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No. 156. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29, 1711.
Sed tu simul obligasti
When once thou hast broke some tender vow,
HOR. 2 Od. viii. 5.
I Do not think any thing could make a pleasanter entertainment, than the history of the reigning favourites among the women from time to time about this town. In such an account we ought to have a faithful confession of each lady for what she liked such and such a man, and he ought to tell us by what particular action or dress he believed he should be most successful. As for my part, I have always made as easy a judgment when a man dresses for the ladies, as when he is equipped for hunting or coursing. The woman's man is a person in his air and behaviour quite dif ferent from the rest of our species. His garb is more loose and negligent, his manner more soft and indolent; that is to say, in both these cases there is an apparent endeavour to appear unconcerned and careless. In catching birds the fowlers have a method of imitating their voices, to bring them to the snare; and your women's men have always a similitude of the creature they hope to betray, in their own conversation. Ă woman's man is very knowing in all that passes from one family to another, has pretty little officiousnesses, is not at a loss what is good for a cold, and it is not amiss if he has a bottle of spirits in his pocket in case of any sudden indisposition.
Curiosity having been my prevailing passion, and indeed the sole entertainment of my life, I
have sometimes made it my business to examine the course of intrigues as well as the manners and accomplishments of such as have been most successful that way. In all my observation, I never knew a man of good understanding a general favourite; some singularity in his behaviour, some whim in his way of life, and what would have made him ridiculous among the men, has recommended him to the other sex. I should be very sorry to offend a people so fortunate as these of whom I am speaking; but let any one look over the old beaux, and he will find the man of success was remarkable for quarrelling impertinently for their sakes, for dressing unlike the rest of the world, or passing his days in an insipid assiduity about the fair sex to gain the figure he made amongst them. Add to this, that he must have the reputation of being well with other women, to please any one woman of gallantry; for you are to know, that there is a mighty ambition among the light part of the sex to gain slaves from the dominion of others. My friend Will Honeycomb says it was a common bite with him, to lay suspicions that he was favoured by a lady's enemy, that is, some rival beauty, to be well with herself. A little spite is natural to a great beauty : and it is ordinary to snap up a disagreeable fellow lest another should have him. That impudent toad Bareface fares well among all the ladies he converses with, for no other reason in the world but that he has the skill to keep them from explanation with one another. Did they know there is not one who likes him in her heart, each would declare her scorn of him the next moment; but he is well received by them because it is the fashion, and opposition to each other brings them insensibly into an imitation of each other. What
adds to him the greatest grace is, that the pleasant thief, as they call him, is the most inconstant creature living, has a wonderful deal of wit and humour, and never wants something to say; besides all which, he has a most spiteful dangerous tongue if you should provoke him.
To make a woman's man, he must not be a man of sense, or a fool; the business is to entertain, and it is much better to have a faculty of arguing, than a capacity of judging right. But the pleasantest of all the women's equipage are your regular visitants; these are volunteers in their service, without hopes of pay or preferment. It is enough that they can lead out from a public place, that they are admitted on a public day, and can be allowed to pass away part of that heavy load, their time, in the company of the fair. But commend me above all others to those who are known for your ruiners of ladies; these are the choicest spirits which our age produces. We have several of these irresistible gentlemen among us when the company is in town. These fellows are accomplished with the knowledge of the ordinary occurrences about court and town, have that sort of good-breeding which is exclusive of all morality, and consists only in being publicly decent, privately dissolute.
It is wonderful how far a fond opinion of herself can carry a woman, to make her have the least regard to a professed known woman's man; but as scarce one of all the women who are in the tour of gallantries ever hears any thing of what is the common sense of sober minds, but are entertained with a continual round of flatteries, they cannot be mistresses of themselves enough to make arguments for their own conduct from the behaviour of these men to others. It is so far
otherwise, that a general fame for falsehood in this kind, is a recommendation; and the coxcomb, loaded with the favours of many others, is received like a victor that disdains his trophies, to be a victim to the present charmer.
If you see a man more full of gesture than ordinary in a public assembly, if loud upon no occasion, if negligent of the company round him, and yet laying wait for destroying by that negligence, you may take it for granted that he has ruined many a fair one. The woman's man expresses himself wholly in that motion which we call strutting. An elevated chest, a pinched hat, a measurable step, and a sly surveying eye, are the marks of him. Now and then you see a gentleman with all these accomplishments; but, alas, any one of them is enough to undo thousands: when a gentleman with such perfections adds to it suitable learning, there should be public warning of his residence in town, that we may remove our wives and daughters. It happens some times that such a fine man has read all the miscellany poems, a few of our comedies, and has the translation of Ovid's Epistles by heart. O if it were possible that such a one could be as true as he is charming! but that is too much, the women will share such a dear false man: a little gallantry to hear him talk one would indulge one's self in, let him reckon the sticks of one's fan, say something of the Cupids in it; and then call one so many soft names which a man of his learning has at his fingers'-ends. There sure is some excuse for frailty, when attacked by such force against a weak woman.' Such is the soliloquy of many a lady one might name, at the sight of one of those who makes it no iniquity to go on from day to day in the sin of woman-slaughter.
It is certain that people are got into a way of affectation, with a manner of overlooking the most solid virtues, and admiring the most trivial excellencies. The woman is so far from expecting to be contemned for being a very injudicious silly animal, that while she can preserve her features and her mien, she knows she is still the object of desire; and there is a sort of secret ambition, from reading frivolous books, and keeping as frivolous company, each side to be amiable in perfection, and arrive at the characters of the Dear Deceiver and the Perjured Fair. T
No. 157. THURSDAY, AUGUST 30, 1711.
Genius, natale comes qui temperat astrum,
-That directing pow'r,
Who forms the genius in the natal hour:
I AM very much at a loss to express by any word that occurs to me our language that which is understood by indoles in Latin. The natural disposition to any particular art, science, profession, or trade, is very much to be consulted in the care of youth, and studied by men for their own conduct when they form to themselves any scheme of life. It is wonderfully hard indeed for a man to judge of his own capacity impartially. That may look great to me which may appear little to another; and I may be carried by fondness towards