We are generally so much pleased with any little Accomplishments, either of Body or Mind, which have once made us remarkable in the World, that we endeavour to perswade our selves it is not in the Power of Time to rob us of them. We are eternally pursuing the same Methods which first procured us the Applauses of Mankind. It is from this Notion that an Author writes on, tho he is come to Dotage; without ever considering that his Memory is impaired, and that he has lost that Life, and those Spirits, which formerly raised his Fancy, and fired his Imagination. The same Folly hinders a Man from submitting his Behaviour to his Age, and makes Clodius, who was a celebrated Dancer at five and twenty, still love to hobble in a Minuet, tho he is past Threescore. It is this, in a Word, which fills the Town with elderly Fops, and superannuated Coquets.
Canidia, a Lady of this latter Species, passed by me Yesterday in her Coach. Canidia was an haughty Beauty of the last Age, and was followed by Crowds of Adorers, whose Passions only pleased her, as they gave her Opportunities of playing the Tyrant. She then contracted that awful Cast of the Eye and forbidding Frown, which she has not yet laid aside, and has still all the Insolence of Beauty without its Charms. If she now attracts the Eyes of any Beholders, it is only by being remarkably ridiculous; even her own Sex laugh at her Affectation; and the Men, who always enjoy an ill-natured Pleasure in seeing an imperious Beauty humbled and neglected, regard her with the same Satisfaction that a free Nation sees a Tyrant in Disgrace.
WILL. HONEYCOMB, who is a great Admirer of the Gallantries in King Charles the Seconds Reign, lately communicated to me a Letter written by a Wit of that Age to his Mistress, who it seems was a Lady of Canidia's Humour; and tho I do not always approve of my Friend WILLS Taste, I liked this Letter so well, that I took a Copy of it, with which I shall here present my Reader.
To CLOE. MADAM,
Since my waking Thoughts have never been able to influence you in my Favour, I am resolved to try whether my Dreams can make any Impression on you. To this end I shall give you an Account of a very odd one which my Fancy presented to me last Night, within a few Hours after I left you.
Methought I was unaccountably conveyed into the most delicious Place mine Eyes ever beheld, it was a large Valley divided by a River of the purest Water I had ever seen. The Ground on each Side of it rose by an easie Ascent, and was covered with Flowers of an infinite Variety, which as they were reflected in the Water doubled the Beauties of the Place, or rather formed an Imaginary Scene more beautiful than the real. On each Side of the River was a Range of lofty Trees, whose Boughs were loaden with almost as many Birds as Leaves. Every Tree was full of Harmony.
I had not gone far in this pleasant Valley, when I perceived that it was terminated by a most magnificent Temple. The Structure was ancient, and regular. On the Top of it was figured the God Saturn, in the same Shape and Dress that the Poets usually represent Time.
As I was advancing to satisfie my Curiosity by a nearer View, I was stopped by an Object far more beautiful than any I had before discovered in the whole Place. I fancy, Madam, you will easily guess that this could hardly be any thing but your self; in reality it was so; you lay extended on the Flowers by the side of the River, so that your Hands which were thrown in a negligent Posture, almost touched the Water. Your Eyes were closed; but if your Sleep deprived me of the Satisfaction of seeing them, it left me at leisure to contemplate several other Charms, which disappear when your Eyes are open. I could not but admire the Tranquility you slept in, especially when I considered the Uneasiness you produce in so many others.
While I was wholly taken up in these Reflections, the Doors of the Temple flew open, with a very great Noise; and lifting up my Eyes, I saw two Figures, in human Shape, coming into the Valley. Upon a nearer Survey, I found them to be YOUTH and LOVE. The first was encircled with a kind of Purple Light, that spread a Glory over all the Place; the other held a flaming Torch in his Hand. I could observe, that all the way as they came towards us, the Colours of the Flowers appeared more lively, the Trees shot out in Blossoms, the Birds threw themselves into Pairs, and Serenaded them as they passed: The whole Face of Nature glowed with new Beauties. They were no sooner arrived at the Place where you lay, when they seated themselves on each Side of you. On their Approach, methought I saw a new Bloom arise in your Face, and new Charms diffuse themselves over your whole Person. You appeared more than Mortal; but, to my great Surprise, continued fast asleep, tho the two Deities made several gentle Efforts to awaken you.
After a short Time, YOUTH (displaying a Pair of Wings, which I had not before taken notice of) flew off. LOVE still remained, and holding the Torch which he had in his Hand before your Face, you still appeared as beautiful as ever. The glaring of the Light in your Eyes at length awakened you; when, to my great Surprise, instead of acknowledging the Favour of the Deity, you frowned upon him, and struck the Torch out of his Hand into the River. The God after having regarded you with a Look that spoke at [once ] his Pity and Displeasure, flew away. Immediately a kind of Gloom overspread the whole Place. At the same time I saw an hideous Spectre enter at one end of the Valley. His Eyes were sunk into his Head, his Face was pale and withered, and his Skin puckered up in Wrinkles. As he walked on the sides of the Bank the River froze, the Flowers faded, the Trees shed their Blossoms, the Birds dropped from off the Boughs, and fell dead at his Feet. By these Marks I knew him to be OLD-AGE. You were seized with the utmost Horror and Amazement at his Approach. You endeavoured to have fled, but the Phantome caught you in his Arms. You may easily guess at the Change you suffered in this Embrace. For my own Part, though I am still too full of the [frightful ] Idea, I will not shock you with a Description of it. I was so startled at the Sight that my Sleep immediately left me, and I found my self awake, at leisure to consider of a Dream which seems too extraordinary to be without a Meaning. I am, Madam, with the greatest Passion, Your most Obedient, most Humble Servant, &c.
[Footnote 1: [the same time]]
[Footnote 2: [dreadful]]Translation of motto: