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walking in the fields with my old friend; and as his tenants ran out on every side to see so strange a sight, sir Roger asked one of them who came by us what it was? To which the country fellow replied, 'Tis a gentlewoman, saving your worship's presence, in a coat and hat. This produced a great deal of mirth at the knight's house, where we had a story at the same time of another of his tenants, who, meeting this gentleman-like lady on the highway, was asked by her whether that was Coverley-Hall? The honest man, seeing only the male part of the querist, replied, Yes, sir; but upon the second question, whether sir Roger de Coverley was a married man? having dropped his eye upon the petticoat, he changed his note into No, madam.
Had one of these hermaphrodites appeared in J11venal's days, with what an indignation should we have seen her described by that excellent satirist! He would have represented her in a riding habit, as a greater monster than the centaur. He would have called for sacrifices of purifying waters, to expiate the appearance of such a prodigy. He would have invoked the shades of Portia and Lucretia, to see into what the Roman ladies had transformed themselves.
For my own part, I am for treating the sex with greater tenderness, and have all along made use of the most gentle methods to bring them off from any
little extravagance into which they have sometimes unwarily fallen. I think it, however, absolutely necessary to keep up the partition between the two sexes, and to take notice of the smallest encroachments which the one makes upon the other. I hope, therefore, I shall not hear any more complaints on this subject. I am sure my she-disciples, who peruse these my daily lectures, bave profited but little by them, if they are capable of giving into such an ainphibious dress. This I should not have mentioned, had not I lately met one of these my female readers in Hyde-Park, who looked upon me with a masculine assurance, and cocked her hat full in
For my part, I have one general key to the behaviour of the fair sex. When I see them singular in any part of their dress, I conclude it is not without some evil intention; and therefore question not but the design of this strange fashion is to smite more effectually their tale beholders. Now, to set them right in this particular, I would fain have them consider with themselves whether we are not more likely to be struck by a figure entirely female, than with such an one as we may see every day in our glasses. Or, if they please, let them reflect upon their own hearts, and think how they would be affected should they meet a man on horseback, in his breeches and jack-boots, and at the same time dressed up in a commode and a night-raile.
I must observe that this fashion was first of all brought to us from France, a country which has infected all the nations of Europe with its levity. Modesty is our distinguishing character, as vivacity is theirs: and when this our national virtue appears in that female beauty, for which our British ladies are celebrated above all others in the universe, it makes up the most amiable object that the eye of man can possibly behold.
ON THE LAW OF HABIT. There is not a common saying which has a better turn of sense in it than what we often hear in the 9
mouths of the vulgar, that custom is a second nature. It is indeed able to form the man anew, and to give him inclinations and capacities altogether different from those he was born with. Dr. Plot, in his History of Staffordshire, tells us of an idiot that changing to live within the sound of a clock, and always amusing himself with counting the hour of the day whenever the clock struck, the clock being spoiled by some accident, the idiot continued to strike and count the hour without the help of it, in the same manner as he had done when it was entire. Though I dare not vouch' for the truth of this story, it is very certain that custom hås a mechanical effect upon the body, at the same time that it has a very extraordinary influence upon 'the inind.
I shall in this paper consider one very remarkable effect which custom has upon human nature, and which, if rightly observed, may lead us into very useful rules of life. What I shall here take notice of în custom, is its wonderful efficacy in making every thing pleasant to us. A person who is addicted to play or gaming, though he took but litile delight in it at first, by degrees contracts so strong an inclination towards it, and gives himself up so entirely to it, that it seems the only end of his being. The love of a retired or busy life will grow upon a man insensibly, as he is conversant in the one or the other, till he is utterly unqualified for relishing that to which he has been for some tine disused. Nay, a man may smoke, or drink, or take snuff, till he is unable to pass away his time without it; not to mention how our delight in any particular study, art, or science, rises and improves in proportion to the application which we bestow upon it. Thus, what was at first an exercise becomes
at length an entertainment. Our employments are changed into our diversions. The mind grows fond of those actions she is accustomed to, and is drawn with reluctancy from those paths in which she has been used to walk.
Not only such actions as were at first indifferent to us, but even such as were painful, will by custom and practice become pleasant. Sir Francis Bacon observes, in his Natural Philosophy, that our taste is never pleased better than with those things which at first created a disgust in it. He gives particular instances of claret, coffee, and other liquors, which the palate seldom
approves upon the first taste; but, when it has once got a relish of them, generally retains it for life. The mind is constituted after the same manner, and, after having habituated herself to any particular exercise or employment, not only loses her first aversion towards it, but conceives a certain fondness and affection for it. I have heard one of the greatest geniuses this age has produced *, who had been trained up in all the polite studies of antiquity, assure me, upon his being obliged to search into several rolls and records, that notwithstanding such an employment was at first very dry and irksome to him, he at last took an incredible pleasure in it, and preferred it even to the reading of Virgil or Cicero. The reader will observe, that I have not here considered custom as it makes things easy, but as it renders them delightful ; and though others have often made the same reflections, it is possible they may not have drawn those uses from it, with which I intend to fill the remaining part of this paper.
If we consider attentively this property of human
nature, it may instruct us in very fine moralities. In the first place, I would have no man discouraged with that kind of life or series of action in which the choice of others, or his own necessities, may have engaged him. It may perhaps be very disagreeable to him at first; but use and application will certainly render it not only less painful, but pleasing and satisfactory.
In the second place, I would recommend to every one that adınirable precept which Pythagoras is said to have given to his disciples, and which that philosopher must have drawn from the observation I have enlarged upon, Optimum vitæ genus eligito, nam coře suetudo faciet jucundissimum, Pitch upon that course of life which is the most excellent, and custom will render it the most delightful.-Men whose circumstances will permit them to choose their own way of life are inexcusable if they do not pursue that which their judgment tells them is the most laudable. The voice of reason is more to be regarded than the bent of any present inclination, since, by the rule above mentioned, inclination will at length come over to reason, though we can never force reason to comply with inclination.
In the third place, this observation may teach the most sensual and irreligious man tu overlook those hardships and difficulties which are apt to discourage him from the prosecution of a virtuous life. The gods,' said Hesiod, have placed labour before virtue; the way to her is at first rough and difficult, but grows more smooth and easy the further you advance in it.' The man who proceeds in it with steadiness and resolution, will in a little time find that her ways are ways of pleasantness, and that all her paths are peace.'