to communicate his name, at which time the whole assembly sit upon his reputation, person, fortune, and good humour; and if they find him qualified for a sister of the club, they lay their heads together how to make him sure. By this means they are acquainted with all the widow-hunters about town, who often afford them great diversion.

There is an honest Irish gentleman, it seems, who knows nothing of this society, but at different times has made love to the whole club.

“ Their conversation often turns upon their former husbands, and it is very diverting to hear them relate their arts and stratagems, with which they amused the jealous, pacified the choleric, or wheedled the good-natured man, until at last, to use the club phrase, “They sent him out of the house with his heels foremost.'

“The politics, which are most cultivated by this society of she Machiavils, relate chiefly to these two points, How to treat a lover, and How to manage a husband. As for the first set of artifices, they are too numerous to come within the compass


your paper, and shall therefore be reserved for a second letter.

« The management of a husband is built upon the following doctrines, which are universally assented to by the whole club. Not to give him his head at first. Not to allow him too great free loms and familiarities. Not to be treated by him like a raw girl but as a woman that knows the world. Not to lessen any

thing of her former figure. To celebrate the generosity, or any other virtue, of a deceased husband, which she would recommend to his successor. To turn away all his old friends and servants, that she may have the dear man to herself. To make him disinlierit the undutiful children of any former wife. Never to be thoroughly convinced of his affection, until he has made over to her all his goods and chattels. “ After so long a letter, I am, without more ceremony,

Your humble servant," &c.

No. 562. FRIDAY, JULY 2.

Præsens, absens ut sies.

TER, Eun. Act 1, Sc. 2.
Be present as if abseni.

'It is a hard and nice subject for a man to speak of himself, says Cowley:) it grates his own heart to say any thing of disparagement, and the reader's ears to hear any thing of praise from him.'1 Let the tenor of his discourse be what it will, upon this subject, it generally proceeds from vanity. An ostentatious man will rather relate a blunder or an absurdity he has commit ted, than be debarred from talking of his own dear person.

Some very great writers have been guilty of this fault. It is observed of Tully in particular, that his works run very much in the first person, and that he takes all occasions of doing himself

Cowley's Essays-Essay. 11.-G.

& After all the severity of this satire, it should be remembered, that the author ventured on a widow, the Countess of Warwick i who, to speak in the language of this letter, fairly laid him out, within the compass of four years: an exploit, for which her ladyship seeins to have been wellentitled to the chair of this society.-H.

[ocr errors]

justice. “Does he think, (says Brutus) that his consulship deserves more applause than my putting Cæsar to death, because I am not perpetually talking of the ides of March, as he is of the nones of December ?” I need not acquaint my learned reader, that in the ides of March, Brutus destroyed Cæsar, and that Cicero quashed the conspiracy of Cataline in the calends of December. How shocking soever this great man's talking of himself might have been to his contemporaries, I must confess I am never better pleased than when he is on this subject. Such openings of the heart give a man a thorough insight into his personal character, and illustrate several passages in the history of his life: besides, that there is some little pleasure in discovering the infirmity of a great man, and seeing how the opinion he has of himself agrees with what the world entertains of him.

The gentlemen of Port-Royal, who were more eminent for their learning and their humility than any other in France, banished the way of speaking in the first person out of all their works, as arising from vain-glory and self-conceit. To shew their particular aversion to it, they branded this form of writing with the name of an egotism : a figure not to be found among the ancient rhetoricians.

The most violent egotism which I have met with in the course of my reading, is that of Cardinal Woolsey, Ego et Rex meus : 'I and my King;' as perhaps the most eminent egotist that ever. appeared in the world, was Montaigne, the author of the celebrated essays. This lively old Gascon has woven all his bodily infirmities into his works, and after having spoken of the faults or virtues of any other man, immediately publishes to the world how it stands with himself in that particular. Had he kept his own

a Such openings of the heart give a man a thorough insight into his per. sonal character-without doubt: and he might have said-raise oni's ideas of it, when the writer or speaker has such a heart to lay open, as Cicero liad.-H

counsel, he might have passed for a much better man, though, perhaps, he would not have been so diverting an author. The ti tle of an essay promises, perhaps, a discourse upon Virgil or Julius Cæsar; but when you look into it, you are sure to meet with more upon Monsieur Montagne than either of them. The younger Scaliger, who seems to have been no great friend to this author, after having acquainted the world that his father sold her rings, adds these words; La grande fadaise de Montagne, qui a escrit qu'il aimoit mieux le vin blanc- que diable a-t-on à faire de sçavoir ce qu'il aime? For my part, (says Montagne) I am a great lover of your white wines. What the devil signifies it to the public, (says Scaliger) whether he is a lover of white wines or of red wines ?'

I cannot here forbear mentioning a tribe of egotists for whom I have always had a mortal aversion, I mean the authors of memoirs, who are never mentioned in any works but their own, and who raise all their productions out of this single figure of speech.

Most of our modern prefaces savour very strongly of the egotism. Every insignificant author fancies it of importance to the world to know that he writ his book in the country, that he did it to pass away some of his idle hours, that it was published at the importunity of friends, or that his natural temper, studies, or conversations, directed him to the choice of his subject.

Id populus curat scilicet.
People care for that indeed.

Such informations cannot but be highly improving to the reader.

In works of humour, especially when a man writes under a fictitious personage, the talking of one's self may give some di version to the public; but I would advise every other writer never to speak of himself, unless there be something very considerable in his character : though I am sensible this rule will be

« EdellinenJatka »