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however, is not always to be had; the present age, whatever
age is present, is fo vitiated and disordered, that young people are readier to talk than to attend, and good counsel is only thrown away upon those who are full of their own perfections:
I was, therefore, in this scarcity of good sense, a general favourite and seldom faw a day in which some fober matron did not invite me to her house, or take me out in her chariot, for the sake of instructing me how to keep my character in this cenforious age, how to conduct myself in the time of courtship, how to ftipulate for a settlement, how to manage a husband of every character, regulate my family, and educate my children.
We are all naturally credulous in our own favour, Having been so often caressed and applauded for my docility, I was willing to believe myself really enlightened by instruction, and completely qualified for the talk of life. I did not doubt but I was entering the world with a mind furnished against all exigencies, with expedients to extricate myself from every dif. ficulty, and fagacity to provide against every danger; I was, therefore, in hafte to give some specimen of my prudence, and to shew that this liberality of instruction had not been idly lavished upon a mind incapable of improvement:
My purpose, før why should I deny it? was like that of other women, to obtain a husband of rank and for. tune superior to my own; and in this f had the concurrence of all those that had assumed the province of directing me. That the woman was undone who mar. ried below herself, was universally agreed : and though fome ventured to affert, that the richer man ought in
variably to be preferred, and that money was a fufficient compensation for a defective ancestry; yet the majority declared warmly for a gentleman, and were of opinion that upstarts fhould not be encouraged.
With regard to other qualifications I had an irreconcileable variety of instructions. I was sometimes told; that deformity was no defect in a man; and that he who was not encouraged to intrigue by an opinion of his perfon, was more likely to value the tenderness of his wife : but a grave widow directed me to choose a man who might imagine himself agreeable to me, for that the deformed were always insupportably vigilant, and apt to fink into fullenness, or burst into rage, if they found their wife's eye wandering for a moment, to a good face or a handsome shape.
They were, however, all unanimous in warning me, with repeated cautions, against all thoughts of union with a wit, as a being with whom no happiness could possibly be enjoyed : men of every kind I was taught to govern,
but a wit was an animal for whom no arts of taming had been
discovered : the woman whom he could once get within his power, was considered as lost to all hope of dominion or of quiet : for he would detect artifice and defeat allurement; and if once he discovered any failure of conduct, would believe his own eyes, in defiance of tears, caresses, and protesta... tions.
In pursuanee of these fage principles, I proceeded to form my schemes; and while I was yet in the first bloom of youth, was taken out at an assembly by Mr. Frisk. I am afraid my cheeks glowed, and my eyes sparkled; for I observed the looks of all my superinbendants fixed anxioully upon me, and I was next day
cautioned against him from all hands, as a man of the most dangerous and formidable kind, who had writ verses to one lady, and then forsaken her only because The could not read them, and had lampooned another for no other fault than defaming his fifter.
Having been hitherto accustomed to obey, I ventured to dismiss Mr. Frisk, who happily did not think me worth the labour of a lampoon. I was then ad. dressed by Mr. Sturdy, and congratulated by all my friends on the manors of which I was shortly to be lady: but Sturdy's conversation was so grofs, that after the third visit, I could endure him no longer; and incurred, by dismissing him, the censure of all my friends, who declared that my nicety was greater than my prudence, and that they feared it would be my fate at last to be wretched with a wit.
By a wit, however, I was never afterwards attacked, but lovers of every other class, or pretended lovers, I have often had; and, notwithstanding the advice constantly given me, to have no regard in my choice to my own inclinations, I could not forbear to discard some for vice, and some for rudeness. I was once loudly censured for refusing an old gentleman who offered an enormous jointure, and died of the phthysic a year after; and was so baited with incessant importunities, that I should have given my hand to Drone the stock-jobber, had not the reduction of interest made him afraid of the expences of matrimony.
Some, indeed, I was permitted to encourage; but miscarried of the main end, by treating them according to the rules of art which had been prescribed me. Al. tilis, an old maid, infused into me so much haughtiness and referve, that some of my lovers withdrew themfelves from my frown, and returned no more; others were driven away, by the demands of settlement which the widow Trapland directed me to make ; and I have learned, by many experiments, that to al advice is to lose opportunity.
I am, SIR,
No. LXXV. Tuesday July 24. 1753.
Quid virtus do quid fapientia pofit, Utile propofuit nobis exemplar Ulyllem. HOR, To Thew what pious wisdom's pow'r can do, The poet sets Ulysses in our view.
I have frequently wondered at the common practice of our instructors of youth, in making their pupils far more intimately acquainted with the Iliad than with the Odyssey of Homer. This abfurd custom, which seems to arise from the supposed superiority of the former poem,
has inclined me to make some reflections on the excellence of the latter: a task I am the more readily induced to undertake, as so little is performed in the differtation prefixed by Broome to Pope's translaB 3
tion of this work, which we may venture to pronounce is confused, defective, and dull. Those who receive all their opinions in criticism from custom and authority, and never dare to consult the decisions of reason and the voice of nature and truth, must not accuse me of being affectedly paradoxical, if I endeavour to maintain that the Odyssey exceis the Iliad in many refpects; and that for feveral reasons young scholars fhould peruse it early and attentively.
The moral of this poem is more extensively useful than that of the Iliad; which, indeed, by displaying the dire etfects of difcord among rulers, may rectify the condud of princes, and may be called the Manual of Monarchs: whereas the patience, the prudence, the wisdom, the temperance and fortitude of Ulysses, afford a patteru, the utility of which is not confined within the compass of courts and palaces, but defcends and diffuses its influence over common life and daily practice. If the fairest examples ought to be placed before us in an age prone to imitation, if patriotism be preferable to implacability, if an eager desire to return to one's country and family be more manly and noble than an eager desire to be revenged of an enemy, then fhould our eyes rather be fixed on Ulysses than Achil. lės. Unexperienced minds, too easily captivated with the fire and fury of a gallant general, are apt to prefer courage to conftancy, and firmness to humanity. We do not behold the destroyers of peace and the murderers of mankind, with the detestation due to their crimes; because we have been inured almost from our infancy to listen to the praises that have been wantonly lavished on them by the most exquisite poetry: * The Muses," to apply the words of an ancient Ly