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A MISTRESS is the fairest treasure the avarice of love can covet, and the only white at which he shoots his arrows; nor, while his aim is noble, can he ever hit upon repentance. She is chaste; for Satan enters the idol and gives the oracle, when wantonness possesseth beauty, and wit maintains it lawful. She is as fair as Nature intended her, helped perhaps to a more pleasing grace by the sweetness of education, not by the sleight of art. She is young; for a woman past the delicacy of her spring, may well move by virtue to respect, never by beauty to affection. She is innocent even from the knowledge of sin; for vice is too strong to be wrestled with, and gives her frailty the foil. She is not proud, though the amorous youth interpret her modesty to that sense; but in her virtue wears so much majesty, passion dares not rebel, nor, though masked under the pretence of love, capitulate with her. She entertains not every parley offered, although the articles pretended to her advantage: advice and her own fears restrain her; and woman never owes ruin to too much caution. She glories not in the plurality of suitors; a multitude of adorers Heaven can only challenge; and it is impiety in her weakness to desire superstition from many. She is deaf to the whispers of love, and even on the marriage hour can break off, without the least suspicion of scandal, to the former liberty of her carriage. She avoids a too near conversation with man, and, like the Parthian, overcomes by flight. Her language is not copious but apposite, and she had
rather suffer the reproach of being dull company, than have the title of witty, with that of bold and wanton. In her carriage she is sober, and thinks her youth expresseth life enough, without the giddy motion, fashion of late hath taken up. She danceth to the best applause, but doats not on the vanity of it, nor licenseth an irregular meeting to vaunt the levity of her skill. She sings, but not perpetually; for she knows, silence in woman is the most persuading oratory. She never arrived to so much familiarity with man, as to know the diminutive of his name, and call him by it; and she can show a competent favour, without yielding her hand to his gripe. She never understood the language of a kiss, but at salutation, nor dares the courtier use so much impudence as to offer the theft of it from her; because chastity hath written it unlawful, and her behaviour proclaims it unwelcome. She is never sad, and yet not giggish ; her conscience is clear from guilt, and that secures her from sorrow. She is not passionately in love with poetry, because it softens the heart too much to love but she likes the harmony in the composition; and the brave examples of virtue celebrated by it, she proposeth to her imitation. She is not vain in the history of her gay kindred or acquaintance; since virtue is often tenant to a cottage, and familiarity with greatness (if worth be not transcendant above the title) is but a glorious servitude, fools only are willing to suffer. She is not ambitious to be praised, and yet values death beneath infamy. And I will conclude, (though the next synod of ladies condemn this character as an heresy broached by a precision) that
only she, who hath as great a share in virtue as in beauty, deserves a noble love to serve her, and a free poesy to speak her.
A WIFE is the sweetest part in the harmony of our being. To the love of which, as the charms of nature enchant us, so the law of grace by special privilege invites us. Without her, man, if piety not restrain him, is the creator of sin. She is so religious that every day crowns her a martyr, and her zeal neither rebellious nor uncivil. She is so true a friend, her husband may to her communicate even his ambitions, and if success crown not expectation, remain nevertheless uncontemned. She is colleague with him in the empire of prosperity; and a safe retiring place when adversity exiles him from the world. She is so chaste, she never understood the language passion speaks in, nor with a smile applauds it, although there appear wit in the metaphor. She is fair only to win on his affections, nor would she be mistress of the most eloquent beauty, if there were danger, that might persuade the passionate auditory to the least irregular thought. She is noble by a long descent, but her memory is so evil a herald, she never boasts the story of her ancestors. She is so moderately rich, that the defect of portion doth neither bring penury to his estate, nor the superfluity license her to riot. She is liberal, and yet owes not ruin to vanity, but knows charity to be the soul
of goodness, and virtue without reward often prone to be her own destroyer. She is much at home, and when she visits it is for mutual commerce, not for intelligence. She can go to court, and return no passionate doater on bravery; and when she hath seen the gay things muster up themselves there, she considers them as cobwebs the spider Vanity hath spun. She is so general in her acquaintance, that she is familiar with all whom fame speaks virtuous; but thinks there can be no friendship but with one; and therefore hath neither she-friend nor private servant. She so squares her passion to her husband's fortunes, that in the country she lives without a froward melancholy, in the town without a fantastic pride. She is so temperate, she never read the modern policy of glorious surfeits: since she finds nature is no epicure, if art provoke her not by curiosity. She is inquisitive only of new ways to please him, and her wit sails by no other compass than that of his direction. She looks upon him, as conjurers upon the circle, beyond which there is nothing but death and hell; and in him she believes Paradise circumscribed. His virtues are her wonder and imitation; and his errours, her credulity thinks no more frailty, than makes him descend to the title of man. In a word, she so lives that she may die, and leave no cloud upon her memory, but have her character nobly mentioned: while the bad wife is flattered into infamy, and buys pleasure at too dear a rate, if she only pays for it repentHabington.
A FRIEND is a man: for the free and open discovery of thoughts to woman cannot pass without an over licentious familiarity, or a justly occasioned suspicion ; and friendship can neither stand with vice or infamy. He is virtuous, for love begot in sin is a misshapen monster, and seldom outlives his birth. He is noble, and inherits the virtues of all his progenitors; though happily unskil- . ful to blazon his paternal coat; so little should nobility serve for story, but when it encourageth to action. He is so valiant, fear could never be listened to, when she whispered danger; and yet fights not, unless religion confirms the quarrel lawful. He submits his actions to the government of virtue, not to the wild decrees of popular opinion; and when his conscience is fully satisfied, he cares not how mistake and ignorance interpret him. He hath so much fortitude he can forgive an injury; and when he hath overthrown his opposer, not insult upon his weakness. He is an absolute governor, no destroyer of his passions, which he employs to the noble increase of virtue. He is wise, for who hopes to reap a harvest from the sands, may expect the perfect offices of friendship from a fool. He hath by a liberal education been softened to civility; for that rugged honesty, some rude men profess, is an indigested chaos, which may contain the seeds of goodness, but it wants form and order.
He is no flatterer; but when he finds his friend any way imperfect, he freely but gently informs him; nor yet shall some few errours cancel the