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10. In a short time I came to London, and as my father was well known among the higher classes of life, soon obtained admission to the most splendid assemblies, and most crowded cardtables. Here I found myself universally carressed and applauded, the ladies praised the fancy of my clothes, the beauty of my form, and the softness of my voice; endeavoured in every place
to force themselves to my notice; and invited by a thousand obliĮ que solicitations, my attendance at the play-house, and my salu
tations in the park. I was now happy to the utmost extent of my conception; I passed every morning in dress, every afternoon in visits, and every night in some select assemblies, where neither care nor knowledge were suffered to molest us.
11. After a few years, however, these delights became famil. iar, and I had leisure to look round me with more attention. I then found that
power to relieve the languor of satiety, or create weariness by varied amusement; and therefore endeavoured to enlarge the sphere of my pleasure, and to try what satisfaction might be found in the society of men. I will not deny the mortification with which I perceived that eve ery man whose name I had heard mentioned with respect, receiv. ed me with a kind of tenderness nearly bordering on compassion; and that those whose reputation was not well established thought it necessary to justify their understandings, by treating me with contempt. One of these witlings elevated his crest, by asking me in a full coffee-house the price of patches; and another whispered that he wondered Miss Frisk did not keep me that afternoon to watch her squirrel.
12. When I found myself thus hunted from all masculine conversation by those who were themselves barely admitted, I re. turned to the ladies, and resolved to dedicate my life to their service and their pleasure. But I find that I have now lost my charms. Of those with whom I entered the gay world, some are married, some have retired, and some have so much changed their opinion, that they scarcely pay any regard to my civilities if there is
any other man in the place. The new flight of beauties to whom I have made my addresses, suffer me to pay the treat, and then titter with boys: So that I now find myself welcome only to a few grave ladies, who unacquainted with all that gives cither use or dignity to life, are content to pass their hours between heir bed and their cards, without esteem from the old, or rev. erence from the young.
13. I cannot but thịnk, Mr. Rambler, that I have reason to, complain, for surely the females ought to pay some regard to the age of him whose youth was passed in endeavouring to please them. Those who encourage folly in the boy, have no right to punish it in the man. Yet I find that though they lavish their
first fondness upon partners and gaiety, they soon transfer their regard to other qualities, and ungratefully abandon their adorers to dream out their last years in stupidity and contempt.
I am, &c.
-[RAMBLER.] Learning, a necessary accomplishment in a Woman of Quality
GUARDIAN, No. 155. 1.
HAVE often wondered that learning is not thought a pro
per ingredient in the education of a woman of quality or fortune. Since they have the same improvable minds as the male part of the species, why should they not be cultivated by the same method?' Why should reason be left to itself in one of the sexes, and be disciplined with so much care in the other?
2. There are some reasons why learning seems more adapted to the female world than to the male. As in the first place, because they have more spare time upon their hands, and lead a more sedentary life. Their employments are of a domestic nature, and not like those of the other sex, which are often inconsistent with study and contemplation.
3. The excellent lady, the lady Lizard, in the space of one summer furnished a gallery with chairs and couches of her own and her daughters working; and at the same time heard all Dr. Tillotson's sermons twice over. It is always the custom for one of the young ladies to read, while the others are at work; so that the learning of the family is not at all prejudicial to its manufacturers.
4. I was mightily pleased the other day to find them all busy in preserving several fruits of the season, with the Sparkler in the midst of them, reading over "The plurality of worlds. It was very entertaining to me to see them divide their speculations between jellies and stars, and making a sudden transition from the sun to an apricot, or from the Copernican system to the figure of a cheese-cake.
5. A second reason why women should apply themselves to useful knowledge rather than men, is because they have the nat. ural gift of speech in greater perfection. Since they have so cscellent a talent, such a Copia Verborum, or plenty of words, it is a pity they should not put it to some use. If the female tongue will be in motion, why should it not be set to go right? Could they discourse about the spots in the sun, it might divert them from publishing the faults of their neighbours; Could they talk of the different aspects and conjunctions of the planets, they need not be at the pains to comment upon ogling and clandestine marriages. In short, were they furnished with matters of fact, out of arts and sciences, it would now and then be of great ease to their invention.
6. There is another reason why those, especially, who are women of quality, should apply themselves to letters, namely, because their husbands are generally strangers to them. It is a great pity there should be no knowledge in a family. For my own part, I am concerned when I go into a great house, where perhaps there is not a single person who can spell, unless it be by chance the butler, or one of the footmėn. What a figure is the young heir likely to make, who is a dunce both by father and mother's side.
7. If we look into the history of famous women, we find many eminent philosophers of this sex. Nay, we find that several females have distinguished themselves in those sects of philosophy which seem almost repugnant to their natures.
There have been famous female Pythagoreans, notwithstanding most of that philosophy consisted in keeping a secret, and that the disciple was to hold her tongue five years together.
8. Learning and knowledge are perfections in us, not as we are men, but as we are reasonable creatures, in which order of beings the female world is upon the same level with the male. We ought to consider in this particular, not what is the sex, but what is the species to which they belong. At least, I believe every one will allow me, that a female philosopher is not so absurd a character and so opposite to the sex, as a female gamester; and that it is more irrational for a woman to pass away half a dozen hours at cards or dice, than in getting up stores of useful knowledge.
9. This therefore, is another reason why I would recommend the studies of knowledge to the female world, that they may not be at a loss how to employ those hours that lie upon their hands.
10. I might also add this motive to my fair readers, that sevcral of their sex, who have improved their minds by books and literature, have raised themselves to the highest posts of honour and fortune. A neighbouring nation may at this time furnish us with a very remarkable instance of this kind; but I shall conclude this head with the history of Athenais, which is a very signal example to my present purpose.
11. The emperor Theodosius being about the age of one and twenty, and designing to take a wife, desired his sister Pulchen ria and his friend Paulinus to search his whole empire for a woman of the most exquisite beauty are highest accomplishments. In the midst of this search, Athenais, a Grecian virgin, accidentally offered herself. Her father, who was an eminent philosopher of Athens, and had bred her up in all the learning of that place, at his death left her but a very small portion, in which also she suffered great hardships from the injustice of her two brothers.
12. This forced ber upon a jourbiy to Constantinople, where she had a relation who represented her case to Pulcheria, in order to obtain some redress from the emperor. By this means that religious princess became acquainted with Athenais, whom she found the most beautiful woman of her age, and educated under a long course of philosophy in the strictest virtue, and most unspotted innocence.
13. Pulcheria was charmed with her conversation, and immediately made her report to the emperor, her brother Theodosius.' The character she gave made such an impression on him, that he desired his sister to bring her away immediately to the lodgings of his friend Paulinus, where he found her beauty and her conversation beyond the highest idea he had framed of them.
14. His friend Paulinus converted her to Christianity, and gave her the name of Eudosia; after which the emperor publicly espoused her, and enjoyed all the happiness in his marriage which he promised himself from such a virtuous and learned bride. She not only forgave the injuries which her two brothers had done her, but raised them to great honours: and by several works of learning, as well as by an exemplary life, made herself so dear to the whole empire, that she had many statues erected to her memory, and is celebrated by the fathers of the church as an ornament to her sex.
On the Absurdity of Omens.
SPECTATOR, No. 7. 1. OING yesterday to dine with an old acquaintance, I had
the misfortune to find the whole family very much dejected. Upon asking him the occasion of it, he told me that his wife had dreamt a very strange dream the night before, which they were afraid portended some misfortune to themselves, or to their children. At her coming into the room, I observed a settled melancholy in her countenance, which I should have been troubled for, had I not heard from whence it proceeded.
2. We were no sooner sat down, but, after having looked upon me a little while, "My dear, says she, turning to her husband, you may now see the stranger that was in the candle last night.' Soon after this, as they began to talk of family affairs, a little boy at the lower end of the table told her, that he was to go into joining hand on Thursday: “Thursday!' says she, 'no child, if it please God, you shall not begin upon Childermas day: tell your writing master that Friday will be soon enough.'
3. I was reflecting with myself on the oddness of her fancy, and wondering that any body would establish it as a rule to lose a day in every week. In the midst of these my musings, she desired me to reach her a little salt upon the point of my knife, which I did in such a trepidation and hurry of obedience, that I let it drop
by the way; at which she immediately startled, and said it fell towards her. Upon this I looked very blank; and observing the concern of the whole table, began to consider myself with some confusion, as a person who had brought a disaster upon the family.
4. The lady, however, recovering herself, after a little space, said to her husband with a sigh, “My dear, misfortunes never come single.' My friend, I found acted but an under part at his table, and being a man of more good nature than understanding, thinks himself
obliged to fall in with all the passions and humours of his yoke-fellow: “Do you remember child,' says she, that the pigeon-house fell the very afternoon that our careless wench spilt the salt
upon the table?" "Yes,' says he, my dear, and the next post brought us an account of the battle of Almanza.'
5. The reader may guess at the figure I made, after having done all this mischief. I despatched my dinner as soon as I could, with my usual ticiturnity : when to my utter confusion, the lady seeing me quitting my knife and fork, and laying them across one another upon my plate, desired me that I would humour her so far as to take them out of that figure, and place them side by side.
6. What the absurdity was which I had committed I did not know, but I suppose there was some traditionary superstition in it; and therefore, in obedience to the lady of the house, I disposed of my knife and fork in two parallel lines, which is a figure, I shall always lay them in for the future, though I do not know any reason for it.
7. It is not difficult to a man to see that a person has conceived an aversion to him. For my own part, I quickly found, by the lady's looks, that she regarded me as a very odd kind of a fellow, with an unfortunate aspect : for which reason I took my
leave immediately after dinner, and withdrew to my own lodgings.
8. Upon my return home, I fell into a profound contemplation on the evils that attend these superstitious follies of mankind; how they subject us to imaginary afflictions, and additional sorrows, that do not properly come within our lot. As if the natural calamities of life were not sufficient for it, we turn the most indifferent circumstances into misfortunes, and suffer as much from triffing accidents as from real evils.
9. I have known the shooting of a star spoil a night's “rest: and have seen a man in love grow pale and lose his appetite upon the plucking of a merry thought. A screech-owl at midnight has alarmed a family more than a band of robbers; nay, the voice of a cricket hath struck more terror, than the roaring of a lion.
10. There is nothing so inconsiderable, which may not appear dreadful to an imagination that is filled with omens and prognostics. A rusty nail, or crooked pin, shoot up into prodigies.