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pation of divineness, because it doth raise, the mind, and exalt the spirit with high raptures, by proportioning the shows of things to the desires of the mind, and not submitting the mind to things, as reason and history do. And by these allurements and congruities, whereby it cherisheth the soul of man, joined also with consort of music, whereby it
may more sweetly insinuate itself, it hath won such access, that it hath been in estimation even in rude times and barbarous nations, when other learning stood excluded.”
But there is nothing which favours and falls in with this natural greatness and dignity of human nature so much as religion, which does not only promise the entire refinement of the mind, but the glorifying of the body, and the immortality of both.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 1709.
Perditur hæc inter miseris lux
Hor. 2 Sat. vi. 59.
in this giddy, busy maze, I lose the sunshine of my days.
Sheer-lane, December 19. THERE has not some years been such a tumult in our neighbourhood as this evening about six. At the lower end of the lane the word was given, that there was a great funeral coming by. The next moment came forward in a very hasty, instead of a solemn manner, a long train of lights, when at last a foot
man, in very high youth and health, with all his force ran through the whole art of beating the door of the house next to me, and ended his rattle with the true finishing rap. This did not only bring one to the door at which he knocked, but to that of every one in the lane in an instant. Among the rest, my country-maid took the alarm, and immediately running to me, told me, “ there was a fine, fine lady, who had three men with burial torches making way before her, carried by two men upon poles, with looking-glasses on each side of her, and one glass also before, she herself appearing the prettiest that ever was. The girl was going on in her story, when the lady was come to my door in her chair, having mistaken the house. As soon as she entered I saw she was Mr. Isaac's scholar, by her speaking air, and the becoming stop she made when she began her apology. “You will be surprised, Sir," said she, “ that I take this liberty, who am utterly a stranger to you; besides that it may be thought an indecorum that I visit a man.” 'She made here a pretty hesitation, and held her fan to her face.
-“ But I think you have said, that men of your age are of no sex; therefore, I may be as free with you as one of my own.” The lady did me the honour to consult me on some particular matters, which I am not at liberty to report. But, before she took her leave, she produced a long list of names, which she looked upon, to know whither she was to go next. I must confess, I could hardly forbear discovering to her, immediately, that I secretly laughed at the fantastical regularity she observed in throwing away her time; but I seemed to indulge her in it, out of a curiosity to hear her own sense of her way of life. “ Mr. Bickerstaff,” said she, “ you cannot imagine how much you are obliged to me, in staying
thus long with you, having so many visits to make; and, indeed, if I had not hopes that a third part of those I am going to will be abroad, I should be unable to dispatch them this evening.”—“Madam,' said I, “ are you in all this haste and perplexity, and only going to such as you have not a mind to see ?”
“Yes, Sir,” said she, “ I have several now with whom I keep a constant correspondence, and return visit for visit punctually every week, and yet we have not seen each other since last November was twelvemonth.”
She went on with a very good air, and fixing her eyes on her list, told me," she was obliged to ride about three miles and a half before she arrived at her own house." I asked, " after what manner this list was taken, whether the persons writ their names to her, and desired that favour, or how she knew she was not cheated in her muster-roll ?"_" The method we take," says, she, that the porter, or servant who comes to the door, writes down all the names who come to see us, and all such are entitled to a return of their visit.”—“ But,” said I, “ Madam, I presume those who are searching for each other, and know one another by messages, may be understood as candidates only for each other's favour; and that after so many how-do-ye-does, you proceed to visit or not, as you like the run of each other's reputation or fortune.” -“ You understand it right,” said she; “and we become friends, as soon as we are convinced that our dislike to each other may be of any consequence: for, to tell you truly,”said she," for it is in vain to hide any thing from a man of your penetration, general visits are not made out of goodwill, but for fear of ill-will
. Punctuality in this case is often a suspicious circumstance: and there is nothing so common as to have a lady say, ' I hope she has beard nothing of what I said of her, that she
grows so great with me!' But indeed my porter is so dull and negligent, that I fear he has not put down! half the people I owe visits to.”—“Madam,” said
" methinks it would be very proper if your gentleman-usher or groom of the chamber were always to keep an account, by way of debtor and creditor. I know a city lady who uses that method, which I think very laudable; for though you may possibly at the court end of the town receive at the door, and light up better than within Temple-bar, yet I must do that justice to my friends the ladies within the walls, to own that they are much more exact in their correspondence. The lady I was going to mention as an example has always the second apprentice out of the counting-house for her own nise on her visiting-day, and he sets down very methodically all the visits which are made her. I remember very well, that on the first of January last, when she made up her account for the year 1708, it stood thus :
“ This gentlewoman is a woman of great economy, and was not afraid to go to the bottom of her affairs; and, therefore, ordered her apprentice to give her credit for my lady Easy's impertinent visits upon wrong days, and deduct only twelve per cent. He had orders also to subtract one and a half from the whole of such as she had denied herself to before she kept a day; and after taking those proper ar
ticles of credit on her side, she was in arrear but five hundred. She ordered her husband to buy in a couple of fresh coach-horses ; and with no other loss than the death of two footmen, and a church-yard cough brought upon her coachman, she was clear in the world on the tenth of February last, and keeps so before-hand, that she pays every body their own, and yet makes daily new acquaintances.'
I know not whether this agreeable visitant was fired with the example of the lady I told her of, but she immediately vanished out of my sight, it being, it seems, as necessary a point of good-breeding, to go off as if you stole something out of the house, as it is to enter as if you came to fire it. I do not know one thing that contributes so much to the lessening the esteem men of sense have to the fair sex, as this article of visits. A young lady cannot be married, but all impertinents in town must be beating the tattoo from one quarter of the town to the other, to show they know what passes. If a man of honour should once in an age marry a woman of merit for her intrinsic value, the envious things are all in motion in an instant, to make it known to the sisterhood as an indiscretion, and published to the town how many pounds he might have had to have been troubled with one of them. After they are tired with that, the next thing is, to make their compliments to the married couple and their relations. They are equally busy at a funeral, and the death of a person of quality is always attended with the murder of several sets of coach-horses and chair
In both cases, the visitants are wholly unaffected, either with joy or sorrow. For which reason, their congratulations and condolences are equally words of course;, and one would be thought wonderfully ill-bred, that should build upon such ex