Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

with this creature, and have almost lost even my. English, at least to speak such as any body else does. I asked a tenant of ours, who came up to town the other day with rent, whether the flowery mead near my father's house in the country had any shepherd in it? I have called a cave a grotto these three years, and must keep ordinary company, and frequent busy people for some time, before I can recover my common words. I smiled at his raillery upon himself, though I well saw it came from a heavy heart. “You are,' said I,' acquainted, to. be sure, with some of the general officers : suppose you made a campaign?'— 'If I did,' said he, · I should venture more than any man there, for I should be in danger of starving; my father is such an untoward old gentleman, that he would tell me he found it hard enough to pay his taxes towards the war, without making it more expensive by an allowance to me.

With all this, he is as fond as he is rugged, and I am his only son.

I looked upon the young gentleman with much tenderness, and not like a physician, but a friend : for I talked to him so largely, that if I had parcelled my discourse into distinct prescriptions, I am confident, I gave him two hundred pounds worth of advice. He heard me with great attention, bowing, smiling, and shewing all other instances of that natural good breeding which ingenuous tempers pay to those who are elder and wiser than themselves. I entertained him to the following purpose: 'I am sorry, Sir, that your passion is of so long a date, for evils are much more curable in their beginning; but at the same time must allow, that you are not to be blamed, since your youth and merit has been abused by one of the most charming, but the most unworthy sort of women, the Coquettes. A Coquette is a chaste jilt, and differs only from a common one, as a soldier, who is perfect in exercise, does from one that is actually in service. This grief, like all others, is to be cured only by time; and although you are convinced this moment as much as you will be in ten years hence, that she ought to be scorned and neglected, you see you must not expect your remedy from the force of reason. The cure then is only in time, and the hastening of the cure only in the manner of employing that time. You have answered me as to travel and a campaign, so that we have only Great Britain to avoid her in. Be then yourself, and listen to the following rules, which only can be of use to you in this unaccountable distemper, wherein the patient is often averse even to his recovery. It has been of benefit to some to apply themselves to business: but as that may not lay in your way, go

down to your estate, mind your fox-hounds, and venture the life you are weary of, over every hedge and ditch in the country. These are wholesome remedies; but if you can have resolution enough, rather stay in town, and recover yourself even in the town where she inhabits. Take particular care to avoid all places where you may possibly meet her, and shun the sight of every thing which may bring her to your remembrance; there is an infection in all that relates to her; you will find her house, her chariot, her domestics, and her very lap-dog, are so many instruments of torment. Tell me seriously, do you think you could bear the sight of her fan?' He shook his head at the question, and said, 'Ah! Mr. Bickerstaff, you must have been a patient, or you could not have been so good a physician.' - To tell you truly,' said I, about the thirtieth year of my age, I received a wound that has still left a scar in my mind, never to be quite worn out by time or philosophy.

• The means, which I found the most effectual for

my cure were reflections upon the ill usage I had received from the woman I loved, and the pleasure I saw her take in my sufferings.

•I considered the distress she brought upon me the greatest that could befal a human creature: at the same time that she did not inflict this upon one who was her enemy, one that had done her an injury, one that had wished her ill; but on the man who loved her more than any else loved her, and more than it was possible for him to love any

other person.

• In the next place, I took pains to consider her in all her imperfections; and that I might be sure to hear of them constantly, kept company with those, her female friends, who were her dearest and most intimate acquaintance.

Amongst her highest imperfections, I still dwelt upon her baseness of mind and ingratitude, that made her triumph in the pain and anguish of the man who loved her, and of one who in those days, without vanity be it spoken, was thought to deserve her love.

• To shorten my story, she was married to another, which would have distracted me, had he proved a good husband; but to my great pleasure, he used her at first with coldness, and afterward with contempt. I hear he still treats her very ill; and am informed, that she often says to her woman, this is a just revenge for my falsehood to my first love: what a wretch am I, that might have been married to the famous Mr. Bickerstaff!'

My patient looked upon me with a kind of melancholy pleasure, and told me, He did not think it was possible for a man to live to the age I am now of, who in his thirtieth year had been tortured with that passion in its violence. For my part,' said he, * I can neither eat, drink, nor sleep in it; nor keep

turn your

company

with any body, but two or three friends who are in the same condition.'

• There,' answered I, you are to blame; for as you ought to avoid nothing more than keeping company with yourself, so you ought to be particularly cautious of keeping company with men like yourself. As long as you do this, you do but indulge your distemper.

I must not dismiss you without farther instructions. If possible, transfer your passion from the woman you are now in love with to another; or, if you cannot do that, change the passion itself into some other passion, that is, to speak more plainly, find out some other agreeable woman; or if you cannot do this, grow covetous, ambitious, litigious:

love of woman into that of profit, preferment, reputation; and for a time give up yourself entirely to the pursuit.

• This is a method we sometimes take in physic, when we turn a desperate disease into one we can more easily cure.'

He made little answer to all this, but crying out, • Ah, Sir!' for his passion reduced his discourse to interjections.

• There is one thing,' added I, ' which is present death to a man in your condition, and, therefore, to be avoided with the greatest care and caution: that is, in a word, to think of your mistress and rival together, whether walking, discoursing, or dallying-'_ The devil ! 'he cried out, who can bear it?' To compose him, for I pitied him very much; • The time will come,' said I, shall not only bear it, but laugh at it. As a preparation to it, ride every morning, an hour at least, with the wind full in your face. Upon your return, recollect the several precepts which I have now given you, and drink upon them a bottle of Spawwater. Repeat this every day for a month successively, and let me see you at the end of it. He was taking his leave with many thanks, and some appearance of consolation in his countenance, when I called him back to acquaint him, that I had private information of a design of the coquettes to buy up all the true Spaw-water in town:' upon which he took his leave in haste, with a resolution to get all things ready for entering upon his regimen the next morning.

when you

No 108. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1709.

Pronaque cum spectent animalia cætera terram,
Os homini sublime dedit : Cælumque tueri
Jussit

Ovid. Met. i. 85.
Thus while the brute creation downward bend
Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend,
Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
Beholds his own hereditary skies.-DRYDEN.

Sheer-lane, December 16. It is not to be imagined how great an effect welldisposed lights, with proper forms and orders in assemblies, have upon some tempers. I am sure I feel it in so extraordinary a manner, that I cannot in a day or two get out of my imagination any very beautiful or disagreeable impressions which I receive on such occasions. For this reason I frequently look in at the playhouse, in order to enlarge my thoughts, and warm my mind with some new ideas, that

may be serviceable to me in my

lucubrations. In this disposition I entered the theatre the other day, and placed myself in a corner of it very convenient for seeing, without being myself observed.

« VorigeDoorgaan »