Page images
PDF
EPUB

which was a promise I made her aster reading a passaga in Pliny's Epistles. That polite Author had been employed to find out a consort for his friend's daughter, and gives the following character of the man. he had1 pitched upon. ■

Aciliano plurimutn liigaris 1$ induftriœ quanquam in maxima -verecundia.' Est illi fades libcralis, multo Jdnguine^ tnulto rubore, suffufa: Eft ingenua totius carports puichritua'o, £3* quidam jenatorius decor, qute ego nequaquam arbitror negligenda: Debet enim hoc caftitaii puellarum quajt premium dari.

"Acilianus (for that was the Gentleman's name) ii ** a man of extraordinary vigour and industry, accom*' panied with the greatest modesty: He has very much "of the Gentleman, with a lively colour, and flush of *' health in his aspect. His whole person is finely ** turned, and speaks him a man of Quality'; Which *' are qualifications that, I think, ought by no means "to be over-looked; and should be bestowed on a *' daughter as the reward of her chastity."

A woman that will give herself liberties, need not put her parents to so much trouble j for if (he does not possess these ornaments in a husband, Ihe can supply herself elsewhere. But this is not the cafe of my sister Jenny, who, I may fay without vanity, is as unspotted a spinster as any in Great-Britain. I shall take this occasion to recommend the conduct of our own family in this particular..

We have in the genealogy of our house, the descriptions and pictures of our ancestors from the time of King Arthur ; in whose days there was one of my own name, a Knight of his Round Table, and known by the name of Sir Isaac BickerJiaJF. He was low of ILiture, and of a very swarthy complexion, not unlike a Portuguese Jew. But he was more prudent than men of that height usually are, and would often commtinicate to his friends his design of lengthening and whitening his posterity. His eldest foa Ralph, for that was his name, was for this reason marrbd to a Lady who had littl; else to recommend h'r, but that she was very tall and v;ry fair. The issue of ihis match. v>Hh the help of hig'i shoes,

made made a tolerable figure in the next age; though the complexion of the family was obscure until the fourth generation from that marriage. From which timej until the reign of William4he Conqueror, the females of our house were famous for their needlework and fine skins. In the male line, there happened an unlucky accident in the reign of Richard the Third; the eldest son of Philip, then chief of the family, being born with an hump-back and very high nose. This was the more astonishing, because none of his forefathers ever had such a blemish; nor indeed was there any in the neighbourhood of that make, except the butler, who was noted for round shoulders, and a Roman nose: What made the <nose the less excusable, was the remarkable smallness of his eyes.

These several defects wer* mended by succeeding matches; the eyes were opened in the next generation, and the hump fell In a century and half: but the greatest difficulty was, how to reduce the nose; which I do not find was accomplished until about the middle of Henry the Seventh's reign, or rather the beginning of that of Henry the Eighth.

But while our ancestors were thus taken up in cultivating the eyes and nose, the face of the Bickerjiaffs fell down insensibly into chin; which was not taken notice of, their thoughts being so much employed upon the more noble features, until it became almost too long to be remedied.

But length of time, and successive care in our alliances, have cured this also, and reduced our faces into that tolerable oval, which we enjoy at present. I would not be tedious in this discourse, but cannot but observe, that our race suffered very much about three hundred years ago, by the marriage of one of our heiresses with an eminent Courtier, who gave us spindleshanks, and cramps in our bones; insomuch that we did not recover our health and legs until Sir Walter Bickerflaff married Maud the milk-maid, of whom the then Garter ^ing at Arms, a facetious person, said pleasantly enough, that she had spoiled our blood, but mended our constitutions.

After this account of the effect our prudent choke of patches has had upon our persons and features, I cannot but observe, that there aredaily instances of as great changes made by marriage upon men's minds and humours. One might wear any passion out of a family by culture, as (kilful gardeners blot a colour out Of a tulip that hurts its beauty. One might produce an affable temper out of a (brew, by grafting the mild upon the choleric; or raise a jack-pudding from a prude, by inoculating mirth and melancholy. It is for want of care in the disposing of our children, with regard to our bodies and minds, that we go into an house and see such different complexions and humours in the fame race and family. But to me it is as plain as a pike-ftafF, from what mixture it is, that this daughter silently lours, the other steals a kind look at you, a third is exactly well behaved, a fourth a Splenetic, and a fifth a Coquette.

Iu this disposal of my sister, I have chosen with an eye to her being a wit, and provided, that the bridegroom be a man of a sound and excellent judgment, v\ ho will seldom mind what she says when She begins to harangue: For Jenny's only imperfection is an admiration of her parts, which inclines her to be a little, but a very little, sluttish; and you are ever to remark, that we are apt to cultivate most, and bring into observation, what we think most excellent in ourselves, or most capable of improvement. Thus my sister, instead of consulting her glass and her toilet for an hour and an half after her private devotions, sits with her nose full of snuff, and a man's night-cap on her head, reading Plays and Romances. Her wit (he thinks her distinction; therefore knows nothing of the (kill of dress, or making her person agreeable. It would make you laugh to see me often, with my spectacles on, lacing her stays; for (he it so very a Wit, that (he understands no ordinary thing in the world.

For this reason, I have disposed os her to a man of business, who will soon let her fee, that to be well dressed, in good humour, and chearful in the command of her family, are the arts and sciences of female life. I could have bestowed her upon a sine Gentleman, who extremely •admired her wit, and would have given her a cosch and fix: But I found it absolutely necessary to cross the |} -'strain; for had they met, they had eternally been rivals

ia in discourse, and in continual contention for the superiority of understanding, and brought forth Critics, Pendants, or pretty good Poets. As it is, I expect an offspring fit for the habitation of the city, town, or country; creatures that are docile and tractable in whatever we put them to.

To convince men of the necessity t>f taking this me* 4hod, let any one, even below the skill of an astrologer, behold the turn of faces he meets as soon as he passes •Cheappde Conduit, and you fee a deep attention and a •certain unthinking sharpness in every countenance. They look attentive, but their thoughts are engaged on mean purposes. To me it is very apparent, when I fee a •citizen pass by, whether his head is upon woollen, silks, iron, sugar, indigo, or stocks. Now this trace of thought appears or lies hid in the race for two or three generations.

I know at this time a person of a vast estate, who M ■the immediate descendant of a fine Gentleman, but the .great grandson of a Broker, in whom his ancestor is no* revived. He is a very honest Gentleman in his principles, but cannot for his blood talk fairly; He is heartily lorry for it; but he cheats by constitution, and overreaches by instinct.

The happiness of the man who marries my sister will be, that he has no faults to correct in her bat her own* a little bias of fancy, or particularity of manners, which grew in herself, and can be amended by her. From such an untainted couple, we can hope to have our family rise to its ancient splendor of face, air, countenance> manner, and shape, without discovering the product of teu nations in one house. Obadiah Grtenbat says, he never comes into any company in England, but he distinguishes the different nations of which we are composed: There is scarce such a living creature as a true Briton. We sit down indeed all friends, acquaintance, and neighbours; 1 ut after two bottles, you iee a Dane start up and swear, The kingdom is his own. A Saxon drinks up the whole quart, and swears, He will dispute that witk him. A Norman tells them both, He will assert his ]f» berty: And a WeIJhma* cries, They are all foreigners and intruders of yesterday, and beats them out of th* room. Such accidents happen frequently among neigh, bours children, and cousin-germans. For which reason I fay, study your race, or the foil of your family will dwindle into Cits or Esquires, or run up into Wits or Madmen.

N° 76. Tuesday, October 4, 1709.

From my own Apartment, OBoler 3.

IT is a thing very much to be lamented, that a man must use a certain cunning to caution people against what it is their interest to avoid. All men will allow, that it is a great and heroic work to correct men's errors, and at the price of being called a common ei emy, to go on in being a common friend to my fellow-subjects and citizens. But I am forced in this work to revolve the fame thing in ten thousand lights, and call them in as many forms, to come at men's minds and affections, in order to lead the innocent in safety, as well as disappoint the artifices of betrayers. Since therefore I can make no impression upon the offending side, I shall turn my observations upon the offended; that is to fay, I must whip my children for going into bad company, instead of railing at bad company forinfnaring my children.

The greatest misfortunes men fall into, arise from themselves; and that temper, which is called very often, though with great injustice, good-nature, is the source of a numberless train of evils. For which reason we are to take this as a rule, that no action is commendable which is not voluntary; and we have made this a maxim, "That man, who is commonly called good-natured, is *' hardly to be thanked for any thing he does, because "half that is acted about him, is done rather by his "sufferance than approbation," It is generally laziness of disposition, which chuses rather to let things pass the worst way, than to go through the pain of examination. Voi. II. H it

« PreviousContinue »