網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

that Callisthenes will make a man run into impertinent relations to his own advantage, and express the satisfaction he has in his own dear self, till he is very

ridiculous ; but in this case the man is made a fool by his own consent, and not exposed as such whether he will or no. I take it, therefore, that, to make raillery agreeable, a man must either not know he is rallied, or think never the worse of himself if he sees he is.

Acetus is of a quite contrary genius, and is more gene: rally admired than Çallisthenes, but not with justice. Acetus has no regard to the modesty or weakness of the person he rallies ; but if his quality or humility gives him any superiority to the man he would fall upon, he has no mercy in making the onset, He can be pleased to see his best friend out of countenance, while the laugh is loud in his own applause. His raillery always puts the company into little divisions and separate interests, while that of Callisthenes cements it, and makes every man not only better pleased with himself, but also with all the rest in the conversation.

To rally well, it is absolutely necessary that kindness must run through all you say; and you must ever preserve the character of a friend to support your pretensions to be free with a man.

Acetus ought to be banished human sociéty, because he raises his mirth upon giving pain to the person upon whom he is pleasant. Nothing but the malevolence which is too general towards those who excel could make his company tolerated; but they with whom he converses are sure to see some man sacrificed wherever he is admitted ; and all the credit he has for wit, is owing to the gratification it gives to other men's ill nature.

Minutius has a wit that conciliates a man's love, at the same time that it is exerted against his faults. He has an art of keeping the person he rallies in countenance, by insinuating that he himself is guilty of the same imperfection. This he does with so much address, that he seems rather to bewail himself, than fall upon

his friend. It is really monstrous to see how unaccountably it prevails among men to take the liberty of displeasing each other. One would think sometimes that the contention is who shall be most disagreeable. Allusions to past follies,

hints which revive what a man has a mind to forget for ever, and deserves that all the rest of the world should, are commonly brought forth even in company of men of distinction. They do not thrust with the skill of fencers, but cut up with the barbarity of butchers. It is, methinks, below the character of men of humanity and good-manners to be capable of mirth while there is any of the company in pain and disorder.

They who have the true taste of conversation, enjoy themselves in a communication of each other's excellencies, and not in a triumph over their imperfections. Fortius would have been reckoned a wit, if there had never been a fool in the world; he wants not foils to be a beauty, but has that natural pleasure in observing perfection in others, that his own faults are overlooked out of gratitude by all his acquaintance.

After these several characters of men who succeed or fail in raillery, it may not be amiss to reflect a little farther what one takes to be the most agreeable kind of it; and that to me appears when the satire is directed against vice, with an air of contempt of the fault, but no ill- will to the criminal. Mr. Congreve's Doris is a master-piece in this kind. It is the character of a woman utterly abandoned ; but her impudence, by the finest piece of raillery, is made only generosity.

Peculiar therefore is her way,

Whether by nature taught
I shall not undertake to say,

Or by experience bought;
But who o'ernight obtain'd her grace

She can next day disown,
And stare upon the strange man's face,

As one she ne'er had known.
So well she can the truth disguise,

Such artful wonder frame,
The lover or distrusts his eyes,

Or thinks 'twas all a dream.
Some censure this as lewd or low,

Who are to bounty blind;
For to forget what we bestow

Bespeaks a noble mind.
T.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

I

[ocr errors]

N° 423. SATURDAY, JULY 5, 1712.

-Nuper idoneus.-HOR. 3 Od. xxvi, 1.
Once fit myself.
LOOK upon myself as a kind of guardian to the fair,

and am always watchful to observe any thing which concerns their interest. The present paper shall be employed in the service of a very fine young woman; and the admonitions I give her may not be unuseful to the rest of the sex.. Gloriana shall be the name of the heroine in to-day's entertainment; and when I have told you that she is rich, witty, young, and beautiful, you will believe, she does not want admirers. She has had since she came to town about twenty-five of those lovers who make their addresses by way of jointure and settlement: these come: and go with great indifference on both sides; and as beauteous as she is, a line in a deed has had exception enough against it, to outweigh the lustre of her eyes, the readiness of her understanding, and the merit of her, general character. But among the crowd of such cool adorers, she has two who are very assiduous in their attendance. There is something so extraordinary and artful in their manner of application, that I think it but common justice to alarm her in it. I have done it in the following letter;

MADAM, “I have for some time taken notice of two gentlemen who attend you in all public places, both of whom have also

easy access to you at your own house. But the matter is adjusted between them; and Damon, who so passionately addresses you, has no design upon you; but Strephon, who seems to be indifferent to you, is the man who is, as they have settled it, to have you. The plot was laid over a bottle of wine; and Strephon, when he first thought of you, proposed to Damon to be his rival. The manner of his breaking of it to him, I was so placed at a tavern, that I could not avoid hearing. Damon,' said he, with a deep sigh, I have long languished for that miracle of beauty, Gloriana : and if you will be very steadfastly my rival, I shall certainly obtain her. Do not,' continued he,

be offended at this overture; for I go upon the knowledge of the temper of the woman, rather than any vanity that I should profit by an opposition of your pretensions to those of your humble servant. Gloriana has very good sense, a quick relish of the satisfactions of life, and will not give herself, as the crowd of women do, to the arms of a man to whom she is indifferent. As she is a sensible woman, expressions of rapture and adoration will not move her neither: but he that has her must be the object of her desire, not her pity. The way to this end I take to be, that a man's general conduct should be agreeable, without addressing in particular to the woman he loves. Now, Sir, if you will be so kind as to sigh and die for Gloriana, 1 will carry it with great respect towards her, but seem void of any thoughts as a lover. By this means I shall be in the most amiable light of which I am capable ; I shall be received with freedom, you with reserve. Damon, who has himself no designs of marriage at all, easily fell into the scheme; and you may observe, that wherever you are, Damon appears also. You see he carries on an unaffected exactness in his dress and manner, and strives always to be the very contrary of Strephon. They have already succeeded so far, that your eyes are ever in search of Strephon, and turn themselves of course from Damon. They meet and compare notes upon your carriage; and the letter which was brought to you the other day was a contrivance to remark your resentment. When you saw the billet subscribed Damon, and turned away with a scornful air, and cried impertinence!' you gave hopes to him that shuns you, without mortifying him that languishes for you.

" What I am concerned for, Madam, is, that in the disposal of your heart you should know what you are doing, and examine it before it is lost. Strephon contradicts you in discourse with the civility of one who has a value for you, but gives up nothing like one that loves you. This seeming unconcern gives his behaviour the advantage of sincerity, and insensibly obtains your good opinion by appearing disinterested in the purchase of it. If you watch these correspondents hereafter, you will find that Strephon makes his visit of civility immediately after Damon has tired you with one of love. Though you are very discreet, you will find it no easy matter to escape

the

"I am,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

toils so well laid: as, when one studies to be disagreeable in passion, the other to be pleasing without it. All the turns of your temper are carefully watched, and their quick and faithful intelligence gives your lovers irresistible advantage. You will please, Madam, to be upon your guard, and take all the necessary precautions against one who is amiable to

you
before

you know he is enamoured.

Madam, your most obedient servant." ; Strephon makes great progress in this lady's good graces; for most women being actuated by some little spirit of pride and contradiction, he has the good effects of both those motives by this covert way of courtship. He received a message yesterday from Damon in the following words, superscribed “ With speed.”

goes well : she is very angry at me, and I dare say hates me in earnest. It is a good time to visit.

“ Yours.” The comparison of Strephon's gaiety to Damon's languishment strikes her imagination with a prospect of very agreeable hours with such a man as the former, and abhorrence of the insipid prospect with one like the latter, To know when a lady is displeased with another, is to know the best time of advancing yourself. This method of two persons playing into each other's hand is so dangerous, that I cannot tell how a woman could be able to withstand such a siege. The condition of Gloriana I am afraid is irretrievable; for Strephon has had so many opportunities of pleasing without suspicion, that all which is left for her to do is to bring him, now she is advised, tó an explanation of his passion, and beginning again, if she can conquer the kind sentiments she has already conceived for him. When one shews himself a creature to be avoided, the other proper to be fled to for succour, they have the whole woman between them, and can occasionally rebound her love and hatred from one to the other, in such a manner as to keep her at a distance from all the rest of the world, and cast lots for the conquest.

N. B. I have many other secrets which concern the empire of love; but I consider, that, while I alarm my women, I instruct my men.

T.

« 上一頁繼續 »