Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

No. 198 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

Wednesday, October 17, 1711.

‘Cervae luporum praeda rapacium
Sectamur ultro, quos opimus
Fallere et effugere est triumphus.’

Hor.

There is a Species of Women, whom I shall distinguish by the Name of Salamanders. Now a Salamander is a kind of Heroine in Chastity, that treads upon Fire, and lives in the Midst of Flames without being hurt. A Salamander knows no Distinction of Sex in those she converses with, grows familiar with a Stranger at first Sight, and is not so narrow-spirited as to observe whether the Person she talks to be in Breeches or Petticoats. She admits a Male Visitant to her Bed-side, plays with him a whole Afternoon at Pickette, walks with him two or three Hours by Moon-light; and is extreamly Scandalized at the unreasonableness of an Husband, or the severity of a Parent, that would debar the Sex from such innocent Liberties. Your Salamander is therefore a perpetual Declaimer against Jealousie, and Admirer of the French Good-breeding, and a great Stickler for Freedom in Conversation. In short, the Salamander lives in an invincible State of Simplicity and Innocence: Her Constitution is preserv’d in a kind of natural Frost; she wonders what People mean by Temptation; and defies Mankind to do their worst. Her Chastity is engaged in a constant Ordeal, or fiery Tryal: (Like good Queen Emma, [1]) the pretty Innocent walks blindfold among burning Ploughshares, without being scorched or singed by them.

It is not therefore for the Use of the Salamander, whether in a married or single State of Life, that I design the following Paper; but for such Females only as are made of Flesh and Blood, and find themselves subject to Human Frailties.

As for this Part of the fair Sex who are not of the Salamander Kind, I would most earnestly advise them to observe a quite different Conduct in their Behaviour; and to avoid as much as possible what Religion calls Temptations, and the World Opportunities. Did they but know how many Thousands of their Sex have been gradually betrayed from innocent Freedoms to Ruin and Infamy; and how many Millions of ours have begun with Flatteries, Protestations and Endearments, but ended with Reproaches, Perjury, and Perfidiousness; they would shun like Death the very first Approaches of one that might lead them into inextricable Labyrinths of Guilt and Misery. I must so far give up the Cause of the Male World, as to exhort the Female Sex in the Language of Chamont in the Orphan; [2]

‘Trust not a Man, we are by Nature False,
Dissembling, Subtle, Cruel, and Unconstant:
When a Man talks of Love, with Caution trust him:
But if he Swears, he’ll certainly deceive thee.’

I might very much enlarge upon this Subject, but shall conclude it with a Story which I lately heard from one of our Spanish Officers, [3] and which may shew the Danger a Woman incurs by too great Familiarities with a Male Companion.

An Inhabitant of the Kingdom of Castile, being a Man of more than ordinary Prudence, and of a grave composed Behaviour, determined about the fiftieth Year of his Age to enter upon Wedlock. In order to make himself easy in it, he cast his Eye upon a young Woman who had nothing to recommend her but her Beauty and her Education, her Parents having been reduced to great Poverty by the Wars, [which [4]] for some Years have laid that whole Country waste. The Castilian having made his Addresses to her and married her, they lived together in perfect Happiness for some time; when at length the Husband’s Affairs made it necessary for him to take a Voyage to the Kingdom of Naples, where a great Part of his Estate lay. The Wife loved him too tenderly to be left behind him. They had not been a Shipboard above a Day, when they unluckily fell into the Hands of an Algerine Pirate, who carried the whole Company on Shore, and made them Slaves. The Castilian and his Wife had the Comfort to be under the same Master; who seeing how dearly they loved one another, and gasped after their Liberty, demanded a most exorbitant Price for their Ransom. The Castilian, though he would rather have died in Slavery himself, than have paid such a Sum as he found would go near to ruin him, was so moved with Compassion towards his Wife, that he sent repeated Orders to his Friend in Spain, (who happened to be his next Relation) to sell his Estate, and transmit the Money to him. His Friend hoping that the Terms of his Ransom might be made more reasonable, and unwilling to sell an Estate which he himself had some Prospect of inheriting, formed so many delays, that three whole Years passed away without any thing being done for the setting of them at Liberty.