No. 365. Tuesday, April 29, 1712. Budgell.

Vere magis, quia vere calor redit ossibus--'

The author of the Menagiana acquaints us, that discoursing one Day with several Ladies of Quality about the Effects of the Month of May, which infuses a kindly Warmth into the Earth, and all its Inhabitants; the Marchioness of S----, who was one of the Company, told him, That though she would promise to be chaste in every Month besides, she could not engage for her self in May. As the beginning therefore of this Month is now very near, I design this Paper for a Caveat to the Fair Sex, and publish it before April is quite out, that if any of them should be caught tripping, they may not pretend they had not timely Notice.

I am induced to this, being persuaded the above-mentioned Observation is as well calculated for our Climate as for that of France, and that some of our British Ladies are of the same Constitution with the French Marchioness.

I shall leave it among Physicians to determine what may be the Cause of such an Anniversary Inclination; whether or no it is that the Spirits after having been as it were frozen and congealed by Winter, are now turned loose, and set a rambling; or that the gay Prospects of Fields and Meadows, with the Courtship of the Birds in every Bush, naturally unbend the Mind, and soften it to Pleasure; or that, as some have imagined, a Woman is prompted by a kind of Instinct to throw herself on a Bed of Flowers, and not to let those beautiful Couches which Nature has provided lie useless. However it be, the Effects of this Month on the lower part of the Sex, who act without Disguise, [are [1]] very visible. It is at this time that we see the young Wenches in a Country Parish dancing round a May-Pole, which one of our learned Antiquaries supposes to be a Relique of a certain Pagan Worship that I do not think fit to mention.

It is likewise on the first Day of this Month that we see the ruddy Milk-Maid exerting her self in a most sprightly manner under a Pyramid of Silver-Tankards, and, like the Virgin Tarpeia, oppress'd by the costly Ornaments which her Benefactors lay upon her.

I need not mention the Ceremony of the Green Gown, which is also peculiar to this gay Season.

The same periodical Love-Fit spreads through the whole Sex, as Mr. Dryden well observes in his Description of this merry Month:

For thee, sweet Month, the Groves green Livries wear, If not the first, the fairest of the Year; For thee the Graces lead the dancing Hours, And Nature's ready Pencil paints the Flow'rs. The sprightly May commands our Youth to keep The Vigils of her Night, and breaks their Sleep; Each gentle Breast with kindly Warmth she moves, Inspires new Flames, revives extinguish'd Loves. [2]

Accordingly among the Works of the great Masters in Painting, who have drawn this genial Season of the Year, we often observe Cupids confused with Zephirs flying up and down promiscuously in several Parts of the Picture. I cannot but add from my own Experience, that about this Time of the Year Love-Letters come up to me in great Numbers from all Quarters of the Nation.

I receiv'd an Epistle in particular by the last Post from a Yorkshire Gentleman, who makes heavy Complaints of one Zelinda, whom it seems he has courted unsuccessfully these three Years past. He tells me that he designs to try her this May, and if he does not carry his Point, he will never think of her more.

Having thus fairly admonished the female Sex, and laid before them the Dangers they are exposed to in this critical Month, I shall in the next place lay down some Rules and Directions for their better avoiding those Calentures which are so very frequent in this Season.

In the first place, I would advise them never to venture abroad in the Fields, but in the Company of a Parent, a Guardian, or some other sober discreet Person. I have before shewn how apt they are to trip in a flowry Meadow, and shall further observe to them, that Proserpine was out a Maying, when she met with that fatal Adventure to which Milton alludes when he mentions

--That fair Field Of Enna, where Proserpine gathering Flowers, Herself a fairer Flower, by gloomy Dis Was gathered--[3]

Since I am got into Quotations, I shall conclude this Head with Virgil's Advice to young People, while they are gathering wild Strawberries and Nosegays, that they should have a care of the Snake in the Grass.

In the second place, I cannot but approve those Prescriptions, which our Astrological Physicians give in their Almanacks for this Month; such as are a spare and simple Diet, with the moderate Use of Phlebotomy.

Under this Head of Abstinence I shall also advise my fair Readers to be in a particular manner careful how they meddle with Romances, Chocolate, Novels, and the like Inflamers, which I look upon as very dangerous to be made use of during this great Carnival of Nature.

As I have often declared, that I have nothing more at heart than the Honour of my dear Country-Women, I would beg them to consider, whenever their Resolutions begin to fail them, that there are but one and thirty Days of this soft Season, and that if they can but weather out this one Month, the rest of the Year will be easy to them. As for that Part of the Fair-Sex who stay in Town, I would advise them to be particularly cautious how they give themselves up to their most innocent Entertainments. If they cannot forbear the Play-house, I would recommend Tragedy to them, rather than Comedy; and should think the Puppet-show much safer for them than the Opera, all the while the Sun is in Gemini.

The Reader will observe, that this Paper is written for the use of those Ladies who think it worth while to war against Nature in the Cause of Honour. As for that abandon'd Crew, who do not think Virtue worth contending for, but give up their Reputation at the first Summons, such Warnings and Premonitions are thrown away upon them. A Prostitute is the same easy Creature in all Months of the Year, and makes no difference between May and December.


[Footnote 1: [is] and in first Reprint.]

[Footnote 2: This quotation is made up of two passages in Dryden's version of Chaucer's Knights Tale, Palamon and Arcite. The first four lines are from Bk. ii. 11. 663-666, the other four lines are from Bk. i. 11. 176-179.]

[Footnote 3: Paradise Lost, Bk. iv. 11. 268-271.]

Translation of motto:
VIRG. Georg. iii. 272.
'But most in spring: the kindly spring inspires
Reviving heat, and kindles genial fires.'
'Flush'd by the spirit of the genial year,
Be greatly cautious of your sliding hearts.'
('Thomson's Spring', 160, _&c._)