Eliza Haywood
(1690? - 1756?)

There is a lust in man no charm can tame,
Of loudly publishing his neighbour's shame:
On eagles wings immortal scandals fly,
While virtuous actions are but born and die.


NOTHING more plainly shows a weak and degenerate mind, than taking a delight in whispering about every idle story we are told to the prejudice of our neighbours. This is a fault charged more generally on our sex than the other; and I am sorry to say, with but too much justice. Some will have it, that this unlucky propensity in us proceeds from a greater share of envy and malice in our natures; others, less severe, ascribe it merely to a want of something else wherewith to employ ourselves. This latter is certainly the most true, because we often find women, who in no other respect can be accused of ill-nature, yet take a prodigious pleasure in reporting every little scandal they hear, even though it be of persons whom they have neither any quarrel against, nor can any way be supposed to envy.

But this motive, tho' less criminal, is equally shameful, and ought to make every woman blush when about to repeat the little affairs of persons with whom she has no manner of concerns, to think she finds an incapacity in herself of attending to those of her own, and which, it is not to be doubted, stand in sufficient need of regulation.

I have seen a fine lady, who has been sunk, as it were, in lassitude, half dying with the vapours, and in such a lethargy, both of mind and body, that it seemed painful to her even to drawl out a word, or lift up a finger; yet this insensible to all things else, has no sooner heard of some new intrigue, no matter whether true or false, or between persons of her acquaintance, or those she only knew the names of, than all the lustre has returned into her eyes, smiles have dimpled her cheeks, and she has immediately started up, called in a hurry to be dressed, ordered her coach, and almost killed a pair of horses in galloping round the town with this intelligence.

So great is the vanity some people have of being thought to be the first in hearing any piece of news, that to it they will sacrifice all considerations whatever, or rather consideration is itself absorbed in this ridiculous ambition. An ambition, did I call it? - Of what? - Of being a tale-bearer! - a gossip! - a lover of raking into filth! - Shameful character, even to the lowest bred, much more so for a woman of quality and condition! - None, I believe, will be willing to acknowledge it their own, but too many give substantial proofs that it is so.

I will have the charity to suppose that some are even ignorant themselves, that they have this vice in their composition; but then I must beg leave to ask them why they are so? - Has an examination into one's own heart never been recommended? - Nay, has it not often been enjoined as the first and greatest study of our lives? - Is it not a study which the meanest,[i] as well as the highest ranks of people have it in their power to attend to? - And is it not equally necessary to both? - All have not a stock of good-nature to enable them to treat their fellow-creatures with that tenderness required of us both by divine and human institutions; we ought therefore to supply that deficiency by principle, which can only flow from reason and recollection.

Whenever we hear any insidious reflections cast upon a person, is it too much trouble for us just to think that there may be a possibility of their being false; or supposing them too true, that it is none of our business to censure or condemn their faults, even in our own breast, much less to give the liberty to others to do so by favouring the scandal by our report?

Cruel in us it is to insult the weakness of human nature, but most base and unjust to accuse where there is no real matter for accusation, as is very often the case. Those who are fond of intelligence of this kind, should, whenever they hear any, put this question to their own judgment, "May not these people tell me this on purpose to amuse me, and because they think it pleases me? " Of this here is more than a probability; many a fair reputation has been blasted, merely by the folly I have mentioned, of having something new to say, or through a mean design in the reporters, of ingratiating themselves with some person, who, to his or her shame, was known to delight in scandal.

Would every one resolve to give no ear to informations of this nature, how soon would they drop! - It is by encouragement that stories, derogatory to the honour of the persons mentioned, gather strength; and, in my opinion, those who give attention to them, are equally culpable with the relators. What then must it be to repeat them? to take pleasure in sounding the trumpet of infamy, and exulting at their fallen virtue we should rather commiserate, and use our best endeavors to retrieve? - O there are no words to paint a disposition so barbarous, so inconsistent with the character of woman-hood!

There are some who are possessed of a notion, false and absurd as it is, that the destruction of other people's reputations is the building up of their own; - that whatever good qualities they have, or would be thought to have, will be rendered more conspicuous, by throwing a shade over those of everybody else: - but this is so far from answering the purpose aimed at by it, that it often gives the hearer a suspicion that the woman, who is so fond of expatiating on the faults and follies of her neighbours, does it only with a view of drawing off any attention to her own; nor are they always mistaken who judge in this manner of detraction.

But supposing the subject of our ridicule be ever so just, that the errors we condemn are so obvious, that there is not the least room to doubt of them, are not we certain, alas! that such errors will infallibly draw on the guilty head a

Besides, though we may be acquainted with the fault, we seldom can be so with the circumstances by which the person has been, perhaps, ensnared into it; and it often happens, that while we are railing at them for it, a secret conviction may have reached their hearts; they may judge themselves with the same severity we do, and resolve to atone for their past behaviour by the greatest regularity of future conduct. How inhumane is it then to expose such a one, and, it is ten to one, disappoint all their good intentions by so doing; since nothing is more common, than when a woman finds her reputation entirely ruined by the discovery of one fault, she makes no scruple to commit more, as she cannot suffer more than she has already done! - All sense and shame grows dead within her, and she thinks she has nothing to do but go on in defiance of the world, and despise the censures she had it not in her power to silence.

In fine, there is no circumstance whatever which can justify one person in vilifying the character of another; and as I believe it is more often done through a certain wantonness, of the tongue than any prepense[ii] malice in the mind, I would have every one, who find in themselves an inclination that way, to keep in memory Shakespeare's reflections upon it.

     Good name, in man or woman, Is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse, steals trash: 'tis      something, nothing; 'Twas mine, 'tis his: and has been slave to      thousands. But he that filches from me my good name, Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.

Curiosity is the parent of this vice: if we were not eager to pry into the affairs of others, it would be impossible for us to know so much of them, as we do: - the passion for finding out secrets, is in reality so predominant in most of us, that it requires a very great fund of good sense and consideration, to enable us to subdue it: yet if we remember how severe the men are upon our sex on account of this weakness, we should not, methinks, grudge taking a little pains to show it is in our power to divert ourselves from it.

Will the knowledge of what other people do make us wiser or happier? - "Yes, some will answer, we may profit by taking examples, by the good economy of some, and take warning by the mistakes of others, not to fall into the same."

This argument might be of some weight, indeed, were there no written examples of both for our direction; but, thank Heaven, they are numerous of the first sort, and are to be found much earlier in history, than in present observation. In an age where vice and folly shine with so much lustre, the virtuous and the wise choose to sit in the shade rather than expose themselves to the influence of too warm a sun; their actions therefore must be less conspicuous, and consequently can serve as a pattern but to a few: and as for others, if the monitor within our own bosom fails to admonish us we are doing wrong, no examples from without will have sufficient efficacy to prevent us from falling into the very errors we condemn in others.

Curiosity, therefore, on this score has a very slender excuse, and they who make it but deceive themselves; nor have we any real motive for being solicitous in our enquiries after things no way relating to us, but to gratify that idle vanity of reporting them, and attain the reputation of being one whom nothing can escape.

The men too, however they may condemn it in us, are not altogether free from this foible; - especially those among them who affect to be great politicians; - some, if they happen to get a secret, can neither eat nor sleep till they have communicated it to as many as they know; and those who pass for more wise and prudent, though they declare it not in words, cannot help, on any talk of the affair, giving significant shrugs, nods, winks, smiles, and a thousand indications, that they know more than they think proper to speak: - how do men of this cast haunt the levees of the great, the lobby, the court of requests, think they read meanings in the looks of every face they see there, and if they chance to hear a word en passant, compliment their own penetration with having discovered wonders from a single sentence; then run from coffee-house to coffee-house, and with a solemn countenance whisper the imaginary secret from one to another quite round the room.

But these male gossips have been sufficiently exposed already, and I should not have made any mention of them, but to take off some part of the edge of that raillery they are so ready to treat our sex with on this occasion.

The best way, however, is for us to give them no pretense for it; and I think nothing can be less difficult, if we would once seriously set about it, and reflect how much we lay ourselves open to censure, while we are exposing others: - how natural is it for people to return an injury of this sort! and that even if they should be less severe than we in reason can expect, yet we are certain of incurring the character of a malicious person from as many as hear us.

It is strange, methinks, that this wide world, and all the various scenes which the hand of the Creator has so bounteously scattered through the whole, can afford no matter of conversation to an intelligent being, without having recourse to degrading the most exquisite and perfect of his works, at least of all that nature presents us with beneath the moon, or that we are able to discover with mortal eye!

The Turks maintain that women have no soul, and there are not wanting some among Christians who lean to that opinion: how mean is it, therefore, in us to give any room for arguments so unworthy and disgraceful to ourselves, by behaving as if we were incapable of thought and reflection, which are indeed the essence of the soul!

The use of speech was given us to communicate such things, as reason and judgment supply us with from the store-house of the mind, for the mutual improvement of each other: let us not then convert this noble benefit to purposes so contrary to the intention of the giver: - let not the tongue, instead of displaying talents not inferior to the other sex, be employed in lessening the dignity of our species by defamation and evil speaking. What faults we find among ourselves, it is certainly our business to conceal and palliate as much as possible; the men are but too quick-sighted to our prejudice, and while they call us angels, are ready enough to think us of the number of fallen ones.

But as I have before observed, the number of those who through envy and malice make, or repeat scandalous stories, is small in comparison with those who do it merely because they find it pleases others, or for the want of anything else to say; it obliges me to return to my old argument, of the necessity there is for us to have a little retrospect into ourselves, and never to speak, anymore than to do, anything of moment, without having well deliberated on what may be the consequence.

The slightest aspersion, or even an ambiguous hint, thrown out before persons who may make a cruel advantage of it, is liable to be improved into the blackest tale, and frequently has been so to the utter ruin both of character and fortune; - the sails of ill report are swelled by every breath of hatred, detraction, and envy; even vain surmises help to waft the envenomed loading, till it reaches belief, where most it will be fatal, poisoning all love, all tenderness, all respect, between the dearest friends or relations.

What irreconcilable jars has sometimes one rash word occasioned! - what unhappy differences have arose, what endless jealousies have been excited, only to gratify the spleen or inconsiderate folly of those who make or find some matter that will bear an ill construction!

What says the old poet Brome on this occasion?

  O reputation, darling pride of honor!
Bright fleeting glare! thou idol of an hour!
How in an instant is thy lustre tarnish'd!
Not innocence itself has power to shield thee
From the black stream detraction issues forth:
Soil'd by each breath of folly; words unmeant
To reach thy chrystal sphere, oft darken it,
Enveloping in misty vapours virtue's crown,
Rend'ring thy title dubious, if not false,
To eyes of clay which see not through the clouds.

In another place this author pursues the same theme, though with different thoughts and expressions:

  Good name, thou tender bud of early spring!
How would'st thou flourish, how shoot forth thy blossoms,
Did no [foe's] blasts shrivel thy op'ning [sweets]!
But ere thy Summer comes, how [early] blighted
By cruel wind, and an inclement season!
All that should charm the world, bring praise to thee.
Driven back into thyself, - thyself alone,
Conscious of what thou art; and man unblest
With thy expected fruits.

I cannot help here quoting another poet, who very emphatically complains of the severity of the world in point of fame.

  How vain is virtue, which directs our ways
Through certain dangers to uncertain praise;
Barren and airy name! The fortune flies
With thy lean train, the pious and the wise
Heav'n takes thee at thy word without regard,
And lets thee poorly be thy own reward,

But it is altogether needless to bring authorities to prove how inestimable a jewel reputation is, and how manifold a wickedness and cruelty all attempts to deprive us of it have ever been accounted: - the most common capacity sees into it; - the thing speaks for itself, and nature and fellow-feeling convince us above argument.

Why do we then so wantonly sport with the most serious thing in life? - a thing, in which consists the greatest happiness or misery of the person concerned! - What shadow of an excuse if there for prejudicing another in a matter which can afford no manner of benefit to ourselves, but, on the contrary, renders us obnoxious to all civil and reasonable society?

Were this error only to be found where there is a defect in the understanding, it would not so much excite our wonder; but I am troubled to say, that there are persons of the best sense in other respects, who suffer themselves to fall into it, through the instigation of some favourite passion, not sufficiently restrained by those who had the care of them in their early years, and which they are afterwards too proud, or too indolent, to make any effort to combat with.

The mischiefs occasioned by a tongue delighting in scandal, are too well known to stand in need of my repeating any examples: yet I cannot forbear giving my readers a very recent one, which has something in it more than ordinarily particular.

Philamour and Zimene were looked upon as a very happy and agreeable pair: they had been married about three or four months, and there seemed not the least abatement of the first bridal fondness, when Ariana, one of those gay inconsiderate ladies I have been describing, came to visit Zimene, big with a secret she had just discovered.

Some busy-body, it seems, had informed her, that Sophronia, a noted pretender to virtue, had a private rendezvous with a young gentleman at a certain house where masquerade habits are sold, or hired out occasionally; - that they met twice every week there, had always a fine collation, and never parted till late at night.

Ariana assured Zimene, that her intelligence was undoubted; - that Sophronia, as much a prude as she was, had certainly an intrigue; and concluded with saying, it would be a charming thing if they could find out the person who made a conquest of that heart, which pretended to be so impregnable.

Zimene was no less curious, and they presently began to contrive together what means would be most likely to succeed; at length they pitched upon one which indeed carried with it a good deal of probability, and in reality, answered the end proposed by it.

Ariana, as least known in that part of town where the assignation was kept, went and took a lodging in the house, as for a friend of her's, who was expected very shortly in town: after having made the agreement, she called two or three times in a day, under the pretense of seeing everything in order; the extravagent rent  that was to be paid excused the continued trouble she gave the people; but, to render it less so, she treated them, whenever she came, with tea, wine, and sweetmeats: - at last, she perceived they appeared in somewhat an unusual hurry; great running up and down stairs was heard, and she found that fires were lighted in the apartment over that she had taken: - she seemed, however, not to observe anything of this, but stepped privately out, and sent her footman, who was always at the end of the street, to let Zimene know that she found the lovers were expected.

The other rejoiced at receiving the summons, and exulted within herself at the opportunity she should have of retorting on Sophronia some bitter jests she had formerly passed on her.

In short, she came muffled up, as if just arrived in town, and excused her having no servants with her, under the pretence that she had left them with her baggage, which she said was not expected till two or three days after.

The people of the house gave themselves no trouble to consider the probability of all this; they doubted not but whatever was the motive of their coming to lodge with them, it would turn to their advantage in the end; and, perhaps, were not without some conjecture that one or both of these ladies had their favorites to meet as well as Sophronia.

The two fair spies, however, having ordered that supper should not be got ready for them till ten o'clock, shut themselves into their apartment, as though Zimene wanted to take some repose till that time after the fatigue of her journey; but, instead, to prevent any suspicion of their design, which might have made those whom they came to observe more cautious.

Being left to themselves, Ariana put out the lights, and having opened one of the windows in the dining-room very softly, watched there to see who came in, while Zimene took her post at the bed-chamber door, which opening just against the stair-case, she could, with all the ease in the world, see through the key-hole every one who passed up or down.

It was not long before Ariana perceived a chair, with the curtains drawn close, stop at the door, and come into the entry, and Zimene plainly saw the face of Sophronia by the light that hung on the stair-case: - both were now satisfied that the intelligence Ariana had received was true, and were not a little impatient for the arrival of the happy gentleman, which would complete the discovery, and enable them to spread the story, with all its circumstances, through the town. A few minutes put an end to their suspense, which, however uneasy such a situation may be in some cases, was a heaven to that distraction, which in this, the cruel certainty produced in one of them.

Ariana having seen a second chair come in, with the same privacy as the former, quitted the window, and ran to the peeping-place Zimene had all this time occupied, which, however, was large enough for them both to see through.

But, good heaven! the consternation they were in when Philamour (for it was he) appeared! - The wife could scarce believe her eyes, and turning to Ariana, cried, "Who is it? - It cannot be my husband! - Dear creature, ease me of my tortures, and convince me I am mistaken."

"I wish I could," replied Ariana, almost as amazed; "but the person we saw pass, is too surely the perfidious Philamour."

One cannot be very certain whether this lady was really so much troubled at the injustice done to her friend as this expression seemed to signify; people of her disposition being glad of anything to afford matter of conversation, even though it were to the prejudice of those they most pretend to esteem.

I will not say this was directly the case with Ariana, but instead of reasoning with Zimene, and persuading her to moderation in so stabbing a circumstance, she omitted nothing that she thought would exaggerate the crime of her husband, and consequently heighten her indignation against him: - nay, she was even for having her apply to a justice of the peace, and expose Sophronia by those methods, which the lowest and most abject people take to revenge themselves, when injured in the manner it was plain she was.

But though the other had too much good sense to come into any such measures as only serve to make diversion for the rabble, yet she had not a sufficient share to enable her to bear her wrongs with that patience which was necessary to make Philamour ashamed of what he had done; - she no sooner found that supper was carried up, than she followed the person quick enough to prevent the door being shut! - she flew at Sophronia, attempted to tear her hair and head-clothes, and would certainly have treated her pretty severely, had not Philamour, confounded as he was, stepped between with these words: - " No, madam," cried he, "whatever may be your imaginations, or whatever appearances may seem to be against me, I cannot suffer you to be guilty of a rudeness which I am sure your cooler thoughts will condemn."

He was about to add something more, when she, turning from her rival, plucked off his wig, and threw it into the fire. - "Monster! villain!" said she, "every thing is justified by injuries like mine."

She spit at him, - she stamped upon the floor, and behaved in all her words and actions like a woman utterly deprived of reason: - Sophronia in the mean time was so overcome with shame, apprehension, and perhaps remorse, that she fell into a swoon: - Philamour seeing her in that condition, could be restrained by no considerations from running to support her; which action aggravating the fury Zimene before was in, she snatched his sword which lay in the window, and had doubtless committed some deed of desperation on one, or both of them, if Ariana, who had followed her upstairs, had not catched hold of her arm.

The confused noise among them soon brought up the people of the house, who easily perceiving the occasion of it, got Sophronia out of the room; after which the husband and wife continued a dispute, in which the latter had the better in everything.

Philamour, at first, would fain have persuaded her that he came not to meet Sophronia on his own account, but on that of a friend; who having an honourable passion for her, and by an unforeseen accident being prevented that evening from coming himself, had intreated him to make his excuse. - But this was a pretense too shallow to deceive Zimene, and was besides contradicted by Ariana, who told him that he could not come in that private manner twice every week on the score of a third person.

In fine, no subterfuge serving his purpose, he at last threw off all evasion, exerted the husband, and threw the blame of everything on Zimene: - he told her, though without the least foundation in truth, that he had always perceived her of an inquisitive jealous nature, and that whatever had happened between him and the lady in question, was only out of a principle of revenge; adding, that when a wife gave herself up to jealousy, and showed a want of confidence, there could be no abuse of it, nor any obligation on the husband to put the least restraint upon his pleasures.

This reflection, as well it might, because both cruel and unjust, heightened the agitation she before was in to such a degree, as it is scarce possible to conceive, much less to give any description of; - if his attempting to evade her accusations, and cover his falsehood, was provoking to her good sense, his avowing his crime was much more so to her pride; as the poet says,

"Rage has no bounds in slighted womankind."

But he staid not long to see the effects of it, and flung out of the room, leaving her to act as she saw fit in the affair. The woman of the house fearing some ill consequence to herself from this adventure, spared neither oaths nor imprecations to make Zimene believe she was wholly innocent: - that she knew not but the gentleman and lady were man and wife: - that they had told her they were privately married, but on the account of relations were obliged to conceal it.

Zimene little regarded all she said on this score; and as there was a possibility of its being true, offered not to contradict it: Ariana went home with her, and lay with her that night, for she was resolved to sleep no more by the side of a man, who had not only wronged her in the most tender point, but, as she imagined, had added insult to deceit, by taking so little pains to alleviate his transgression, or obtain forgiveness: - " He has never once vouchsafed to ask my pardon," cried she, in the utmost agony of spirit; - he despises, - sets my just rage at nothing, and I hate him for that, even more than for his falsehood."

It is to be supposed she suffered Ariana to take but little repose that night; too small a punishment, indeed, for that inquisitive talking humour which had occasioned all this confusion. All the hours till morning were employed in consulting in what manner it would best become Zimene to behave in so unhappy a circumstance; at last it was agreed, that she should quit her husband's house, and retire to that of an uncle, who had been her guardian; and accordingly she packed up all her jewels, dressing-plate, and clothes, and with Ariana, her woman and one footman, went away very early. - Before her departure she called for Philamour's valet de chambre, and bade him tell his master, that she left his house forever, to be governed by the lady to whom he had given his heart.

Whatever anxieties the offended wife endured, it is easy to believe the transgressing husband had his share: his intrigue with Sophronia was of a long date, - the vehemence of his passion for her was worn off even before his marriage, and he wished for nothing more than an abatement of her's, that he might break off with decency; - but whenever he gave her the most distant hint of the inconveniencies attending a continuation of her acquaintance, she fell into such agonies as he had too much compassion for her to be able to endure the sight of: - she protested, that when the dreadful moment of parting them should arrive, it should be the last of her life, and talked of nothing but poison or dagger: this kind of behavior it was that had alone obliged him to make a show of some remains of attachment to her; and now to be detected in his fault, to be catched without any possibility of defence, filled him with the most extreme vexation a heart could be oppressed with: but the violence, the outrage with which Zimene behaved on the occasion, alarmed his pride, and as a man, much more as a husband, he thought himself above yielding to anything imposed on him in that arbitrary manner.

Unhappy Zimene! how great a pity was it that she could not command her temper! - softness would have easily accomplished what rage could never bring about; and as much as Philamour condemned himself for the injury he had done her, he yet condemned her for the manner in which she resented it.

On being told she was gone, and the message she had left for him, he was indeed very much shocked on account of her friends, and what the world, whom he doubted not would be acquainted with the whole of the affair, would say of him; but he found nothing in those tender emotions for being deprived of her society, as he would certainly have done, had she borne the detection of his fault with more gentleness and moderation.

The whole transaction, as he imagined it would be, soon become the talk of the town: - Zimene was loud in her reproaches on his infidelity; - he, in excuse for what he had done, exclaimed with equal virulence against her ill temper, which he pretended had driven him to seek ease abroad: - both now hated each other with more passion than they had ever loved: - in vain the kindred on both sides endeavored to make up the matter; - they were equally irreconcileable, - and rendered the more so by an unhappy punctilio in both their tempers: - Zimene, knowing herself the injured person, thought the least atonement he ought to have made was the acknowledgement of his transgression, - a solemn promise of repeating it no more, and an intreaty of pardon for what was past. Philamour, on the other hand, though conscious of his crime, looked on the means she took to publish it, as an offence he ought as little to forgive: the bitter expressions her rage threw out against him, seemed to him yet more inexcusable than the occasion he had given her for them, and made him imagine, or at least gave him a pretence for doing so, that there were seeds of ill-nature in her soul, which would have sometime or other broke out, though he had done nothing to deserve them.

In a word, none of them wanted matter to harden them against each other, nor could they be brought to agree in any one thing but an article of separation, which was accordingly drawn up; after which Zimene retired into the country, where she still lives; and Philamour accepted of a commission in the army, merely to avoid the discourses which he could not help hearing in town in all company, on this affair.

As for Sophronia, she went directly to Dunkirk, and entered herself a pensioner in a monastery, not being able to show her face anymore in a place where she had been detected in a fault she had so severely censured in others.

Whether Ariana has been enough concerned at the distraction her inquisitive temper occasioned, to make use of any efforts to restrain it for the future, I will not pretend to say; but I hope it will be a warning to others, neither to busy themselves with affairs in which they have no concern, nor be too fond of reporting what chance may discover to them.

The behaviour of Zimene also may show our sex how little is to be got by violence, and a too haughty resentment: - patience, and a silent enduring an infringement on those rights which marriage gives us over the heart and person of a husband, is a lesson, which I confess, is difficult to practise; yet, if well observed, seldom fails of bringing on a sure reward. I have more than once in the course of these speculations, recomended softness as the most prevailing, as well as the most becoming arms we have to combat with; and which even in the most provoking circumstances ought never to be thrown aside. A letter I mentioned in my last gives some proof of the success it has produced, and therefore has a very good claim to our attention.



THE story of Dorimon and Alithea, at the latter end of your first volume, gave me a great deal of pleasure: - I look on the character of Alithea to be of the highest value: - so exemplary a patience under a provocation the most irritating to our sex, has a just claim to our admiration: but even that is yet less difficult to be imitated, than the sweetness, the amazing gentleness with which she concealed the knowledge of her wrongs, not only from the world, but from the man who offered them.

Nothing can be so terrible a misfortune to a woman who loves her husband tenderly, as to be conscious she has lost his affections, and that another triumphs in those endearments which are alone her right; but when insults are added to injuries, and the neglected wife obliged to bear them from the very wretch who has supplanted her; to behave, I say, in such a circumstance with decency and compliance, requires not only an elevated virtue, but a discretion more consummate than is ordinarily found in our sex; - not that we want capacities to attain it, but because a due care is wanting to form our minds in youth.

The great number of separations and divorces which we see of late, is a testimony that few ladies are educated in such a manner as to have good qualities sufficient to enable them to bear so great a disregard of themselves. Miss is sent indeed to the best school that can be heard of to be brought up; but then mamma tells her at parting, "My dear, if everything does not please you there, or if you are crossed, let me know, and I will take you away." Fine education to be expected after such a promise! How can those mothers think their children will make good wives, when they are taught to be their own mistresses from the cradle, and must learn nothing but what they have a mind to, for fear they should fret. This false indulgence, and the want of being a little accustomed to contradiction in the early years of life, it is, that chiefly occasions that wild impatience we often see in maturity.

But though ill habits contracted in our youth are difficult to be worn off, reason and reflection may enable us to accomplish so glorious a work, if we set about it with a firm resolution.

How great a pleasure must that woman feel, who is conscious of having reclaimed her husband merely by her own sweetness of behaviour! How justifiable, nay, how laudable will be her pride, whose merit is forcible enough to conquer all the follies of ungovernable man, and make him own he has been to blame: - Affections thus obtained are generally more tender, more fond than ever, and cease not but with life. Whatever conflicts therefore a wife may endure within herself in the endeavour, and how long soever she may suffer, the reward at last will more than compensate for the pains.

I wish this point were more considered, and that ladies would take example by your Alithea, or that amiable princess mentioned in the same book; but as too many instances cannot be given of patience and forbearance in such a circumstance, I beg leave to present your readers with a little succinct account of two of my particular acquaintance, who have reclaimed their husbands, and recovered the love they once thought wholly lost, with interest.

The first, whom I shall call Eudosia, had been the most unfortunate woman upon earth, had she not been endued with an equal share of patience and good sense: - she was married very young to Severus, a man of a most haughty austere disposition, and one, who, like too many of his sex, had got it into his head, that women were created only to be the slaves of men: - her beauty, however, and the submissive mildness of her disposition, made him very fond of her, and they lived in a great deal of harmony together; till Severus happening to see Laconia at a public place, became enamoured with her, and his pride making him above attempting to put a restraint on his inclinations, he from that moment resolved to know her more intimately, if there was a possibility of doing so. By a strict enquiry he found who she was, and that she had no fortune to support her extravagancies: this he so well improved, that he soon accomplished his wishes; and though after he was familiar with her, he discovered he had not been the first who had received her favours, yet he continued attached to her by an invincible fatality.

So careless was he of what either his wife or the world might think of him, that both were soon apprized of his amour; - those of his own kindred took the liberty to reprove him sharply for it; but Eudosia prevailed on those of her own to be silent in the affair, as she herself resolved to be, well judging, that to a person of his disposition, all opposition would but add fuel to the fire, and that he would rather persist in what he knew was wrong, than confess himself convinced by the arguments of others.

He very well knew she could not be ignorant of what he took so little pains to conceal; but where there is a dislike, as during his intrigue with Laconia he certainly had for his wife, nothing can oblige, - nothing can be acknowledged as a virtue: - instead of esteeming her, as he ought to have done, for the regard she showed for his peace in never murmuring, nor upbraiding him with his fault, he imputed it all to a mean timidity of nature in her, and only gloried in himself for knowing so well how to keep a woman within what bounds he pleased, and render even her very wishes subservient to his will.

Confident that he might now act as he pleased, he bought Laconia into his house, commanded Eudosia to treat her as a lady whom he infinitely esteemed, and having laid this injunction on her, whom he looked upon as only his upper servant, gave adequate orders to the others.

This creature now became the entire mistress of the family, and though Eudosia kept her place at the head of the table, yet nothing was served up but what was ordered by Laconia.

Some women will look on this tame enduring in Eudosia as wholly unworthy of a wife, and too great an encouragement for other guilty husbands to treat their wives in the same manner; but this pattern of prudence and good nature knew very well the temper of the person she had to deal with, and that nothing was to be gained by the pursuit of any rough measures; - she seemed therefore to think herself happy in the company of Laconia, carried her into all the company she went into as her particular friend, and was so perfectly obliging to her in every respect, that the other, even in spite of her rivalship, could not help having a regard for her, which she testified in downright quarreling with Severus, whenever he refused her anything she asked; and, in truth, this injured wife would frequently have gone without many things which her rank in life demanded, had it not been for the intercession of Laconia.

Severe trial, however, for a woman of virtue, and who, in spite of his injustice and ingratitude, still retained the most tender affection for her husband, yet she bore all with a seeming tranquility; but while the guilty pair imagined her easy and resigned to her fate, she was continually laying schemes to change it: - long she was about it, being loth to venture at anything, which in case of failure, might render her condition worse; but at last her good genius inspired her with a little plot, which threatened nothing if the event should not answer her expectation, and promised much if it succeeded.

She feigned herself seized with a sudden indisposition, took to her bed, and so well acted her part, that the physician, who attended her was deceived by it, and reported her condition as dangerous. It cannot be supposed Severus felt any great anxiety at hearing it, yet ordered she should be carefully looked to, and nothing spared that would contribute to her recovery: - Laconia appeared very assiduous about her, but whether out of real or counterfeit tenderness, I will not presume to say.

It served, however, to forward Eudosia's design; and one day, seeming to come out of a fainting fit while the other was sitting by her bed-side, she called to her maid, and bade her bring her a sheet of paper, and pen and ink; which being done, she wrote a few lines, and ordered a small India cabinet, in which she was accustomed to keep her jewels, and other little trinkets, to be held to her, in which she put the paper, and turned the key with a great deal of seeming care to make it fast; but, in truth, to prevent it from being locked, so that it might easily be opened.

Now, cried she, I shall die in peace, since my dear Severus will know, when I am gone, every thing I wish him to be sensible of: I beg you, madam, continued she to Laconia, who was very attentive to all she did, to let my husband know my last will is contained in this cabinet.

With these words she sunk down into the bed, as fatigued with what she had been doing, and the other doubted not but her last moment was near at hand.

A woman circumstanced as Laconia was, might very well be curious to discover what Eudosia had wrote; but not knowing how to come at it without the help of Severus, she acquainted him with the whole behavior of his wife on this occasion, on which he grew little less impatient than herself; and at a time when she seemed to be asleep, took the cabinet out of the room, and carried it to his own closet, resolving to examine the contents without any witnesses.

Eudosia, who was very watchful for the success of her project, saw well enough what he had done; but looking on the reception he should give the paper as the crisis of her fate, passed the remainder of the night in such disturbed emotions, as rendered her almost as ill in reality as she had pretended.

Severus was little less disordered after having read the letter, which was directed to himself, with the title of her ever dear Severus, and contained these lines:

'Had I millions to bequeath, you alone should be my heir; but all I have, all I am, is already yours, all but my advice, which living I durst not presume to give you; but as this will not reach your ears till I am no more, it may be better received: - it is this, my dear, that as soon as decency permits, you will marry Laconia; - neither of you ought to make any other choice; - the world, you know, has been loud in its censures on that lady's score, I alone have been silent. What the duty of a wife bound me to while living, I persevere to observe in death; my only consolation under inconceivable agonies of mind and body, being a consciousness of having well and truly discharged all the obligations of my station. I beg Heaven your second nuptials may be more agreeable than your first; - that she who has so long enjoyed you here, may continue to deserve it, by loving you as I have done, and you may be more happy with her than you could possibly be with

The unfortunate EUDOSIA'

He afterwards confessed, that he read this above an hundred times over, and that every word sunk into his soul the deeper as he examined it the more; till quite melted into tenderness, he looked back with horror on his past behaviour: - all the charms he had formerly found in the mind and person of Eudosia returned with added force, and those of Laconia grew dim and faded in his eyes.

But when he reflected, that he was about to lose forever so inestimable a treasure, as he now owned his wife to be, and that there was the strongest probability, that his unkindness had shortened her date of life, he fell into the bitterest rage against himself, and the object of that unlawful flame, which had occasioned it.

Laconia, who wondered he did not come to bed, (for he had promised to sleep with her that night) ran to his closet, where she found him in very great agitations, on her inquiring into the cause, he sullenly told her she was, and bid her leave him. As this was treatment she had not been accustomed to, she had not presence enough of mind to conceal her resentment at it, but immediately flew into a rage, which his temper was little able to endure, and served as a soil to set Eudosia's virtues in a still fairer light; he contented himself, however, with making her go out of the room, after which he returned to his former meditations.

In fine, he thought so long, till thought made him as perfect a convert as Eudosia could wish; and the imagination that he was about to lose her, made him lose all that haughty tenaciousness of humour he was wont to use her with: - he went several times to her chamber door, but, being told she seemed in a slumber, returned softly back, and would not enter till he heard she was awake, then inquired in the tenderest manner how she did; to which she answered that his presence had given her more spirits than she could have hoped ever to have enjoyed in this world.

O, cried he, quite charmed with her softness, if the sight of me can afford you comfort, never will I quit your chamber: - Believe me, continued he, taking her hand and pressing it, my dear Eudosia, that how much soever I have been to blame, there is nothing so terrible as the thought of losing you: - O that my recovered love, and all the tenderness that man can feel, could but restore your health! - what would I not give! - what would I not do to preserve you!

These words were accompanied with some tears of passion that bedewed her hand, and left her no room to doubt of their sincerity. How much she was transported any one may guess: - Now, said she, raising herself in the bed, and clasping him round the neck, in life or death I have nothing more to wish.

It would be endless to repeat the fond obliging things they said to each other; the reader will easily conceive by the beginning, that nothing could be more tender on both sides: but what added most to Eudosia's satisfaction, was the assurance he gave her, that Laconia should quit his house that day, and that he never would see her more.

On this, she insisted on his making some provision for her, telling him it was punishment sufficient for her fault to lose the affection she had so long enjoyed; and that for her part, if she should live to possess the happiness his behaviour now seemed to promise, it would be damped if she knew anything he had once loved was miserable.

This generosity engaged new caresses on the part of Severus, and he desired she would not mention that woman anymore, but leave it to himself to act as he thought proper.

He kept his word; Laconia was put out of the house that day: in what manner they parted is uncertain, but it was such, that the amour between them was never renewed. Eudosia having gained her point, pretended to recover by degrees, and at length to be fully established in her former health; to which now, a vivacity flowing from a contented mind being added, she became more agreeable than ever; never was there a happier wife, or a more endearing husband.

All their acquaintance beheld the change with astonishment, but none were intrusted with the innocent stratagem that brought it about. Eudosia had the prudence to conceal it not only from Severus himself, but from all others; not till after his death, which happened not in several years, was any person made privy to it.

The other whom I mentioned, as a happy instance of recovering a decayed affection, I shall call Constantia; she was a young gentlewoman of strict virtue, but no fortune: she had been courted above a year by Tubesco, a substantial tradesman, before she married him; but had not been a wife above half the time, when she perceived there was another much more dear to him than herself; - she bore it, however, with a consummate patience, nor even after she heard that he had a child by her rival, who was a wealthy tradesman's daughter, did she ever reproach him, or attempt to expose it.

He had even the folly as well as impudence to own this intrigue before her face; yet all did not move her to any unbecoming passion: she was not, however, insensible to such usage, nor without the most ardent wishes to reclaim him, both for his and her own sake. Many projects she contrived, but all without success, till a person who was a friend to them both, persuaded him to leave England, and go to settle at Dundee, of which place they were natives. Absence from his mistress she hoped would make a change in his temper in her favour; but in this she was deceived, at least for a long while: - for two long years did he repine, and all that time used his wife so very ill, that she almost repented she had engaged him to quit the presence of one who she now began to think he could not do without. To add to her afflictions, she was extremely ill treated by his relations on the score of having brought no portion: but when she thought herself most abandoned by good fortune, she was nearest the attainment of it. Heaven was pleased that she should prove with child, which, together with her continued sweetness of behaviour, turned his heart: he became from the worst, one of the best husbands, detests his former life, and all women who endeavored by their artifices to alienate men from their wives.

Constantia is now very happy, and the more so, as she knows the recovery of her husband's affection is chiefly owing to her own good conduct and behaviour.

But I have troubled you too long: - if these examples may serve to enforce the good advice you have given our sex, it will be an infinite satisfaction to,

Your most humble servant,
March 25, 1745.           DORINDA

This amiable lady's letter stands in no need of a comment; but we think ourselves obliged to thank her for the zeal she testifies for the happiness of society. Could the generality of womankind be brought to think like her, marriage would no longer be a bug-bear to the wife, and a laughing stock to fools. Would they, instead of reporting the follies of their sex, set forth as she has done, the bright examples some of them have given of virtue  and discretion, men would venerate instead of despise; we should recover that respect we have too much lost through our own mismanagement greatly, but more by our bitterness and railing against each other.

I confess myself extremely pleased when I hear of a woman, who failing, by an artless softness, to preserve the affection of her husband, regains it by wit and address. Had Eudosia supinely yielded to her fate, and combated her husband's falsehood and ingratitude only with her tears, she might have sunk under the burden of her wrongs; and the injurious Laconia triumphed over her ashes in the unrivalled possession of his heart and person? but by this pretty stratagem she showed herself a woman of spirit as well as virtue. What she did could not be called deceit, because her whole character being gentleness and goodness, it is highly probable she would have made him the same request had she really thought herself dying, as being the only atonement he could make for having lived so long in a criminal conversation with Laconia; and but anticipated that will, which her forgiving sweetness and persevering love would have inspired her with before she left the world.

Neither was her prudence in concealing what she had done less to be admired: - had she made a confidante of any one person, and it had reached the ears of Severus, a man of his temper would not only have been chagrined at being tricked, though it were into happiness, but have looked on her divulging it as a kind of triumph over him; and had she confessed it only to himself, though he could not in reason have condemned her for it, yet he might not have been well satisfied, to think she had it in her power to boast of having over-reached him; and this might have poisoned all the sweets of that reconciliation, which was the reward of her wit and virtue.

The mild and sweet behavior of Constantia may also be a pattern for wives when provoked in the manner she was. To furnish examples of this kind is doing universal service; and if those ladies, who delight in repeating every unhappy adventure that comes in their way, would imitate Dorinda, and acquant us only with instances of virtue, I am confidant the world would be better than it is.

But to use a phrase in scripture, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh: " the love of scandal proceeds merely from the want of giving the mind some more worthy employment: - there is a restlessness in the faculties of the soul that calls for action, and if we do not take care to give it, some will chuse for themselves; and this choice may not probably be always such as redounds to our own honour, or the emolument of our neighbours.

There is much more in the choice of matter for our contemplation than people are generally aware of; for without we give the thinking faculty some one fixed subject wherewith it may be busied and taken up, it will be apt to run into a multiplicity of different ideas, all confounding each other, destroying judgment and serious reflection; so that whatever good we do, cannot properly be called our own, but the effect of chance; but all the ill is truly ours, for want of a proper regulation of those powers by which we are solely actuated.

But as this cannot be done without some little examination into the nature of the soul, in regard to its direction over, and manner of co-operation with the body, I shall here present my readers with the sentiments of a very ingenious gentleman on that occasion.



I READ with pleasure the reflections on the soul in your eleventh book, and join heartily with Platonides in thanking you for recommending the study of philosophy to the ladies, that is, that most useful branch of it that teaches the nature of the soul; and I must here beg leave to recommend to the men, who want it almost, if not quite as much as they do; and, if I am not too presumptuous, I shall intrude so far on your good-nature and indulgence, as to offer you my weak sentiments on it, being encouraged by the promise you made at the beginning of that book.

The soul I look upon as an immaterial created being, whose existence is best expressed by these words, "I think, therefore I exist;" that is, the radical essence of the soul consists in thought: - it is a spirit of no shape or form, for these would imply a materiality; it is simple, not made of parts, indivisible, whose sole property and quality, as I have just now said, are thought and reason.

Now that the soul is immaterial, is easily proved from the properties of matter; whose essence consisting of a substance which hath a form or shape, resists a change of the state wherein it is, whether of rest or motion, so that would never change the state wherein it is at present, if not moved or stopped by some external agent. This is open to every man's capacity, who will give himself the trouble to reflect on it: - let him take a stone, or any other thing, and place it somewhere. That stone will remain there, unless moved by something extraneous; this something, if material, must be moved by an other external agent, and at last we must come to that being, which, by its will, can impel a force on matter, sufficient to move it from the place where it is: and this motion, excited in matter would continue always, if some external force did not stop it; but that thin substance, the air, continually resisting matter thus impelled, impedes the motion in proportion to the force of the impulse, till at last it quite stops it.

Since then material substances, when once put in motion, cannot of themselves return to a state of rest, but must continue in that state of motion, unless hindered by something external; and when in a state of rest, they must continue in that state, and cannot move unless impelled by something external; it follows from thence, that something immaterial must be the primum mobile of material bodies.

The animal and vegetable life, when not considered with care, make several people deny the necessity of an immaterial mover. But what is this life? We should examine it well, before we decide so positively. It consists in a circulation of fluids, were matter, originally impelled by some power ab extra, acts on matter with a certain determined force, which arises solely from a resistance to a change of its state, and whatever matter were void of that resistance would be of no use in a mechanical body. There can be no notion more unphilosophical, than to think a machine can be made of such matter, as will not resist a change of its state. The pretence has been, that we do not know the powers and qualities of matter: it is true we do not, but thus much we know certainly, that it cannot have contradictory powers, and since exciting motion in itself depends on this, we are as certain that it is not self-moving, as, if we knew everything belonging to it. Doctor Clark observes, that matter is only capable of one negative power, viz. "That every part will always and necessarily remain in the state of rest or motion, wherein it at present is." From whence we conclude, that matter cannot move itself, and they torment themselves in vain who would endeavour to find out the mechanical cause of the circulation of blood in our bodies, or of fluids in vegetables, if by a mechanical cause they understand certain powers planted in matter, performing this motion without intervention or efficacy of any cause immaterial; so that matter, with these powers planted in it, of itself continues this motion once begun.

This is endeavouring to find out a thing which is not to be found out, because it is not: for matter when moved, will continue forever in a straight direction of motion, unless an external force is impressed on it, sufficient to make it stop or change that direction; and to cause a circular motion, that external force must be impressed upon it every instant: for nothing is more certain that the tendency which we see matter has to leave the circular motion, and run on in a straight line; and, therefore, nothing is more certain than that an extraneous power must be continually impressed to overcome this tendency, and bring it incessantly back. Circulation is but one, though a principal branch of the animal economy; for in the brain, nerves, stomach, guts, glands, in every part there is motion; and if we should say all this is carried on by nature in a million of different bodies at once, no one would except against this account, but think it as good as could be given in philosophy. But should one say, all this is performed by the Great God of Nature, we directly fly out against it, as a thing absurd and impossible; for Nature, in our mouths, is like Chance or Fate, a word that serves rather to screen our ignorance and inattention, than to convey any solid meaning. Let us then examine a little these matters, and confess that the motion which is in every part or particle receives its immediate impulse from the finger of Almighty God, as this one point is certain, that matter is such a substance as resists a change of its state: - I say, let us all humbly and sincerely acknowledge, that there is a Mighty Governor of the world, and of the minutest as well as noblest created beings; - that it is evident he has all power and knowledge; and that he works constantly near us, round us, and within us.

That soul is a created being, and not separated from any other spirit, is easily shown: for how can any thing be taken from what has no parts? and how can there be parts where there is nothing material? - Divisibility and parts are only the properties of matter; which having a form or shape, must be composed of parts to form this shape; it must have inward and outward parts, or to speak more intelligibly, it must have upper and lower parts: - let the upper part be separated from the lower, and each particular part will have the same properties which the whole had; it will have an upper part and a lower part, which may be divided again, and these parts so divided will still retain those properties which the whole had; and so on, ad infinitum. By this we see, that material substance, of what bulk soever, must be composed of parts, and again divisible into parts, each of which is a solid, divisible, extended, figured substance, and hath the essential properties of the whole, of which it is a part, as much as the whole hath.

If, therefore, we should allow that the soul might be taken from any other being, it infers that the being from whence it is taken has  parts, which parts must singly have the same properties as the whole; that is, they must be active perceptive substances; so that no being, taken from another, can be single, which in spirits make an absurdity; for in such a case, that separated part too, having the same properties as the whole, cannot be single, but must be an aggregate of infinite numbers of distinct, active, perceptible substances, all which is repugnant to reason.

Since then, as I have slightly shown, there is a necessity that something immaterial should be within us, in order to cause a spontaneous motion; and as this immaterial being cannot be compounded of parts, it must be indissoluble and incorruptible in its nature; and since therefore, it has not a natural tendency to annihilation, it must endlessly abide an active, perceptive substance, with either fears or hopes of dying through all eternity.

I beg pardon, madam, for having troubled you with so long an epistle, and am afraid your readers, if you care to publish this, will find fault with me, for having robbed them of those few pages, which would otherwise have been so much better employed by you; but as my motive was only to put them upon thinking on so important a subject, I hope that will plead my excuse. Dr. Clarke, in his Demonstration of the Existence and Attributes of God; and Mr. Baxter, in his Enquiry into the nature of the human soul, (from whom I have received great lights) have both handled this subject so well, that I must beg leave to recommend them to your readers; however as a great many have not patience to go through whole books on anything, if you would show wherein I have said amiss, and add some few thoughts of your own, I believe it will be very well received by the greatest part of your readers, and be a particular obligation to,

Chelsea,        Your most humble servant,
March 27, 1745.        And constant reader,

It is easy to perceive the learned and judicious author of the foregoing, contents himself with proving the immateriality, and, of consequence, the immortality of human soul; and, indeed, that is of itself sufficiently to let us know the value we ought to set upon it: the Almighty has himself, by giving us free-will, left it to ourselves to improve this divine part in us to his glory, the common good of society, and our own eternal happiness.

Mr. Dryden elegantly expresses this power in us, in his poem of the Cock and Fox:

  Nothing does native liberty distrain,
But man may either act or may restrain:
Heav'n made us agents free to good or ill,
And forc'd it not, though he foresaw the will.
Freedom was first bestowed on human race,
And prescience only held the second place.
If he could make such agents wholly free,
I'll not dispute, the point's too high for me;
For Heav'n's unfathomed power what man can sound,
Or put to his omnipotence a bound?
He made us to his image, all agree,
That image is the soul, and that must be,
Or not the Maker's image, or be free.

The immortality of the soul, as I have before observed, is the great point on which all religion, virtue, and morality depends; for it seems an utter impossibility, that any man in his right senses can be thoroughly assured he is a being, which must exist to all eternity, yet act so as to incur the doom of being miserable to all eternity. - How greatly then is the world obliged to those, who, like Mr. H.L. have both the abilities, and the will to exert those abilities, for putting a stop to that inundation of skepticism, which has of late flowed in upon us, almost to the destruction of every thing that can either maintain due order here, or entitle us to any reasonable hope of happiness hereafter.

It has often made me wonder, that people are not more readily convinced of the immortality of the soul, because such a conviction is so very flattering to our most darling passions. What can so much sooth our ambition, as an assurance that we are a being incapable of corruption, or of ending; - endued with faculties equal to the angels, with whom we shall one day be companions, and that we shall sit on thrones, and have our heads adorned with rays of glory! - What can more indulge that curious and inquiring disposition, which we have all some share of, than to think, that all those mysteries, which the greatest learning at present vainly endeavours to explore, will be laid open to our view, that nothing will be a secret to us, and conjecture be swallowed up in certainty.

There can be none among us so stupid, so insensible, as not to rejoice in the assurance of enjoying these immense blessings. Why do we then raise difficulties, and encourage any doubts to the contrary? -That very ambition, - that very curiosity I have been speaking of, however perverted to meaner objects, and mean purposes, was questionless implanted in our natures for the noblest ends; - that is, to show the dignity of the soul, and make us look up to that Heaven from which we are derived, and are formed to possess, unless we willfully forfeit our pretensions.

We complain of being short-sighted in these matters, as indeed we are; but then that we are so is a good deal owing to ourselves, as I believe will appear on a very little consideration; - the fault lies not so much in our incapacity of comprehension, as in our confining it to narrow views: - we cannot resolve to look beyond the spot we tread upon; we place our treasure here, and here will our hearts be: - the attraction of this world chains us, as it were, to its own sphere, and we cannot rise above it: - the present tense engrosses all our hopes and fears, our expectations and dependencies, and one dirty acre here is of more value to us, than all the plains behind the moon.

Thus is our understanding darkened, as to the things to come, by our too great attachment to those presented to us by the senses; and we do not behold them so clearly as we ought and might, because of our eagerness never to lose sight of the other: - So that from our own willfulness our ignorance proceeds, as the poet justly says:

- Our reason was not vainly lent,
Nor is a slave, but by its own consent.

Not that I would insinuate human reason is sufficient to inform us what or how we shall be hereafter; but this I must beg leave to insist upon, that it is capable, if exerted properly, to convince us we shall be something, and in some state, after what we vulgarly call life (that is, indeed, no more than the animal soul) has left us.

I know there are many people, either by nature, or want of application, dull enough not to apprehend the difference between the animal and the immortal soul; but I think it is easy to conceive we have not only two, but three souls, which are gradually instilled into us from the time of our first formation in the womb. The greatest of our philosophers, poets, and diviners have seemed to favour this opinion; but I know of none who has expressed himself more clearly and elegantly upon it than a late gentleman, whose works I have often taken the liberty to quote; the person I mean is Mr. Dryden, who, in his poem of Palaemon and Arcite, has it thus:

  So man, at first a drop, dilates with heat,
Then form'd, the little heart begins to beat;
Secret he feeds, unknowing, in his cell,
At length for hatching ripe, he breaks the shell,
And struggles into breath, and cries for aid;
Then, helpless, in his mother's lap is laid:
He creeps, he walks, and issuing into man;
Grudges their life, from whom his life began,
A foe to laws, affects to rule alone,
Anxious to reign, - ev'n restless on a throne;
First vegetive, then feels, and reasons last,
Rich in three souls, and lives all three to waste,
Some thus, but thousands more in flow'r of age,
For few arrive to run the latter stage.

What indeed, before our coming into the world, can we be justly called but vegetables? Or what in fancy is there that distinguishes us above the animals? Nay, what is termed instinct in them, comes much sooner, or, at least, is more plainly distinguished, than the reasoning faculty in us; but when it is once attained, when we find in ourselves the power of comparing, and of judging , if we do not take care to improve it, it must be owned we are little worthy of possessing it: but if we not only not acknowledge it, but rather take pains to depreciate the blessing, no words, methinks, can sufficiently describe so black an ingratitude to the Great Author of our being, or so monstrous an injustice and indignity to our own nature.

Yet this is every day done, nay and gloried in by those, who plume themselves on seeing more clearly than other men into the works of nature: they make use of reason to argue against reason; and affect to be void of partiality or vanity in assuming nothing, as they say, to themselves, or ascribing more to the species they are of, than to any other part of the animal world.

But true philosophy, as well as religion, will show us better things; - it will not only teach us the nature and excellency of our being, but also teach us how to avoid all such inclinations as have any tendency towards degrading its native dignity, by throwing a resemblance or any way leveling us with the inferior creation.

Let us then devote some part of our time to study and meditation. "When the mind is worthily employed, " says a great author, "the body becomes spiritualized; but when we suffer a lassitude to benumb our faculties, the very spirit degenerates into matter."

We should also be continually on our guard, that our senses may not get too much power over us; - they frequently deceive us, and present us with fictitious joys when we expect real ones: - besides, as they are capable of shewing us only things near at hand, and which shortly pass away, we should take them only en passant, and it must be great stupidity to suffer them to engross our thoughts. The famous abbe de Bellegarde has this maxim, among many other excellent ones, and is worthy the observation of all degrees of people.

"N'ayez de l'attachement de l'amour pour le monde, qu'a proportion du tems que vous y devez être. Celui qui fait voyage, ne s'arrête pas dans la premiere belle ville qu'il trouve sur sa route, il sçait qu'il doit passer outre, et aller plus loin."

Few of my readers, I believe, but will understand this; however, lest any should be ignorant of a language so universally understood, and I would wish so excellent a precept should escape no one, I will give it in English.

"Have no greater attachment or love for the world, than in proportion to the time you are to be in it. He who takes a journey, stops not at the first fine city he finds in his way; for he knows he must pass through it, and go farther."

A person, it is certain, who keeps this always in his mind, will never suffer himself to be wholly taken up either with the idle fleeting pleasures of this world, or with the busy cares which attend a pursuit of its grandeurs: - he may enjoy the one with moderation whenever they fall in his way, but will not think himself miserable in the want of them; and as for the other, he will look on the short-lived possession of them as not worthy the time and anxiety they must cost in the attainment.

How blind, how inconsiderate, how unhappy are those who place their summum bonum here, as well those who succeed in their endeavours, as those who do not; and, alas! every day's experience shows us how much the number of the latter exceeds the former; - yet how readily does every one lay hold on the least shadow of an expectation, and waste the precious time in vain dependencies, not remembering that, as Shakespeare justly says,

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creep in a stealing pace from day to day,
To the last moment of revolving time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
To their eternal homes.
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor play'r
That frets and struts his hour upon a stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an ideot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

But I should disoblige three parts in four of my readers, should I dwell on a subject, which all know, but few care to remember: besides, these speculations are not published with a view of depressing but of exhilarating the spirits; and as it is impossible to recommend the value of our immortal part, without taking some notice how little the other is worthy our attention, when compared together, I shall add no more for fear of being thought too grave; a fault, now-a-days, looked upon as unpardonable in an author.

Mira herself confesses, that these lucubrations have of late leaned a little towards that side; and bids me remember, that people especially those of condition, are more easily laughed out of their follies, than reasoned out of them.

Nothing indeed is more certain, than that if a gay thoughtless person takes up a book, which he imagines is composed only for amusement, and before he is aware, happens to meet with some favourite vice of his own, artfully and merrily exposed, he will start at the resemblance of himself, and perhaps be reclaimed by it: whereas he might hear a thousand sermons on the same occasion, without being moved, though ever so learned, or with the greatest grace delivered.

Nor will this seem strange to anyone who considers nature: should our hair turn grey, or our complexion yellow, without our knowing anything of the change, till at once we see it in the glass, it would have a much greater effect upon us, than if we perceived it gradually coming on.

Surprise has undoubtedly a prodigious influence on the mind in all cases; and it is not therefore to be wondered at, that where we expect lessons of reformation they seldom do us any service: if we listen to them it is with indolence, and they make, if any at all, a very slight impression on us; but when we look for something of a quite contrary nature, it works strange effects.

King David listened without any conscious tumult in his mind to the parable of Nathan concerning the ewe-lamb, till the prophet, emboldened by his divine mission, said to him plainly,

"Thou art the man!"

Then, indeed, touched by this sudden remonstrance, he smote his breast and cry'd,

"I have sinned against the Lord."

The works of a person who is looked upon as a satirist, or what the wits call a snarler, are taken up with a kind of prejudice; and though they want not readers, it is only because every one hopes to find his neighbour's follies or vices ridiculed there: his own are out of the question with him, and however they may occasion his being laughed at by other people, he is utterly regardless of what is pointed at chiefly in himself: - but a book, which is not suspected of any such tendency, yet brings a parallel case with that of the reader, has sometimes the good fortune to strike upon the soul, and awaken a needful reflection.

As we set out with an assurance to the public, that we should only make it our business to depreciate vice, not persons, and this book in particular is intended to set forth the odiousness of exposing characters, we must desire our readers not to fix the censure of anything contained in these speculations on individuals, whom they may imagine we have in our eyes, but take care to avoid that fault in themselves they are so ready to observe in others.

Whatever falls not under the cognizance of a court of judicature, should be exempt from private cavils; for, in effect, no one, except the magistrate, has a right to condemn any but himself.

And yet it may be answered, we have crimes among us, or follies, which amount almost to the same thing, which the laws take no notice of; and it must be acknowledged that this objection is not without a solid foundation in facts too flagrant to be disputed; but then it must also be observed, that I mean not when the transgressors are in public capacities, and take that opportunity to oppress the body of people; for then everyone has a right to exclaim, and to cry out for justice: but even then I would have the clamour extend no farther than the grievance, which, if public, stands in no need of any repetition of private faults.

I have often thought it strange, that in the election for members of parliament, the commonalty, I mean the rabble, have such an unbridled licence for defamation: - if a candidate has, indeed, in an former session, or otherwise by his behaviour, testified he has not the real good of his country at heart; if he has not strenuously endeavored to preserve the just balance of power between the prince and the people; if he has accepted of any bribes either for himself or family, whereby interests opposite to the common cause have been upheld; the meanest man, who has a vote, has undoubtedly a right to declare the motive which obliges him to refuse it. As to a gentleman being a bad economist, if he be either a miser or a spendthrift, there may be some reason to believe he will be biassed to any measures which promise an increase of his stores, or fresh supplies for the support of his extravagancies; and then, indeed, all the proofs that can be brought of his ill management have a right to be thrown in his teeth; but I never could find out what the errors of the mother, wife, sister, or daughter of such a candidate had to do with the affair; yet in this case the faults of the whole family are blazoned, as if the poor gentleman was to answer for the virtue of his whole kindred.

The custom of old Rome, I am told, authorizes this proceeding; I wish we followed that renowned republic in things more worthy our imitation: as for this, I always thought it a barbarous one, and correspondent with the manners of no nation which pretends to be civilized.

I hope I shall therefore be understood, that when I recommend silence as to the miscarriages of others, I mean it only in regard to private life; for as to public injuries they may, and undoubtedly ought to be complained of, of whatsoever degree the person is who offers them, since a nation can not otherwise hope redress; and to attempt to screen or protect an offender in this kind, is a treason to the people, which has no pretence to forgiveness.

The love of our county claims our first and chiefest care; and whenever we discover even the most remote intention of an oppression there, though it be hatching in the breast of him who is most dear to us, all partial tenderness, all private friendship and obligations, must give way to general safety, as Cowley says in his justification of Brutus.

     Can we stand by, and see
Our mother robb'd, and bound, and ravish'd be:
     Yet not to her assistance stir,
Pleas'd with the strength and beauty of the ravisher!
Or shall we fear to kill him, if before
     The cancell'd name of friend he bore?
     Ingrateful Brutus do they call?
Ingrateful Caesar, who could Rome enthral!
     An act more barbarous and unnatural
     (In th' exact balance of true virtue try'd)
Than his successor Nero's parricide.

But as discourse of national affairs is foreign to my present purpose, I shall take my leave of this head, with recommending to the world, especially those of my own sex, good nature and charity, in judging the conduct of their neighbours, which is the only sure way to preserve their own from censure, be it ever so innocent.

The letter signed Elismonda, with the Lady's Revenge, is just come to hand, with which we are extremely delighted, and promise it shall not fail being inserted in our next, time not permitting us to give it a place in this.

Page Created: January 26, 2001 | Last Updated: May 21, 2003