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No. 090 [from The Spectator]
by [?]


That I may a little alleviate the Severity of this my Speculation (which otherwise may lose me several of my polite Readers) I shall translate a Story [that [2]] has been quoted upon another Occasion by one of the most learned Men of the present Age, as I find it in the Original. The Reader will see it is not foreign to my present Subject, and I dare say will think it a lively Representation of a Person lying under the Torments of such a kind of Tantalism, or Platonick Hell, as that which we have now under Consideration. Monsieur Pontignan speaking of a Love-Adventure that happened to him in the Country, gives the following Account of it. [3]

‘When I was in the Country last Summer, I was often in Company with a Couple of charming Women, who had all the Wit and Beauty one could desire in Female Companions, with a Dash of Coquetry, that from time to time gave me a great many agreeable Torments. I was, after my Way, in Love with both of them, and had such frequent opportunities of pleading my Passion to them when they were asunder, that I had Reason to hope for particular Favours from each of them. As I was walking one Evening in my Chamber with nothing about me but my Night gown, they both came into my Room and told me, They had a very pleasant Trick to put upon a Gentleman that was in the same House, provided I would bear a Part in it. Upon this they told me such a plausible Story, that I laughed at their Contrivance, and agreed to do whatever they should require of me: They immediately began to swaddle me up in my Night-Gown with long Pieces of Linnen, which they folded about me till they had wrapt me in above an hundred Yards of Swathe: My Arms were pressed to my Sides, and my Legs closed together by so many Wrappers one over another, that I looked like an AEgyptian Mummy. As I stood bolt upright upon one End in this antique Figure, one of the Ladies burst out a laughing, And now, Pontignan, says she, we intend to perform the Promise that we find you have extorted from each of us. You have often asked the Favour of us, and I dare say you are a better bred Cavalier than to refuse to go to Bed to two Ladies, that desire it of you. After having stood a Fit of Laughter, I begged them to uncase me, and do with me what they pleased. No, no, said they, we like you very well as you are; and upon that ordered me to be carried to one of their Houses, and put to Bed in all my Swaddles. The Room was lighted up on all Sides: and I was laid very decently between a [Pair [4]] of Sheets, with my Head (which was indeed the only Part I could move) upon a very high Pillow: This was no sooner done, but my two Female Friends came into Bed to me in their finest Night-Clothes. You may easily guess at the Condition of a Man that saw a Couple of the most beautiful Women in the World undrest and abed with him, without being able to stir Hand or Foot. I begged them to release me, and struggled all I could to get loose, which I did with so much Violence, that about Midnight they both leaped out of the Bed, crying out they were undone. But seeing me safe, they took their Posts again, and renewed their Raillery. Finding all my Prayers and Endeavours were lost, I composed my self as well as I could, and told them, that if they would not unbind me, I would fall asleep between them, and by that means disgrace them for ever: But alas! this was impossible; could I have been disposed to it, they would have prevented me by several little ill-natured Caresses and Endearments which they bestowed upon me. As much devoted as I am to Womankind, I would not pass such another Night to be Master of the whole Sex. My Reader will doubtless be curious to know what became of me the next Morning: Why truly my Bed-fellows left me about an Hour before Day, and told me, if I would be good and lie still, they would send somebody to take me up as soon as it was time for me to rise: Accordingly about Nine a Clock in the Morning an old Woman came to un-swathe me. I bore all this very patiently, being resolved to take my Revenge of my Tormentors, and to keep no Measures with them as soon as I was at Liberty; but upon asking my old Woman what was become of the two Ladies, she told me she believed they were by that Time within Sight of Paris, for that they went away in a Coach and six before five a clock in the Morning.


[Footnote 1: Plato’s doctrine of the soul and of its destiny is to be found at the close of his ‘Republic’; also near the close of the ‘Phaedon’, in a passage of the ‘Philebus’, and in another of the ‘Gorgias’. In Sec. 131 of the ‘Phaedon’ is the passage here especially referred to; which was the basis also of lines 461-475 of Milton’s ‘Comus’. The last of our own Platonists was Henry More, one of whose books Addison quoted four essays back (in No. 86), and who died only four and twenty years before these essays were written, after a long contest in prose and verse, against besotting or obnubilating the soul with ‘the foul steam of earthly life.’]

[Footnote 2: which]

[Footnote 3: Paraphrased from the ‘Academe Galante’ (Ed. 1708, p. 160).]

[Footnote 4: couple]