The other Day passed by me in her Chariot a Lady with that pale and wan Complexion, which we sometimes see in young People, who are fallen into Sorrow and private Anxiety of Mind, which antedate Age and Sickness. It is not three Years ago since she was gay, airy, and a little towards Libertine in her Carriage; but, methought, I easily forgave her that little Insolence, which she so severely pays for in her present Condition. Favilla, of whom I am speaking, is married to a sullen Fool with Wealth: Her Beauty and Merit are lost upon the Dolt, who is insensible of Perfection in any thing. Their Hours together are either painful or insipid: The Minutes she has to herself in his Absence, are not sufficient to give Vent at her Eyes to the Grief and Torment of his last Conversation. This poor Creature was sacrificed with a Temper (which, under the Cultivation of a Man of Sense, would have made the most agreeable Companion) into the Arms of this loathsome Yoak-fellow by Sempronia. Sempronia is a good Lady, who supports herself in an affluent Condition, by contracting Friendship with rich young Widows and Maids of plentiful Fortunes at their own Disposal, and bestowing her Friends upon worthless indigent Fellows; on the other Side, she ensnares inconsiderate and rash Youths of great Estates into the Arms of vitious Women. For this Purpose, she is accomplished in all the Arts which can make her acceptable at impertinent Visits; she knows all that passes in every Quarter, and is well acquainted with all the favourite Servants, Busiebodies, Dependants, and poor Relations of all Persons of Condition in the whole Town. At the Price of a good Sum of Money, Sempronia, by the Instigation of Favilla's Mother, brought about the Match for the Daughter, and the Reputation of this, which is apparently, in point of Fortune, more than Favilla could expect, has gained her the Visits and frequent Attendance of the Crowd of Mothers, who had rather see their Children miserable in great Wealth, than the happiest of the Race of Mankind in a less conspicuous State of Life. When Sempronia is so well acquainted with a Woman's Temper and Circumstance, that she believes Marriage would be acceptable to her, and advantageous to the Man who shall get her; her next Step is to look out for some one, whose Condition has some secret Wound in it, and wants a Sum, yet, in the Eye of the World, not unsuitable to her. If such is not easily had, she immediately adorns a worthless Fellow with what Estate she thinks convenient, and adds as great a Share of good Humour and Sobriety as is requisite: After this is settled, no Importunities, Arts, and Devices are omitted to hasten the Lady to her Happiness. In the general indeed she is a Person of so strict Justice, that she marries a poor Gallant to a rich Wench, and a Moneyless Girl to a Man of Fortune. But then she has no manner of Conscience in the Disparity, when she has a Mind to impose a poor Rogue for one of an Estate, she has no Remorse in adding to it, that he is illiterate, ignorant, and unfashioned; but makes those Imperfections Arguments of the Truth of his Wealth, and will, on such an Occasion, with a very grave Face, charge the People of Condition with Negligence in the Education of their Children. Exception being made t'other Day against an ignorant Booby of her own Cloathing, whom she was putting off for a rich Heir, Madam, said she, you know there is no making Children who know they have Estates attend their Books.
Sempronia, by these Arts, is loaded with Presents, importuned for her Acquaintance, and admired by those who do not know the first Taste of Life, as a Woman of exemplary good Breeding. But sure, to murder and to rob are less Iniquities, than to raise Profit by Abuses, as irreparable as taking away Life; but more grievous, as making it lastingly unhappy. To rob a Lady at Play of Half her Fortune, is not so ill, as giving the whole and her self to an unworthy Husband. But Sempronia can administer Consolation to an unhappy Fair at Home, by leading her to an agreeable Gallant elsewhere. She can then preach the general Condition of all the Married World, and tell an unexperienced young Woman the Methods of softning her Affliction, and laugh at her Simplicity and Want of Knowledge, with an Oh! my Dear, you will know better.
The Wickedness of Sempronia, one would think, should be superlative; but I cannot but esteem that of some Parents equal to it; I mean such as sacrifice the greatest Endowments and Qualifications to base Bargains. A Parent who forces a Child of a liberal and ingenious Spirit into the Arms of a Clown or a Blockhead, obliges her to a Crime too odious for a Name. It is in a Degree the unnatural Conjunction of rational and brutal Beings. Yet what is there so common, as the bestowing an accomplished Woman with such a Disparity. And I could name Crowds who lead miserable Lives, or want of Knowledge in their Parents, of this Maxim, that good Sense and good Nature always go together. That which is attributed to Fools, and called good Nature, is only an Inability of observing what is faulty, which turns in Marriage, into a Suspicion of every thing as such, from a Consciousness of that Inability.
'I am entirely of your Opinion with Relation to the Equestrian Females, who affect both the Masculine and Feminine Air at the same time; and cannot forbear making a Presentment against another Order of them who grow very numerous and powerful; and since our Language is not very capable of good compound Words, I must be contented to call them only the Naked Shouldered. These Beauties are not contented to make Lovers where-ever they appear, but they must make Rivals at the same time. Were you to see Gatty walk the Park at high Mall, you would expect those who followed her and those who met her could immediately draw their Swords for her. I hope, Sir, you will provide for the future, that Women may stick to their Faces for doing any future Mischief and not allow any but direct Traders in Beauty to expose more than the fore Part of the Neck, unless you please to allow this After-Game to those who are very defective in the Charms of the Countenance. I can say, to my Sorrow, the present Practice is very unfair, when to look back is Death; and it may be said of our Beauties, as a great Poet did of Bullets,
'They kill and wound like Parthians as they fly.'
I submit this to your Animadversion; and am, for the little while I have left,
Your humble Servant, the languishing Philanthus.
P. S. Suppose you mended my Letter, and made a Simile about the Porcupine, but I submit that also.
T.Translation of motto: