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It is not here to be omitted, that in one of the above-mentioned female compositions, the Rover is very frequently sent on the same erraud; as I take it, above once every act. This is not wholly unnatural; for, they say, the men authors draw themselves in their chief characters, and the women writers may be allowed the same liberty. Thus, as the male-wit gives his hero a great fortune, the female gives her heroine a A good gallant, at the end of the play. But indeed, there is hardly a play one can go to, but the hero or fine gentleman of it struts off upon the same account, and leaves us to consider what good office he has put us to, or to employ ourselves as we please. To be plain, a man who frequents plays would have a very respectful notion of himself, where he to recollect how often he has been used as pimp to ravishing tyrants, or successful rakes. When the actors make their exit on this good occasion, the ladies are sure to have an examining glance from the pit, to see how they relish what passes; and a few lewd fools are very ready to
obliged to the lady who writ Ibrahim*, for introducing a preparatory scene to the very action, when the Emperor throws his handkerchief as a signal for his mistress to follow him into the most retired part of the seraglio. It must be confessed his Turkish majesty went off with a good air, but methought we made but a sad figure who waited withont. This ingenious gentlewoman, in this piece of bawdry, refined upon an author of the same sext, who, in the Rover, makes a country 'squire strip to his Holland drawers. For Blunt is disappointed, and the Emperor is understood to go on to the utmost. The pleasantry of stripping almost naked has been since practised (where indeed it should have been begun) very successfully at Bartholomew-fair‡.
Mrs. Mary Pix.
+ Mrs. Behn.
The appearance of Lady Mary, a rope-dancer at Bartholomew-fair, gave occasion to this animadver
employ their talents upon the composure or freedom of their looks. Such incidents as these make ladies wholly absent themselves from the playhouse; and others never miss the first day of a play *, lest it should prove too luscious to admit their going with any countenance to it on the second.
If men of wit, who think fit to write for the stage, instead of this pitiful way of giving delight, would turn their thoughts upon raising it from such good natural impulses as are in the audience, but are choked up by vice and luxury, they would not only please, but befriend us at the same time. If a man had a mind to be new in his way of writing, might not he who is now represented as a fine gentleman, though he betrays the honour and bed of his neighbour and friend, and lies with half the women in the play, and is at last rewarded with her of the best character in it; I say, upon giving the comedy another cast, might not such a one divert the audience quite as well, if at the catastrophe he were found out for a traitor, and met with contempt accordingly? There is seldom a person devoted to above one darling vice at a time, so that there is room enough to catch at men's hearts to their good and advantage, if the poets will attempt it with the honesty which becomes their characters.
There is no man who loves his bottle or his mistress, in a manner so very abandoned, as not to be capable of relishing an agreeable character, that is no way a slave to either of those pursuits. A man that is temperate, generous, valiant, chaste, faithful, and honest, may, at the same time, have wit, humour, mirth, good-breeding, and gallantry. While he exerts these latter qualities, twenty occasions might be inverted to show he is master of the other noble virtues. Such characters would smite and reprove the heart of
* On the first night of the exhibition of a new play, virtuous women about this time came to see it in masks, then generally worn by women of the town.
a man of sense, when he is given up to his pleasures. He would see he has been mistaken all this while, and be convinced that a sound constitution and an innocent mind, are the true ingredients for becoming, and enjoying life. All men of true taste would call a man of wit, who should turn his ambition this way, a friend and benefactor to his country; but I am at a loss what name they would give him, who makes use of his capacity for contrary purposes. R.
PICTS AND THE BRITISH LADIES.
Tu non inventa reperta es.
OVID. Met. i. 654.
"So found, is worse than lost."
COMPASSION for the gentleman, who writes the following letter, should not prevail upon me to fall upon the fair sex, if it were not that I find they are frequently fairer than they ought to be. Such impostures are not to be tolerated in civil society, and I think his misfortune ought to be made public, as a warning for other men always to examine into what they admire.
Supposing you to be a person of general knowledge, I make my application to you on a very particular occasion. I have a great mind to be rid of my wife; and hope, when you consider my case, you will be of opinion I have very just pretensions to a divorce. I am a mere man of the town, and have very little improvement, but what I have got from plays. I remember in the Silent Woman, the learned Dr. Cut
bert, or Dr. Otter (I forget which) makes one of the causes of separation to be error personæ, when a man marries a woman, and finds her not to be the same woman whom he intended to marry, but another. If that be law, it is, I presume, exactly my case. For you are to know, Mr. Spectator, that there are women who do not let their husbands see their faces till they are married.
'Not to keep you in suspense, I mean plainly that part of the sex who paint. They are some of them so exquisitely skilful in this way, that give them but a tolerable pair of eyes to set up with, and they will make bosom, lips, cheeks, and eye brows by their own industry. As for my dear, never man was so enamoured as I was of her fair forehead, neck, and arms, as well as the bright jet of her hair; but to my great astonishment I find they were all the effect of art. Her skin is so tarnished with this practice, that when she first wakes in a morning, she scarce seems young enough to be the mother of her whom I carried to bed the night before. I shall take the liberty to part with her by the first opportunity, unless her father will make her portion suitable to her real, not her assumed countenance. This I thought fit to let him and her know by your means.
'I am, Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant.'
I cannot tell what the law, or the parents of the lady will do for this injured gentleman, but must allow he has very much justice on his side. I have indeed very long observed this evil, and distinguished those of our women who wear their own, from those in borrowed complexions, by the Picts and the British. There does not need any great discernment to judge which are which. The British have a lively animated aspect; the Picts, though never so beautiful, have dead unin. formed countenances. The muscles of a real face sometimes swell with soft passion, sudden surprise,
and are flushed with agreeable confusions, according as the objects before them, or the ideas presented to them, affect their imagination. But the Picts behold all things with the same air, whether they are joyful or sad; the same fixed insensibility appears upon all occasions. A Pict, though she takes all that pains to invite the approach of lovers, is obliged to keep them at a certain distance: a sigh in a languishing lover, if fetched too near her, would dissolve a feature; and a kiss snatched by a forward one, might transfer the complexion of the mistress to the admirer. It is hard to speak of these false fair ones, without saying something uncomplaisant, but I would only recommend to them to consider how they like coming into a room new painted: they may assure themselves, the near ap. proach of a lady who uses this practice, is much more offensive.
Will Honeycomb told us one day an adventure he once had with a Pict. This lady had wit, as well as beanty, at will; and made her business to gain hearts for no other reason but to rally the torments of her lovers. She would make great advances to insnare men, but without any manner of scruple break off when there was no provocation. Her ill-nature and vanity made my friend very easily proof against the charms of her wit and conversation; but her beauteous form, instead of being blemished by her falsehood and inconstancy, every day increased upon him, and she had new attractions every time he saw her. When she observed Will irrevocably her slave, she began to use him as such, and after many steps towards such a eruelty, she at last utterly banished him. The unhappy lover strove in vain, by servile epistles, to revoke his doom; till at length he was forced to the last refuge, a
round sum of money to her maid. This corrupt at
tendant placed him early in the morning behind the hangings in her mistress's dressing-room. He stood
very conveniently to observe, without being seen.