« AnteriorContinuar »
those in the country, according to the seasons of the year. She is a reading lady, and far gone in the pleasures of friendship. She is always accompanied by a confidante, who is witness to her daily protestations 5 against our sex, and consequently a bar to her first steps towards love, upon the strength of her own maxims and declarations.
"However, I must needs say, this accomplished mistress of mine has distinguished me above the rest, and 10 has been known to declare Sir Roger de Coverley was the tamest and most humane of all the brutes in the country. I was told she said so by one who thought he rallied me; and upon the strength of this slender encouragement of being thought least detestable, I made 15 new liveries, new-paired my coach-horses, sent them all to town to be bitted, and taught to throw their legs well, and move all together, before I pretended to cross the country, and wait upon her. As soon as I thought my retinue suitable to the character of my fortune and youth, 20 I set out from hence to make my addresses. The particular skill of this lady has ever been to inflame your wishes, and yet command respect. To make her mistress of this art, she has a greater share of knowledge, wit, and good sense than is usual even among men of 25 merit. Then she is beautiful beyond the race of women. If you will not let her go on with a certain artifice with her eyes, and the skill of beauty, she will arm herself with her real charms, and strike you with admiration instead of desire. It is certain that if you were to behold 30 the whole woman, there is that dignity in her aspect, that composure in her motion, that complacency in her
SIR ROGER IN LOVE.
"HER CONFIDANTE SAT BY HER. THEY BOTH KEPT THEIR COUNTENANCES, AND AFTER I HAD SAT HALF AN HOUR MEDITATING HOW TO BEHAVE BEFORE SUCH PROFOUND CASUISTS, I ROSE UP AND TOOK MY LEAVE."
manner, that if her form makes you hope, her merit makes you fear. But then again, she is such a desperate scholar that no country gentleman can approach her without being a jest. As I was going to tell you, when I came to her house, I was admitted to her presence 5 with great civility; at the same time she placed herself to be first seen by me in such an attitude, as I think you call the posture of a picture, that she discovered new charms, and I at last came towards her with such an awe as made me speechless. This she no sooner observed 10 but she made her advantage of it, and began a discourse to me concerning love and honour, as they both are followed by pretenders, and the real votaries to them. When she discussed these points in a discourse which, I verily believe, was as learned as the best philosopher 15 in Europe could possibly make, she asked me whether she was so happy as to fall in with my sentiments on these important particulars. Her confidante sat by her, and on my being in the last confusion and silence, this malicious aid of hers turning to her, says, 'I am very 20 glad to observe Sir Roger pauses upon this subject, and seems resolved to deliver all his sentiments upon the matter when he pleases to speak.' They both kept their countenances, and after I had sat half an hour meditating how to behave before such profound casuists, I rose up 25 and took my leave. Chance has since that time thrown me very often in her way, and she as often directed a discourse to me which I do not understand. This barbarity has kept me ever at a distance from the most beautiful object my eyes ever beheld. It is thus also 30 she deals with all mankind, and you must make love to
her as you would conquer the sphinx, by posing her. But were she like other women, and that there were any talking to her, how constant must the pleasure of that man be, who could converse with a creature- - But, 5 after all, you may be sure her heart is fixed on some one or other and yet I have been credibly informed — but who can believe half that is said! They say she sings excellently her voice in her ordinary speech has something in it inexpressibly sweet. You must know I dined Io with her at a public table the day after I first saw her, and she helped me to some tansy in the eye of all the gentlemen in the country. She has certainly the finest hand of any woman in the world. I can assure you, Sir, were you to behold her, you would be in the same condi15 tion; for as her speech is music, her form is angelic. But I find I grow irregular while I am talking of her; but indeed it would be stupidity to be unconcerned at such perfection. Oh, the excellent creature! she is as inimitable to all women, as she is inaccessible to all 20 men."
I found my friend begin to rave, and insensibly led him towards the house, that we might be joined by some other company; and am convinced that the widow is the secret cause of all that inconsistency which appears 25 in some parts of my friend's discourse; though he has
so much command of himself as not directly to mention her, yet according to that of Martial, which one knows not how to render into English, dum tacet hanc loquitur. I shall end this paper with that whole epigram, which 30 represents with much humour my honest friend's condition: