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NUMB. 133. TUESDAY, June 25, 1751.
Magna quidem facris que dat præcepta libellis
Let Stoicks ethicks' haughty rules advance
To the RAMBLER.
YOU have fhewn, by the publication of
my letter, that you think the life of Victoria not wholly unworthy of the notice of a philofopher: I fhall therefore continue my narrative, without any apology for unimportance which you have dignified, or for inaccuracies which you are to correct.
When my life appeared to be no longer in danger, and as much of my ftrength was recovered as enabled me to bear the agitation of a coach, I was placed at a lodging in a neighbouring village, to which my mother difmiffed me with a faint embrace, having repeated her command not to expose my face too foon to the fun or wind, and told me, that with care I might perhaps become tolerable again. The profpect of being tolerable had very little power to elevate the imagination of one who had fo long been accuf
accustomed to praise and ecstasy; but it was fome fatisfaction to be separated from my mother, who was inceffantly ringing the knell of departed beauty, and never entered my room without the whine of condolence, or the growl of anger. She often wandered over my face, as travellers over the ruins of a celebrated city, to note every place which had once been remarkable for a happy feature. She condescended to vifit my retirement, but always left me more melancholy; for after a thoufand trifling enquiries about my diet, and a minute examination of my looks, fhe generally concluded with a figh, that I should never more be fit to be seen.
At laft I was permitted to return home, but found no great improvement of my condition; for I was imprisoned in my chamber as a criminal, whose appearance would difgrace my friends, and condemn me to be tortured into new beauty. Every experiment which the officioufnefs of folly could communicate, or the credulity of ignorance admit, was tried upon me. Sometimes I was covered with emollients, by which it was expected that all the scars would be filled, and my cheeks plumped up to their former fmoothnefs; and fometimes I was punished with artificial excoriations, in hopes of gaining new graces with a new fkin. The cosmetick science was exhaufted upon me; but who can repair the ruins of nature? My mother was forced to give me reft at laft, and abandon me to the fate of a fallen toaft, whofe fortune fhe confidered as a hopeless game, no longer worthy of folicitude or attention.
The condition of a young woman who has never thought or heard of any other excellence than beauty, and whom the fudden blaft of disease wrinkles in her bloom, is indeed fufficiently calamitous. She is at once deprived of all that gave her eminence or power; of all that elated her pride, or animated her activity; all that filled her days with pleasure, and her nights with hope; all that gave gladness to the present hour, or brightened her profpects of futurity. It is perhaps not in the power of a man whofe attention has been divided by diverfity of purfuits, and who has not been accustomed to derive from others much of his happiness, to image to himself fuch helpless deftitution, fuch difmal inanity. Every object of pleafing contemplation is at once fnatched away, and the foul finds every receptacle of ideas empty, or filled only with the memory of joys that can return no more. All is gloomy privation, or impotent defire; the faculties of anticipation flumber in defpondency, or the powers of pleasure mutiny for employment.
I was fo little able to find entertainment for myself, that I was forced in a fhort time to venture abroad, as the folitary favage is driven by hunger from his cavern. I entered with all the humility of difgrace into affemblies, where I had lately sparkled with gaiety, and towered with triumph. I was not wholly without hope, that dejection had mifreprefented me to myself, and that the remains of my former face might yet have fome attraction and influence but the first circle of vifits convinced me, that my reign was at an end; that life and death
were no longer in my hands; that I was no more to practise the glance of command, or the frown of prohibition; to receive the tribute of fighs and praises, or be foothed with the gentle murmurs of amorous timidity. My opinion was now unheard, and myt proposals were unregarded; the narrowness of my knowledge, and the meannefs of my fentiments, were eafily discovered, when the eyes were no longer engaged against the judgment; and it was obferved, by those who had formerly been charmed with my vivacious loquacity, that my understanding was impaired as well as my face, and that I was no longer qualified to fill a place in any company but a party at.
It is fcarcely to be imagined how foon the mind finks to a level with the condition. I, who had long confidered all who approached me as vaffals condemned to regulate their pleasures by my eyes, and harass their inventions for my entertainment, was in less than three weeks reduced to receive a ticket with profeffions of obligation; to catch with eagerness at a compliment; and to watch with all the anxiousness of dependance, left any little civility that was paid me.; should pass unacknowledged.
Though the negligence of the men was not very pleafing when compared with vows and adoration, yet it was far more fupportable than the infolence of For the firft ten months after my remy own sex. turn into the world, I never entered a fingle house in which the memory of my downfal was not revived.. At one place I was congratulated on my escape with life; at another I heard of the benefits of early ino culation; by fome I have been told in express terms, that
that I am not yet without my charms; others have whispered at my entrance, This is the celebrated beauty. One told me of a wash that would smooth the fkin; and another offered me her chair that I might not front the light. Some, foothed me with the observation that none can tell how foon my cafe may be her own; and fome thought it proper to receive me with mournful tenderness, formal condolence, and confolatory blandifhments.
Thus was I every day haraffed with all the ftratagems of well-bred malignity; yet infolence was more tolerable than folitude, and I therefore persisted to keep my time at the doors of my acquaintance, without gratifying them with any appearance of refentment or depreffion. I expected that their exultation would in time vapour away; that the joy of their fuperiority would end with its novelty; and that I fhould be fuffered to glide along in my prefent form among the nameless multitude, whom nature never intended to excite envy or admiration, nor enabled to delight the eye or inflame the heart.
This was naturally to be expected, and this I began to experience. But when I was no longer agitated by the perpetual ardour of refiftance, and effort of perfeverance, I found more fenfibly the want of those entertainments which had formerly delighted me; the day rofe upon me without an engagement; and the evening clofed in its natural gloom, without fummoning me to a concert or a ball. None had any care to find amufements for me, and I had no power of amufing myself. Idlenefs expofed me to melancholy, and life began to languish in motionless indifference.