No. 25.] THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 1753.
I Have the pleasure of informing my fair correspondent, that her petition, contained in the following letter, is granted. I wish I could as easily restore to her what she has lost. But to a mind like hers, so elevated so harmonized time and the consciousness of so much purity of intention will bring relief. It must always af. ford her matter of the most pleasing reflection, that her soul had no participation with her material part in that particular act which she appears to mention with so tender a regret. But it is not my intention to anticipate her story, by endeavouring to console her. Her letter, I hope, will caution all young ladies of equal virtue with herself against that excess of complaisance with which they are sometimes too willing to entertain their lovers.
TO MR. FITZ-ADAM.
I have not the least ill-will to your friend Mr. Dodsley, whom I never saw in my life; but I address myself to your equity and good nature, for a small share only of your favour and recommendation in that new and valuable branch of trade, to which you have informed the public he is now applying himself, and which I hope you will not think it reasonable that he should monopolize. I mean that admirable short and secret method of communicating one’s ideas by ingenious emblems and representations of the pencil, instead of the vulgar and old method of
Give me leave, Sir, to state I am
letters by the pen. my case and my qualifications to you: sure you will decide with justice. I am the daughter of a clergyman, who, having had a very good living, gave me a good education, and left me no fortune. I had naturally a turn to reading and drawing: my father encouraged and assisted me in the one, allowed me a master to instruct me in the other, and I made an uncommon progress in them both. My heart was tender, and my sentiments were delicate; perhaps too much so for my rank in life. This disposition led me to study chiefly those treasures of sublime honour, spotless virtue, and refined sentiment, the voluminous romances of the last century; sentiments from which, I thank Heaven, I have never deviated. From a sympathizing softness of soul how often have I wept over those affecting distresses! How have I shared the pangs of the chaste and lovely Mariamne upon the death of the tender, the faithful Tiridates! And how has my indignation been excited at the unfaithful and ungenerous historical misrepresentations of the gallant first Brutus, who was undoubtedly the tenderest lover that ever lived My drawings took the same elegant turn with my reading. I painted all the most moving and tender stories of charming Ovid’s Metamorphoses; not without sometimes mingling my tears with my colours. I presented some fans of my own painting to several ladies in the neighbourhood, who were pleased to commend both the execution and the designs. The latter I always took care should be moving, and at the same time irreproachably pure; and I found means even to represent with unblemished delicacy the unhappy passion of the unfortunate Pasiphaë. With this turn of mind, this softness of soul, it will be supposed that I loved. I did so, Sir ; tenderly and truly I loved. Why should I disown a passion, which, when clarified as mine was from the impure dregs of sensuality, is the noblest and most generous sentiment of the human breast? O ! that the false heart of the dear deceiver, whose perfidious vows betrayed mine, had been but as pure l—The traitor was quartered with his troop of dragoons in the town where I lived. His person was a happy compound of the manly strength of a hero, and all the softer graces of a lover; and I thought that I discovered in him, at first sight, all the courage, and all the tenderness of Oroondates. My figure, which was not bad, it seems pleased him as much. He sought and obtained my acquaintance. Soon by his eyes, and soon after by his words, he declared his passion to me. My blushes, my confusion, and my silence, too plainly spoke mine. Good gods’ how tender were his words! how languishingly soft his eyes! with what ardour did he snatch and press my hand! a trifling liberty, which one cannot
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decently refuse, and for which refusal there is no precedent. Sometimes he addressed me in the moving words of Varanes, sometimes in the tender accents of Castalio, and sometimes in the warmer language of Juba; for he was a very good scholar. In short, Sir, a month was not past before he pressed for what he called a proof of my passion. I trembled at the very thought, and reproached him with the indelicacy of it. He persisted; and I, in compliance with custom only, hinted previous marriage: he urged love; and I was not vulgar enough to refuse to the man I tenderly loved the proof he required of my passion. I yielded, it is true; but it was to sentiment, not to desire. A few months gave me reason to suspect that his passion was not quite so pure; and within the year the perfidious wretch convinced me that it had been merely sensual: for upon the removal of his troop to other quarters, he took a cold leave of me, and contented himself with saying, that in the course of quarters he hoped to have the pleasure, some time or other, of seeing me again. You, Mr. Fitz-Adam, if you have any elegancy of soul, as I dare say you have, can better guess than I can express the agonies I felt, and the tears I shed upon this occasion; but all in vain; vain as the thousand tender letters which I have written to him since, and to which I have received no answer. As all this passed within the course of ten months, I had but one child; which dear pledge of my first and only love I now maintain at the expense of more than half of what I have to subsist upon myself. Having now, as I hope, prepared your compassion and proved my qualification, I proceed to the prayer of my petition; which is, that you will be pleased to recommend me to the public, with all that authority which you have sojustly acquired, for a share of this new and beneficial branch of trade. I mean no farther than the just bounds to which the female province may extend. Let Mr. Dodsley engross all the rest, with my best wishes.—Though I say it, I believe nobody has a clearer notion of the theory of delicate sentiments than I have; and I have already a considerable stock in hand of these allegorical and emblematical paintings, applicable to almost every situation in which a woman of sense, virtue, and delicacy, can find herself. I indulged my fancy in painting them, according to the various dispositions of mind which my various fortunes produced. I think I may say, without vanity, that I have made considerable improvements in the celebrated map of the realms of love in Clelia. I have adorned the banks of the gentle and crystalline Tender with several new villages and groves; and added expression to the pleasing melancholic groves of sighs and tender cares. I have whole quires, painted in my happier moments, of hearts united and crowned, fluttering cupids, wanton
zephyrs, constant and tender doves, myrtle bowers, banks of jessamine and tuberose, and shady groves. These will require very little filling up, if any, from ladies who are in the transporting situation of growing loves. For the forsaken and complaining fair, with whom, alas! I too fatally sympathize, I have tender willows drooping over murmuring brooks, and gloomy walks of mournful cypress and solemn yew. In short, Sir, I either have by me, or will forthwith provide, whatever can convey the most perfect ideas of elegant friendship, or pure, refined, and sentimental passion. But I think it necessary to give notice, that if any ladies would express any indelicate ideas of love, or require any types or emblems of sensual joys, they must not apply to, Sir, Your most obedient humble servant, PARTHENissa.
No. 26.] THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 1758.
SIMPL1c1ry is with justice esteemed a supreme excellence in all the performances of art, because by this quality they more nearly resemble the productions of nature: and the productions of nature have ever been accounted nobler, and of a higher order, in proportion to their simplicity. Hence arises (if the ladies will permit me to philosophize a moment) the superior excellence of spirit to matter, which is evidently a combination of many particles; whereas the first is pure, uncompounded, and indivisible. But let us descend from lofty speculations and useless metaphysics, into common life and familiar arts, in order more fully to display the beauties of a just simplicity, to which the present age seems not to pay a proper regard in various instances. Nothing can be more tiresome and nauseous to a virtuoso of a true judgment and a just eye in painting than the gaudy glitter of florid colours, and a vast profusion of light, unsubdued by shade, and undiversified with tints of a brown- . er cast. It is recorded, that some of the capital pieces of Appelles were wrought in four colours only. This excellent artist invented also a kind of darkening varnish, that might temper and chastise all dazzling splendour and unnecessary glare, and might give, as Pliny expresses it, a modesty and austerity to his works. Those who have been unaccustomed to the best models are usually at first more delighted with the productions of the Flemish than the Italian school; and prefer Rubens to Raphael, till they feel by experience, that luscious and gay colour
ing defeats the very end of the art, by turning
the attention from its principal excellences; that is, from truth, simplicity, and design. If these observations are rightly founded, what shall we say of the taste and judgment of those who spend their lives and their fortunes in collecting pieces, where neither perspective, nor proportion, nor conformity to nature are observed; I mean the extravagant lovers and purchasers of China and Indian screens. I saw a sensible foreigner astonished at a late auction, with the exorbitant prices given for these splendid deformities, as he called them, while an exquisite painting of Guido passed unnoticed, and was set aside as unfashionable lumber. Happy should I think myself to be able to convince the fair connoisseurs that make the greatest part of Mr. Langford’s audiences, that no genuine beauty is to be found in whimsical and grotesque figures, the monstrous offspring of wild imagination, undirected by nature and truth. It is of equal consequence to observe simplicity in architecture as in painting. A multiplicity of minute ornaments; a vast variety of angles and cavities; clusters of little columns, and a crowd of windows, are what distinguishes meanness of manner in building from greatness; that is, the Gothic from the Grecian; in which every decoration arises from necessity and use, and every pillar has something to support.
Mark how the dread Pantheon stands,
Amid the domes of modern hands !
Amid the toys of idle state,
How simply, how severely great
says the celebrated author of the ode to Lord Huntingdon. Nothing therefore offends me more than to behold the revival of this barbarous taste, in several villas, temples, and pleasurehouses, that disgrace the neighbourhood of this metropolis. Nay, sometimes in the front of the same edifice to find a Grecian plan adulterated and defiled by the unnatural and impure mixture of Gothic whimsies.
Desinit in piscem mulier formosa superne. HoR.
Whoever considers the latest importations of music and musicians from Italy, will be convinced that the modern masters of that country have lost that beautiful simplicity, which is generally the ornament of every musical composition, and which really dignified those of their predecessors. They have introduced so many intricate divisions, wild variations, and useless repetitions, without any apparent necessity arising either from the words or from any other incident, that the chief ambition of the composer seems to be rather to surprise the ear than to please the judgment; and that of the performer, to show his execution rather than his expres
sion. It is from these motives that the hearer is often confounded, but not delighted, with sudden and unnatural transitions from the key, and returns to it as unnatural as the transitions themselves; while pathos, the soul of music, is either unknown or totally neglected. Those who have studied the works of Correlli among the modern ancients, and Handel in the present age, know that the most affecting passages of the former owe their excellence to simplicity alone; and that the latter understands it as well, and attends to it as much, though he knows when to introduce with propriety those niceties
and refinements, which, for want of that pro
priety, we condemn in others. In every species of writing, whether we consider style or sentiment, simplicity is a beauty. The perfection of language, says the great father of criticism, consists in its being perspicuous but not low. A redundancy of metaphors, a heap of sounding and florid epithets, remote allusions, sudden flashes of wit, lively and epigrammatic turns, dazzle the imaginations and captivate the minds of vulgar readers, who are apt to think the simple manner unanimated and dull, for want of being acquainted with the models of the great antique. Xenophon armong the Greeks, and Caesar among the Romans, are at once the purest and most simple, as well as the most elegant writers, any age or nation can produce. Nudi emim sunt, recti, et venusti, omni ornatu orationis, tanquam veste, detracto. Among ourselves, no writer has perhaps made so happy and judicious a mixture of plain and figurative terms as Addison, who was the first that banished from the English, as Boileau from the French, every species of bad eloquence and false wit, and opened the gates of the Temple of Taste to his fellow-citizens. It seems to be the fate of polished nations to degenerate and depart from a simplicity of sentiment. For when the first and most obvious thoughts have been pre-occupied by former writers, their successors, by straining to be original and new, abound in far-fetched sentiments and forced conceits. Some late instances in men of genius (for none but these are capable of committing this fault) give occasion to us to deprecate this event. I must add, under this head, that simplicity of fable is an indispensable quality in every legitimate drama. We are too much enamoured with what is called intrigue, business, and bustle, in our plays. We are disgusted with the thinness, that is, the unity of a plot. We must enrich it with episodes or under-characters; and we never consider how much our attention is diverted and destroyed by different objects, and our pity divided and weakened by an intricate multiplicity of events and of persons. The Athenians, therefore, who could relish so simple a plot as that of the Philoctetes of Sophocles, had certainly either more patience or more good sense (I will not deterinine which) than my present countrymen. If we raise our thoughts to a subject of more importance than writing, I mean dress; even in this sublime science, simplicity should ever be regarded. It might be thought presumption in me to censure any part of Miss ****’s dress last night at Ranelagh; yet I could not help condemning that profusion of ornament, which violated and destroyed the unity and to oxov (a technical term borrowed from the toilette) of so accomplished a figure. To finish my panegyric on simplicity in a manner that l know is agreeable to my fair readers, I mean with a stroke of morality, I would observe, that if this quality was venerated as it ought to be, it would at once banish from the earth all artifice and treachery, double-dealing and deceit. Let it therefore be established as a maxim, that simplicity is of equal importance in morals and in taste.
SIR, The forming separate societies in order to exertise the great duty of self-mortification, seems to me to be one of the most general and prevailing tendencies in human nature. For even in those countries where the freedom of the laws, or the ill execution of them, or the licentiousness of manners, has given a sort of public sanction to a less severe discipline, in England itself, what numerous sectaries have subsisted upon this disposition of the human mind |
It is upon this principle that the various and opposite tenets of different systems are built. Mahomet, Confucius, and other religious lawgivers; the founders of larger societies, or smaller communities, have availed themselves of this bias in the mind of man; which, at one time or other, is sure to draw him with more than ordinary force.
If ambition occupies, if love monopolizes, if indolence stupifies, if literature amuses, if pride expands, or humility condenses, the immortal spirit of man; if revenge animates, if a softer sensation mollifies, if trifles annihilate, if domestic cares engage, if dress and equipage possess the divine mind of women; these passions will, sooner or later, most certainly subside in both, and give place to that impulse which begets various kinds of mortified communities in different climes and countries. Hence such multitudes, in a neighbouring country, pass the last periods of their lives in the monastic severities of
the strictest devotion; and hence it likewise is, that we see such numbers in our own country expose themselves to midnight damps at Vauxhall, and to be pressed to death by well-dressed mobs at routs. Indeed, the more we consider the human species, from the rude savage up to the most polished courtier, the more we shall be persuaded of this general tendency in our natures to acts of voluntary mortification. But what puts this matter out of all doubt is the erection of three monasteries, within many of our memories, in the most conspicuous parts of this great metropolis. I hope your country protestant readers will not be too much alarmed ; I can assure them that they pay no Peter-pence. They are formed at present of societies composed entirely of males; but we hope it will not be long before they either open the arms of their communities for the reception of females, or that the ladies, excited by their example, and animated by the same principles, will form seminaries for their own sex, and that some departing matron may be prevailed upon to found a charity for this purpose. For the furtherance of so desirable a community, it may not here be improper to offer a legal clause to be inserted in any last will or testament: viz. “I, A. B. spinster or dowager, being tired of all men, and having no mortal to whom I have reason to wish well; having settled a competent provision on my birds, dogs, and cats, do leave the sum of pounds, towards the erecting a building, and the establishing a society for the following purposes, &c. &c. &c.” Now as soon as a sufficient number of holy sisters shall be collected, I think they cannot do more wisely than to form their new seminary upon the model of one of those three great monasteries so lately founded; nor would I advise them to vary much from those plans, as the difference of male and female will always be, to those who contemplate things profoundly, a sufficient badge of distinction. For the direction, therefore, of these future lady abbesses, it will be necessary to give them some account of the three monastic societies before-mentioned; which will appear to owe their rise entirely to that innate love of separate clan-ship and self-mortification, which, according to my present maxim, is universally implanted in the human breast. There are few women of fashion who have not heard of Harry the Eighth; many of them are perfectly well acquainted with that glorious fountain from which the reformation first sprung, which produced the dissolution of papal monasteries; till some years ago, a little, round, well-spoken man erected a large monastery near Covent Garden, where a brotherhood was soon formed. Here he dealt out indulgence” of all sorts, and extreme (good internal) unotions. But it happened, for diverse reasons, that the aforesaid district was not thought so proper a situation; upon which a new convent was built, near the court-end of the town ; the monks removed to it, and from that day have taken upon themselves the name of White Friars. The difficulty of being admitted into this pious seminary, and the necessary qualifications for that purpose, are sufficiently known. But how severe is their abstinence For whereas other devout orders in other countries do not scruple to indulge themselves with the wholesome diet of plain fish, vegetables, and oil, it is the established rule of this order not to admit of any eatable but what simple nature abhors, and till the texture of its parts is so totally transubstantiated, that it cannot come under the denomination of fish, flesh, or good red herring. To such a degree likewise has their spirit of mortification carried them, that, being sensible that the most real indulgence, the most natural and homogeneal beverage to the constitution of man, is pure limpid element, they have therefore banished that delightful liquid from their meals, and freely exposed themselves even to the most excruciating tortures, by daily swallowing certain potions of various kinds, the ill effects of which to the human body are well known; and for their farther penance, they have adopted nauseous medicinal waters, for their miserable inky drink. But it is in the dead time of the night, when the herd of ordinary mortals repose from their labours, that these devotees perform their greatest acts of self-severity; for the conduct of which, they have three or four established rituals, composed by the celebrated Father Hoyle. This famous seminary, like that of some colleges, is divided into senior and junior fellows. The juniors, to a certain number at a time, not content with their ordinary acts of probation, exert a most extraordinary cffort of devotion. Imagining that the mortification of the body alone is not sufficient for the pious gratification of their exalted zeal, and considering how meritorious it would be to extend the same severity to the faculties of the mind, they have attained such a spiritual domination over the soul, as to be able to renounce all its most pleasing emotions, and to give it up without remorse, to be tortured by the most painful vicissitudes of hope and fear. Such is the wonderful effect of long habit, unwearied exercise, and abstracted vigils! In order to facilitate this toilsome penance, and to enable themselves totally to subdue all ideas whatsoever which have no connection with those two passions, they have contrived incessantly to toss about two cubical figures, which are so devised, as to fix the attention, by certain mystical characters, to one or other of the afore
said passions; and thus they will sit for many hours, with only the light of one large taper in the middle of the altar, in the most exquisite and convulsive agonies of the most truly mortified and religious penitents. In short, neither the Indian nor Chinese bronzes, nor the Italian or Spanish visionaries, in all their various distor. tions and penances, came up to these. And here, by the way, I cannot but remark with pleasure the great talents of my countrymen for carrying every thing they undertake to greater perfection than any other nation. The second of these seminaries was founded upon the model of the first, and consists of a number of Grey Friars, remarkable for a rigorous abstinence, and indefatigable devotion. They just preserve their beings with a little chocolate or tea. They are dedicated to the great St. George, and are distinguished by the composure of their countenances, and their extraordinary taciturnity. The third order is that of St. James; the members of which are known by the appellation of Scarlet Friars. It consists of a multitude of brothers, who are not near so strict as the two former orders; and is likely to become vastly numerous, under the auspices of its great patron, whose bulk is adorned by jollity and good humour; and who is moreover very strictly a good liver. Now, Mr. Fitz-Adam, let me ask you whether these three laudable institutions are not plainly owing to that principle which I have assigned in the beginning of my letter? For what other motive could prompt men to forsake their own elegant houses, to sacrifice domestic and conjugal satisfaction, to neglect the endearing rites of hospitality in order to cloister themselves among those, with whom they can have no connection but upon the aforesaid principles? But since such is the general bent of the human mind, it is become a fit subject for the World to consider by what methods these seminaries may be so multiplied, as to comprehend all ranks and orders of men and women. And if fifty new churches were thought few enough to keep pace with the zeal of good Queen Anne’s days, I believe, Mr. Fitz-Adam, you will not think five hundred large mansions of the kind I am speaking of will be too many for the present. I am,
Yours, &c. J. T. No. 28.] Thursday, July 12, 1753. Pauci dignoscere possunt Wera bona, atque illis multum diversa. JUV.
Few can distinguish real from fancied good.
It is a common observation, that though happi
mess is every man’s aim, and though it is generally pursued by a gratification of the predominant passion, yet few have acuteness enough to discover the points which would effectually procure the long-sought end. One cannot but wonder that such intense application as most of us bestow on the cultivation of our favourite desires should yet leave us ignorant of the most essential objects of our study. For my part, I was so early convinced of the truth of this observation, that instead of searching for what would contribute most to my own happiness, I have spent great part of my life in the study of what may extend the enjoyment of others. This knowledge I flatter myself I have discovered, and shall now disclose to the world. I beg to be attended to: I beg mankind will believe that I know better than any of them what will ascertain the felicity of their lives. I am not going to impart so great (though so often revealed) a secret, as that it is religion or virtue; few would believe me, fewer would try the recipe. In spite of the philosophy of the age, in spite of the gravity of my character, and of the decency which I hope I have hitherto most sanctimoniously observed, I must avow my persuasion, that the sensual pleasure of love is the great cordial of life, and the only specific for removing the anxieties of our own passions, or for supporting the injuries and iniquities which we suffer from those of other men. “Well! (shall I be told) and is this your admirable discovery? Is this the arcanum that has escaped the penetration of all inquiries in all ages? What other doctrine has been taught by the most sensible philosophers? Was not this the text of the sermons of Epicurus? Was not this the theory, and practice too, of the experienced Alcibiades? What other were the tenets of the sage Lord Rochester, or of the missionary Saint-Evremont?” It is very true; and a thousand other founders of sects, nay of religious orders, have taught—or at least practised—the same doctrines. But I pretend to introduce such refinements into the system of sensuality, as shall vindicate the discovery to myself, and throw at a distance the minute philosophers, who (if they were my forerunners) only served to lead the world astray. Hear then in one word the mysterious precept : “Young women are not the proper object of sensual love: it is the matron, the hoary fair, who can give, communicate, insure happiness.” I might enumerate a thousand reasons to enforce my doctrine; as the fickleness of youth, the caprices of beauty and its transient state, the jealousy from rivals, the distraction from having children, the important avocations of dress, and the infinite occupations of a pretty woman, which endanger or divide her sentiments from being always fixed on the faithful lover; and none of which combat the affections of the grate
ful, tender, attentive matron. But as one example is worth a thousand reasons, I shall recommend my plan by pointing out the extreme happiness which has attended such discreet heroes as are commemorated in the annals of love for having offered up their hearts at ancient shrines; and I shall clearly demonstrate by precedents that several ladies in the bloom of their wrinkles have inspired more lasting and more fervent passions, than the greatest beauties who had scarce lost sight of their teens. The fair young creatures of the present hour will forgive a preference which is the result of deep meditation, great reading, and strict impartiality, when they reflect, that they can scarce contrive to be young above a dozen years, and may be old for fifty or sixty; and they may believe me, that after forty they will value one lover more than they do twenty now ; a sensation of happiness, which they will find increase as they advance in years. I cannot but observe with pleasure, that the legislature itself seems to coincide with my way of thinking, and has very prudently enacted, that young ladies shall not enter so early into thc bonds of love, when they are incapable of reflection, and of all the serious duties which belong to a union of hearts. A sentiment which indeed our laws seem always to have had in view ; for unless there was implanted in our natures a strong temptation towards the love of elderly women, why should the very first prohibition in the table of consanguinity forbid a man to marry his grandmother? The first heroine we read of, whose charms were proof against the injuries of time, was the accomplished Sarah: I think the most moderate computations make her to be ninety, when that wanton monarch Abimelech would have undermined her virtue. But as doubtless the observance of that virtue had been the great foundation of the continuance of her beauty, and as the rigidness of it rather exempts her from, than exposes her as an object of my doctrine, I shall say no more of that lady. Helen, the beautiful Helen, if there is any trusting to classic parish registers, was fourscore when Paris stole her; and though the war lasted ten years after that on her account, Monsieur Homer, who wrote their romance, does not give any hint of the gallant young prince having showed the least decay of passion or symptom of inconstancy: a fidelity, which in all probability was at least as much owing to the experience of the dame, and to her knowledge in the refinements of pleasure, as to her bright eyes, unfaded complexion, or the everlasting lilies and roses of her cheeks. I am not clear that length of years, especially in heroic minds, does not increase rather than abate the sentimental flame. The great Elizabeth, whose passion for the unfortunate Earl of Essex is justly a favourite topic with all who
delight in romantic history, was full sixty-eight when she condemned her lover to death for slighting her endearments. And if I might instance in our own sex, the charming, the meritorious Antony was not far from seventy before he had so much taste as to sacrifice the meaner passion of ambition, nay the world itself, to love. But it is in France, that kingdom so exquisitely judicious in the affairs of love, from whence we may copy the arts of happiness, as well as their other discoveries in pleasure. The monarchs of that nation have more than once taught the world, by their example, that a fine woman, though past her grand climacteric, may be but just touching the meridian of her charms. Henry the Second and Louis the Fourteenth will be for ever memorable for the passions they so long felt for the Dutchess of Valentinois, and Madame de Maintenon. The former, in the heat of youth and prospect of empire, became a slave to the respectable attractions of Diana de Poitiers, many years after his injudicious father had quitted the possession of her on the silly apprehension that she was growing old : and to the last moment of his life and reign Henry was a constant, jealous adorer of her still ripening charms. When the age was overrun with astrology, superstition, bigotry, and notions of necromancy, King Henry still idolized a woman, who had not only married her grand-daughter, then a celebrated beauty, but who, if any other prince had reigned, was ancient enough to have come within the description of sorcery: so little do the vulgar distinguish between the ideas of an old witch and a fine woman. The passion of the other monarch was no less remarkable. That hero, who had gained so many battles by proxy, had presided in person at so many tournaments, had raised such waterworks, and shed such streams of heretic blood; and, which was still more glorious, had enjoyed so many of the finest women in Europe; was at last captivated by an old governante, and sighed away whole years at the feet of his venerable mistress, as she worked at her tent with spectacles. If Louis le Grand was not a judge of pleasure, who can pretend to be? If he was, in favour of what age did he give the golden apple? I shall close my catalogue of ancient mistresses with the renowned Ninon l’Enclos, a lady whose life alone is sufficient to inculcate my doctrine in its utmost force. I shall say nothing of her numerous conquests for the first half of her life: she had wit, youth, and beauty, three ingredients which will always attract silly admirers. It was not till the fifty-sixth year that her superior merit distinguished itself; and from that to her ninetieth, she went on improving in the real arts and charms of love. How unfortunate am I, that she did not live a few years longer, that I might have had the opportunity of wear
ing her chains ! It was in her fifty-sixth year that the Chevalier de Villiers, a natural son whom she had had by the Comte de Gerze, arrived at Paris from the provinces, where he had been educated without any knowledge of his real parents. He saw his mother: he fell in love with her. The increase, the vehemence of his passion gave the greatest disquiets to the affectionate matron. At last, when nothing but a discovery of the truth could put a stop, as she thought, to the impetuosity of his attempts, she carried him into her bed-chamber. Here my readers will easily conceive the transports of a young lover, just on the brink of happiness with a charming mistress near threescore! As the adventurous youth would have pushed his enterprises, she checked him, and pointing to a clock, said, “Rash boy, look there ! at that hour, two-and-twenty years ago, I was delivered of you in this very bed!” It is a certain fact, that the unfortunate, abashed young man flew into the garden and fell upon his sword. This catastrophe had like to have deprived the age of the most accomplished mistress that ever adorned the Cytherean annals. It was above twenty years before the afflicted mother would listen to any addresses of a tender nature. At length, the polite Abbé de Gedoyn pressed and obtained an assignation. He came, and found the enchanting Ninon lying on a couch, like the grandmother of the loves, in the most gallant dishabille; and what was still more delightful, disposed to indulge his utmost wishes. After the most charming endearments, he asked her, but with the greatest respect, why she had so long deferred the completion of his happiness? “Why,” replied she, “I must confess it proceeded from a remain of vanity: I did pique myself upon having a lover at past fourscore, and it was but yesterday that I was eighty complete.”