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Narcijftis read this Letter to his Valet; and having talked the Subject over with him, not perhaps to borrow any of the Fellow's Sentiments, but to give Rife to fome in himfelf, wrote the following
~T Protejl to you, my dear Leppy, I was feveral Times upon the Point of breaking out with the Sharpnefs of Rebate. Was there ever fuch a naufeous Creter? To confefs the Truth,—/ jlmd certainly have been fevere upon him, but that — it is much more becoming a Gentleman, not to fay any thing fubjefi to inconvenient Interpretations. The Felhw is — what you call ff rightly — but has not the leaji Tin£lu,re of Delicacy about him. Pray, have you feen the New Play? I jhe'n't be efy till I have yure Opinion.
My Sufpicions are confirmed, Amoriculus (wud You believe it ?) the abominable Man is, bona fide, become a Parent by his Criminal Gratifications.
Adieu Deery! Love me as I do You — and more — if You can.
And what now have the Sons of Momus to object againft the Style of a Pretty Gentleman? Here is every Requifite in Fine Writing: Here is Brevity, SoftnefS) Propriety, and Eafe. Happily freed from the Shackles of connefiing and rejlraming Rules, the Diftion roves and wanders, now here, now there; and, with a wondrous Facility, glides fo imperceptibly from one Flower to another, that the moft fubtile Penetrafor would be at a Lofs to find, where This ends, and where That begins. Some Negligences there are indeed; but they are fuch as muft be allowed the trueft Ornaments of Speech.—Let any Man examine the Letters I have here faithfully tranfcribed, and tell me whether he does not admire the little Carelefihefles which are beautifully interfperfed in thefe pretty Compofitions. If thefe are Faults, it muft be owned that they are truly charming: One cannot but delight in the lovely Errors, and fay of this Style what £>umtUian did of Seneca' st
Alundat Dulcibus Vitiis.
It is a common Obfervation, that nothing has fpoiled more Authors than the affected Imitation of another Man's Diction. Every one has fome natural Bent, fomething peculiar in his Genius, which if he does not follow, he will never be able to fpeak or write with any Succefs. The Pretty Gentleman carefully avoids this Error^ and follows his natural Genius. He neither writes like Addifon^ nor talks like C~——: but nobly difdains all fervile Imitation. His Language is Original: It is his Own: and I defy
P3 thg the fnarling Critic to produce any thing like it. I (peak only of the Style; for I will not deny, that fometimes he will condefcend to /leal an Hint from another, as may be feen in the Specimens I have given. But how does hejleal it? No otherwife than like thofe, who (as Garth fays of Dryden) fteal Beggars Children, only to cloath them the better.
Another Object of this Mimic's Raillery is, that fweet Placability of Temper, which obliges a refined Gentleman to put up even repeated Injuries and Affronts, rather than avenge them by the ufual Method of demanding Satisfaction.
1 am not apprehenfive that this Part of his Character is lefs defenfible than the reft. I could produce fome tolerable Arguments againft Duelling, drawn from certain Principles, which were once looked upon to be the Rules of Human Conduit. I could eafily prove, that the fingle Combat is derived from Gothic Manners, and is abfolutely inconfiftent with the Character of a Gentleman. But fuch Reafonings as thefe are neither fo well adapted to the Times, nor fo pertinent to the Caufe I have undertaken. Waving then this kind of Defence, upon this fingle Argument I lay my whole Strefs — " The "Pretty Gentleman will not fight,—becaufe—He is "not able."
And can any Man produce a better Reafon for not doing a Thing, than to make it manifcft — that he fannot? ,-
Behold that tender Frame! Thofe trembling Knees! Thofe feeble Joints! Obferve that fine Complexion! Examine that fmooth, that Velvety Skin! View that Pallor which fpreads itfelf over his Countenance! Hark, with what a feminine Softnefs his Accents fleal their Way through his half opened Lips! Feel that foft Palm! Thofe (lender Fingers, accuftomed only to handle Siiks and Ribbons, the eafy-piercing Needle, or foft-gl'ul ing Shuttle; but unpractifed in the rough Exercifes of Warlike Weapons! Mark all thefe, and a Thoufand other gentle Imbecillities, and then tell me, impartial Reader,
whether fuch a Being is formed for Battle? You
cannot think it: You will not fay it. I will therefore venture to affirm, that He is fo far from deferving Contempt and Ridicule, when he declines the Combat, that he merits our Efteem and Applaufe. He therefore who is fo bafe as to affront, or fend a Challenge to fuch a Perfon, is an arrant Coward. For would a Man of Honour draw his Sword upon a Lady? And to fay the Truth, The Pretty Gentleman is certainly formed in a different Mould from that of Common Men, and tempered with a purer Flame. The whole Syftem is of a finer Turn, and fupericr Accuracy of Fabric, infomuch that it looks as if Nature had been in doubt, to which Sex fhe fhould affign Him.
-Now- this Contexture of his Organs, and the
Tone of his Spirits approaching fo very near That of
the Fair, has rendered Him liable to the fame gentle
P 4 Impreffions, Impreffions, and Alarms of Fear. Does Ceelia fet, up a Scream at the Apprehenfion of the leaft Danger? Delicatulus is as eafily intimidated, and fcreams with as pretty an Accent. Do the Weaknefs of Lady Betty's Nerves fubject her to Fits and Swoonings? Tenellus likewife has his Hyfterics, and dies away with as foft a Grace. It is to attain thefe and fuch like Accomplifhments, that they make frequent Vifits to the Ladies; though fome flanderous Perfons would make us believe, that they have another Motive, and intimate I know not what, vitiom Defigns, that are. too indecent even to be mentioned. But I can aflure the World, there is not the leaft Foundation for the bafe Suggeftion. This Attendance, I know, takes its Rife from Caufes, with which the Appetite for That Sex has no Manner of Connexion. So pure are their Morals! So inviolable their Modefty! Amassing Continence! And yet, our Wonder is leffened, when we confider what Methods they purfue to fence againft the Allurements of Female Charms. They are certainly the moft fober and temperate Beings that ever exifted. It is an inviolable Maxim with them, to refrain from every Indulg'nce, which is apt to irritate the Blood, and excite the Pruriency of Defire.