Saturday, April 7, 1711. Steele.
‘Fervidus tecum Puer, et solutis
Gratiae zonis, properentque Nymphae,
Et parum comis sine te Juventas,
Hor. ‘ad Venerem.’
A friend of mine has two Daughters, whom I will call Laetitia and Daphne; The Former is one of the Greatest Beauties of the Age in which she lives, the Latter no way remarkable for any Charms in her Person. Upon this one Circumstance of their Outward Form, the Good and Ill of their Life seems to turn. Laetitia has not, from her very Childhood, heard any thing else but Commendations of her Features and Complexion, by which means she is no other than Nature made her, a very beautiful Outside. The Consciousness of her Charms has rendered her insupportably Vain and Insolent, towards all who have to do with her. Daphne, who was almost Twenty before one civil Thing had ever been said to her, found her self obliged to acquire some Accomplishments to make up for the want of those Attractions which she saw in her Sister. Poor Daphne was seldom submitted to in a Debate wherein she was concerned; her Discourse had nothing to recommend it but the good Sense of it, and she was always under a Necessity to have very well considered what she was to say before she uttered it; while Laetitia was listened to with Partiality, and Approbation sate in the Countenances of those she conversed with, before she communicated what she had to say. These Causes have produced suitable Effects, and Laetitia is as insipid a Companion, as Daphne is an agreeable one. Laetitia, confident of Favour, has studied no Arts to please; Daphne, despairing of any Inclination towards her Person, has depended only on her Merit. Laetitia has always something in her Air that is sullen, grave and disconsolate. Daphne has a Countenance that appears chearful, open and unconcerned. A young Gentleman saw Laetitia this Winter at a Play, and became her Captive. His Fortune was such, that he wanted very little Introduction to speak his Sentiments to her Father. The Lover was admitted with the utmost Freedom into the Family, where a constrained Behaviour, severe Looks, and distant Civilities, were the highest Favours he could obtain of Laetitia; while Daphne used him with the good Humour, Familiarity, and Innocence of a Sister: Insomuch that he would often say to her, Dear Daphne; wert thou but as Handsome as Laetitia!–She received such Language with that ingenuous and pleasing Mirth, which is natural to a Woman without Design. He still Sighed in vain for Laetitia, but found certain Relief in the agreeable Conversation of Daphne. At length, heartily tired with the haughty Impertinence of Laetitia, and charmed with repeated Instances of good Humour he had observed in Daphne, he one Day told the latter, that he had something to say to her he hoped she would be pleased with.–Faith Daphne, continued he, I am in Love with thee, and despise thy Sister sincerely. The Manner of his declaring himself gave his Mistress occasion for a very hearty Laughter.–Nay, says he, I knew you would Laugh at me, but I’ll ask your Father. He did so; the Father received his Intelligence with no less Joy than Surprize, and was very glad he had now no Care left but for his Beauty, which he thought he could carry to Market at his Leisure. I do not know any thing that has pleased me so much a great while, as this Conquest of my Friend Daphne’s. All her Acquaintance congratulate her upon her Chance. Medley, and laugh at that premeditating Murderer her Sister. As it is an Argument of a light Mind, to think the worse of our selves for the Imperfections of our Persons, it is equally below us to value our selves upon the Advantages of them. The Female World seem to be almost incorrigibly gone astray in this Particular; for which Reason, I shall recommend the following Extract out of a Friend’s Letter to the Profess’d Beauties, who are a People almost as unsufferable as the Profess’d Wits.