Imágenes de páginas

one or other : and yet I have been credibly informed —but who can believe half that is said !-After she had done speaking to me, she put her hand to her bosom, and adjusted her tucker; then she cast her eyes a little down, upon my beholding her too earnestly. They say she sings excellently : her voice in her ordinary speech has something in it inexpressibly sweet. You must know I dined with her at a public table the day after I first saw her, and she helped me to some tansy in the eye of all the gentlemen in the country. She has certainly the finest hand of any woman in the world. I can assure you, sir, were you to behold her, you would be in the same condition ; for as her speech is music, her form is angelic. But I find I grow irregular while I am talking of her ; but indeed it would be stupidity to be unconcerned at such perfection. Oh, the excellent creature ! she is as inimitable to all women, as she is inaccessible to all men !'

I found my friend begin to rave, and insensibly led him towards the house, that we might be joined by some other company; and am convinced that the widow is the secret cause of all that inconsistency which appears in some part of my friend's discourse ; though he has so much command of himself as not directly to mention her, yet according to that of Martial which one knows not how to render into English, dum tacet hanc loquitur. I shall end this paper with that whole epigram, which represents with much humour my honest friend's condition :

Quicquid agit Rufus, nihil est, nisi Nævia Rufo,

Si gaudet, si flet, si tacet, hanc loquitur :

Conat, propinat, poscit, negat, annuit, una est

Nævia : si non sit Nævia, mutus erit. Scriberet hesterna patri cum luce saluten,

Nævia lux, inquit, Nævia numen, ave.

Let Rufus weep, rejoice, stand, sit, or walk,
Still he can nothing but of Nævia talk ;
Let him eat, drink, ask questions, or dispute,
Still he must speak of Nævia, or be mute.
He writ to his father, ending with this line-
I am, my lovely Nævia, ever thine.

[Spectator, No. 113.

The Huntsman in Love

This agreeable seat is surrounded with so many pleasing walks, which are struck out of a wood, in the midst of which the house stands, that one can hardly ever be weary of rambling from one labyrinth of delight to another. To one used to live in a city, the charms of the country are so exquisite that the mind is lost in a certain transport which raises us above ordinary life, and is yet not strong enough to be inconsistent with tranquillity. This state of mind was I in, ravished with the murmur of waters, the whisper of breezes, the singing of birds ; and whether I looked up to the heavens, down on the earth, or turned to the prospects around me, still struck with new sense of pleasure ; when I found by the voice of my friend, who walked by me, that we had insensibly strolled into the grove sacred to the widow. “This woman,' says he, ‘is of all others the most unintelligible : she either designs to marry, or she does not. What is the most perplexing of all is, that she doth not either say to her lovers she has any resolution against that condition of life in general, or that she banishes them ; but, conscious of her own merit, she permits their addresses, without fear of any ill consequence, or want of respect, from their rage or despair. She has that


in her aspect against which it is impossible to offend. A man whose thoughts are constantly bent upon so agreeable an object, must be excused if the ordinary occurrences in conversation are below his attention. I call her indeed perverse; but, alas ! why do I call her so ? because her superior merit is such, that I cannot approach her without awe ; that my heart is checked by too much esteem : I am angry that her charms are not more accessible ; that I am more inclined to worship than salute her. How often have I wished her unhappy, that I might have an opportunity of serving her! and how often troubled in that very imagination at giving her the pain of being obliged ! Well, I have led a miserable life in secret upon her account; but fancy she would have condescended to have some regard for me, if it had not been for that watchful animal her confidante.

Of all persons under the sun,' continued he, calling me by my name, ‘be sure to set a mark upon confidantes : they are of all people the most impertinent. What is most pleasant to observe in them is, that they assume to themselves the merit of persons whom they have in their custody. Orestilla is a great fortune, and in wonderful danger of surprises, therefore full of suspicions of the least indifferent thing, particularly careful of new acquaintance, and of growing too familiar with the old. Themista, her favourite woman, is every whit as careful of whom she speaks to, and what she says.

Let the ward be a beauty, her confidante shall treat you with an air of distance ; let her be a fortune, and she assumes the suspicious behaviour of her friend and patroness. Thus it is that very many of our unmarried women of distinction are to all

intents and purposes married, except the consideration of different sexes. They are directly under the conduct of their whisperer; and think they are in a state of freedom, while they can prate with one of these attendants of all men in general, and still avoid the man they most like. You do not see one heiress in a hundred whose fate does not turn upon this circumstance of choosing a confidante. Thus it is that the lady is addressed to, presented, and flattered, only by proxy, in her woman. In my case, how is it possible that Sir Roger was proceeding in his harangue, when we heard the voice of one speaking very importunately, and repeating these words, “What, not one smile?' We followed the sound till we came to a close thicket, on the other side of which we saw a young woman sitting as it were in a personated sullenness just over a transparent fountain. Opposite to her stood Mr. William, Sir Roger's master of the game. The knight whispered me, ‘Hist, these are lovers.' The huntsman looking earnestly at the shadow of the young maiden in the stream-'Othou dear picture, if thou couldest remain there in the absence of that fair creature whom you represent in the water, how willingly could I stand here satisfied for ever, without troubling my dear Betty herself with any mention of her unfortunate William, whom she is angry with ! But alas ! when she pleases to be gone, thou wilt also vanish-Yet let me talk to thee while thou dost stay. Tell my dearest Betty, thou dost not more depend upon her than does her William ; her absence will make away with me as well as thee. If she offers to remove thee, I will jump into these waves to lay hold on thee -herself, her own dear person, I must never embrace

« AnteriorContinuar »