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him. As he was in the third hour of his story, and very thankful that his memory did not fail him, I fairly nodded in the elbow-chair. He was much affronted at this, till I told him, ‘Old friend, you have your infirmity, and I have mine.'
But of all evils in story-telling, the humour of telling tales one after another, in great numbers, is the least supportable. Sir Harry Pandolf and his son gave my Lady Lizard great offence in this particular. Sir Harry hath what they call a string of stories, which he tells over every Christmas. When our family visits there, we are constantly, after 'supper, entertained with the Glastonbury Thorn. When we have wondered at that a little, “Ay, but, father,' saith the son, 'let us have the spirit in the wood.' After that hath been laughed at, “Ay, but, father,' cries the booby again, 'tell us how you served the robber.' 'Alack-a-day,' said Sir Harry, with a smile, and rubbing his forehead, 'I have almost forgot that: but it is a pleasant conceit, to be sure.' Accordingly he tells that and twenty more in the same independent order ; and without the least variation, at this day, as he hath done, to my knowledge, ever since the Revolution. I must not forget a very odd compliment that Sir Harry always makes my lady when he dines here. After dinner he strokes his belly, and says with a feigned concern in his countenance, 'Madam, I have lost by you to-day
Sir Harry,' replies my lady. 'Madam, says he, 'I have lost an excellent stomach. At this, his son and heir laughs immoderately, and winks upon Mrs. Annabella. This is the thirty-third time that Sir Harry hath been thus arch, and I can bear it no longer.
As the telling of stories is a great help and life to conversation, I always encourage them, if they are pertinent and innocent ; in opposition to those gloomy mortals, who disdain everything but matter of fact. Those grave fellows are my aversion, who sift everything with the utmost nicety, and find the malignity of a lie in a piece of humour, pushed a little beyond exact truth. I likewise have a poor opinion of those, who have got a trick of keeping a steady countenance, that cock their hats, and look glum when a pleasant thing is said, and ask, “Well ! and what then?' Men of wit and parts should treat one another with benevolence : and I will lay it down as a maxim, that if you seem to have a good opinion of another man's wit, he will allow you to have judgment.
[Guardian, No. 42.
advice to Ladies on Erercise and
It may perhaps appear ridiculous, but I must confess this last summer, as I was riding in Enfield Chase, I met a young lady whom I could hardly get out of my head, and for aught I know, my heart, ever since. She was mounted on a pad, with a very well fancied furniture. She set her horse with a very graceful air ; and, when I saluted her with my hat, she bowed to me so obligingly that whether it was her civility or beauty that touched me so much, I know not ; but I am sure I shall never forget her. She dwells in my imagination in a figure so much to her advantage, that if I were to draw a picture of youth, health, beauty, or modesty, I should represent any or all of them, in the person of that young woman.
I do not find that there are any descriptions in the ancient poets so beautiful as those they draw of nymphs in their pastoral dresses and exercises. Virgil gives Venus the habit of a Spartan huntress when she is to put Æneas in his way, and relieve his cares with the most agreeable object imaginable. Diana and her train are always described as inhabitants of the woods, and followers of the chase. To be well diverted, is the safest guard to innocence ; and, inethinks, it should be one of the first things to be regarded among
people of condition, to find out proper amusements for young ladies. I cannot but think this of riding might easily be revived among them, when they consider how much it must contribute to their beauty. This would lay up the best portion they could bring into a family, a good stock of health, to transmit to their posterity. Such a charming bloom as this gives the countenance, is very much preferable to the real or affected feebleness or softness, which appear in the faces of our modern beauties.
The comedy called The Ladies' Cure represents the affectation of wan looks and languid glances to a very entertaining extravagance. There is, as the lady in the play complains, something so robust in perfect health, that it is with her a point of breeding and delicacy to appear in public with a sickly air. But the natural gaiety and spirit which shine in the complexion of such as form to themselves a sort of diverting industry, by choosing recreations that are exercises, surpass all the false ornaments and graces that can be put on by applying the whole dispensary of a toilet. A healthy body, and a cheerful mind, give charins as irresistible as inimitable. The beauteous Dyctinna, who came to town last week, has, from the constant prospect in a delicious country, and the moderate exercise and journeys in the visits she made round it, contracted a certain life in her countenance, which will in vain employ both the painters and the poets to represent. The becoming negligence in her dress, the severe sweetness of her looks, and a certain innocent boldness in all her behaviour, are the effect of the active recreations I am talking of.
But instead of such, or any other as innocent and
pleasing method of passing away their time with alacrity, we have many in town who spend their hours in an indolent state of body and mind, without either recreations or reflections. I am apt to believe there are some parents imagine their daughters will be accomplished enough, if nothing interrupts their growth, or their shape. According to this method of education, I could name you twenty families, where all the girls hear of, in this life, is, that it is time to rise and come to dinner, as if they were so insignificant as to be wholly provided for when they are fed and clothed.
It is with great indignation that I see such crowds of the female world lost to human society, and condemned to a laziness, which makes life pass away with less relish than in the hardest labour. Palestris, in her drawing-room, is supported by spirits to keep off the returns of spleen and melancholy, before she can get over half of the day for want of something to do, while the wench in the kitchen sings and scours from morning to night.
The next disagreeable thing to a lazy lady, is a very busy one. A man of business in good company, who gives an account of his abilities and despatches, is hardly more insupportable than her they call a notable woman, and a manager. Lady Good-day, where I visited the other day, at a very polite circle, entertained a great lady with a recipe for a poultice, and gave us to understand, that she had done extraordinary cures since she was last in town. It seems a countryman had wounded himself with his scythe as he was mowing, and we were obliged to hear of her charity, her medicine, and her humility, in the harshest tone and coarsest language imaginable.