« PreviousContinue »
I have seen him — nay, smile not — tenderly escorting a market-woman, whom he had encountered in a shower, exalting his umbrella over her poor basket of fruit, that it might receive no damage, with as much carefulness as if she had been a countess. To the reverend form of female eld he would yield the wall (though it were to an ancient beggar-woman) with more ceremony than we can afford to show our grandams. He was the preux chevalier of age; the Sir Calidore, or Sir Tristan, to those who have no Calidores or Tristans to defend them. The roses, that had long faded thence, still bloomed for him in those withered and yellow cheeks.
He was never married, but in his youth he paid his addresses to the beautiful Susan Winstanley - old Winstanley's daughter of Clapton — who, dying in the early days of their courtship, confirmed in him the resolution of perpetual bachelorship. It was during their short courtship, he told me, that he had been one day treating his mistress with a profusion of civil speeches the common gallantries - to which kind of thing she had hitherto manifested no repugnance; but in this instance with no effect. He could not obtain from her a decent acknowledgment in return. She rather seemed to resent his compliments. He could not set it down to caprice, for the lady had always shown herself above that littleness.
When he ventured on the following day, finding her a little better humored, to expostulate with her on her coldness of yesterday, she confessed, with her usual frankness, that she had no sort of dislike to his attentions; that she could even endure some highflown compliments; that a young woman placed in
her situation had a right to expect all sorts of civil things said to her; that she hoped she could digest a dose of adulation, short of insincerity, with as little injury to her humility as most young women : but that - a little before he had commenced his compliments — she had overheard him by accident, in rather rough language, rating a young woman who had not brought home his cravats quite to the appointed time, and she thought to herself, “As I am Miss Susan Winstanley, and a young lady - a reputed beauty, and known to be a fortune -- I can have my choice of the finest speeches from the mouth of this very fine gentleman who is courting me; but if I had been poor Mary Such-a-one (naming the milliner), and had failed of bringing home the cravats to the appointed hour, — though perhaps I had sat up half the night to forward them, — what sort of compliments should I have received then ? And my woman's pride came to my assistance, and I thought that if it were only to do me honor, a female, like myself, might have received handsomer usage; and I was determined not to accept any fine speeches to the compromise of that sex the belonging to which was, after all, my strongest claim and title to them.”
I think the lady discovered both generosity, and a just way of thinking, in this rebuke which she gave her lover; and I have sometimes imagined, that the uncommon strain of courtesy which through life regulated the actions and behavior of my friend towards all of womankind indiscriminately, owed its happy origin to this seasonable lesson from the lips of his lamented mistress.
I wish the whole female world would entertain the same notion of these things that Miss Winstanley
showed. Then we should see something of the spirit of consistent gallantry; and no longer witness the anomaly of the same man, — a pattern of true politeness to a wife, of cold contempt or rudeness to a sister, - the idolater of his female mistress, — the disparager and despiser of his no less female aunt, or unfortunate - still female --- maiden cousin. Just so much respect as a woman derogates from her own sex, in whatever condition placed, - her handmaid or dependent, — she deserves to have diminished from herself on that score ; and probably will feel the diminution, when youth, and beauty, and advantages, not inseparable from sex, shall lose of their attraction.
What a woman should demand of a man in courtship, or after it, is first — respect for her as she is a woman; and next to that — to be respected by him above all other women.
But let her stand upon her female character as upon a foundation ; and let the attentions incident to individual preference be so many pretty additaments and ornaments — as many, and as fanciful, as you please -- to that main structure. Let her first lesson be — with sweet Susan Winstanley to reverence her sex.
'TIS DISTANCE LENDS ENCHANTMENT.'
ācē'ri-al, belonging to the air. 0-bliv'ion, realm of forgetfulness. az'ure (azh'ur), sky-blue.
re-pair', call back. e'ther, the supposed tenuous me- spheres, the planets. dium pervading all space.
At summer's eve, wnen heaven's aërial bow
What potent spirit guides the raptured eye
From Pleasures of Hope.
That pours remotest rapture on the sight;
Eternal Hope! when yonder spheres sublime
ad-a-man'tine (-tin), like adamant. | il-lume', light up, illuminate. bick'er-ing, with a rattling noise. phoe'nix (fe'niks), a bird fabled to car-eers', moves rapidly.
rise again from its own ashes. cha'os (kālos), void space. prē'lūde, forerunner. cim-mē'ri-an, deep, black.
UNFADING Hope! when life's last embers burn,
1. From Pleasures of Hope.