No. 510. Wednesday, October 15, 1712. Steele.

--Si sapis Neque præterquam quas ipse amor molestias Habet addas; et illas, quas habet, recte feras.'

I was the other day driving in [a [1]] Hack thro' Gerrard-street, when my Eye was immediately catch'd with the prettiest Object imaginable, the Face of a very fair Girl, between Thirteen and Fourteen, fixed at the Chin to a painted Sash, and made part of the Landskip. It seemed admirably done, and upon throwing my self eagerly out of the Coach to look at it, it laugh'd and flung from the Window. This amiable Figure dwelt upon me; and I was considering the Vanity of the Girl, and her pleasant Coquettry in acting a Picture till she was taken Notice of, and raised the Admiration of her Beholders. This little Circumstance made me run into Reflections upon the Force of Beauty, and the wonderful Influence the Female Sex has upon the other part of the Species. Our Hearts are seized with their Enchantments, and there are few of us, but brutal Men, who by that Hardness lose the chief Pleasure in them, can resist their Insinuations, tho' never so much against our own Interest and Opinion. It is common with Women to destroy the good Effects a Man's following his own Way and Inclination might have upon his Honour and Fortune, by interposing their Power over him in matters wherein they cannot influence him, but to his Loss and Disparagement. I do not know therefore a Task so difficult in human Life, as to be proof against the Importunities of a Woman a Man loves. There is certainly no Armour against Tears, sullen Looks, or at best constrained Familiarities, in her whom you usually meet with Transport and Alacrity. Sir Walter Rawleigh was quoted in a Letter (of a very ingenious Correspondent of mine) on this Subject. That Author, who had lived in Courts, Camps, travelled through many Countries, and seen many Men under several Climates, and of as various Complections, speaks of our Impotence to resist the Wiles of Women, in very severe Terms. His words are as follows: [2]

What Means did the Devil find out, or what Instruments did his own Subtlety present him, as fittest and aptest to work his Mischief by? Even the unquiet Vanity of the Woman; so as by Adam's hearkening to the Voice of his Wife, contrary to the express Commandment of the living God, Mankind by that her Incantation became the subject of Labour, Sorrow, and Death; the Woman being given to Man for a Comforter and Companion, but not for a Counsellor. It is also to be noted by whom the Woman was tempted; even by the most ugly and unworthy of all Beasts, into whom the Devil entered and persuaded. Secondly, What was the Motive of her Disobedience? Even a desire to know what was most unfitting her Knowledge; an Affection which has ever since remained in all the Posterity of her Sex. Thirdly, What was it that moved the Man to yield to her Persuasions; even the same Cause which hath moved all Men since to the like Consent, namely, an Unwillingness to grieve her or make her sad, lest she should pine, and be overcome with Sorrow. But if _Adam _in the state of Perfection, and Solomon_ the Son of David, _God's chosen Servant, and himself a Man endued with the greatest Wisdom, did both of them disobey their Creator by the Persuasion and for the Love they bare to a Woman, it is not so wonderful as lamentable, that other Men in succeeding Ages have been allured to so many inconvenient and wicked Practices by the Persuasion of their Wives, or other beloved Darlings, who cover over and shadow many malicious Purposes with a counterfeit Passion of dissimulate Sorrow and Unquietness.

The Motions of the Minds of Lovers are no where so well described, as in the Works of skillful Writers for the Stage. The Scene between Fulvia and Curius, in the second Act of Johnson's Catiline, is an excellent Picture of the Power of a Lady over her Gallant. The Wench plays with his Affections; and as a Man of all Places in the World wishes to make a good Figure with his Mistress, upon her upbraiding him with Want of Spirit, he alludes to Enterprizes which he cannot reveal but with the Hazard of his Life. When he is worked thus far, with a little Flattery of her Opinion of his Gallantry, and desire to know more of it out of her overflowing Fondness to him, he brags to her till his Life is in her Disposal.

When a Man is thus liable to be vanquished by the Charms of her he loves, the safest Way is to determine what is proper to be done, but to avoid all Expostulation with her before he executes what he has resolved. Women are ever too hard for us upon a Treaty, and one must consider how senseless a thing it is to argue with one whose Looks and Gestures are more prevalent with you, than your Reason and Arguments can be with her. It is a most miserable Slavery to submit to what you disapprove, and give up a Truth for no other Reason, but that you had not Fortitude to support you in asserting it. A Man has enough to do to conquer his own unreasonable Wishes and Desires; but he does that in vain, if he has those of another to gratify. Let his Pride be in his Wife and Family, let him give them all the Conveniences of Life in such a manner as if he were proud of them; but let it be his own innocent Pride, and not their exorbitant Desires, which are indulged by him. In this case all the little Arts imaginable are used to soften a Man's Heart, and raise his Passion above his Understanding; but in all Concessions of this Kind, a Man should consider whether the Present he makes flows from his own Love, or the Importunity of his Beloved: If from the latter, he is her Slave; if from the former, her Friend. We laugh it off, and do not weigh this Subjection to Women with that Seriousness which so important a Circumstance deserves. Why was Courage given to Man, if his Wife's Fears are to frustrate it? When this is once indulged, you are no longer her Guardian and Protector, as you were designed by Nature; but, in Compliance to her Weaknesses, you have disabled your self from avoiding the Misfortunes into which they will lead you both, and you are to see the Hour in which you are to be reproached by her self for that very Complaisance to her. It is indeed the most difficult Mastery over our selves we can possibly attain, to resist the Grief of her who charms us; but let the Heart ake, be the Anguish never so quick and painful, it is what must be suffered and passed through, if you think to live like a Gentleman, or be conscious to your self that you are a Man of Honesty. The old Argument, that You do not love me if you deny me this, which first was used to obtain a Trifle, by habitual Success will oblige the unhappy Man who gives Way to it, to resign the Cause even of his Country and his Honour.


[Footnote 1: [an] and in first reprint.]

[Footnote 2: History of the World, Bk. i. ch. 4, sect. 4.]

Translation of motto:
TER. Eun. Act i. Sc. 1.
'If you are wise, add not to the troubles which attend the passion of
love, and bear patiently those which are inseparable from it.'