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think. I love you as well as King Herod did Herodias (tho’I never had so much as one dance with you) and would as freely give you my heart in a dish, as he did anothers head. But since Jupiter will not have it so, I must be content to thew my taste in life, as I do my tafte in painting, by loving to have as little drapery as possible. Not that I think every body naked altogether fo fine a fight as your self and a few more would be ; but because 'tis good to use people to what they must be acquainted with; and there will certainly come fome.day of judgment or other, to uncover every foul of us. We shall then fee that the Prues of this world ow'd all their fine figure only to their being strater-lac'd than the rest, and that they are naturally as arrant Squabs as those that never girded their loins at all. ticular reason that may engage you to write your thoughts the more freely to me, is, that I am confident no one knows you better ; for I find, when others express their thoughts of you, they fall very short of mine ; and I know at the same time theirs. are such as you would think fufficient in your favour.
You may easily imagine how desirous I must be of a correspondence with a person, who had taught me long ago, that it was as possible to esteem at first fight, as to love ; and who has since ruined me for all the conversation of one fex, and almost all the friendship of the other. I am but to sensible thro' your means, that the company of men wants a certain softness to recommend it, and that of women wants every thing else. How often have I been quietly going to take possession of that: tranquility and indolence I had so long found in the country, when one evening of your conversation has spoiled me for a Solitaire! Books have lost their effect upon me ; and I was convinced, fince I saw you, that there is one alive wiser
than all the Sages. A plague of female wisdom! It makes a man ten times more uneasy than his own. What is very strange, Virtue herself (when you have the dressing her) is to aimable for ones repose. You might have done a world of good in your time, if you had allowed half the fine gentlemen who have seen you, to have conversed with you ; they would have been strangely bit, while they thought only to fall in love with a fair Lady, and you had bewitched them with Reason and Virtue (iwo Beauties that the very Fops pretend to have no acquaintance with.)
The unhappy distance at which we correspond, removes a great many of those restrictions and punctilious decorum, that oftentimes in nearer converfation prejudice truth, to save good breeding. I may now hear of my faults, and you of your good qualities, without a blush ; we converse upon such unfortunate generous terms, as exclude the regards of fear, shame, or design in either of us.
And me thinks it would be as paltry a part to impose (even in a single thought) upon each other in this state of separation, as for spirits of a different sphere, who have so little intercourse with us, to employ that little (as some would make us think they do) in putting tricks and delusions upon poor mortals.
Let me begin then, Madam, by asking you a question, that may enable me to judge better of my own conduct than most instances of my Life. In what manner did I behave the last hour I saw you ? What degree of concern did I discover, when I felt a misfortune which I hope you will never feel, that of parting from what one moft esteems? for if my parting looked but like that of your common acquaintance, I am the greatest of all the hypocrites that ever decency made.
I never since pass by your house but with the same sort of melancholy that we feel upon seeing the Tomb of a friend, which only serves to put us in
mind of what we have lost. I reflect upon the ( circumstances of your departure, which I was there
a witness of (your behaviour in what I may call your last moments) and I indulge a gloomy kind of pleasure in thinking that those last moments were given to me. I would fain imagine this was not accidental, but proceeded from a penetration which I know you have, in finding out the truth of people's sentiments; and that you were willing, the last man that would have parted from you, should be that last that did. I really looked upon you just as the friends of Curtius might have done upon that Hero, at the instant when he was devoting himself to Glory, and running to be lost out of generosity. I was obliged to admire your resolution, in as great a degree as I deplored it; and had only to with, that Heaven would reward so much Virtue as was to be taken from us, with all the felicities it could enjoy elfewhere!
LETTER XVI. . YOU will find me more troublesome than ever
Brutus did his Evil Genius ; I shall meet you in more places than one, and often refresh your memory before you arrive at your Philippi. These shadows of me (my letters) will be haunting you from time to time, and putting you in mind of the man who has really suffered very much from you; and whom you have robbed of the most valuable of his enjoyments, your conversation. The advantage of hearing your sentiments by discovering mine, was what I always thought a great one, and even worth the risque I generally run of manifesting my own indiscretion. You then rewarded my trust in you the moment it was given, for you pleased or informed.me the minute you answered. I must now be contented with more flow returns. However 'tis some pleasure, that your thoughts upon Paper will be a more lasting poffeffion to me; and that I shall no longer have cause to complain of a lofs I have so often regretted, that of any thing you said, which I happened to forget. In earnest, Madam, if I were to write to you as often as I think of
it must be every day of my life. I attend you in spirit through all your ways, I follow you thro' every stage in books of travels, and fear for you thro' whole folio's ; you make me fhrink at the past dangers of dead travellers; and if I read of a delightful prospect, or agreeable place, I hope it yet subsists to please you.
I enquire the roads, the amusements, the company, of every town and country thro' which you pass, with as much diligence, as if I were to set out next week to over
In a word, no one can have you more constantly in mind, not even your guardian Angel (if you have one,) and I am willing to indulge so
much Popery, as to fancy fome Being takes care of you, who knows your value better than you do
your self. I am willing to think that Heaven never 1: gave so much felf-neglected and resolution to a wo
man, to occasion her calamity; but am pious enough to believe those qualities must be intended to conduce to her benefit and her glory.
Your first short letter only serves to show me you are alive. It puts me in mind of the first Dove that returned to Noah, and just made him know it had found no rest abroad. ;
There is nothing in it that pleases me, but when you tell me you had no Sea-fickness. I beg your next may give me all the pleasure it can, that is, tell me any that you receive. You can make no discoveries that will be half so valuable to me as those of your own mind : Nothing that regards the States orKingdoms you pass through, will engage so much of my curiofity or concern, as what relates to your self : Your welfare to say truth, is more at my heart than that of Christendom.
I am sure I may defend the truth, though perhaps not the virtue of this declaration. One is ignorant, or doubtful at best, of the merits of differing religions and governments ; but private virtues one can be fure of. I therefore know what particular person has desert enough to merit being happier than others, but not what nation deserves to conquer or oppress another. You will say, I am not Publick-spirited : let it be fo: I may have too many tendernesses, particular regards, or narrow views; but at the same time I am certain that whoever wants these, can never have a Publick-spirit; for (as a friend of mine says) how is it pollible for that man to love twenty ihou sand people, who never loved one?
I communicated your letter to Mr. C---- He thinks of you and talks of you as he ought, I mean as I do ; and one always thinks that to be just as it