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She has false quarrels and feigned obligations to all the men of her acquaintance; sighs when she is not sad, and laughs when she is not merry. The coquette is in particular a great mistress of that part of oratory which is called action, and indeed seems to speak for no other purpose, but as it gives her an opportunity of stirring a limb, or varying a feature, of glancing her eyes, or playing with her fan.
As for news-mongers, politicians, mimics, storytellers, with other characters of that nature which give birth to loquacity, they are as commonly found among the men as the women : for which reason I shall pass them over in silence.
I have often been puzzled to assign a cause why. women should have this talent of a ready utterance in so much greater perfection than men. I have sometimes fancied that they have not a retentive power, or the faculty of suppressing their thoughts, as men have, but that they are necessitated to speak every thing they think; and if so, it would perhaps furnish a very strong argument to the Cartesians for the supporting of their doctrine that the soul always thinks. But as several are of opinion that the fair sex are not altogether strangers to the art of dissembling and concealing their thoughts, I have been forced to relinquish that opinion, and have therefore endeavoured to seek after some better reason. In order to it, a friend of mine, who is an excellent anatomist, has promised me by the first opportunity to dissect a woman's tongue, and to examine whe-, ther there may not be in it certain juices which render it so wonderfully voluble or flippant, or whether the fibres of it may not be made up of a finer or more pliant thread; or whether there are not in it some particular muscles which dart it up and down by such sudden glances and vibrations; or whether, in the last place, there may not be certain undiscovered
channels running from the head and the heart to this little instrument of loquacity, and conveying into it a perpetual affluency of animal spirits. Nor must I omit the reason which Hudibras has given, why those who can talk on trifles speak with the greatest fluency; namely, that the tongue is like a race-horse, which runs the faster the lesser weight it carries.
Which of these reasons soever may be looked upon as the most probable, I think the Irishman's thought was very natural, who after some hours conversation with a female orator, told her, that he believed her tongue was very glad when she was asleep, for that it had not a moment's rest all the while she was awake.
That excellent old ballad of The Wanton Wife of Bath has the following remarkable lines :
I think, quoth Thomas, women's longues
Of aspen leaves are made. And Ovid, though in the description of a very barbarous circumstance, tells us, that when the tongue of a beautiful female was cut out, and thrown upon the ground, it could not forbear muttering even in that posture:
- Comprensam forcipe linguam
-- The blade had cut
Uneasy, panting, and possess'd with pain.-Croxall. If a tongue would be talking without a mouth, what could it have done when it had all its organs of speech, and accomplices of sound about it? I
might here mention the story of the Pippin Woman, had I not some reason to look upon it as fabulous*.
I must confess I am so wonderfully charmed with the music of this little instrument, that I would by no means discourage it. All that I aim at by this dissertation is, to cure it of several disagreeable notes, and in particular of those little jarrings and dissonances which arise from anger, censoriousness, gossiping, and coquetry. In short, I would always have it tuned by good-nature, truth, discretion, and sincerity.-C.
N° 248. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1711.
Hoc maximè officii est, ut quisque maximè opis indigeat, ita ei potissimùm opitulari.--Tull. Off. i. 16.
It is a principal point of duty, to assist another most when he stands most in need of assistance. THERE are none who deserve superiority over others in the esteem of mankind, who do not make it their endeavour to be beneficial to society; and who upon all occasions which their circumstances of life can adminster, do not take a certain unfeigned pleasure in conferring benefits of one kind or other. Those whose great talents and high birth have placed them in conspicuous stations of life are indispensably obliged to exert some noble inclinations for the service of the world, or else such advantages become misfortunes, and shade and privacy are a more eli
* The crackling crystal yields, she sinks, she dies ;
Her head chopt off, from her lost shoulders fies;
gible portion. Where opportunities and inclinations are given to the same person, we sometimes see sublime instances of virtue, which so dazzle our imaginations, that we look with scorn on all which in lower scenes of life we may ourselves be able to practise. But this is a vicious way of thinking; and it bears some spice of romantic madness, for a man to imagine that he must grow ambitious, or seek adventures, to be able to do great actions. It is in every man's power in the world who is above mere poverty, not only to do things worthy, but heroic. The great foundation of civil virtue is self-denial ; and there is no one above the necessities of life, but has opportunities of exercising that noble quality, and doing as much as his circumstances will bear for the ease and convenience of other men; and he who does more than ordinary men practise upon such occasions as occur in his life, deserves the value of his friends, as if he had done enterprises which are usually attended with the highest glory. Men of public spirit differ rather in their circumstances than their virtue; and the man who does all he can, in a low station, is more a hero than he who omits any worthy action he is able to accomplish in a great one. It is not many years ago since Lapirius, in wrong of his elder brother, came to a great estate by gift of his father, by reason of the dissolute behaviour of the first-born. Shame and contrition reformed the life of the disinherited youth, and he became as remarkable for his good qualities as formerly for his errors. Lapirius, who observed his brother's amendment, sent him on a new-year's day in the morning the following letter :
· HONOURED BROTHER, ' I enclose to you the deeds whereby my father gave me this house and land. Had he lived till now,
he would not have bestowed it in that manner ; he took it from the man you were, and I restore it to the man you are. I am, Sir, your affectionate brother,
and humble servant, P. T.' As great and exalted spirits undertake the pursuit of hazardous actions for the good of others, at the same time, gratifying their passion for glory; so do worthy minds in the domestic way of life deny themselves many advantages, to satisfy a generous benevolence, which they bear to their friends oppressed with distresses and calamities. Such natures one may call stores of Providence, which are actuated by a secret celestial influence to undervalue the ordipary gratifications of wealth, to give comfort to a heart loaded with affliction, to save a falling family, to preserve a branch of trade in their neighbourhood, to give work to the industrious, preserve the portion of the helpless infant, and raise the head of the mourning father. People whose hearts are wholly bent towards pleasure, or intent upon gain, never hear of the noble occurrences among men of industry and humanity. It would look like a city romance, to tell them of the generous merchant, who the other day sent this billet to an eminent trader under difficulties to support himself, in whose fall many hundreds besides himself had perished: but because I think there is more spirit and true gallantry in it than in any letter I have ever read from Strephon to Phillis, I shall insert it even in the mercantile honest style in which it was sent:
“SIR, • I have heard of the casualties which have involved you in extreme distress at this time; and knowing you to be a man of great good-nature, industry, and probity, have resolved to stand by you.