Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun,
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and

flower,
Glistring with dew; fragrant the fertile earth,
After soft show'rs, and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild; the filent night,
With this her folemn bird, and this fair moon,
And these the gems of heaven, her starry train.
But neither breath of morn when the ascends
With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
In this delightful land, nor herh, fruit, flower,
Glistring with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful ev'ning mild, nor silent night,
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon,

Or glittring star-light, without thee is sweet. The variety of images in this passage is infinitely pleasing, and the recapitulation of each particular image, with a little varying of the expression, makes one of the finest turns of words that I have ever seen, which I rather mention, because Mr. Dryden has faid in his preface to Juvenal, “ That he could meet with no turn of words in Milton.”

It may be further observed, that though the sweetness of these verses has fomething in it of a pastoral, yet it excels the ordinary kind, as much as the scene of it is above an ordinary field or meadow. I might here, since I am accidentally led into this subject, show several passages in Milton that have as excellent turns of this nature, as any of our English poets whatsoever ; but shall only mention that which follows, in which he describes the fallen angels engaged in the intricate disputes of predestination, free-will, and foreknowledge; and to humour the perplexity, makes a kind of labyrinth in the very words that describe it.

Others apart fate on a hill retird,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high,
Of providence, foreknowledge, will

, and fate,
Fix'd fate, free-will

, foreknowledge absolute, And found no end in wand'ring mazes loft.

[graphic][merged small]

MR. BICKERSTAFF INTRODUCES (AS BETROTHED) HIS HALF

SISTER, JENNY DISTAFF, WHO SPEAKS FOR HERSELF-THE

EMPIRE OF BEAUTY.

AM called off from public dissertations by a domestic affair of great importance, which is no less than the disposal of my sister Jenny for life. The girl is a girl of great merit and pleasing conversation;

but I being born of my father's first wife and she of his third, the converses with me rather like a daughter than a sister. I have indeed told her that if the .

behaved herself in such a manner as became the Bickerstaffs, I would get her an agreeable man for her husband, which was a promise I made her after reading a passage in Pliny's Epistles. That polite author had been employed to find out a consort for his friend's daughter, and gives the following character of the man he had pitched upon.

Aciliano plurimum vigoris et industria quanquam in maxima verecundia : eft illi facies liberalis, multo sanguine, multo rubore, fuffufa: eft ingenua totius corporis pulchritudo, et quidam senatorius decor, quæ ego nequaquam arbitror negligenda : debet enim hoc caftitati puellarum quas præmium dari.

“Acilianus (for that was the gentleman's name) is a man of extraordinary vigour and industry, accompanied with the greatest modefty. He has very much of the gentleman, with a lively colour and Aush of health in his aspect. His whole person is finely turned, and speaks him a man of quality, which are qualifications that I think ought by no means to be overlooked, and should be bestowed on a daughter in reward of her purity.”

In this disposal of my sister I have chosen with an eye to her being a wit, and provided that the bridegroom be a man of found and excellent judgment, who will seldom mind what she says when the begins to harangue, for Jenny's only imperfection is an admiration of her own parts, which inclines her to be a little, but a very little, fluttish ; and you are ever to remark that we are apt to cultivate most and bring into observation what we think most excellent in ourselves or most capable of improvement. Thus my sister, instead of consulting her glass and her toilet for an hour and a half after her private devotions, fits reading plays and romances. Her wit she thinks her distinction, therefore knows nothing of the skill of dress, or making her person agreeable

for she is so very a wit that the understands no ordinary thing in the world,

For this reason I have disposed of her to a man of business, who will soon let her fee that to be well dressed, in good humour, and cheerful in the command of her family, are the arts and sciences of female life. I could have bestowed her upon a fine gentleman, who extremely admired her wit, and would have given her a coach and six; but I found it abfolutely necessary to cross the strain, for had they met, they had eternally been rivals in discourse, and in continual contention for the superiority of understanding, and brought forth critics, pedants, or pretty good poets. As it is, I expect an offspring fit for the habitation of the city, town, or countrycreatures that are docile and tractable in whatever we put them to.

The happiness of the man who marries my sister will be, that he has no faults to correct in her but her own-a little bias of fancy or particularity of manners—which grew in herself, and can be amended by her. From such an untainted couple we can hope to have our family rise to its ancient splendour of face, air, countenance, manner, and shape. 'My brother Isaac having a sudden occasion to go out of town, ordered me to take upon me the despatch of the next advices from home, with liberty to speak in my own way, not doubting the allowances which would be given to a writer of my fex. You may be sure I undertook it with much fatisfaction; and, I confess, I am not a little pleased with the opportunity of running over all the papers in his closet, which he has left open for my use on this occasion. The first that I lay my hands on, is a treatise concerning the 'Empire of Beauty, and the effects it has had in all nations of the world, upon the public and private actions of men; with an appendix, which he calls, The Bachelor's Scheme for governing his Wife. The first thing he makes this gentleman propose is, that she shall be no woman, for she is to have an aversion to balls, to operas, to visits; she is to think his company fufficient to fill up all the hours of life with great satisfaction ; she is never to believe any other man wise, learned, or valiant, or at least, but in a second degree. In the next place he intends The shall be a c-k-Id; but expects that he himself must live in perfect security from that terror. He dwells a great while on instructions for her discreet behaviour, in case of his falsehood. I have not patience with these unreasonable expectations, therefore turn back to the treatise itself. Here, indeed, my brother deduces all the revolutions among men from the passion of love, and in his preface answers that usual observation against us, " That there is no quarrel without a woman in it;" with a gallant assertion, “That there is nothing else worth quarrelling for.” My brother is of a complexion truly amorous—all his thoughts and actions carry in them a tincture of that obliging inclination; and this turn has opened his eyes to see, we are not the inconsiderable creatures which unlucky pretenders to our favour would insinuate. He obferves, that no man begins to make any tolerable figure, till he sets out with the hopes of pleasing some one of us. No sooner he takes that in hand, but he pleases every one else by the bye. It has an immediate effect upon his behaviour. There is Colonel Ranter, who never spoke without an oath, till he saw the Lady Betty Modish; now, never gives his man an order,

but it is, “Pray Tom, do it.” The drawers where he drinks, live in perfect happiness. He asked Will at the George the other day, “How he did ?” Where he used to say, “D-n it, it is fo,” he now believes “there is some mistake. He must confess, he is of another opinion ; but, however, he will not insist.”

Every temper, except downright infipid, is to be animated and softened by the influence of beauty; but of this untractable fort is a lifeless handsome fellow that visits us, whom I have dressed at this twelvemonth; but he is as insensible of all the arts I use, as if he conversed all that time with his nurse. He outdoes our whole sex in all the faults our enemies impute to us—he has brought laziness into an opinion, and makes his indolence his philosophy, insomuch that no longer ago than yesterday in the evening he gave me this account of himself: “I am, madam, perfectly unmoved at all that passes among men, and feldom give myself the fatigue of going among them; but when I do, I always appear the same thing to those whom I converse with. My hours of existence, or being awake, are from eleven in the morning to eleven at night, half of which I live to myself, in picking my teeth, washing my hands, paring my nails, and looking in the glass. The insignificancy of my manners to the rest of the world makes the laughers call me a quidnunc, a phrase which I neither understand nor shall ever inquire what they mean by it. The last of me each night is at St. James's coffee-house, where I converse, yet never fall into a dispute on any occasion, but leave the understanding I have passive of all that goes through it, without entering into the business of life. And thus, madam, have I arrived by laziness, to what others pretend to be philosophy, a perfect neglect of the world.” Sure, if our sex had the liberty of frequenting publick-houses and conversations, we should put these rivals of our faults and follies out of countenance. However, we shall foon have the pleasure of being acquainted with them one way or other ; for my brother Ifaac designs, for the use of our fex, to give the exact characters of all the chief politicians who frequent any of the coffee-houses from St. James's to the 'Change, but

« AnteriorContinuar »