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I must confess, I heard him with horror, and could not eat of an animal that had died so tragical a death. I was now in great hunger and confusion, when, methought I smelled the agreeable savour of roast-beef, but could not tell from which dish it arose, though I did not question but it lay disguised in one of them. Upon turning my head, I saw a noble sirloin on the side-table smoaking in the most delicious manner. I had recourse to it more than once, and could not see, without some indignation, that substantial English dish banished in so ignominious a manner, to make way for French kickshaws.
The desert was brought up at last, which in truth was as extraordinary as any thing that had come before it. The whole, when ranged in its proper order, looked like a very beautiful winter-piece. There were several pyramids of candied sweetmeats, that hung like icicles, with fruits scattered up and down, and hid in an artificial kind of frost. At the same time there were great quantities of cream beaten up into a snow, and near them little plates of sugar-plums, clisposed like so many heaps of hail-stones, with a multitude of congelations in jellies of various colours. I was indeed so pleased with the several objects which lay before me, that I did not care for displacing any of them, and was half angry with the rest of the company, that for the sake of a piece of lemon-peel, or a sugar-plum, would spoil so pleasing a picture. Indeed, I could not but smile to see several of them cooling their mouths with lumps of ice, which they had just before been burning with salts and peppers.
As soon as this show was over, I took my leave, that I might finish my dinner at my own house: for as I in every thing love what is simple and natural, so particularly in my food; two plain dishes, with two or three good-natured, cheerful, ingenuous friends, would make me more pleased and vain, than all that
pomp and luxury can bestow. For it is my maxim, that he keeps the greatest table, who has the most valuable company at it.
No. CXLIX. THURSDAY, MARCH 23.
From my own Apartment, March 22. IT has often been a solid grief to me, when I have reflected on this glorious nation, which is the scene of public happiness and liberty, that there are still crowds of private tyrants, against whom there neither is any law now in being, nor can there be invented any by the wit of man. These cruel men are ill-natured husbands. The commerce in the conjugal state is so delicate, that it is impossible to prescribe rules for the conduct of it, so as to fit ten thousand nameless pleasures and disquietudes which arise to people in that condition. But it is in this, as in some other nice cases, where touching upon the malady tenderly is half way to the cure; and there are some faults which need only to be observed to be amended. I am put into this way of thinking by a late conversation, which I am going to give an account of.
I made a visit the other day to a family for which I have a great honour, and found the father, the mother, and two or three of the younger children drop off designedly to leave me alone with the eldest daughter, who was but a visitant there as well as myself, and is the wife of a gentleman of a very fair character in the world. As soon as we were alone, I saw her eyes full of tears, and inethought she had much to say to me, for which she wanted encouragement, Madam, said I, you know I wish you all as well as any friend you have: speak freely what I see you are
oppressed with, and you may be sure, if I cannot relieve your distress, you may at least reap so much present advantage, as safely to give yourself the ease of uttering it. She immediately assumed the most becoming composure of countenance, and spoke as follows: “ It is an aggravation of affliction in married “ life, that there is a sort of guilt in communicating w it: for which reason it is, that a lady of your " and my acquaintance, instead of speaking to you “ herself, desired me, the next time I saw you, as you “ are a professed friend to our sex, to turn your " thoughts upon the reciprocal complaisance which " is the duty of a married state.
“ My friend was neither in birth, fortune, or edu"cation below the gentleman whom she has married. " Her person, her age, and her character, are also “ such as he can make no exception to. But so it is, " that from the moment the marriage ceremony was
over, the obsequiousness of a lover was turned into “the haughtiness of a master. All the kind endea
vours which she uses to please him, are at best but so many instances of her duty. This insolence takes away that secret satisfaction, which does not only "excite to virtue, but also rewards it. It abates the “ fire of a free and generous love, and imbitters all " the pleasures of a social life.” The young lady spoke all this with such an air of resentment, as discovered how nearly she was concerned in the distress.
When I observed she had done speaking, “ Madamn, " said I, the affliction you mention is the greatest that
can happen in human life, and I know but one con" solation in it, if that be a consolation, that the calamity is a pretty general one. There is nothing so common as for men to enter into marriage, without so much as expecting to be happy in it. They seem to propose to themselves a few holidays in the begin" ning of it; after which tl?ey are to return at best to "the usual course of their life; and for ought they
“ know, to constant misery and uneasiness. From this “ false sense of the state they are going into, proceeds “ the immediate coldness and indifference, or hatred 6 and aversion, which attend ordinary marriages, or “ rather bargains to cohabit.” Our conversation was here interrupted by company which came in upon us.
The humour of affecting a superior carriage generally rises from a false notion of the weakness of a female understanding in general, or an over weaning opinion that we have of our own; for when it proceeds from a natural ruggedness and brutality of temper, it is altogether incorrigible, and not to be amended by admonition. Sir Francis Bacon, as I remember, lays it down as a maxim, that no marriage can be happy in which the wife has no opinion of her husband's wisdom; but without offence to so great an authority, I may venture to say, that a sullen wise man is as bad as a good natured fool. Knowledge, softened with complacency and good breeding, will make a man equally beloved and respected; but when joined with a severe, distant, and unsociable temper, it creates rather fear than love. I who am a bachelor, have no other notion of conjugal tenderness, but what I learn from books, and shall therefore produce three letters of Pliny, who was not only one of the greatest, but the most learned men in the whole Roman Empire. At the same time I am very much ashamed, that on such occasions I am obliged to have recourse to heathen authors, and shall appeal to my readers, if they would not think it a mark of a narrow education in a man of quality to write such passionate letters to any woman but a mistress. They were all thiee written at a time when she was at a distance from him: the first of them puts me in mind of a married friend of mine, who suid, sickness itself is pleasant lo a man that is attended in it by one whom he dearly loves.
Pliny to Calphurnia.
« I NEVER was so much offended at business, as when it hindered me from going with you into " the country, or following you thither: for I more “ particularly wish to be with you at present, that I
might be sensible of the progress you make in the recovery of your strength and health; as also of the “ entertainment and diversions you can meet with in
your retirement. Believe me, it is an anxious state " of mind to live in ignorance of what happens to " those whom we passionately love. I am not only in "pain for your absence, but also for your indisposi“ tion. I am afraid of every thing, fancy every thing, and, as it is the nature of men in fear, I fancy those things most, which I ain most afraid of. Let me " therefore, earnestly desire you to favour me under " these my apprehensions with one letter every day, or (if possible) with two; for I shall be a little at
ease while I am reading your letters, and grow " anxious again as soon as I have read them.”
“ YOU tell me, that you are very much afflicted " at my absence, and that you have no satisfaction in
any thing but my writings, which you often lay by you upon my pillow. You ob
me very much in wishing to see me, and making me your comforter " in my absence. In return, I must let you know, I am no less pleased with the letters which you wrote to me, and read them over a thousand times with new pleasure. If your letters are capable of giving me so much pleasure, what would your conversa“ tion do? Let me beg of you to write to me often;
though at the same time I must confess give me anguish whilst they give me pleasure.”