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leads you into a clear sense of their character is, that you may observe each of them has the distinction of sex in all her thoughts, words and actions. You can never mention any assembly you were lately in, but one asks you with a rigid, the other with a sprightly air, pray, what men were there? As for prudes, it must be confessed, that there are several of them, who, like hypocrites, by long practice of a false part, become sincere; or at least delude themselves into a belief that they are so.
For the benefit of the society of ladies, I shall propose one rule to them as a test of their virtue. I find in a very celebrated modern author, that the great foundress of the pietists, Madam de Bourignon, who was no less famous for the sanctity of her life, than for the singularity of some of her opinions, was used to boast, that she had not only the spirit of continency in herself, but that she had also the power of communicating it to all who beheld her. This the scoffers of those days called the gift of infrigidation, and took occasion from it to rally her face, rather than admire her virtue. I would therefore advise the prude, who has a mind to know the integrity of her own heart, to lay her hand seriously upon it, and to examine herself, whether she could sincerely rejoice in such a gift of conveying chaste thoughts to all her male beholders; if she has any aversion to the power of inspiring so great a virtue, whatever notion she may have of her perfection, she deceives her own heart, and is still in the state of prudery. Some perhaps will look upon the boast of Madam de Bourignon, as the utmost ostentation of a prude.
If you would see the humour of a coquet pushed to the last excess, you may find an instance of it in the following story, which I will set down at length, because it pleased me when I read it, though I cannot recollect in what author.
A young coquet widow in France having been followed by a Gascon of quality, who had boasted among his companions of some favours which he had never received, to be revenged of him, sent for him one evening, and told him, it was in his power to do her a very particular service. The Gascon, with much profession of his readiness to obey her commands, begged to hear in what manner she designed to employ him. You know (said the widow) my friend Belinda, and must often have heard of the jealousy of that impotent wretch her husband. Now it is absolutely necessary, for the carrying on a certain affair, that his wife and I should be together a whole night. What I have to ask of you, is, to dress yourself in her night-cloaths, and lie by him a whole night in her place, that he may not miss her while she is with me. The Gascon (though of a very lively and undertaking complexion) began to startle at the proposal. Nay, says the widow, if you have not the courage to go through what I ask of you, I must employ somebody else that will. Madam, (says the Gascon) I will kill him for you if
you please; but for lying with him ......... How is it possible to do it without being discovered? If you do not discover yourself, (says the widow) you will lie safe enough, for he is past all curiosity. He comes in at night while she is asleep, and goes out in a morning before she awakes, and is in pain for nothing, so he knows she is there. Madam, (replied the Gascon) how can you reward me for passing a night with this old fellow? The widow answered with a laugh, perhaps by admitting you to pass a night with one you think more agreeable. He took the hint, put on his night cloaths, and had not been a bed above an hour before he heard a knocking at the door, and the treading of one who approached the other side of the bed, and who he did not question was the good man of the house. I do not know, whether the story would be better by telling you in this place, or at the end of it, that the person who went
to bed to him was our young coquet widow. The Gascon was in a terrible fright every time she moved in bed, or turned towards him, and did not fail to shrink from her, till he had conveyed himself to the very ridge of the bed. I will not dwell upon the perplexity, he was in the whole night, which was augmented, when he observed that it was now broad day, and that the husband did not yet offer to get up and
go about his business. All that the Gascon had for it; was to keep his face turned from him, and to feign himself asleep, when, to his utter confusion, the widow at last puts out her arm, and pulls the bell at her bed's head. In came her friend, and two or three companions to whom the Gascon had boasted of her favours. The widow jumped into a wrapping gown, and joined with the rest in laughing at this man of intrigue.
No. CXXVII. TUESDAY, JANUARY 31.
Nimirum insanus paucis videatur, eo quod
From my own Apartment, January 30. THERE is no affection of the mind so much blended in human nature, and wrought into our very constitution, as pride. It appears under a multitude of disguises, and breaks cut in ten thousand different symptoms. Every one feels it in himself, and yet wonders to see it in his neighbour. I must confess, I met with an instance of it the other day, where I should very little have expected it. Who would believe the proud person I am going to speak of is a cobler upon Ludgate-hill? This artist being naturally a lover of respect, and considering that his circum
stances are such that no man living will give it him, has contrived the figure of a beau in wood, who stands before him in a bending posture, with his hat under his left arm, and his right hand extended in such a manner as to hold a thread, a piece of wax, or an awl, according to the particular service in which his master thinks fit to employ him. When I saw him, he held a candle in this obsequious posture. I was very well pleased with the cobler's invention, that had so ingeniously contrived an inferior, and stood a little while contemplating this inverted idolatry, wherein theimage did homage to the man. When we meet with such a fantastic vanity in one of this order, it is no wonder if we may trace it through all degrees above it, and particularly through all the steps of greatness. We easily see the absurdity of pride, when it enters into the heart of a cobler; though in reality it is altogether as ridiculous and unreasonable, wherever it takes possession of an human creature. There is no temptation to it from the reflection upon our being in general, or upon any comparative perfection, whereby one man may excel another. The greater a man's knowledge is, the greater motive he may seem to have for pride; but in the same proportion as the one rises, the other sinks, it being the chief office of wisdom to discover to us our weaknesses and imperfections.
As folly is the foundation of pride, the natural syperstructure of it is madness. If there was an occasion for the experiment, I would not question to make a proud man a lunatic in three weeks time, provided I had it in my power to ripen his phrensy with proper applications. It is an admirable reflection in Terence, where it is said of a Parasite, “ Hic homines 66 ex stultis facit insanos.” “ This fellow (says he) “ has an art of converting fools into madmen.” When I was in France, (the region of complaisance and vanity) I have often observed, that a great man who
bas entered a levy of flatterers humble and temperate, has grown so insensibly heated by the court which was paid him on all sides, that he has been quite distracted before he could get into his coach.
If we consult the collegiates of Moorfields, we shall find most of them are beholden to their pride for their introduction into that magnificent palace. I had some years ago the curiosity to enquire into the particular circumstances of these whimsical freeholders, and learned from their own mouths the condition and character of each of them. Indeed I found, that all I spoke to, were persons of quality. There were at that time five duchesses, three earls, two heathen gods, an emperor, and a prophet. There were also a great number of such as were locked up from their estates, and others who concealed their titles. A leather-seller of Taunton whispered me in the ear, that he was the Duke of Monmouth; but begged me not to betray him. At a little distance from him sat a taylor's wife, who asked me, as I went, if I had seen the swordbearer? Upon which I presumed to ask her, who she was ? and was answered, “ my Lady Mayoress.”
I was very sensibly touched with compassion towards these miserable people ; and indeed, extremely mortified to see human nature capable of being thus disfigured. However I reaped this benefit from it, that I was resolved to guard myself against a passion which makes such havock in the brain, and produces so much disorder in the imagination. For this reason I have endeavoured to keep down the secret swellings of resentment, and stifle the very first suggestions of self-esteem ; to establish my mind in tranquillity, and over-value nothing in my own, or in another's possession.
For the benefit of such whose heads are a little turned, though not to so great a degree as to qualify them for the place of which I have been now speaking, I