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Sir Peabody's Tatler & Spectator Archive
This unlucky Accident has given me an Aversion to pretty Fellows ever since, and discouraged me from trying my Fortune with the fair Sex. The Observations which I made in this Conjuncture, and the repeated Advices which I received at that Time from the good old Man above-mentioned, have produced the following Essay upon Love and Marriage.
The pleasantest Part of a Mans Life is generally that which passes in Courtship, provided his Passion be sincere, and the Party beloved kind with Discretion. Love, Desire, Hope, all the pleasing Motions of the Soul rise in the Pursuit.
It is easier for an artful Man, who is not in Love, to persaude his Mistress he has a Passion for her, and to succeed in his Pursuits, than for one who loves with the greatest Violence. True Love hath ten thousand Griefs, Impatiences and Resentments, that render a Man unamiable in the Eyes of the Person whose Affection he sollicits; besides that, it sinks his Figure, gives him Fears, Apprehensions, and Poorness of Spirit, and often makes him appear ridiculous where he has a Mind to recommend himself.
Those Marriages generally abound most with Love and Constancy, that are preceded by a long Courtship. The Passion should strike Root, and gather Strength before Marriage be grafted on it. A long Course of Hopes and Expectations fixes the Idea in our Minds, and habituates us to a Fondness of the Person beloved.
There is Nothing of so great Importance to us, as the good Qualities of one to whom we join our selves for LIfe; they do not only make our present State agreeable, but often determine our Happiness to all Eternity. Where the Choice is left to Friends, the chief Point under Consideration is an Estate: Where the Parties chuse for themselves, their Thoughts turn most upon the Person. They both have their Reasons. The first would procure many Conveniences and Pleasures of Life to the Party whose Interests they espouse; and at the same Time may hope that the Wealth of their Friend will turn to their own Credit and Advantage. The others are preparing themselves for a perpetual Feast. A good person does not only raise, but continue Love, and breeds a secret Pleasure and Complacency in the Beholder, when the first Heats of Desire are extinguished. It puts the Wife or Husband in Countenance among both Friends and Strangers, and generally fills the Family with a healthy and beautiful Race of Children.
I should prefer a Woman that is in agreeable in my own Eye, and not deformed in that of the World, to a celebrated Beauty. If you marry one remarkably beautiful, you must have a violent Passion for her, or you have not the proper Taste of her Charms; and if you have such a Passion for her, it is odds but it will be imbittered with Fears and Jealousies.
Good Nature, and Evenness of Temper, will give you an easie Companion for Life; Vertue and Good Sense, an agreeable Friend; Love and Constancy, a good Wife or Husband. Where we meet one Person with all these Accomplishments, we find an Hundred without any one of them. The World notwithstanding, is more intent on Trains and Equipages, and all the showy Parts of Life; we love rather to dazzle the Multitude, than consult our proper Interest; and, as I have elsewhere observed, it is one of the most unaccountable Passions of humane Nature, that we are at greater Pains to appear easie and happy to others, than really to make our selves so. Of all Disparities, that in Humour makes the most unhappy Marriages, yet scarce enters into our Thoughts at the contracting of them. Several that are in this Respect unequally yoaked, and uneasie for Life, with a Person of a particular Character, might have been pleased and happy with a Person of a contrary one, notwithstanding they are both perhaps equally vertuous and laudable in their Kind.
Before Marriage we cannot be too inquisitive and discerning in the Faults of the Person beloved, nor after it too dim sighted and superficial. However perfect and accomplished the Person appears to you at a Distance, you will find many Blemishes and Imperfections in her Humour, upon a more intimate Acquaintance, which you never discovered or perhaps suspected. Here therefore Discretion and good Nature are to shew their Strength; the first will hinder your Thoughts from dwelling on what is disagreeable, the other will raise in you all the Tenderness of Compassion and Humanity, and by Degrees soften those very Imperfections into Beauties.
Marriage enlarges the Scene of our Happiness and Miseries. A Marriage of Love is plesant; a Marriage of Interest easie; and a Marriage, where both meet, happy. A happy Marriage has in it all the Pleasures of Friendship, all the Enjoyments of Sense and Reason, and, indeed, all the Sweets of Life. Nothing is a greater Mark of a degenerate and vitious Age, than the common Ridicule which passes on this State of Life. It is, indeed, only happy in those who can look down with Scorn or Neglect on the Impieties of the Times, and tread the Paths of Life together in a constant uniform Course of Virtue.
generally abound most with Love and Constancy, that are preceded by a
long Courtship. The Passion should strike Root, and gather Strength before
Marriage be grafted on it. A long Course of Hopes and Expectations fixes
the Idea in our Minds, and habituates us to a Fondness of the Person beloved.
The Suspension of the Playhouse has made me have nothing to send you from hence; but calling here this Evening, I found the Party I usually sit with, upon the Business of Writing, and examining what was the handsomest Style in which to address Women, and write Letters of Gallantry. Many were the Opinions which were imediately declared on this Subject; Some were for a Certain Softness; some for I know not what Delicacy; others for something inexpressibly Tender: When it came to me, I said there was no Rule in the World to be made for writing letters, but that of being as near what you speak Face to Face as you can; which is so great a Truth, that I am of Opinion Writing has lost more Mistresses than any one Mistake in the whole Legend of Love. For when you write to a Lady for whom you have a solid and honourable Passion, the great Idea you have of her, joined with a quick Sense of her Absence, fills your Mind with a Sort of Tenderness, that gives your Language too much the Air of Complaint, which is seldom successful. For a Many may flatter himself as he pleases, but he will find, that the Women have more Understanding in ther Own Affairs than we have, and Women of Spirit are not to be won by Mourners.
The beloved Lady is a Woman of a sensible Mind; but she has confessed to me, that after all her true and solid Value for Constant, she had much more Concern for the Loss of Careless. Those noble and serious Spirits have something equal to the Adversities they meet with, and consquently lessen the Objects of Pity. Great Accidents seem not cut out so much for Men of familiar Characters, which makes them more easily pitied, and soon after beloved. Add to this, that the Sort of Love which generally succeeds, is a Stranger to Awe and Distance. I asked Romana, Whether of the Two she should have chosen had they survived? She said, She Knew she ought to have taken Constant; but believed, she should have chosen Careless.
... The Woman's Man is a Person in his Air and Behavior quite different from the rest of our species: His Garb is more loose and negligent, his Manner more soft and indolent; that is to say, in both these Cases there is an apparent Endeavour to appear unconcerned and careless. In catching Birds the Fowlers have a Method of imitating their Voices to bring them to the Snare; and your Women's Men have always a Similitude of the Creature they hope to betray, in their own Conversation. A Woman's Man is very knowing in all that passes from one Family to another, has little petty Officiousness, is not at a Loss what is good for a Cold, and it is not amiss if he has a Bottle of Spirits in his Pocket in case of any sudden Indisposition.
To make a Woman's Man, he must not be a Man of Sense or a Fool; the Business is to entertain, and it is much better to have a Faculty of arguing than a capacity of judging right... If you see a Man more full of Gesture than ordinary in a publick Assembly, if loud upon no Occasion, if negligent of the Company round him, and yet laying wait for destroying by that Negligence, you may take it for granted he has ruined many a fair one.
Cyrus: So there you have it, gentleman. Heed the words of the wise.