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NUMB.97. Tuesday, February 19, 1751.
Facunda culpe secula nuptias
Fruitful of crimes, this age first stain'd
THE reader is indebted for this day's entertain. ment to an author from whom the
age ceived greater favours, who has enlarged the knowledge of human nature, and taught the passions to move at the command of virtue.
To the RAMBLER.
single papers, it gave me so much pleasure, that it is one of the favourite amusements of my age to recollect it; and when I reflect on the foibles of those times, as described in that useful work, and compare them with the vices now reigning among us, I cannot but wish that you would oftener take cognizance of the manners of the better half of the human species, that if your precepts and observations
be carried down to posterity, the Spectators may shew to the rising generation what were the fashionable follies of their grandmothers, the RAMBLER of their mothers, and that from both they may draw instruction and warning.
When I read those SpecTATORS which took notice of the misbehaviour of young women at church, by which they vainly hope to attract admirers, I used to pronounce such forward young women Seekers, in order to distinguish them by a mark of infamy from those who had patience and decency to stay till they were sought.
But I have lived to see such a change in the manners of women, that I would now be willing to compound with them for that name, although I then thought it disgraceful enough, if they would deserve no worse; since now they are too generally given up to negligence of domestick business, to idle amusements, and to wicked rackets, without any settled view at all but of squandering time.
In the time of the SPECTATOR, excepting sometimes in appearance in the ring, sometimes at a good and chosen play, sometimes on a visit at the house of a grave relation, the young ladies contented themselves to be found employed in domestick duties; for then routes, drums, balls, assemblies, and such like markets for women, were not known.
Modesty and diffidence, gentleness and meekness, were looked upon as the appropriate virtues and cha. racteristick graces of the fex. And if a forward spirit pushed itself into notice, it was exposed in print as it deserved
The churches were almost the only places where single women were to be seen by strangers. Men went thither expecting to see them, and perhaps too much for that only purpose.
But some good often resulted, however improper might be their motives. Both sexes were in the way of their duty. The man must be abandoned, indeed, who loves not goodness in another; nor were the young fellows of that age so wholly lost to a sense of right, as pride and conceit have fince made them affect to be. When therefore they saw a fair-one whose decent behaviour and cheerful piety shewed her earnest in her first duties, they had the less doubt, judging politically only, that she would have a conscientious regard to her second.
With what ardour have I seen watched for, the rising of a kneeling beauty; and what additional charms has devotion given to her recommunicated features?
The men were often the better for what they heard. Even a Saul was once found prophesying among the prophets whom he had set out to destroy. To a man thus put into good humour by a pleasing object, religion itself looked more amiable, The MEN SEEKERS of the SPECTATOR's time loved the holy place for the object's fake, and loved the object for her suitable be haviour in it.
Reverence mingled with their love, and they thought that a young lady of such good principles must be addressed only by the man who at least made a shew. of good principles, whether his heart was yet quite right or not,
Nor Nor did the young lady's behaviour, at any time of the service, lessen this reverence. Her eyes were her own, her ears the preacher's. Women are always most observed when they seem themselves least to observe, or to lay out for observation. The eye of a respectful lover loves rather to receive confidence from the withdrawn eye of the fair-one, than to find itself obliged to retreat.
When a young gentleman's affection was thus laudably engaged, he pursued its natural dictates ; keeping then was a rare, at least a secret and scandalous vice, and a wife was the summit of his wishes. Rejection was now dreaded, and pre-engagement apprehended. A woman whom he loved, he was ready to think must be admired by all the world. His fears, his uncertainties, increased his love.
Every inquiry he made into the lady's domestick excellence, which, when a wife is to be chosen, will surely not be neglected, confirmed him in his choice. He opens his heart to a common friend, and honestly discovers the state of his fortune. His friend applies to those of the young lady, whose parents, if they approve his proposals, disclose them to their daughter.
She perhaps is not an absolute stranger to the pasfion of the young gentleman. His eyes, his assidui. ties, his constant attendance at a church, whither, till of late, he used seldom to come, and a thousand little observances that he paid her, had very probably first forced her to regard, and then inclined her to favour him,
That a young lady should be in love, and the love of the young gentleman undeclared, is an heterodoxy which prudence, and even policy, must not allow, But, thus applied to, she is all resignation to her parents. Charming resignation, which inclination opposes not.
Her relations applaud her for her duty; friends meet; points are adjusted ; delightful perturbations, and hopes, and a few lover's fears, fill up the tedious space till an interview is granted; for the young lady had not made herself cheap at publick places.
The time of interview arrives. She is modestly reserved; he is not confident. He declares his paf
the consciousness of her own worth, and his application to her parents, take from her any doubt of his fincerity; and the owns herself obliged to him for his good opinion. The inquiries of her friends into his character, have taught her that his good opinion deserves to be valued.
She tacitly allows of his future visits ; he renews them; the regard of each for the other is confirmed ; and when he presses for the favour of her hand, he receives a declaration of an entire acquiescence with her duty, and a modest acknowledgment of esteem for him.
He applies to her parents therefore for a near day; and thinks himself under obligation to them for the cheerful and affectionate manner with which they receive his agreeable application.
With this prospect of future happiness, the marriage is celebrated. Gratulations
in from every quarter. Parents and relations on both sides,