No. 199. Thursday, October 18, 1711. Steele.

Scribere jussit amor.'

The following Letters are written with such an Air of Sincerity, that I cannot deny the inserting of them.


'Tho' you are every where in your Writings a Friend to Women, I do not remember that you have directly considered the mercenary Practice of Men in the Choice of Wives. If you would please to employ your Thoughts upon that Subject, you would easily conceive the miserable Condition many of us are in, who not only from the Laws of Custom and Modesty are restrained from making any Advances towards our Wishes, but are also, from the Circumstance of Fortune, out of all Hope of being addressed to by those whom we love. Under all these Disadvantages I am obliged to apply my self to you, and hope I shall prevail with you to Print in your very next Paper the following Letter, which is a Declaration of Passion to one who has made some feint Addresses to me for some time. I believe he ardently loves me, but the Inequality of my Fortune makes him think he cannot answer it to the World, if he pursues his Designs by way of Marriage; and I believe, as he does not want Discerning, he discovered me looking at him the other Day unawares in such a Manner as has raised his Hopes of gaining me on Terms the Men call easier. But my Heart was very full on this Occasion, and if you know what Love and Honour are, you will pardon me that I use no further Arguments with you, but hasten to my Letter to him, whom I call Oroondates, [1] because if I do not succeed it shall look like Romance; and if I am regarded, you shall receive a pair of Gloves at my Wedding, sent you under the Name of




'After very much Perplexity in my self, and revolving how to acquaint you with my own Sentiments, and expostulate with you concerning yours, I have chosen this Way, by which means I can be at once revealed to you, or, if you please, lie concealed. If I do not within few Days find the Effect which I hope from this, the whole Affair shall be buried in Oblivion. But, alas! what am I going to do, when I am about to tell you that I love you? But after I have done so, I am to assure you, that with all the Passion which ever entered a tender Heart, I know I can banish you from my Sight for ever, when I am convinced that you have no Inclinations towards me but to my Dishonour. But, alas! Sir, why should you sacrifice the real and essential Happiness of Life, to the Opinion of a World, that moves upon no other Foundation but profess'd Error and Prejudice? You all can observe that Riches alone do not make you happy, and yet give up every Thing else when it stands in Competition with Riches. Since the World is so bad, that Religion is left to us silly Women, and you Men act generally upon Principles of Profit and Pleasure, I will talk to you without arguing from any Thing but what may be most to your Advantage, as a Man of the World. And I will lay before you the State of the Case, supposing that you had it in your Power to make me your Mistress, or your Wife, and hope to convince you that the latter is more for your Interest, and will contribute more to your Pleasure.

'We will suppose then the Scene was laid, and you were now in Expectation of the approaching Evening wherein I was to meet you, and be carried to what convenient Corner of the Town you thought fit, to consummate all which your wanton Imagination has promised you in the Possession of one who is in the Bloom of Youth, and in the Reputation of Innocence: you would soon have enough of me, as I am Sprightly, Young, Gay, and Airy. When Fancy is sated, and finds all the Promises it [made [2]] it self false, where is now the Innocence which charmed you? The first Hour you are alone you will find that the Pleasure of a Debauchee is only that of a Destroyer; He blasts all the Fruit he tastes, and where the Brute has been devouring, there is nothing left worthy the Relish of the Man. Reason resumes her Place after Imagination is cloyed; and I am, with the utmost Distress and Confusion, to behold my self the Cause of uneasie Reflections to you, to be visited by Stealth, and dwell for the future with the two Companions (the most unfit for each other in the World) Solitude and Guilt. I will not insist upon the shameful Obscurity we should pass our Time in, nor run over the little short Snatches of fresh Air and free Commerce which all People must be satisfied with, whose Actions will not bear Examination, but leave them to your Reflections, who have seen of that Life of which I have but a meer Idea.

On the other hand, If you can be so good and generous as to make me your Wife, you may promise your self all the Obedience and Tenderness with which Gratitude can inspire a virtuous Woman. Whatever Gratifications you may promise your self from an agreeable Person, whatever Compliances from an easie Temper, whatever Consolations from a sincere Friendship, you may expect as the Due of your Generosity. What at present in your ill View you promise your self from me, will be followed by Distaste and Satiety; but the Transports of a virtuous Love are the least Part of its Happiness. The Raptures of innocent Passion are but like Lightning to the Day, they rather interrupt than advance the Pleasure of it. How happy then is that Life to be, where the highest Pleasures of Sense are but the lower Parts of its Felicity?

Now am I to repeat to you the unnatural Request of taking me in direct Terms. I know there stands between me and that Happiness, the haughty Daughter of a Man who can give you suitably to your Fortune. But if you weigh the Attendance and Behaviour of her who comes to you in Partnership of your Fortune, and expects an Equivalent, with that of her who enters your House as honoured and obliged by that Permission, whom of the two will you chuse? You, perhaps, will think fit to spend a Day abroad in the common Entertainments of Men of Sense and Fortune; she will think herself ill-used in that Absence, and contrive at Home an Expence proportioned to the Appearance which you make in the World. She is in all things to have a Regard to the Fortune which she brought you, I to the Fortune to which you introduced me. The Commerce between you two will eternally have the Air of a Bargain, between us of a Friendship: Joy will ever enter into the Room with you, and kind Wishes attend my Benefactor when he leaves it. Ask your self, how would you be pleased to enjoy for ever the Pleasure of having laid an immediate Obligation on a grateful Mind? such will be your Case with Me. In the other Marriage you will live in a constant Comparison of Benefits, and never know the Happiness of conferring or receiving any.

It may be you will, after all, act rather in the prudential Way, according to the Sense of the ordinary World. I know not what I think or say, when that melancholy Reflection comes upon me; but shall only add more, that it is in your Power to make me your Grateful Wife, but never your Abandoned Mistress.


[Footnote 1: A character in Madame Scudéri's 'Grand Cyrus.']

[Footnote 2: made to]

Translation of motto:
OVID, Ep. iv. 10.
'Love bade me write.'