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The consolations of lovers on these occasions are very extraordinary. Besides those mentioned by Asteria, there are many other motives of comfort which are made use of by absent lovers.
I remember in one of Scudery's romances, a couple of honourable lovers agreed at their parting to set aside one half hour in the day to think of each other during a tedious absence. The romance tells us, that they both of them punctually observed the time thus agreed upon; and that whatever company or business they were engaged in, they left it abruptly as soon as the clock warned them to retire. The romance further adds, that the lovers expected the return of this stated hour with as much impatience as if it had been a real assignation, and enjoyed an imaginary happiness that was almost as pleasing to them as what they would have found from a real meeting. It was an inexpressible satisfaction to these divided lovers, to be assured that each was at the same time employed in the same kind of contemplation, and making equal returns of tenderness and affection.
If I may be allowed to mention a more serious expedient for the alleviating of absence, I shall take notice of one which I have known two persons practise, who joined religion to that elegance of sentiment with which the passion of love generally inspires its votaries. This was, at the return of such an hour, to offer up a certain prayer for each other, which they had agreed upon before their parting. The husband, who is a man that makes a figure in the polite world, as well as in his own family, has often told me, that he
could not have supported an absence of three years without this expedient.
Strada, in one of his prolusions, gives an account of a chimerical correspondence between two friends by the help of a certain loadstone, which had such virtue in it, that if it touched two several needles, when one of the needles so touched began to move, the other, though at never so great a distance, moved at the same time, and in the same manner. He tells us, that the two friends, being each of them possessed of one of these needles, made a kind of a dial-plate, inscribing it with the four-and-twenty letters, in the same manner as the hours of the day are marked upon the ordinary dial-plate. They then fixed one of the needles on each of these plates, in such a manner, that it could move round without impediment, so as to touch any of the fourand-twenty letters. Upon their separating from one another into distant countries, they agreed to withdraw themselves punctually into their closets at a certain hour of the day, and to converse with one another by means of this their invention. Accordingly, when they were some hundred miles asunder, each of them shut himself up in his closet at the time appointed, and immediately cast his eye upon his dial-plate. If he had a mind to write any thing to his friend, he directed his needle to every letter that formed the words which he had occasion for, making a little pause at the end of every word or sentence, to avoid confusion. The friend, in the meanwhile, saw his cwn sympathetic needle moving of itself to every letter which that of his correspondent pointed at. By this means they talked together
across a whole continent, and conveyed their thoughts to one another in an instant, over cities or mountains, seas or deserts.
If Monsieur Scudery, or any other writer of romance, had introduced a necromancer, who is generally in the train of a knight-errant, making a present to two lovers of a couple of those abovementioned needles, the reader would not have been a little pleased to have seen them corres. ponding with one another when they were guarded by spies and watches, or separated by castles and adventures.
In the meanwhile, if ever this invention should be revived or put in practice, I would propose, that upon the lover's dial-plate there should be written not only the four and twenty letters, but several entire words which have always a place in passionate epistles, as flames, darts, die, languish, absence, Cupid, heart, eyes, hang, drown, and the like. This would very much abridge the lover's pains in this way of writing a letter, as it would enable him to express the most useful and significant words with a single touch of the needle.
No. 242. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7.
• Your speculations do not so generally prevail over men's manners as I could wish. A former
paper of yours (No. 132) concerning the misbehaviour of people, who are necessarily in each other's company in travelling, ought to have been a lasting admonition against transgressions of that kind: but I had the fate of your Quaker, in meeting with a rude fellow in a stage-coach, who entertained two or three women of us (for there was no man besides himself) with language as indecent as ever was heard upon the water. Theimpertinent observations which the coxcomb made upon our shame and confusion were such, that it is an unspeakable grief to reflect upon them. As much as you have declaimed against duelling, I hope you will do us the justice to declare, that if the brute has courage enough to send to the place where he saw us all alight together to get rid of him, there is not one of us but has a lover who shall avenge the insult. It would certainly be worth your consideration to look into the frequent misfortunes of this kind to which the modest and innocent are exposed by the licentious behaviour of such as are as much strangers to good-breeding as to virtue. Could we avoid hearing what we do not approve as easily as we can seeing what is disagreeable, there were some consolation, but since in a box at a play, in an assembly of ladies, or even in a pew at church, it is in the power of a gross coxcomb to utter what a woman can not avoid hearing, how miserable is her condition who comes within the power of such impertinents! and how necessary is it to repeat invectives against such a behaviour! If the licentious had not utterly forgot what it is to be modest, they would know that offended modesty labours under one of the greatest sufferings to
which human life can be exposed. If one of these brutes could reflect thus much, though they want shame, they would be moved by their pity to abhor an impudent behaviour in the presence of the chaste and innocent. If you will oblige us with a Spectator on this subject, and procure it to be pasted up against every stage-coach in Great Britain, as the law of the journey, you will highly oblige the whole sex, for which you have professed so great an esteem: and in părticular, the two ladies, my late fellow-sufferers, and, sir,
Your most humble servant,
• The matter which I am now going to send you, is an unhappy story in low life, and will recommend itself, so that you must excuse the manner of expressing it. A poor idle drunken weaver in Spitalfields has a faithful laborious wife; who, by her frugality and industry had laid by her as much money as purchased her a ticket in the present lottery. She had hid this very privately in the bottom of a trunk, and had given her number to a friend and confidant, who had promised to keep the secret, and bring her news of the suc
The poor adventurer was one day gone abroad, when her careless husband, suspecting she had saved some money, searches every corner, till at length he finds this same ticket; which he immediately carries abroad, sells, and squanders away the money, without the wife suspecting any thing of the matter. A day or two after this, this friend, who was a woman, comes and brings the wife word, that she had a benefit of