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to be the wish and intention of nature that the two sexes should live and die together.
We become insensible of a settled habitude, and, as we do not perceive that a mistress grows old and becomes less handsome, we do not observe that her way of thinking becomes our own, and our reason subjected to hers, though sometimes less enlightened. We insensibly sacrifice our fortune to her; and this is a necessary consequence of the resignation we have made of our reason.
Men sometimes pass over the infidelities of women because they are not perfectly convinced of them, and that a blind confidence is a necessary consequence of their seduction: but if unfortunately they come to a knowledge of them, it is impossible for a man, sin. cerely attached to a woman, not to be susceptible of jealousy. This jealousy takes a tinge of the character of the person who is afflicted with it. The mild man becomes afflicted, falls ill, and dies, if a repentance, which he is always disposed to believe sincere, does not console him; the choleric man breaks out into rage, and, in the first moments, it is not known how far this may carry bim: but men of this disposition are soonest appeased, and most frequently to be deceived.
Pecuniary interest should never be the basis of an amorous connexion; it renders it shameful, or at least suspicious: money, says Montaigne, being the source of concubinage. But when a tender union is well formed, interest like sentiment becomes common; every thing is mutual; and there is but one fortune for two sincere lovers. If they be equally honest, and incapable of making a bad use of it, this is just and natural; but frequently the complaisance of one makes him or her partake too much of the misfortunes of the other.
Love should never have any thing to do with affairs: it ought to live on plcasure only. But how is it possible to resist the solicitations of a beloved object, who, though she ought not to participate in affairs which she has not prudence or courage to manage; yet, having always, for a pretext, her interest in your reputation, welfare, and happiness, how is it possible to resist an amiable woman, who attacks with such weapons?
Some ladies have a real, others a borrowed reputation; that of the first is pure and unspotted, founded on the principles of religion, consequently the only genuine one; it belongs to women really attached to their duty, and who have never failed in the
least point of it, whether they have had the good fortune to love their husbands, who have returned their affection; or whether, by an act of virtue, they have been faithful to a man whom they have not loved, nor beloved by. There is another reputation, unknown to religion, which delicate morality, although purely human, does not admit, but which the more indulgent world will sometimes accept as good: that founded upon the good choice of lovers, or rather of a lover, for multiplicity is always indecent. We are so disposed to think that each loves his likeness, that we judge of the character of men and women by those of their own sex with whom they have formed an intimacy, but infinitely more by the persons for whom they conceive a serious attachment. Many a man of wit has established the reputation of his mistress without composing madrigals for her; but by making known the passion with which she had inspired him; many a woman of merit has created or established the reputation of bim whom she has adopted her chevalier. After all, it is more dangerous to solicit than to decline this kind of reputation: it happens more frequently that a man loses himself by making a bad choice, than he adds to his fame by making a good one.
If the public are indulgent to the attachments of simple individuals, they are much more so to those of kings and people in place, when they think them real, and do not suspect in them either ambition, intrigue, or motives of interest. All France approved of the love of Charles the Seventh for Agnes Sorel, because she had the courage to say to this prince, that unless he recovered his kingdom, he was not worthy of her affection. The Parisians applauded the love of Henry the Fourth for la belle Gabrielle, and sung with pleasure the songs this monarch made for her; because knowing her to be handsome, and of a good disposition, they imagined she would inspire the king with sentiments of benevolence.
Never did a woman love a man more sincerely than Madame de la Valliere loved Lewis the Fourteenth. She never quitted him but for God alone; and swelled with vanity as that monarch was, he could not complain of this rivalty; so much the less, as the Supreme Being had but the remains of the heart of his mistress, and perhaps never possessed it entirely.
I have heard an anecdote of Madame de la Valliere, which I do not remember to have seen in print. This lady was so modest and possessed so little ambition, that she had never told the king she had a brother, much less had she ever asked any favour for him. He was still young, and had made his first campaign among the cadets of the king's household. Lewis the Fourteenth, reviewing his troops, saw his mistress smile in a friendly manner at a young man, who on his part bowed to her with an air of familiarity. In the evening, the king asked, in a severe and irritated tone of voice, who this young man was. Madame de la Valliere was at first confused, but afterwards told him it was her brother. The king, having assured himself of it, conferred distinguished favours upon the young gentleman, who was father of the first duke de la Valliere.
The king's intrigue with Madame de Montespan was not of a nature to be approved of so much as that he had with Madame de la Valliere; yet the nation did not complain, because it was thought the love of this lady procured the public magnificent feasts and elegant amusements. The following verses were a good deal sung at that time.
Ah! quelle est charmante
Notre aimable cour;
On voit tour à tour.
La gloire et l'amour,
Et fête gallante,
On the contrary, the public were a good deal disgusted with the amours of the king and Madame de Maintenon, although more decent, and that a secret marriage had rendered them legitimate. It was observed, that a love conceived when both parties were advanced in years afforded a ridiculous spectacle: moreover, Madame de Maintenon meddled with the affairs of government; and it was when she most interfered with them that things fell into decline, and that Lewis XIV. began to experience misfortunes, which were all laid to her charge.
When the duke of Orleans, who was regent, fell in love with Mademoiselle Sery, he was not censured on account of it. The dutchess of Orleans, natural daughter to the king, was rather beautiful, but she was not amiable; Mademoiselle de Sery, on the contrary, was very much so. She had a son, and it was predicted of him, that he would one day become duke of Dunois. But he did not fulfil what was expected of him; yet he had wit, and was, in many respects, amiable.
In process of time the regent fell into such irregularities of conduct that the public were shocked at it. It was necessary for him to have many other brilliant and estimable qualities to be pardoned so great a defect; but people were so much disposed to indulgence for him, that his affection for Madame de Parabere was approved of, because it was supposed she really loved him, and that he loved her, although he was frequently unfaithful to her.
Exterior decency is generally admired, and princes and men of distinction ought to do nothing to disgust the public: but, right or wrong, it is but too true, that in the end the public assumes the authority of censuring, without delicacy, every fault. Wo to them who are the first objects of gross scandal; they become the victims of its rage; the public judges and punishes them for it; or at least hoots at, hisses, and despises them: but when the number of the guilty increases to a certain degree, it is found that, although hisses are sufficient to condemn bad pieces, they are not rods enough for those men who deserve to be lashed; they then become tolerated
nothing more is said-and, what is worse than all, a resolution is sometimes taken to imitate them. It must be acknow. ledged that the temptation to sin is very great, when we are sure to do it with impunity; and that people are made easy upon this head, when they are sheltered from reproach and ridicule.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE MIRROR OF TASTE. SIR, One of the most common panegyrics bestowed upon men at this day, though it pass current with the world as denoting something valuable, to me conveys the idea of something emphatically worthless—" He is A MIGHTY GOOD KIND OF A MAN.". -Now, sir, a long and not inattentive life of observation on mankind has filled me with the unalterable persuasion, that your mighty good kind of man" is generally one of those moral nullities whose best qualities are of the mere negative kind. He does very little harm, perhaps; but you never find him do any good. He is very decent in appearance, and takes care to have all the externals of sense and Vol. IV.
virtue; but you never perceive the heart concerned in any word, thought or action. Not many love him, though very few think ill of him: to him every body is his “ dear sir," though he cares not a cent for any one but himself. If he writes to you, though you have but the slightest acquaintance with him, he begins with « dear sir,” and ends with “ I am, good sir, your ever sincere and affectionate friend, and most obedient humble servant.”—You may generally find him in company with older persons than himself, but always with richer. He does not talk much; but he has a “ yes," or a “ true, sir,” or you observe very right, sir,” for every word that is said—which with the old gentry, who love to hear themselves talk, makes him pass for a mighty sensible and discerning, as well as a mighty good kind of man. It is so familiar to him to be agreeable, and he has got such a settled habit of assenting to every thing advanced in company, that he does it without the trouble of thinking what he is about. I have known such a one, after having approved an observation made by one of the company, assent with “ what you say is very just," to an opposite sentiment from another; and I have frequently made him contradict himself five times in a minute. As the weather is a principal and favourite topic of a mighty good kind of man, you may make him agree, that it is very hot, very cold, very cloudy, a fine sun. shine, or it rains, snows, hails, or freezes, all in the same hour. The wind may be high, or it may not blow at all; it may be east, west, north or south, south-east and by east, or in any point in the compass, or any point not in the compass, just as you please. This, in a stage-coach, makes him a mighty agreeable companion, as well as a mighty good kind of man. He is so civil and well bred that he could keep you standing half an hour uncovered in the rain rather than step into your chariot before you; and the dinner is in danger of growing cold, if you attempt to place him at the upper end of the table. He would not suffer a glass of wine to approach his lips till he had drank the health of half the company;“ and would sooner rise hungry from table, than not drink the other half before dinner is over, lest he should offend any by his neglect. He never forgets to hob or nob with the lady of the family, and by no means omits to toast her fire-side. He is sure to take notice of little master and miss, when they appear after dinner, and is very assiduous to win their little hearts by almonds and raisins, which he never fails to carry about with him for that purpose. This is