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We beseech thee that thou thyself wilt sort them out for the future, as in thy wisdom thou shalt think fit. For we acknowledge, that there is none beside thee that can judge what will occasion grief or joy in the heart of a human creature, and what will prove a blessing or a calamity to the person on whom it is bestowed.”
No. 147. SATURDAY, MARCH 18, 1709.
-Ut ameris amabilis esto. Ovid.
From my own Apartment, March 18. READING is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. As by the one health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated; by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and confirmed. But as exercise becomes tedious and painful when we make use of it only as the means of health, so reading is apt to grow uneasy and burthensome, when we apply ourselves to it only for our improvement in virtue. For this reason, the virtue which we gather from a fable, or an allegory, is like the health we get by hunting ; as we are engaged in an agreeable pursuit that draws us on with pleasure, and makes us insensible of the fatigues that accompany it.
After this preface, I shall set down a very beautiful allegorical fable of the great poet whom I mentioned in my last paper, and whom it is very difficult to lay aside when one is engaged in the reading of him: and this I particularly design for the use of several of my fair correspondents, who in
, their letters have complained to me, that they have lost the affections of their busbands, and desire my advice how to recover them.
Juno, says Homer, seeing her Jupiter seated on the top of Mount Ida, and knowing that he conceived an aversion to her, began to study how she should regain his affections, and make herself amiable to him. With this thought she immediately retired into her chamber, where she bathed herself in ambrosia, which gave her person all its beauty, and diffused so divine an odour, as refreshed all nature, and sweetened both heaven and earth. She let her immortal tresses flow in the most graceful manner, and took a par
ticular care to dress herself in several ornaments, which the poet describes at length, and which the goddess chose out as the most proper to set off her person to the best advantage. In the next place, she made a visit to Venus, the deity who presides over love, and begged of her, as a particular favour, that she would lend her for a while those charms with which she subdued the hearts both of gods and men. the goddess, I would make use of them to reconcile the two deities, who took care of me in my infancy, and who, at present, are at so great a variance that they are estranged from each other's bed. Venus was proud of an opportunity of obliging so great a goddess, and therefore made her & present of the cestus which she used to wear about her own waist, with advice to hide it in her bosom, till she had accomplished her intention. This cestus was a fine partycoloured girdle, which, as Homer tells us, had all the attractions of the sex wrought into it. The four principal figures
embroidery were love, desire, fondness of speech, and conversation, filled with that sweetness and complacency which, says the poet, insensibly steal away the hearts of the wisest men.
Juno, after having made these necessary preparations, came as by accident into the presence of Jupiter, who is said to have been as much inflamed with her beauty, as when he first stole to her embraces without the consent of their parents. Juno, to cover her real thoughts, told him, as she had told Venus, that she was going to make a visit to Oceanus and Tethys. He prevailed upon her to stay with him, protesting to her, that she appeared more amiable in his eye, than ever any mortal, goddess, or even herself, had appeared to him till that day. The poet then represents him in so great an ardour, that (without going up to the house which had been built by the hands of Vulcan, according to Juno's direction) he threw a golden cloud over their heads as they sat upon the top of Mount Ida, while the earth beneath them sprung up in lotuses, saffrons, hyacinths, and a bed of the softest flowers for their repose.
This close translation of one of the finest passages in Homer, may suggest abundance of instruction to a woman who has a mind
to preserve or recall the affection of her husband. The care of the person, and the dress, with the particular blandishments woven in the cestus, are so plainly re
commended by this fable, and so indispensably necessary in every female who desires to please, that they need no further explanation. The discretion likewise in covering all matrimonial quarrels from the knowledge of others, is taught in the pretended visit to Tethys, in the speech where Juno addresses herself to Venus; as the chaste and prudent management of a wife's charms is intimated by the same pretence for her appearing before Jupiter, and by the concealment of the cestus in her bosom.
I shall leave this tale to the consideration of such good housewives who are never well dressed but when they are abroad, and think it necessary to appear more agreeable to all men living than their husbands : as also to those prudent ladies, who, to avoid the appearance of being over-fond, entertain their husbands with indifference, aversion, sullen silence, or exasperating language.
Sheer Lane, March 17. UPON my coming home last night, I found a very handsome present of wine left for me, as a taste of 216 hogsheads which are to be put to sale at £20 a hogshead, at Garraway's Coffee-house, in Exchange Alley, on the 22nd instant, at three in the afternoon, and to be tasted in Major Long's vaults from the 20th instant till the time of sale. This having been sent to me with a desire that I would give my judgment upon it, I immediately impanelled a jury of men of nice palates and strong heads, who being all of them very scrupulous, and unwilling to proceed rashly in a matter of so great importance, refused to bring in their verdict till three in the morning; at which time the foreman pronounced, as well as he was able, Extra-a-ordinary French claret. For my own part, as I love to consult my pillow in all points of moment, I slept upon it before I would give my sentence, and this morning confirmed the verdict.
Having mentioned this tribute of wine, I must give notice to my correspondents for the future, who shall apply to me on this occasion, that as I shall decide nothing unadvisedly in matters of this nature, I cannot pretend to give judgment of a right good liquor, without examining at least three dozen bottles of it. I must at the same time do myself the justice to let the world know, that I have resisted great temptations in this kind; as it is well known to a butcher
in Clare Market, who endeavoured to corrupt me with a dozen and half of marrow-bones. I had likewise a bribe sent me by a fishmonger, consisting of a collar of brawn and a jole of salmon; but not finding them excellent in their kinds, I had the integrity to eat them both up without speaking one word of them. However, for the future, I shall have an eye to the diet of this great city, and will recommend the best and most wholesome food to them, if I receive these proper and respectful notices from the sellers, that it may not be said hereafter, my readers were better taught than fed.
No. 148. TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 1709.
-Gustus elementa per omnia quærunt,
From my own Apartment, March 20. HAVING intimated in
paper, that I design to take under my inspection the diet of this great city, I shall begin with a very earnest and serious exhortation to all my welldisposed readers, that they would return to the food of their forefathers, and reconcile themselves to beef and mutton. This was that diet which bred that hardy race of mortals, who won the fields of Cressy and
Agincourt. I need not go up so high as the history of Guy, Earl of Warwick, who is well known to have eaten up a dun cow of his own killing. The renowned King Arthur is generally looked upon as the first who ever sat down to a whole roasted ox (which was certainly the best way to preserve the gravy); and it is further added, that he and his knights sat about it at his round table, and usually consumed it to the very bones before they would enter upon any debate of moment. The Black Prince was a professed lover of the brisket; not to mention the history of the sirloin, or the institution of the order of beefeaters, which are all so many evident and undeniable marks of the great respect which our warlike predecessors have paid to this excellent food. The tables of the ancient gentry of this nation were covered thrice a day with hot roast-beef; and I am credibly informed by an antiquary who has searched
the registers in which the bills of fare of the court are recorded, that instead of tea and bread and butter, which have prevailed of late years, the maids of honour in Queen Elizabeth's time were allowed three rumps of beef for their breakfast. Mutton has likewise been in great repute among our valiant countrymen, but was formerly observed to be the food rather of men of nice and delicate appetites, than those of strong and robust constitutions. For which reason, even to this day, we use the word sheep-biter as a term of reproach, as we do a beef-eater in a respectful and honourable
As for the flesh of lamb, veal, chicken, and other animals under age, they were the invention of sickly and degenerate palates, according to that wholesome remark of Daniel the historian, who takes notice, that in all taxes upon provisions, during the reigns of several of our kings, there is nothing mentioned besides the flesh of such fowl and cattle as were arrived at their full growth, and were mature for slaughter. The common people of this kingdom do still keep up the taste of their ancestors; and it is to this that we in a great measure owe the unparalleled victories that have been gained in this reign : for I would desire my reader to consider, what work our countrymen would have made at Blenheim and Ramillies, if they had been fed with fricassees and ragouts.
For this reason we at present see the florid complexion, the strong limb, and the hale constitution, are to be found chiefly among the meaner sort of people, or in the wild gentry, who have been educated among the woods and moun. tains : whereas many great families are insensibly fallen off from the athletic constitution of their progenitors, and are dwindled away into a pale, sickly, spindle-legged generation of valetudinarians.
I may perhaps be thought extravagant in my notion; but I must confess, I am apt to impute the dishonours that sometimes happen in great families
to the inflaming kind of diet which is so much in fashion. Many dishes can excite desire without giving strength, and heat the body without nourishing it: as physicians observe, that the poorest and most dispirited blood is most subject to fevers.
I look upon a French ragout to be as pernicious to the stomach as a glass of spirits; and when I have seen a young lady swallow all the instigations of high soups, seasoned sauces, and forced