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She was handed along by Youth, a gay stripling, wearing a chaplet of flowers on his head, and wings on his shoulders.
Then appeared Wealth, in the figure of an old man meanly attired : his eyes were the eyes of a hawk, and his fingers curved and pointed inwards, like the talons of a ra. ven; he was noisy, impudent, and presuming.
The retinue was followed by Fancy, ever varying her features and dress; and what was very extraordinary, me. thought she charmed in all.
The deity, immediately after his entrance into the temple, ascended his throne, and sat with his head gently reclined on Virtue's bosom. Love and Beauty took their station on the right hand ; and on the left were disposed Wealth and Fancy.
The god quickly proceeded to the celebration of the nuptial rites; but there was such a confused sound of sighs and laughter, that I could not give the attention which was requisite, in order to present my reader with the several circumstances that occurred: only I took notice that many of the matches were so unequal that the god yoked them with reluctance, and but half consented to his own institution.
After the ceremony was over, silence was proclaimed in court, for Hymen was determined to decide a contest, which had been of long standing, between the personages that attended the altar. Upon this declaration, the whole' multitude divided, and according to the particular impulses of their passions, took the party of the several competitors. The young had ranged themselves on the right hand of the throne, whilst others of more advanced years had posted themselves behind the disputants on the left.
Love began with entering his complaint against Wealth, setting forth that his antagonist had seduced large numbers to his sentiments; that, as to himself, his interest very visibly declined every day, to the great prejudice of that state, in which the gods had designed him the pre-eminence. While he was pursuing his arguments with great warmth, Poverty stepped forth from amidst the crowd, and stared the young plaintiff full in the face, who was so frightened at his sorrowful countenance, that he fluttered his pinions in order for flight: when Wealth, rising up, addressed the judge with showing the necessity of his presence to make the married state replete with happiness, as it was originally intended by its institutor; together with many other arguments, which, if they had been delivered with the same modesty as force, could not have failed of creating a number of converts to his side. This his speech was followed with a thunder of applause from the company behind. Upon which incident the old man began to triumph, and to reinforce his discourse; when through the violence of his emotions, his garment flew open, and betrayed to view Cares, in the form of vultures, hanging to his breast. Hereupon Love stood up, and would fain have re-assumed his cause. But Hymen, who well knew that the presence of both was of the utmost importance in the performance of his institution, and impartially weighing what was urged by each of them, put an end to the contention, by proposing the union of their families, which was immediately acceded to. No sooner were their hands joined, as the signal of their consenting to the god's proposal, but Love immediately lighted up new smiles in his face, and appeared infinitely more charming than before. But the most surprising change was wrought in the old man; his talons fell off in scales from his fingers, his eyes lost all their former fierceness, and the harsh lineaments of his countenance were at once softened into all the sweetness of humanity. Love approached him, and gently stroking his bosom, stilled the hissing of the serpents, and assuaged the severity of his pain. This dispute being amicably adjusted, Beauty next advanced, and, after playing over many airs of affectation, put on a languishing look, and lisped out a mournful accusation also against Wealth, intimating his usurpation over her, and the like. Scarcely had she uttered three sentences, before there made up to her a grisly wight, whose hair was covered with a hoary frost, his face ploughed with furrows, and down his cheeks distilled a scalding rheum. When the young lady thus saw Age limping towards her, she appeared in all the agonies of thought; the roses fell from her cheeks, and she sunk down into a swoon. Hymen, understanding the temper of the girl, that she was proud and imperious, fond of government, and yet incapable of directing, divested her of a large share of power, by disposing of her frontier towns to Fancy, who now acts with unlimited authority; nor admits any to pay their addresses to the gay virgin, without a prior interview with herself.
The remainder of my dream being a confused number of ideas, without order or arrangement, I shall forbear to insert, in mercy to my reader.
A LETTER TO A YOUNG LADY, ON HER GOING TO BE MARRIED
TO A RICH OLD MAN.
You tell me, CLEORA, that you are like to be teazed by your friends into a match with AVARUS, who has been hitherto
aversion. Consider, all your happiness is at stake upon this important point. Will you then be influenced by persuasion, or the false glare of outward show, to sacrifice all the substantial enjoyments of life? Romantic notions of love are what you and I have disclaimed : yet there should be a sufficient stock of the belle passion to balance all those little anxieties which naturally arise in that state: your good sense will never suffer your affections to run counter to your judgment : virtue and honour, and all the manly qualifications only will attract your heart. Suppose Avarus divested of all his riches, would
debate a moment whether you would accept of him for a husband ? It is plain, then, that from his wealth you propose your happiness; but can a gay equipage or splendid apartments compensate the want of good sense or good nature ? 0 Cleora! you are not to be told, that inward peace of mind is the true and only source of happiness: the good things of this world may improve and extend it, but are too weak to lay the foundation of it. This is supposing Avarus would make you mistress of all his fortune; but a man of his turn, and in the decline of life, will be afraid of furnishing you with arms against himself.
Let us consider this affair in another light, and see whether it is not a sort of prostitution, to marry the man you disapprove for the sake of his fortune! I know you startle at the word; but how is she, who, to support herself in pressing want, gives up her person to the first that will pay for it, more criminal than she, who with an easy fortune gives herself up to the man she secretly detests, for the sake of enjoying more than she wants ? You will not find it the least of your uneasiness to quit the diversions of life for the company of one so disproportionate to you in age and temper, who neither knows nor can relish hall your merit. Further, Avarus will carry you to his house as his pur. chase; for he must be sensible he can have no property in you but what he has paid for.
Study well your man. Where there is love, the duties of a wife are easy ; where interest is the only motive, they are little better than slavery. The infirmities of old
in. crease with years : tenderness, obedience, and observancy are especially required of an old man's wife, and frequently attended with jealousy.
Arm yourself then against all persuasions to a match that has nothing to recommend it, but that in point of for. tune it is more than you could expect. Never doubt but you will live to be happy in a man who shall have good sense to know your worth, generosity to reward it, and a fortune and inclination to make you perfectly easy.
The woman who has a competency of her own, makes but an ill compliment to herself, when she changes her con. dition for superfluities, if she has not superior or stronger motives. It is neither just nor honest to marry where there can be no love.
I am your faithful friend,