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and errors, but conducting their minds from one humour to another, with as much ceremony as we lead their person from one place to another. I therefore dissembled my concern, and in compliance with her, as a lady that was to use her feet no more, I begged of her, after a short visit, to let me persuade her not to stay out till it was late, for fear of catching cold as she went into her coach in the dampness of the evening. The malapert knew well enough I laughed at her, but was not ill pleased with the certainty of her power over her husband, who she knew would support her in any humour he was able, rather than pass through the torment of an expoftulation to gainsay anything she had a mind to. As soon as my fine lady was gone, I writ the following letter to my brother“ DEAR BROTHER,
“I am at present under very much concern at the splendid appearance I saw my sister make in an equipage which she has set up in your absence. I beg of you not to indulge her in this vanity; and desire you to consider, the world is so whimsical, that though it will value you for being happy, it will hate you for appearing so. The possession of wisdom and virtue (the only solid distinctions of life) is allowed much more easily than that of wealth and quality. Besides which, I must entreat you to weigh with yourself what it is that people aim at in setting themselves out to thew in gay equipages and moderate fortunes ! You are not by this means a better man than your neighbour is, but your horses are better than his
And will you suffer care and inquietude to have it said as you pass by, "Those are very pretty punch nags?' Nay, when
you have arrived at this, there are a hundred worthless fellows who are still four horses happier than you are. Remember, dear brother, there is a certain modesty in the enjoyment of moderate wealth, which to transgress, exposes men to the utmost derision; and as there is nothing but meanness of spirit can move a man to value himself
what can be purchased with money, so he that shews an ambition that way, and cannot arrive at it, is more emphatically guilty of that meanness. I give you only my first thoughts on this occasion,
but shall, as I am a censor, entertain you in my next with my sentiments in general upon the subject of equipage, and shew that, though there are no fumptuary laws amongst us, reason and good sense are equally binding, and will ever prevail in appointing approbation or dislike in all matters of an indifferent nature when they are pursued with earnestness.
I am, Sir, &c."
There are certain occasions of life which give propitious omens of the future good conduct of it, as well as others which explain our present inward state, according to our behaviour in them. Of the latter fort are funerals, of the former, weddings. The manner of our carriage when we lose a friend, shews very much our temper, in the humility of our words and actions, and a general sense of our destitute condition, which runs through all our deportment. This gives a solemn testimony of the generous affection we bore our friends, when we seem to disrelish every thing now we can no more enjoy them, or see them partake in our enjoyments. It is very proper and humane to put ourselves, as it were, in their livery after their decease, and wear a habit unsuitable to prosperity, while those we loved and honoured are mouldering in the grave. As this is laudable on the sorrowful fide,
fo on the other, incidents of success justly be represented and acknowledged in our outward figure and carriage. Of all such occasions, that great change of a single life into marriage is the most important, as it is the fource of all relations, and from whence all other friendship and commerce do principally arise. The general intent of both sexes is to dispose of themselves happily and honourably in this state; and, as all the good qualities we have are exerted to make our way into it, so the best appearance, with regard to their minds, their persons, and their fortunes, at the first entrance into it, is a due to each other in the married pair, as well as a compliment to the rest of the world. It was an instruction of a wise Lawgiver, that unmarried women should wear such loose habits, which, in the flowing of their garb, should incite their beholders to a desire of their persons;
may no. less
and that the ordinary motion of their bodies might display the figure and shape of their limbs in such a manner, as at once to preserve the strictest decency, and raise the warmest inclinations.
This was the economy of the legislator for the increase of people, and at the same time for the preservation of the genial bed. She who was the admiration of all who beheld her while unmarried, was to bid adieu to the pleasure of shining in the
of many, as soon as the took upon her the wedded condition. However there was a festival of life allowed the new-married, a sort of intermediate state between celibacy and matrimony, which continued certain days. During that time, entertainments, equipages, and other circumstances of rejoicing, were encouraged, and they were permitted to exceed the common mode of living, that the bride and bridegroom might learn from such freedoms of conversation to run into a general conduct to each other, made out of their past and future state, so to temper the cares of the man and the wife, with the gaieties of the lover and the mistress.
In those wise ages when the dignity of life was kept up, and on the celebration of such solemnities there were no impertinent whispers, and senseless interpretations put upon the unaffected cheerfulness or accidental seriousness of the bride; but men turned their thoughts upon their general reflections, upon what issue might probably be expected from such a couple in the succeeding course of their life, and felicitated them accordingly upon such prospects.
I must confess I cannot, from any ancient manuscripts, sculptures, or medals, deduce the rise of our celebrated custom of throwing the stocking, but have a faint memory of an account a friend gave me of an original picture in the palace of Aldobrandini in Rome. This seems to show a sense of this affair very different from what is usual among us.
It is a Grecian wedding, and the figures represented are a person offering sacrifice, a beautiful damsel dancing, and another playing on the harp. The bride is placed in her bed, the bridegroom sits at the feet of it, with an aspect which intimates his thoughts were not only entertained with the joys with which he was surrounded, but also with a noble gratitude and divine
pleasure in the offering, which was then made to the gods, to invoke their influence on his new condition. There appears in the face of the woman a mixture of fear, hope, and modesty; in the bridegroom a well-governed rapture. As you see in great spirits, grief which discovers itself the more by forbearing tears and complaints, you may observe also the highest joy is too big for utterance, the tongue being of all the
the least capable of expressing such a circumstance. The nuptial torch, the bower, the marriage song, are all particulars which we meet with in the allusions of the ancient writers; and in every one of them something is to be observed, which denotes their industry to aggrandize and adorn this occasion above all others.
With us, all order and decency in this point is perverted by the insipid mirth of certain animals we usually call wags. These are a species, of all men the most insupportable. One cannot without some reflection fay, whether their flat mirth provokes us more to pity or to scorn; but, if one considers with how great affectation they utter their frigid conceits, commiseration immediately changes itself into contempt.
A wag is the last order even of pretenders to wit and good humour. He has generally his mind prepared to receive some occasion of merriment, but is of himself too empty to draw any out of his own set of thoughts, and therefore laughs at the next thing he meets, not because it is ridiculous, but because he is under a necessity of laughing. A wag is one that never in its life saw a beautiful object, but sees what it does see in the most low and most inconsiderable light it can be placed. There is a certain ability necessary to behold what is amiable and worthy of our approbation, which little minds want, and attempt to hide by a general disregard to everything they behold above what they are able to relish. Hence it is that a wag in an assembly is ever guessing how well such a lady Nept last night, and how much such a young fellow is pleased with himself
. The wag's gaiety consists in a certain professed ill-breeding, as if it were an excuse for committing a fault that a man knows he does fo. Though all publick places are full of persons of this order, yet, because I will not allow impertinence and affectation to get the better of native innocence and fimplicity of manners, I have, in spite of such little disturbers of publick entertainments, persuaded my brother Tranquillus and his wife, my sister Jenny, in favour of Mr. Wilks, to be at the play to-morrow evening.
They, as they have so much good sense as to act naturally, without regard to the observation of others, will not, I hope, be discomposed, if any of the fry of wags should take upon them to make themselves merry upon the occasion of their coming, as they intend, in their wedding clothes. My brother is a plain, worthy, and honest man; and as it is natural for men of that turn to be mightily taken with sprightly and airy women, my sister has a vivacity which may perhaps give hopes to impertinents, but will be esteemed the effect of innocence among wise men. They design to fit with me in the box, which the house have been so complaisant to offer me whenever I think fit to come thither in my publick character.
I do not in the least doubt, but the true figure of conjugal affection will appear in their looks and gestures. My sister does not affect to be gorgeous in her dress, and thinks the happiness of a wife is more visible in a cheerful look than a gay apparel. It is a hard talk to speak of persons so nearly related to one with decency; but, I may say, all who shall be at the play, will allow him to have the mien of a worthy
, English gentleman, her, that of a notable and deserving wife.