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No. 187 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

Thursday, October 4, 1711.

‘… Miseri quibus
Intentata nites …’

Hor.

The Intelligence given by this Correspondent is so important and useful, in order to avoid the Persons he speaks of, that I shall insert his Letter at length.

Mr. SPECTATOR,

‘I do not know that you have ever touched upon a certain species of Women, whom we ordinarily call Jilts. You cannot possibly go upon a more useful Work, than the Consideration of these dangerous Animals. The Coquet is indeed one Degree towards the Jilt; but the Heart of the former is bent upon admiring her self, and giving false Hopes to her Lovers; but the latter is not contented to be extreamly amiable, but she must add to that Advantage a certain Delight in being a Torment to others. Thus when her Lover is in the full Expectation of Success, the Jilt shall meet him with a sudden Indifference, and Admiration in her Face at his being surprised that he is received like a Stranger, and a Cast of her Head another Way with a pleasant Scorn of the Fellow’s Insolence. It is very probable the Lover goes home utterly astonished and dejected, sits down to his Scrutore, sends her word in the most abject Terms, That he knows not what he has done; that all which was desirable in this Life is so suddenly vanished from him, that the Charmer of his Soul should withdraw the vital Heat from the Heart which pants for her. He continues a mournful Absence for some time, pining in Secret, and out of Humour with all things which he meets with. At length he takes a Resolution to try his Fate, and explain with her resolutely upon her unaccountable Carriage. He walks up to her Apartment, with a thousand Inquietudes and Doubts in what Manner he shall meet the first Cast of her Eye; when upon his first Appearance she flies towards him, wonders where he has been, accuses him of his Absence, and treats him with a Familiarity as surprising as her former Coldness. This good Correspondence continues till the Lady observes the Lover grows happy in it, and then she interrupts it with some new Inconsistency of Behaviour. For (as I just now said) the Happiness of a Jilt consists only in the Power of making others uneasy. But such is the Folly of this Sect of Women, that they carry on this pretty skittish Behaviour, till they have no charms left to render it supportable. Corinna, that used to torment all who conversed with her with false Glances, and little heedless unguarded Motions, that were to betray some Inclination towards the Man she would ensnare, finds at present all she attempts that way unregarded; and is obliged to indulge the Jilt in her Constitution, by laying Artificial Plots, writing perplexing Letters from unknown Hands, and making all the young Fellows in Love with her, till they find out who she is. Thus as before she gave Torment by disguising her Inclination, she is now obliged to do it by hiding her Person.

As for my own Part, Mr, SPECTATOR, it has been my unhappy Fate to be jilted from my Youth upward; and as my Taste has been very much towards Intreague, and having Intelligence with Women of Wit, my whole Life has passed away in a Series of Impositions. I shall, for the Benefit of the present Race of young Men, give some Account of my Loves. I know not whether you have ever heard of the famous Girl about Town called Kitty: This Creature (for I must take Shame upon my self) was my Mistress in the Days when Keeping was in Fashion. Kitty, under the Appearance of being Wild, Thoughtless, and Irregular in all her Words and Actions, concealed the most accomplished Jilt of her Time. Her Negligence had to me a Charm in it like that of Chastity, and Want of Desires seemed as great a Merit as the Conquest of them. The Air she gave herself was that of a Romping Girl, and whenever I talked to her with any Turn of Fondness, she would immediately snatch off my Perriwig, try it upon herself in the Glass, clap her Arms a Kimbow, draw my Sword, and make Passes on the Wall, take off my Cravat, and seize it to make some other Use of the Lace, or run into some other unaccountable Rompishness, till the Time I had appointed to pass away with her was over. I went from her full of Pleasure at the Reflection that I had the keeping of so much Beauty in a Woman, who, as she was too heedless to please me, was also too inattentive to form a Design to wrong me. Long did I divert every Hour that hung heavy upon me in the Company of this Creature, whom I looked upon as neither Guilty or Innocent, but could laugh at my self for my unaccountable Pleasure in an Expence upon her, till in the End it appeared my pretty Insensible was with Child by my Footman.