« PreviousContinue »
brought acquainted in the course of the courtship, can receive the happy couple with countenances illumined, and joyful hearts.
The brothers, the fifters, the friends of one family, are the brothers, the sisters, the friends of the other. Their two families, thus made one, are the world to the young couple.
Their home is the place of their principal delight, nor do they ever occasionally quit it but they find the pleasure of returning to it augmented in proportion to the time of their absence from it.
Oh, Mr. RAMBLER! forgive the talkativeness of an old man! When I courted and married my Lætitia, then a blooming beauty, every thing passed just fo! But how is the case now? The ladies, maidens, wives, and widows, are engrossed by places of open resort and general entertainment, which fill every quarter of the metropolis, and being constantly frequented, make home irksome. Breakfasting-places, diningplaces; routes, drums, concerts, balls, plays, operas, masquerades for the evening, and even for all night, and lately, publick fales of the goods of broken housekeepers, which the general diffoluteness of manners has contributed to make very frequent, come in as another feasonable relief to these modern timekillers.
In the summer there are in every country-town asfemblies ; Tunbridge, Bath, Cheltenham, Scarborough! What expence of dress and equipage is required to qualify the frequenters for such emulous appearance ?
By the natural infection of example, the lowest people have places of fix-penny resort, and gamingtables for pence. Thus servants are now induced to
fraud and dishonesty, to support extravagance, and supply their lofses.
As 10 the ladies who frequent those publick places, they are not ashamed to fhew their faces wherever men dare go, nor blush to try who shall stare most impudently, or who shall laugh loudest on the publick walks.
The men who would make good husbands, if they visit those places, are frighted at wedlock, and refolve to live single, except they are bought at a very high price. They can be spectators of all that passes, and, if they please, more than spectators, at the expence of others. The companion of an evening, and the companion for life, require very different qualifications,
Two thousand pounds in the last age, with a do. mestick wife, would go farther than ten thousand in this. Yet settlements are expected, that often, to a mercantile man especially, fink a fortune into use. lessness; and pin-money is stipulated for, which makes a wife independent, and destroys love, by putting it out of a man's power to lay any obligation upon her, that might engage gratitude, and kindle affection. When to all this the card-tables are added, how can a prudent man think of marrying ?
And when the worthy men know not where to find wives, must not the sex be left to the foplings, the coxcombs, the libertines of the age, whom they help to make such? And need even these wretches marry to enjoy the conversation of those who render their company fo cheap ?
And what, after all, is the benefit which the gay coquette obtains by her flutters? As she is approach.
able by every man without requiring, I will not say incense or adoration, but even common complaisance, every fop treats her as upon the level, looks upon her light airs as invitations, and is on the watch to take the advantage : she has companions indeed, but no lovers; for love is respectful, and timorous; and where among all her followers will she find a husband ?
Set, dear Sir, before the youthful, the gay, the inconsiderate, the contempt as well as the danger to which they are exposed. At one time or other, women, not utterly thoughtless, will be convinced of the justice of your censure, and the charity of your instruction.
But should your expostulations and reproofs have no effect upon those who are far gone in fashionable folly, they may be retailed from their mouths to their nieces (marriage will not often have entitled these to daughters), when they, the meteors of a day, find themselves elbowed off the stage of vanity by other flutterers; for the most admired women cannot have many Tunbridge, many Bath seasons to blaze in; since even fine faces, often seen, are less regarded than new faces, the proper punishment of showy girls, for rendering themselves so impolitickly cheap.
I am, SIR,
Your sincere admirer, &C.
paper was written by Richardson, the author of “Clarissa," “ Pamela,” &c. and, although mean and hacknied in style and senti. ment, was the only paper which had a great fale during the publica. tion of the Rambler, in its original form.
NunB.98. SATURDAY, February 23, 1751,
Que nec Sarmentus iniquas
Which not Sarmentus brook'd at Casar's board,
To the AUTHOR of the RAMBLER.
OU have often endeavoured to impress upon YOU
your readers an observation of more truth than novelty, that life passes, for the most part, in petty transactions ; that our hours glide away in trifling amusements and slight gratifications ; and that there very feldom emerges any occasion that can call forth great virtue or great abilities.
It very commonly happens that speculation has no influence on conduct. Just conclusions, and cogent arguments, formed by laborious study, and diligent inquiry, are often reposited in the treasuries of me. mory, as gold in the miser's chest, useless alike to others and himself. As fome are not richer for the extent of their possessions, others are not wiser for the multitude of their ideas.
You have truly described the state of human beings, but it may be doubted whether you have accommodated your precepts to your description ; whether you have not generally considered your
readers as influenced by the tragick passions, and susceptible of pain or pleasure only from powerful agents, and from great events.
To an author who writes not for the improvement of a single art, or the establishment of a controverted doctrine, but equally intends the advantage and equally courts the perusal of all the classes of man. kind, nothing can justly seem unworthy of regard, by which the pleasure of conversation may be increased, and the daily satisfactions of familiar life secured from interruption and disgust.
For this reason you would not have injured your reputation, if you had sometimes descended to the minuter duties of social beings, and enforced the observance of those little civilities and ceremonious delicacies, which, inconsiderable as they may appear to the man of science, and difficult as they may prove to be detailed with dignity, yet contribute to the regulation of the world, by facilitating the intercourse between one man and another, and of which the French have sufficiently testified their esteem, by terming the knowledge and practice of them Sçavoir vivre, the art of living.
Politeness is one of those advantages which we never estimate rightly but by the inconvenience of its loss. Its influence upon the manners is constant and uniform, so that, like an equal motion, it escapes perception. The circumstances of every action are so adjusted to each other, that we do not see where any error could have been committed, and rather acquiesce in its propriety than admire its exactness.
But as sickness shews us the value of ease, a little familiarity with those who were never taught to en