Tuesday, May 22, 1711.
‘… Scribere jussit Amor.’
The entire Conquest of our Passions is so difficult a Work, that they who despair of it should think of a less difficult Task, and only attempt to Regulate them. But there is a third thing which may contribute not only to the Ease, but also to the Pleasure of our Life; and that is refining our Passions to a greater Elegance, than we receive them from Nature. When the Passion is Love, this Work is performed in innocent, though rude and uncultivated Minds, by the mere Force and Dignity of the Object. There are Forms which naturally create Respect in the Beholders, and at once Inflame and Chastise the Imagination. Such an Impression as this gives an immediate Ambition to deserve, in order to please. This Cause and Effect are beautifully described by Mr. Dryden in the Fable of Cymon and Iphigenia. After he has represented Cymon so stupid, that
He Whistled as he went, for want of Thought,
he makes him fall into the following Scene, and shews its Influence upon him so excellently, that it appears as Natural as Wonderful.
It happen’d on a Summer’s Holiday,
That to the Greenwood-shade he took his Way;
His Quarter-staff, which he cou’d ne’er forsake,
Hung half before, and half behind his Back.
He trudg’d along unknowing what he sought,
And whistled as he went, for want of Thought.
By Chance conducted, or by Thirst constrain’d,
The deep recesses of the Grove he gain’d;
Where in a Plain, defended by the Wood,
Crept thro’ the matted Grass a Crystal Flood,
By which an Alabaster Fountain stood:
And on the Margin of the Fount was laid,
(Attended by her Slaves) a sleeping Maid,
Like Dian, and her Nymphs, when, tir’d with Sport,
To rest by cool Eurotas they resort:
The Dame herself the Goddess well expressed,
Not more distinguished by her Purple Vest,
Than by the charming Features of her Face,
And even in Slumber a superior Grace:
Her comely Limbs composed with decent Care,
Her Body shaded with a slight Cymarr;
Her Bosom to the View was only bare:
The fanning Wind upon her Bosom blows,
To meet the fanning Wind the Bosom rose;
The fanning Wind and purling Streams continue her Repose.
The Fool of Nature stood with stupid Eyes
And gaping Mouth, that testify’d Surprize,
Fix’d on her Face, nor could remove his Sight,
New as he was to Love, and Novice in Delight:
Long mute he stood, and leaning on his Staff,
His Wonder witness’d with an Idiot Laugh;
Then would have spoke, but by his glimmering Sense
First found his want of Words, and fear’d Offence:
Doubted for what he was he should be known,
By his Clown-Accent, and his Country Tone.
But lest this fine Description should be excepted against, as the Creation of that great Master, Mr. Dryden, and not an Account of what has really ever happened in the World; I shall give you, verbatim, the Epistle of an enamoured Footman in the Country to his Mistress.  Their Sirnames shall not be inserted, because their Passion demands a greater Respect than is due to their Quality. James is Servant in a great Family, and Elizabeth waits upon the Daughter of one as numerous, some Miles off of her Lover. James, before he beheld Betty, was vain of his Strength, a rough Wrestler, and quarrelsome Cudgel-Player; Betty a Publick Dancer at Maypoles, a Romp at Stool-Ball: He always following idle Women, she playing among the Peasants: He a Country Bully, she a Country Coquet. But Love has made her constantly in her Mistress’s Chamber, where the young Lady gratifies a secret Passion of her own, by making Betty talk of James; and James is become a constant Waiter near his Master’s Apartment, in reading, as well as he can, Romances. I cannot learn who Molly is, who it seems walked Ten Mile to carry the angry Message, which gave Occasion to what follows.