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fashionable wife in the world: she is hardly ever seen in the same place with her husband, and if they happen to meet, you would think them perfect strangers; she was never heard to name him in his absence, and takes care he shall never be the subject of any discourse that she has a share in. I hope you will propose this lady as a pattern, though I am very much afraid you will be so silly to think Portia, &c. Sabine and Roman wives, much brighter examples. I wish it may never come into your head to imitate those antiquated creatures so far as to come into public in the habit, as well as air, of a Roman matron. You make already the entertainment at Mrs. Modish's tea-table: she says, she always thought you a discreet person, and qualified to manage a family with admirable prudence; she dies to see what demure and serious airs wedlock has given you, but she says, she shall never forgive your choice of so gallant a man as Bellamour to transform him into a mere sober husband; it was unpardonable. You see, my dear, we all envy your happiness, and no person more than
Your humble servant,
'BE not in pain, good madam, for my appearance in town: I shall frequent no public places, or make any visits where the character of a modest wife is ridiculous. As for your wild raillery on matrimony, it is all hypocrisy; you and all the handsome young women of your acquaintance, shew yourselves to no other purpose, than to gain a conquest over some man of worth, in order to bestow your charms and fortune on him. There is no indecency in the confession, the
design is modest and honourable, and all your affectation cannot disguise it.
'I am married, and have no other concern but to please the man I love; he is the end of every care I have; if I dress, it is for him; if I read a poem, or a play, it is to qualify myself for a conversation agreeable to his taste: he is almost the end of my devotions; half my prayers are for his happiness-I love to talk of him, and never hear him named but with pleasure and emotion. I am your friend, and wish you happiness, but am sorry to see by the air of your letter, that there are a set of women who are got into the common-place raillery of every thing that is sober, decent, and proper: matrimony and the clergy are the topics. of people of little wit, and no understanding. I own to you, I have learned of the vicar's wife all you tax me with. She is a discreet, ingenious, pleasant, pious woman: I wish she had the handling of you and Mrs. Modish; you would find, if you were too free with her, she would soon make you as charming as ever you were; she would make you blush as much as if you never had been fine ladies. The vicar, madam, is so kind as to visit my husband, and his agreeable conversation has brought him to enjoy many sober happy hours when even I am shut out, and my dear master is entertained only with his own thoughts. These things, dear madam, will be lasting satisfactions, when the fine ladies, and the coxcombs, by whom they form themselves, are irreparably ridiculous, in old age.
I am, MADAM,
Your most humble servant,
DEAR MR. SPECTATOR,
"You have no goodness in the world, and are not in earnest in any thing you say that is serious, if you do not send me a plain answer to this. I happened some days past to be at a play, where, during the time of performance, I could not keep my eyes off from a beautiful young creature who sat just before me, and who, I have been since informed, has no fortune. It would utterly ruin my reputation for discretion to marry such a one, and by what I can learn she has a character of great modesty, so that there is nothing to be thought on any other way. My mind has ever since been so wholly bent on her, that I am much in danger of doing something very extravagant, without your speedy advice to,
Your most humble servant.'
I am sorry I cannot answer this impatient gentleman, but by another question.
WOULD You mary to please other peo
ple, or yourself ?'
No. 255. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1711.
Laudis amore tumes? sunt certa piacula, quæ te
HOR. Ep. 1. lib. i. ver. 36.
Know there are rhymes, which (fresh and fresh apply'd}
THE Soul, considered abstractedly from its passions, is of a remiss and sedentary nature, slow in its resolves, and languishing in its executions. The use therefore of the passions is to stir it up, and to put it upon action, to awaken the understanding, to enforce the will, and to make the whole man more vigorous and attentive in the prosecution of his designs. As this is the end of the passions in general, so it is particularly of ambition, which pushes the soul to such actions as are apt to procure honour and reputation to the actor. But if we carry our reflections higher, we may discover farther ends of Providence in implanting this passion in mankind.
It was necessary for the world, that arts should be invented and improved, books written and transmitted to posterity, nations conquered and civilized. Now since the proper and genuine motives to these, and the like great actions, would only influence virtuous minds; there would be but small improvements in the world, were there not some common principle of action working equally with all men. And such a principle is ambition, or a desire of fame, by which great endowments are not suffered to lie idle
and useless to the public, and many vicious men are overreached as it were, and engaged contrary to their natural inclinations, in a glorious and laudable course of action. For we may farther observe, that men of the greatest abilities are most fired with ambition; and that on the contrary, mean and narrow minds are the least actuated by it: whether it be that a man's sense of his own incapacities makes him despair of coming at fame, or that he has not enough range of thought to look out for any good which does not more immediately relate to his interest or convenience; or that Providence, in the very frame of his soul, would not subject him to such a passion as would be useless to the world, and a torment to himself.
Were not this desire of fame very strong, the difficulty of obtaining it, and the danger of losing it when obtained, would be sufficient to deter a man from so vain a pursuit.
How few are there who are furnished with abilities sufficient to recommend their actions to the admiration of the world, and to distinguish themselves from the rest of mankind? Providence for the most part sets us upon a level, and observes a kind of proportion in its dispensations towards us. If it renders us perfect in one accomplishment, it generally leaves us defective in another, and seems careful rather of preserving every person from being mean and deficient in his qualifications, than of making any single one eminent or extraordinary.
Among those who are the most richly endowed by nature, and accomplished by their own industry, how few are there whose virtues are not obscured by the ignorance, prejudice, or envy of their beholders! Some men cannot discern between a noble and a mean action. Others are