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No. CCLX. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28.
Singula de nobis anni praedantur euntes.
Years following years steal something ev'ry day,
POPE. MR. i SPECTATOR,
• I AM now in the sixty fifth year of my age, . and having been the greater part of my days a man
of pleasure, the decay of my faculties is a stagna(tion of my life. But how is it, Sir, that my appetites
are increased upon me with the loss of power to 'gratify them? I write this, like a criminal, to warn
people to enter upon what reformation they please 'to make in themselves in their youth, and not expect they shall be capable of it from a fond opinion some have often in their mouths, that if we do not leave our desires they will leave us. It is far otherwise; I am now as vain in my dress, and as flippant if I see a pretty woman, as when in my youth I stood upon a bench in the pit to survey the whole circle of beauties. The folly is so extravagant with me, and I went on with so little check of my desires, or resignation of thein, that I can assure you, I very often, merely to entertain my own thoughts, sit with my spectacles on, writing love-letters to the beauties that have been long since in their graves. This is to warm my heart with the faint memory of delights which were once agreeable to me; but how much happier would my life have been now,
if I could have looked back on any worthy action done for my country? If I had laid out that which I profused in luxury and wantonness, in acts of generosity or charity? I have lived a bachelor to this day; and instead of a numerous offspring, with which, in the regular ways of life, I might possibly have delighted myself, I have only
to amuse myself with the repetition of old stories • and intrigues, which no one will believe I ever was • concerned in. I do not know whether you have ever • treated of it or not; but you cannot fall on a better * subject, than that of the art of growing old. In such • a lecture you must propose, that no one set his • heart upon what is transient; the beauty grows ( wrinkled while we are yet gazing at her. The witty man sinks into an humourist imperceptibly, for want of reflecting that all things around him are « in a flux, and continually changing': thus he is in • the space of ten or fifteen years surrounded by a
pew set of people, whose manners are as natural to • them as his delights, method of thinking, and mode • of living, were formerly to him and his friends. • But the mischief is, he looks upon the same kind of errors which he himself was guilty of with an
scorn, and with that sort of ill-will which 6 men entertain against each other for different opi6 nions: thus a crazy constitution, and an uneasy 6 mind is fretted with vexatious passions for young 'men's doing foolishly what it is folly to do at all. • Dear Sir, this is my present state of mind; I hate
those I should laugh at, and envy those I contemn. • The time of youth and vigorous manhood, passed " the way in which I have disposed of it, is attended
with these consequences : but to those who live 6 and pass away life as they ought, all parts of it
are equally pleasant; only the memory of good 6 and worthy actions is a feast which must give a
quicker relish to the soul than ever it could possi• bly taste in the highest enjoyments or jollities of • youth. As for me, if I sit down in my great chair and begin to ponder, the vagaries of a child are not more ridiculous than the circumstances which are cheaped up in my memory; fine gowns, country
dances, ends of tunes, interrupted conversations, • and midnight quarrels, are what must necessarily
compose my soliloquy. I beg of you to print this, that some ladies of my acquaintance and my years, may be persuaded to wear warm night caps this cold season: and that my old friend Jack Tawdry may buy him a cane, and not creep with the air of a strut. I must add to all this, that if it were not for one pleasure, which I thought a very mean one until of very late years, I should have no one great satisfaction left; but if I live to the 10th of March, 1714, and all my securities are good, I shall be worth fifty thousand pounds.
• I am, Sir,
• YOU will infinitely oblige a distressed lover, if you will insert in your very next paper the following letter to my mistress. You must know, I am not a person apt to despair, but she has got an odd humour of stopping short unaccountably, and, as she herself lold a confident of her's, she has cold fits. These ' fits shall last her a month or six weeks together; and as she falls into them without provocation, so it is to be hoped she will return from them without the merit of new services. But life and love will not admit of such intervals, therefore pray let her be admonished as follows :
• I LOVE you, and I honour you; therefore pray do not tell me of waiting till decencies, till forms, till humours are consulted and gratified. you
have that happy constitution as to be indo'lent for ten weeks together, you should consider that all that time I burn with impatiences and fevers;
but still you say it will be time enough, though I and you too grow older while we are yet talking. Which
do you think the more reasonable, that you should (alter a state of indifference for happiness, and that to oblige me, or live in torment, and that to lay no manner of obligation upon you? While I indulge your insensibility I am doing nothing; if you favour my passion, you are bestowing bright desires, gay hopes, generous cares, noble resolutions, and trans'porting raptures upon,
• Madam, - Your most devoted humble servant.'
• HERE is a gentlewoman lodges in the same o house with me, that I never did any injury to in my
whole life ; and she is always railing at me to 6 those she knows will tell me of it. Do not you 6 think that she is in love with me? Or would you • have me break my mind yet or not?
"I AM a footman in a great family, and am in ( love with the house maid. We were all at hot
cockles last night in the hall these holidays; when • I lay down and was 'blinded, she pulled off her
shoe, and hit me with the heel such a rap, as al• most broke my head to pieces. Pray, Sir, was this love or spite ?
No. CCLXI. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29.
Γάμ@ γαρ ανθρώποισιν ουκλαίον κακόν.
FRAG. VET. POET.
Wedlock's an ill men eagerly embrace.
MY father, whom I mentioned in my first speculation, and whom I must always name with honour and gratitude, has very frequently talked to me upon the subject of marriage. I was in my younger years engaged, partly by his advice, and partly by my own inclinations, in the courtship of a person who had a great deal of beauty, and did not at my first approaches seem to have any aversion to me ; but as my natural taciturnity hindered me from shewing myself to the best advantage, she by degrees began to look upon me as a very silly fellow, and being resolved to regard merit more than any thing else in the persons who made their applications to her, she married a captain of dragoons who happened to be beating up for recruits in those parts.
This unlucky accident has given me an aversion to pretty fellows ever since, and discouraged me from trying my fortune with the fair sex. The observations which I made in this conjuncture, and the repeated advices which I received at that time from the good old man above-mentioned, have produced the following essay upon Love and Marriage.
The pleasantest part of a man's life is generally that which passes in courtship, provided his passion be sincere, and the party beloved kind with discretion. Love, desire, hope, all the pleasing motions of the soul rise in the pursuit.
It is easier for an artful man who is not in love, to persuade his mistress he has a passion for her, and to succeed in his pursuits, than for one who