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soned with a certain severity, which ought to recommend it to people who pretend to keep reason and authority over all their actions.
• I am, sir,
Your frequent reader, T.
N° 365. TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 1712.
Vere magis, quia rere calor redit ossibris
Virg. Georg. iii. 272.
Flush'd by the spirit of the genial year,
Thomson's Spring, 160, &c. :
The author of the Menagiana acquaints us, that discoursing one day with several ladies of quality about the effects of the month of May, which infuses a kindly warmth into the earth, and all its inhabitants, the marchioness of S. -, who was one of the company, told him, that though she would promise to be chaste in every month besides, she could not engage for herself in May. As the beginning therefore of this month is now very near, I design this paper for a caveat to the fair sex, and publish it before April is quite out, that if any of them should be caught tripping, they may not pretend they had not timely notice.
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I am induced to this, being persuaded the abovementioned observation is as well calculated for our climate as that of France, and that some of our British ladies are of the same constitution with the French marchioness.
I shall leave it among physicians to determine what
may be the cause of such an anniversary inclination; whether or no it is that the spirits, after having been as it were frozen and congealed by winter, are now turned loose, and set a rambling; or, that the gay prospects of fields and meadows, with the courtship of the birds in every bush, naturally unbend the mind, and soften it to pleasure; or that, as some have imagined, a woman is prompted by a kind of instinct to throw herself on a bed of flowers, and not to let those beautiful couches which nature has provided lie useless. However it be, the effects of this month on the lower part of the sex, who act without disguise, are very visible. It is at this time that we see the young wenches in a country parish dancing round a May-pole, which one of our learned antiquaries supposes to be a relique of a certain pagan worship that I do not think fit to mention.
It is likewise on the first day of this month that we see the ruddy milk-maid exerting herself in a most sprightly manner under a pyramid of silver tankards, and, like the virgin Tarpeia,* oppressed by the costly ornaments which her benefactors lay
I need not mention the ceremony of the green gown, which is also peculiar to this gay season.
The same periodical love-fit spreads through the whole sex, as Mr. Dryden well observes in his description of this merry month.
* T. Livii Hist. Dec. I. lib. i cap. xi,
“For thee, sweet month, the groves green
liv'ries wear, If wot the first, the fairest of the year; For thee the Graces lead the dancing hours, And nature's ready pencil paints the flowers. The sprightly May commands our youth to keep The vigils of her night, and breaks their sleep; Each gentle breast with kindly warmth she moves, Inspires new flames, revives extinguish'd loves.'
Accordingly, among the works of the great mas. ters in painting, who have drawn this genial season of the year, we often observe Cupids confused with Zephyrs, flying up and down promiscuously in several parts of the picture. I cannot but add from my own experience, that about this time of the year love-letters come up to me in great numbers, from all quarters of the nation.
I received an epistle in particular by the last post from a Yorkshire gentleman, who makes heavy complaints of one Zelinda, whom it seems he has courted unsuccessfully these three years past. He tells me that he designs to try her this May; and if he does not carry his point, he will never think of her
Having thus fairly admonished the female sex, and laid before them the dangers they are exposed to in this critical month, I shall in the next place lay down some rules and directions for the better avoiding those calentures which are so very frequent in this season.
In the first place, I would advise them never to venture abroad in the fields, but in the company of a parent, a guardian, or some other sober discreet person. I have before shewn how apt they are to trip in the flowery meadow; and shall further observe to them, that Proserpine was out a maying when she met with that fatal adventure to which Milton alludes when he mentions
That fair field
Since I am going into quotations, I shall conclude this head with Virgil's advice to young people, while they are gathering wild strawberries and nosegays, that they should have a care of the snake in
In the second place, I cannot but approve
those prescriptions which our astrological physicians give in their almanacks for this month : such as are “ a spare and simple diet, with a moderate use of phlebotomy.'
Under this head of abstinence I shall also advise my fair readers to be in a particular manner careful how they meddle with romances, chocolate, novels, and the like inflamers, which I look upon as very dangerous to be made use of during this great carniyal of nature.
As I have often declared that I have nothing more at heart than the honour of my dear country-women, I would beg them to consider, whenever their resolutions begin to fail them, that there are but one and thirty days of this soft season, and that if they can but weather out this one month, the rest of the year will be easy to them. As for that part of the fair sex who stay in town, I would advise them to be particularly cauticus how they give themselves up to their most innocent entertainments. If they cannot forbear the playhouse, I would recommend tragedy to them rather than comedy; and should think the puppet-show much safer for them than the opera, all the while the sun is in Gemini. The reader will observe, that this paper
is written for the use of those ladies who think it worth while to war against nature in the cause of honour. As for
that abandoned crew, who do not think virtue worth contending for, but give up their reputation at the first summons, such warnings and premonitions are thrown away upon them. A prostitute is the same easy creature in all months of the year, and makes no difference between May and December.
No 366. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30, 1712.
Pone me pigris ubi nulla campis
Hor. 1. Od. xxii. 17.
Sct me whereon some pathless plain
Shall hear me sing of Celia's smiles;
There are such wild inconsistencies in the thoughts of a man in love, that I have often reflected there can be no reason for allowing him more liberty than others possessed with phrensy, but that his distemper has no malevolence in it to any mortal. Thật devotion to his mistress kindles in his mind a general tenderness, which exerts itself towards every object as well as his fair one. When this passion is reprea sented by writers, it is common with them to endeavour at certain quaintnesses and turns of imagination, which are apparently the work of a mind at ease; but the men of true taste can easily distinguish