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" Thy presence only 'tis can make me blest,
The consolations of lovers on these occasions are very extraordinary. Besides those mentioned by Asteria, there are many other motives of comfort, which are made use of by absent lovers.
I remember in one of Scudery's romances, a couple of honourable lovers agreed at their parting to set aside one half hour in the day to think of each other during a tedious absence. The romance tells us, that they both of them punctually observed the time thus agreed upon ; and that whatever company or business they were engaged in, they left it abruptly as soon as the clock warned them to retire. The romance further adds, that the lovers expected the return of this stated hour with as much impatience, as if it had been a real assignation, and enjoyed an imaginary happiness that was almost as pleasing to them as what they would have found from a real meeting. It was an inexpressible satisfaction to these divided lovers, to be assured that each was at the same time employed in the same kind of contemplation, and making equal returns of tenderness and affection.
If I may be allowed to mention a more serious expedient for the alleviating of absence, I shall take notice of one which have known two persons practise, who joined religion to that elegance of sentiments with which the passion of love generally inspires it's votaries. This was, at the return of such an hour, to offer up a certain prayer for each other, which they had agreed upon before their parting. The husband, who is a man that makes a figure in the polite world, as well as in his own family, has often told me, that he could not have supported an absence of three years without this expedient.
Strada, in one of his prolusions, gives an account of a chimerical correspondence between two friends by the help of a certain, loadstone, which had such virtue in it, that if it touched two several needles, when one of the needles so touched began to move, the other, though at never so great a distance, moved at the same time, and in the same manner. He tells us, that the two friends, being each of them possessed of one of these needles, made a kind of a dial-plate, inscribing it with the four and twenty letters, in the same manner as the hours of the day are marked upon the ordinary dial plate. They then fixed one of the needles on each side of these plates in such a manner, that it could move round without impediment, so as to touch any of the four and twenty letters. Upon their separating from one another into distant countries, they agreed to withdraw themselves punctually into their closets at a certain hour of the day, and to converse with one another by means of this their invention. Accordingly when they were some hundred miles asunder, each of them shut himself up in his closet at the time appointed, and immediately cast his eye upon his dial-plate. If he had a mind to write any thing to his friend, he directed his needle to every letter that formed the word which he had occasion for, making a little pause
atthe end of every word or sentence, to avoid confusion. The friend, in the mean while, saw his own sympathetic needle moving of itse
to every letter which that of his correspondent pointed at. By this means they talked together across a whole continent, and conveyed their thoughts to one another in an instant over cities or mountains, seas or deserts.
If Monsieur Scudery, or any other writer of romance, had introduced a necromancer, who is generally in the train of a knight-errant, making a present to two lovers of a couple of these above-mentioned needles, the reader would not have been a little pleased to have seen them corresponding with one another when they were guarded by spies and watches, or separated by castles and adventures.
In the mean while, if ever this invention should be revived or put in practice, I would propose, that upon the lover's dial-plate there should be written not only the four and twenty letters, but several entire words which have always a place in passionate epistles, as “ flames, darts, die, languish, absence, Cupid, heart, “ eyes, hang, drown,” and the like. This would very much abridge the lover's pains in his way of writing a letter, as it would enable him to express the most useful and significant words with a single touch of the needle.
No. CCXLII. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7.
Creditur, ex medio quia res arcessit, habere
To write on vulgar themes, is thought an easy task. .
(Mr. Spectator, - YOUR speculations do not so generally prevail over men's manners as I could wish. A former paper of your's concerning the misbehaviour of peo
ple, who are necessarily in each other's company ' in travelling, ought to have been a lasting admoni• tion against transgressions of that kind : but I had
the fate of your Quaker, in meeting with a rude
fellow in a stage coach, who entertained two or (three women of us, for there was no man besides
himself, with language as indecent as ever was • heard upon the water. The impertinent observa• tions which the coxcomb made upon our shame 6 and confusion were such, that it is an unspeakable • grief to reflect upon them. As much as you have « declaimed against duelling, I hope you will do us « the justice to declare, that if the brute has courage - enough to send to the place where he saw us all • alight together to get rid of him, there is not one • of us but has a lover who shall avenge the insult. • It would certainly be worth your consideration, to o look into the frequent misfortunes of this kind, to ( which the modest and innocent are exposed, by the e licentious behaviour of such as are as much stran• gers to good-breeding as to virtue. Could we avoid • hearing what we do not approve, as easily as we « can seeing what is disagreeable, there were some 6 consolation ; but since in a box at a play, in an as6 sembly of ladies, or even in a pew at church, it is
in the power of a gross coxcomb to utter what a I woman cannot avoid hearing, how miserable is her
condition who comes within the power of such im( pertinents ? and how necessary is it to repeat in« vectives against such a behaviour ? If the licentious
had not utterly forgot what it is to be modest, they ( would know that offended modesty labours under • one of the greatest sufferings to which human life 6 can be exposed. If one of these brutes could re
flect thus much, though they want shame, they « would be moved by their pity, to abhor an impu• dent behaviour in the presence of the chaste and ( innocent. If
you will oblige us with a Spectator on < this subject, and procure it to be pasted against
every stage-coach in Great-Britain, as the law of • the journey, you will much oblige the whole sex,
for which you have professed so great an esteem ; « and in particular, the two ladies my late fellow-suf« ferers, and,
• Your humble servant,
• REBECCA RIDINGHOOD.'
Mr. Spectator, "THE matter which I am now going to send you, ' is an unliappy siory in low life, and will recommend • itself, so that you must excuse the manner of ex' pressing it. A poor, idle, drunken weaver in Spit• tlefields has a faithful laborious wife, who, by her • frugality and industry, had laid by her as much mo
ney as purchased her a ticket in the present lottery. • She had hid this very privately in the bottom of a • trunk, and had given her number to a friend and • confidant, who had promised to keep the secrct, and bring her news of the success. The poor
adventurer was one day gone abroad, when her careless hus• band, suspecting she had saved some money, searches every corner, until at length he finds this same ticket, which he immediately carries abroad, sells, and squanders away the money, without the wife's suspecting any thing of the matter. A day or two after this, this friend, who was a woman, comes and • brings the wife word that she had a benefit of five • hundred pounds. The poor creature, overjoyed, fies
up stairs to her husband, who was then at work, and ? desires him to leave his loom for that evening, and
come and drink with a friend of his and lier's below. The man received this cheerful invitation as bad husbands sometimes do, and, after a cross word or (two, told her he would not come. His wife, with ten• derness, renewed her importunity, and at lenguh said < to him, “My love! I have within these few months, 6 unknown to you, scraped together as much money “ as has bought us a ticket in the lottery, and now “ here is Mrs. Quick, come to tell me, that it is come “ up this morning a five hundred pound prize.” The husband replies immediately, “ You lie, you slut,
you have no ticket, for I have sold it.” The poor woman upon
this faints away in a fit; recovers, and is now run distracted. As she had no design to de• fraud her husband, but was willing only to partici