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Exa&nefs, clothe them with all the Elegance of Language, in order to their making the moft magnificent Figure when they come abroad in the World. So copious a Subject as the Praifes of the Fair, may, in the Opinion of my Readers, lay me under great Difficulties in this Refpect. Every Man of good Underftanding, and fine Senfe, is in Pain for one who has undertaken fo hard a Tafk: Hard indeed to me who, from many Year's Study of the Sex, have difcovered fo many Perfections in them, as fcarce as many more Years would afford me Time to exprefs. However, not to difappoint my Readers, or myfclf, by foregoing that Pleafure I feel in doing Juftice to the moft amiable Part of the Creation, I will indulge 'the natural Propenfity I have to their Service, and paint, though it be but in Miniature, the Excellencies they poffefs, and the Accomplifhments which, by Reflexion, they beftow.
As ivhenfome Poet, happy in his Choice
Of an important Subjefl tunes his Voice
la fweeter Sounds, and more exalted Strains,
Thofe who, from wrong Ideas of Things, have forced themfelves into a Diflike of the Sex, will be apt to cry out, Where would this Fellow run ? Has he fo long ftudied Women, and does he not know what
Numbers Numbers of affected Prudes, gay Coquettes, and
giddy Impertinents there are aim-ngrt them?
Alas! Gentlemen, what Miftakes are the/e? How will you be furprifed, if I prove to you, that you are in the fame Sentiments with me; and that you could not have fo warm Refentments at thefe Pecadilloes, if you did not think the Ladies more than mortal?
Are the Faults you would pafs by in a Friend, and fmile at in an Enemy, Crimes of fo deep a Dye in them, as not to be forgiven? And can this flow from any other Principle, than a Perfuafion, that they are more perfect in their Nature than we, and their Guilt the greater therefore, in departing, even in the fmalleft Degree, from that Perfection? Or, can there be a greater Honour to ihe f'ex, than this Dignity, which even their Enemies allow them? To fay Truth, Virtue and Women owe lefs to their Friends, than to their Foes; fince the vicious, in both Cafes, charge th ir own Want of Tafte on the Weaknefs of Human Natuie ; purfue grofler Pleafures becaufe they are at hand; and neglefl the more refined, as Things of which their Capacities afford them no Idea.
Barn with a fertile Guft to fenfual Joy,
Souls of low Tajlc the facred Flame deftroy;
By which, allied to the ethereal Fire,
Celejiial Mews the Heroe's Thoughts infpire;
Teach him in a fublimer Path to move,
And urge him on to Glory and to Love:
Paffiont which only give a Right to Fame;
To prefent Blifs, and to a deathlefs Name.
While thofe mean Wretches, withjufl Shame Jerfpread,
Live on unknown and are, unheard of, dead.
Mr. Drydeti, who knew Human Nature, perhaps, as well as any Man who ever ftudied it, has given us a juft Pi&ure of the Force of female Charms, in the Story of Cymon and Iphigenia. Boccace, from. whom he took it, had adorned it with all the tinfel Finery an Italian Compofition is capable of. The Englijh Poet, like moft Englijh Travellers, gave Sterling Silver in Exchange for that fuperficial Gilding; and beftowed a Moral where he found a Tale. He paints, in Cymon, a Soul buried in a Confufion of Ideas, informed with fo little Fire, as fcarce to ftruggle under the Load, or afford any Glimmerings of Senfe. In this Condition he reprefents him ftruck with the Rays of Jphigenia's Beauty: Kindled by them, his Mind exerts its Powers, his intellectual Faculties feem to awake; and that uncouth Ferocity of Manners, by which he had hitherto been diftinguifhed, gave way to an obliging Behaviour, the natural Effect of Love!
The Moral of this Fable is a Truth which can never be inculcated too much. It is to the Fair Sex we owe the moft fhining Qualities of which ours is Matter: As the Ancients infinuated, with their ufual Addrefs, by painting both the Virtues and Graces as Females. Men of true Tafte feel a natural Complaifance for Women when they converfe with them, and fall, without knowing it, upon every Art of pleafmg; which is the Difpoiition at once the moft grateful to others, and the moft fatisfactory to ourfelves. An intimate acquaintance with the other Sex I fixes fixes this Complacence into a Habit, and that Habit
is the very Eflence of Palitenefs.
Nay, I prefume to fay, Polltenefs can be no other way attained. Books may furnim us with right Ideas, Experience may improve our Judgments; but it is the Acquaintance of the Ladies only, which can beftow that Eafinefs of Addrefs, whereby the fine Gentleman is diftinguifhed from the Scholar^ and the Man of Bujinefs.
That my Readers may be perfectly fatisfied in a Point, which I think of fo great Importance, let us examine this a little more ftrictly.
There is a certain conftitational Pride in Men,' which hinders their yielding, in point of Knowledge, Honour, or Virtue, to one another. This immediately forfakes us at the Sight of Woman. And the being accuftomed to fubniit to the Ladies, gives a new turn to our Ideas, and opens a Path to Reafon, which fhe had not trod before. Things appear in another Light; and that Degree of Complacency feems now a Virtue, which heretofore we regarded as a Meannefs.
I have dwelt the longer on the Charms of the Sex, arifing from the Perfection vifible in their exterior Compofition; becaufe there is the ftrongeft Analogy between them, and the Excellencies which, from a nicer Enquiry, we difcover in the Minds of the Fair. As they are diftinguifhed from the robuft Make of Man by that Delicacy, exprefled by Nature, in their Form; fo the Severity of mafculine Senfe is foftened by a Sweetnefs peculiar to the female Soul. A native Capacity of pleafing attends them through every Gircumftance of Life; and what we improperly call the Weaknefs of the Sex, gives them a Superiority unattainable by Force.
The Fable of the North-wind and the Sun contending to make the Man throw off his Cloak, is not an improper Picture of the fpecific Difference between the Powers of either Sex. The bluftering Fiercenefs of the former, inftead of producing the Effect at which it aimed, made the Fellow but wrap himfelf up the clofer; yet no fooner did the Sunbeams play, than that which before protected became now an Incumbrance.
Juft fo, that Pride which makes us tenacious in Difputes between Man and Man, when applied to the Ladies, ihfpires us with an Eagernefs not to contend, but to obey.
To fpeak fincerely and philofophically, Women feem defigned by Providence to fpread the fame Splendour and Chearfulnefs through the intellectual CEconomy, that the celeftial Bodies diffufe over the material Part of the Creation. Without them, we might indeed contend, deftroy, and. triumph over one another. Fraud and Force would divide the World between them ; and we fhould pafs our Lives, like Slaves, in continual Toil, without the Profpect of Pleafure or Relaxation.