« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
to represent to this fluttering tribe of young fellows, who are for making their fortunes by these indirect means, that stealing a man's daughter for the sake of her portion is but a kind of a tolerated robbery; and that they make but a poor amends to the father, whom they plunder after this manner, by going to bed with his child. Dear sir, be speedy in your thoughts on this subject, that, if possible, they may appear before the disbanding of the army.
I am, sir,
Themistocles, the great Athenian General, being asked whether he would rather choose to marry his daughter to an indignet man of merit, or to a worthless man of an estate, replied, that he should prefer a man without an estate to an estate without a man. The worst of it is, our modern fortune-hunters are those who turn their heads that way, because they are good for nothing else. If a young fellow finds he can make nothing of Coke and Littleton, he provides himself with a ladder of ropes, and by that means very often enters upon the premises.
The same art of scaling has likewise been practised with good success by many military engineers. Stratagems of this nature make parts and industry superfluous, and cut short the way to riches.
Nor is vanity a less motive than idleness to this kind of mercenary pursuit. A fop, who admires his person in a glass, soon enters into a resolution of making his fortune by it, not questioning but every woman that falls in his way will do him as much justice as he does himself. When an heiress sees a man throwing particular graces into his ogle, or talking loud within her hearing, she ought to look to herself; but if withal she observes a pair of red heels, a patch, or any other particularity in his dress, she cannot take too much care of her person. These are baits not to be trifled with, charms that have done a world of execution, and made their way into hearts which have been thought impregnable. The force of a man with these qualifications is so well known, that I am credibly informed there are several female undertakers about the 'Change, who, upon the arrival of a likely man from a neighbouring kingdom, will furnish him with a proper dress from head to foot, to be paid for at a double price on the day of marriage.
We must, however, distinguish between fortune-hunters and fortune-stealers. The first are those assidaous gentlemen who employ their whole lives in the chase, without ever coming to the
quarry. Suffenus has combed and powdered at the ladies for thirty years together; and taken his stand in a sidebox, until he has grown wrinkled under their eyes. He is now laying the same snares for the present generation of beauties, which he practised on their mothers. Cottilus, after having made his applications to more than you meet with in Mr. Cowley's ballad of mistresses, was at last smitten with a city lady of 20,0001. sterling; but died of old age before he could bring matters to bear. Nor must I here omit my worthy friend Mr. Honeycomb, who has often told us in the club, that for twenty years successively, upon the death of a childless rich man, he immediately drew on his boots, called for his horse, and made up to the widow. When he is rallied upon his ill success, Will, with his usual gaiety, tells us, that he always found her pre-engaged. Widows are indeed the great game of
your fortune-hunters. There is scarce a young fellow in the town of six foot high that has not passed in review before one or other of these wealthy relicts. Hudibras's Cupid, who
-took his stand
Upon a widow's* jointure land,' is daily employed in throwing darts, and kindling flames. But as for widows, they are such a subtle generation of people, that they may be left to their own conduct; or if they make a false step in it, they are answerable for it to nobody but themselves. The young innocent creatures who have no knowledge and experience of the world are those whose safety I would principally consult in this speculation. The stealing of such an one should, in my opinion, be as punishable as a rape. Where there is no judgment there is no choice; and why the inveigling a woman before she is come to years of discretion should not be as criminal as the seducing of her before she is ten years old, I am at a loss to comprehend.
* The name of the widow here alluded to was Tomson. See Grey's edit. of Hudibras, vol. 1. part i. canto iii. p. 212 and 213.
No. 312. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 27, 1711-12.
Quod huic officium, que laus, quod decus erit tanti, quod
adipisci cum dolore corporis velit, qui dolorem summum malum sibi persuaserit? Quam porrò quis ignominiam, quam turpitudinem non pertulerit, ut effugiat dolorem, si id summum malum esse decreverit?
TULL. What duty, what praise, or what honour will he think worth
enduring bodily pain for, who has persuaded himself that pain is the chief evil? Nay, to what ignominy, to what baseness, wil he not stoop, to avoid pain, if he has determined it to be the chief evil?
It is a very melancholy reflection, that men are usually so weak, that it is absolutely necessary for them to know sorrow and pain, to be in their right senses. Prosperous people (for happy there are none) are hurried away with a fond sense of their present condition, and thoughtless of the mutability of fortune. Fortune is a term which we must use in such discourses as these, for what is wrought by the unseen hand of the Disposer of all things. But methinks the disposition of a mind which is truly great, is that which makes misfortunes and sorrows little when they befal ourselves, great and lamentable when they befal other men. The most unpardonable malefactor in the world going to his death, and bear, ing it with composure, would win the pity of those who should behold him; and this not because his calamity is deplorable, but because he seems himself not to deplore it. We suffer for him who is less sensible of his own misery, and are inclined to despise him who sinks under the weight of his distresses. On the other hand, without any touch of envy, a temperate and wellgoverned mind looks down on such as are exalted with success, with a certain shame for the imbecility of human nature, that can so far forget how liable it is to calamity, as to grow giddy with only the suspense of sorrow which is the portion of all men.
He therefore who turns his face from the unhappy man, who will not look again when his eye is cast upon modest sorrow, who shuns affliction like a contagion, does but pamper himself up for a sacrifice, and contract in himself a greater aptitude to misery by attempting to escape it. A gentleman, where I happened to be last night, fell into a discourse which I thought shewed a good discerning in him. He took notice that whenever men have looked into their heart for the idea of true excellence in human nature, they have found it to consist in suffering after a right manner, and with a good grace. Heroes are always drawn bearing sorrows, strug. gling with adversities, undergoing all kinds of hardships, and having, in the service of mankind, a kind of appetite to difficulties and dangers. The gentleman went on to observe, that it is from this secret sense of the high merit which there is in patience under calamities, that the writers of romances, when they attempt to furnish out characters of the highest excellence, ransack nature for things terrible ; they raise a new creation of monsters, dragons, and giants; where the danger ends, the hero ceases when he has won an empire, or gained his mistress, the rest of his story is not worth relating. My friend carried his discourse so far as to say, that it was for higher beings than men to join happiness and greatness in the same idea; but that in our condition we have no conception of superlative excellence, or heroism, but as it is surrounded with a shade of distress.
It is certainly the proper education we should