Thursday, May 31, 1711.
‘Oderunt peccare boni virtutis amore.’
I have received very many Letters of late from my Female Correspondents, most of whom are very angry with me for Abridging their Pleasures, and looking severely upon Things, in themselves, indifferent. But I think they are extremely Unjust to me in this Imputation: All that I contend for is, that those Excellencies, which are to be regarded but in the second Place, should not precede more weighty Considerations. The Heart of Man deceives him in spite of the Lectures of half a Life spent in Discourses on the Subjection of Passion; and I do not know why one may not think the Heart of Woman as Unfaithful to itself. If we grant an Equality in the Faculties of both Sexes, the Minds of Women are less cultivated with Precepts, and consequently may, without Disrespect to them, be accounted more liable to Illusion in Cases wherein natural Inclination is out of the Interests of Virtue. I shall take up my present Time in commenting upon a Billet or two which came from Ladies, and from thence leave the Reader to judge whether I am in the right or not, in thinking it is possible Fine Women may be mistaken.
The following Address seems to have no other Design in it, but to tell me the Writer will do what she pleases for all me.
‘I am Young, and very much inclin’d to follow the Paths of Innocence: but at the same time, as I have a plentiful Fortune, and of Quality, I am unwilling to resign the Pleasures of Distinction, some little Satisfaction in being Admired in general, and much greater in being beloved by a Gentleman, whom I design to make my Husband. But I have a mind to put off entering into Matrimony till another Winter is over my Head, which, (whatever, musty Sir, you may think of the Matter) I design to pass away in hearing Music, going to Plays, Visiting, and all other Satisfactions which Fortune and Youth, protected by Innocence and Virtue, can procure for,’
Your most humble Servant,
‘My Lover does not know I like him, therefore having no Engagements upon me, I think to stay and know whether I may not like any one else better.
I have heard WILL. HONEYCOMB say,
A Woman seldom writes her Mind but in her Postscript.
I think this Gentlewoman has sufficiently discovered hers in this. I’ll lay what Wager she pleases against her present Favourite, and can tell her that she will Like Ten more before she is fixed, and then will take the worst Man she ever liked in her Life. There is no end of Affection taken in at the Eyes only; and you may as well satisfie those Eyes with seeing, as controul any Passion received by them only. It is from loving by Sight that Coxcombs so frequently succeed with Women, and very often a Young Lady is bestowed by her Parents to a Man who weds her as Innocence itself, tho’ she has, in her own Heart, given her Approbation of a different Man in every Assembly she was in the whole Year before. What is wanting among Women, as well as among Men, is the Love of laudable Things, and not to rest only in the Forbearance of such as are Reproachful.
How far removed from a Woman of this light Imagination is Eudosia! Eudosia has all the Arts of Life and good Breeding with so much Ease, that the Virtue of her Conduct looks more like an Instinct than Choice. It is as little difficult to her to think justly of Persons and Things, as it is to a Woman of different Accomplishments, to move ill or look awkward. That which was, at first, the Effect of Instruction, is grown into an Habit; and it would be as hard for Eudosia to indulge a wrong Suggestion of Thought, as it would be for Flavia the fine Dancer to come into a Room with an unbecoming Air.