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Modesty never rages, never murmurs, never pouts ; when it is ill-treated, it pines, it beseeches, it languishes. The neighbour I mention is one of your common modest women, that is to say, those who are ordinarily reckoned such. Her husband knows every pain in life with her but jealousy. Now, because she is clear in this particular, the man cannot say his soul is his own, but she cries, ‘No modest woman is respected nowadays. What adds to the comedy in this case is, that it is very ordinary with this sort of women to talk in the language of distress ; they will complain of the forlorn wretchedness of their condition, and then the poor helpless creatures shall throw the next thing they can lay their hands on at the person who offends them. Our neighbour was only saying to his wife, she went a little too fine,' when she immediately pulled his periwig off, and stamping it under her feet, wrung her hands and said : 'Never modest woman was so used.' These ladies of irresistible modesty are those who make virtue unamiable ; not that they can be said to be virtuous, but as they live without scandal; and being under the common denomination of being such, men fear to meet their faults in those who are as agreeable as they are innocent.
I take the Bully among men, and the Scold among women, to draw the foundation of their actions from the same defect in the mind. A Bully thinks honour consists wholly in being brave; and therefore has regard to no one rule of life if he preserves himself from the accusation of cowardice. The froward woman knows chastity to be the first merit in a woman ; and therefore, since no one can call her one ugly name, she calls all mankind all the rest.
These ladies, where their companions are so imprudent as to take their speeches for any other than exercises of their own lungs and their husbands' patience, gain by the force of being resisted, and flame with open fury, which is no way to be opposed but by being neglected ; though at the same time human frailty makes it very hard, to relish the philosophy of contemning even frivolous reproach. There is a very pretty instance of this infirmity in the man of the best sense that ever was, no less a person than Adam himself. According to Milton's description of the first couple, as soon as they had fallen, and the turbulent passions of anger, hatred, and jealousy, first entered their breasts, Adam grew moody, and talked to his wife, as you may find it in the three hundred and fifty-ninth page, and ninth book of Paradise Lost, in the octavo edition, which, out of heroics, and put into domestic style, would run thus :
Madam, if my advices had been of any authority with you, when that strange desire of gadding possessed you this morning, we had still been happy ; but your cursed vanity and opinion of your own conduct, which is certainly very wavering when it seeks occasions of being proved, has ruined both yourself and me, who trusted you.'
Eve had no fan in her hand to ruffle, or tucker to pull down ; but with a reproachful air she answered :
'Sir, do you impute that to my desire of gadding, which might have happened to yourself, with all your wisdom and gravity ? The serpent spoke so cellently, and with so good a grace, that -besides, what harm had I ever done him, that he should design me any? Was I to have been always at your side, I
might as well have continued there, and been but your rib still : but if I was so weak a creature as you thought me, why did you not interpose your sage authority more absolutely? You denied me going as faintly, as you say I resisted the serpent. Had not you been too easy, neither you nor I had now transgressed.' Adam replied, “Why, Eve, hast thou the impudence to upbraid me as the cause of thy transgression for my indulgence to thee? Thus will it ever be with him who trusts too much to woman. At the same time that she refuses to be governed, if she suffers by her obstinacy, she will accuse the man that shall leave her to herself.'
Thus they in mutual accusation spent
And of their vain contest appear'd no end. This, to the modern, will appear but a very faint piece of conjugal enmity : but you are to consider, that they were but just begun to be angry, and they wanted new words for expressing their new passions. ... The passionate and familiar terms, with which the same case repeated daily for so many thousand years has furnished the present generation, were not then in use; but the foundation of debate has ever been the same, a contention about their merit and wisdom. Our general mother was a beauty; and hearing there was another now in the world, could not forbear, as Adam tells her, showing herself, though to the devil, by whom the same vanity made her liable to be betrayed.
I cannot, with all the help of science and astrology, find any other remedy for this evil, but what was the medicine in this first quarrel, which was, as appears
in the next book, that they were convinced of their being both weak, but the one weaker than the other.
If it were possible that the beauteous could but rage a little before a glass, and see their pretty countenances grow wild, it is not to be doubted but it would have a very good effect : but that would require temper; for Lady Firebrand, upon observing her features swell when her maid vexed her the other day, stamped her dressing-glass under her feet. this case, when one of this temper is moved, she is like a witch in an operation, and makes all things turn round with her. The very fabric is in a vertigo when she begins to charm. In an instant, whatever was the occasion that moved her blood, she has such intolerable servants, Betty is so awkward, Tom cannot carry a message, and her husband has so little respect for her, that she, poor woman, is weary of this life, and was born to be unhappy.
[Tatler, No. 217
The Billingsgate fish wife and forms
MANY are the inconveniences which happen from the improper manner of address in common speech, between persons of the same or of different quality. Among these errors, there is none greater than that of the impertinent use of title, and a paraphrastical way of saying, You. I had the curiosity the other day to follow a crowd of people near Billingsgate, who were conducting a passionate woman that sold fish to a magistrate, in order to explain some words, which were ill taken by one of her own quality and profession in the public market. When she came to make her defence, she was so full of, ‘His Worship, and of, 'If it should please his Honour,' that we could, for some time, hardly hear any other apology she made for herself, than that of atoning for the ill language she had been accused of towards her neighbour, by the great civilities she paid to her judge. But this extravagance in her sense of doing honour was no more to be wondered at, than that her many rings on each finger were worn as instances of finery and dress. The vulgar may thus heap and huddle terms of respect, and nothing better be expected from them ; but for people of rank to repeat appellatives insignificantly, is