Page images
PDF
EPUB

for it is you must know—You are to understand, that now is the time to fix or alienate your husband's heart for ever; and I fear you have been a little indiscreet in your expressions or behaviour towards him, even here in my house.’ ‘There has,' says she, ‘been some words: but I will be judged by you if he was not in the wrong ; nay, I need not be judged by anybody, for he gave it up himself, and said not a word when he saw me grow passionate, but, “Madam, you are perfectly in the right of it”: as you shall judge— ‘Nay, madam,” said I, ‘I am judge already, and tell you, that you are perfectly in the wrong of it; for if it was a matter of importance, I know he has better sense than you ; if a trifle, you know what I told you on your wedding-day, that you were to be above little provocations.” She knows very well I can be sour upon occasion, therefore gave me leave to go on. ‘Sister,’ said I, ‘I will not enter into the dispute between you, which I find his prudence put an end to before it came to extremity; but charge you to have a care of the first quarrel, as you tender your happiness; for then it is that the mind will reflect harshly upon every circumstance that has ever passed between you. If such an accident is ever to happen, which I hope never will, be sure to keep to the circumstance before you ; make no allusions to what is passed, or conclusions referring to what is to come : do not show a hoard of matter for dissension in your breast; but, if it is necessary, lay before him the thing as you understand it, candidly, without being ashamed of acknowledging an error, or proud of being in the right. If a young couple be not careful in this point, they will get into a habit of wrangling : and when to displease is thought of no consequence, to please is always of as little moment. There is a play, Jenny, I have formerly been at when I was a student : we got into a dark corner with a porringer of brandy, and threw raisins into it, then set it on fire. My chamber-fellow and I diverted ourselves with the sport of venturing our fingers for the raisins; and the wantonness of the thing was, to see each other look like a demon, as we burnt ourselves, and snatched out the fruit. This fantastical mirth was called snap-dragon. You may go into many a family, where you see the man and wife at this sport : every word at their table alludes to some passage between themselves ; and you see by the paleness and emotion in their countenances, that it is for your sake, and not their own, that they forbear playing out the whole game of burning each other's fingers. In this case, the whole purpose of life is inverted, and the ambition turns upon a certain contention, who shall contradict best, and not upon an inclination to excel in kindness and good offices. Therefore, dear Jenny, remember me, and avoid snapdragon.’ ‘I thank you, brother,’ said she, “but you do not know how he loves me; I find I can do anything with him.”—“If you can so, why should you desire to do anything but please him 2 but I have a word or two more before you go out of the room ; for I see you do not like the subject I am upon : let nothing provoke you to fall upon an imperfection he cannot help ; for, if he has a resenting spirit, he will think your aversion as immovable as the imperfection with which you upbraid him. But above all, dear Jenny, be careful of one thing, and you will be something more than woman ; that is, a levity you are almost all guilty of, which is, to take a pleasure in your power to give pain. It is even in a mistress an argument of meanness of spirit, but in a wife it is injustice and ingratitude. When a sensible man once observes this in a woman, he must have a very great or very little spirit, to overlook it. A woman ought, therefore, to consider very often, how few men there are who will regard a meditated offence as a weakness of temper.” I was going on in my confabulation, when Tranquillus entered. She cast all her eyes upon him with much shame and confusion, mixed with great complacency and love, and went up to him. He took her in his arms, and looked so many soft things at one glance, that I could see he was glad I had been talking to her, sorry she had been troubled, and angry at himself that he could not disguise the concern he was in an hour before. After which he says to me, with an air awkward enough, but methought not unbecoming—“I have altered my mind, brother ; we will live upon you a day or two longer.' I replied, “That is what I have been persuading Jenny to ask of you, but she is resolved never to contradict your inclination, and refused me.’ We were going on in that way which one hardly knows how to express; as when two people mean the same thing in a nice case, but come at it by talking as distantly from it as they can ; when very opportunely came in upon us an honest inconsiderable fellow, Tim Dapper, a gentleman well known to us both. Tim is one of those who are very necessary, by being very inconsiderable. Tim dropped in at an incident, when we knew not how to fall into either a grave or a merry way. My sister took this occasion to make off, and Dapper gave us an account of all the company he had been in to-day, who was, and who was not at home, where he visited. This Tim is the head of a species: he is a little out of his element in this town ; but he is a relation of Tranquillus, and his neighbour in the country, which is the true place of residence for this species. The habit of a Dapper, when he is at home, is a light broadcloth, with calamanco or red waistcoat and breeches; and it is remarkable that their wigs seldom hide the collar of their coats. They have always a peculiar spring in their arms, a wriggle in their bodies, and a trip in their gait. All which motions they express at once in their drinking, bowing, or saluting ladies; for a distant imitation of a forward - fop, and a resolution to overtop him in his way, are the distinguishing marks of a Dapper. These undercharacters of men, are parts of the sociable world by no means to be neglected : they are like pegs in a building ; they make no figure in it, but hold the structure together, and are as absolutely necessary as the pillars and columns. I am sure we found it so this morning ; for Tranquillus and I should, perhaps, have looked cold at each other the whole day, but Dapper fell in with his brisk way, shook us both by the hand, rallied the bride, mistook the acceptance he met with amongst us for extraordinary perfection in himself, and heartily pleased, and was pleased, all the while he stayed. His company left us all in good humour, and we were not such fools as to let it sink, before we confirmed it by great cheerfulness and openness in our carriage the whole evening. [Tatler, No. 85.

« PreviousContinue »