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ing dreams. In the mean time, the poor wretch that is the innocent occasion of so many evils begins to be frighted at herself, and sometimes confesses secret commerces and familiarities that her imagination forms in a delirious old age. This frequently cuts off charity 5 from the greatest objects of compassion, and inspires people with a malevolence towards those poor decrepit parts of our species, in whom human nature is defaced by infirmity and dotage.
A COVERLEY PASTORAL. (STEELE.]
No. 118. — MONDAY, JULY 16, 1711.
HÆRET lateri lethalis rundo. — VIRG. Æn. iv. 73.
THE fatal dart
This agreeable seat is surrounded with so many pleasing walks, which are struck out of a wood, in the midst of which the house stands, that one can hardly ever be weary of rambling from one labyrinth of delight to 5 another. To one used to live in a city, the charms of the country are so exquisite that the mind is lost in a certain transport which raises us above ordinary life, and is yet not strong enough to be inconsistent with
tranquillity. This state of mind was I in— ravished with Io the murmur of waters, the whisper of breezes, the sing
ing of birds; and whether I looked up to the heavens, down on the earth, or turned to the prospects around me, still struck with new sense of pleasure ; — when I
found by the voice of my friend, who walked by me, 15 that we had insensibly strolled into the grove sacred to
the widow. “This woman,” says he, “is of all others the most unintelligible : she either designs to marry, or she does not. What is the most perplexing of all is, that she does not either say to her lovers she has any resolution against that condition of life in general, or that she banishes them; but, conscious of her own merit, she permits their addresses, without fear of any ill consequence, or want of respect, from their rage or despair. 5 She has that in her aspect against which it is impossible to offend. A man whose thoughts are constantly bent upon so agreeable an object, must be excused if the ordinary occurrences in conversation are below his attention. I call her indeed perverse, but, alas ! why 10 do I call her so ? — because her superior merit is such, that I cannot approach her without awe — that my
heart is checked by too much esteem: I am angry that her charms are not more accessible — that I am more inclined to worship than salute her. How often have I
15 wished her unhappy, that I might have an opportunity of serving her! and how often troubled in that very imagination at giving her the pain of being obliged ! . Well, I have led a miserable life in secret upon her account ; but fancy she would have condescended to have some 20 regard for me, if it had not been for that watchful animal her confidante.
“Of all persons under the sun" (continued he, calling me by name) “ be sure to set a mark upon confidantes : they are of all people the most impertinent. What is 25 most pleasant to observe in them is, that they assume to themselves the merit of the persons whom they have in their custody. Orestilla is a great fortune, and in wonderful danger of surprises, therefore full of suspicions of the least indifferent thing, particularly careful 30 of new acquaintance, and of growing too familiar
the old. Themista, her favourite woman, is every whit as careful of whom she speaks to, and what she says. Let the ward be a beauty, her confidante shall treat you with an air of distance ; let her be a fortune, and she 5 assumes the suspicious behaviour of her friend and patroness. Thus it is that very many of our unmarried women of distinction are to all intents and purposes married, except the consideration of different sexes.
They are directly under the conduct of their whisperer ; Io and think they are in a state of freedom, while they can
prate with one of these attendants of all men in general, and still avoid the man they most like. You do not see one heiress in a hundred whose fate does not turn upon
this circumstance of choosing a confidante. Thus it is 15 that the lady is addressed to, presented and flattered,
only by proxy, in her woman. In my case, how is it possible that
Sir Roger was proceeding in his harangue, when we heard the voice of one speaking very
importunately, and repeating these words, “What, not 20 one smile?” We followed the sound till we came to a
close thicket, on the other side of which we saw a young woman sitting as it were in a personated sullenness just over a transparent fountain. Opposite to her stood Mr.
William, Sir Roger's master of the game. The knight 25 whispered me, “ Hist, these are lovers." The huntsman
looking earnestly at the shadow of the young maiden in the stream -“Oh, thou dear picture, if thou couldst remain there in the absence of that fair creature whom
you represent in the water, how willingly could I stand 30 here satisfied for ever, without troubling my dear Betty
herself with any mention of her unfortunate William,