Tatler 10, April 30, 1709 (Steele)

No. 10.

By Mrs. JENNY DISTAFF, half-sister to Mr. BICKERSTAFF.

From Saturday, April 30, to Tuesday, May 3, 1709.

* * * * *

From my own Apartment, May 1.

My brother Isaac having a sudden occasion to go out of town, ordered me
to take upon me the despatch of the next advices from home, with liberty
to speak it my own way; not doubting the allowances which would be given
to a writer of my sex. You may be sure I undertook it with much
satisfaction, and I confess, I am not a little pleased with the
opportunity of running over all the papers in his closet, which he has
left open for my use on this occasion. The first that I lay my hands on,
is, a treatise concerning “The Empire of Beauty,” and the effects it
has had in all nations of the world, upon the public and private actions
of men; with an appendix, which he calls, “The Bachelor’s Scheme for
Governing his Wife.” The first thing he makes this gentleman propose,
is, that she shall be no woman; for she is to have an aversion to balls,
to operas, to visits: she is to think his company sufficient to fill up
all the hours of life with great satisfaction: she is never to believe
any other man wise, learned, or valiant; or at least but in a second
degree. In the next place, he intends she shall be a cuckold; but
expects, that he himself must live in perfect security from that terror.
He dwells a great while on instructions for her discreet behaviour, in
case of his falsehood. I have not patience with these unreasonable
expectations, therefore turn back to the treatise itself. Here, indeed,
my brother deduces all the revolutions among men from the passion of
love; and in his preface, answers that usual observation against us,
that there is no quarrel without a woman in it, with a gallant
assertion, that there is nothing else worth quarrelling for. My brother
is of a complexion truly amorous; all his thoughts and actions carry in
them a tincture of that obliging inclination; and this turn has opened
his eyes to see, we are not the inconsiderable creatures which unlucky
pretenders to our favour would insinuate. He observes that no man begins
to make any tolerable figure, till he sets out with the hopes of
pleasing some one of us. No sooner he takes that in hand, but he pleases
every one else by-the-bye. It has an immediate effect upon his
behaviour. There is Colonel Ranter, who never spoke without an oath,
till he saw the Lady Betty Modish; now never gives his man an
order, but it is, “Pray, Tom, do it.” The drawers where he drinks live
in perfect happiness. He asked Will at the “George” the other day how he
did? Where he used to say, “Damn it, it is so,” he now believes there is
some mistake: he must confess, he is of another opinion; but however he
won’t insist.

Every temper, except downright insipid, is to be animated and softened
by the influence of beauty: but of this untractable sort is a lifeless
handsome fellow that visits us, whom I have dressed at this twelvemonth;
but he is as insensible of all the arts I use, as if he conversed all
that time with his nurse. He outdoes our whole sex in all the faults our
enemies impute to us; he has brought laziness into an opinion, and makes
his indolence his philosophy: insomuch, that no longer ago than
yesterday in the evening he gave me this account of himself: “I am,
madam, perfectly unmoved at all that passes among men, and seldom give
myself the fatigue of going among them; but when I do, I always appear
the same thing to those whom I converse with. My hours of existence, or
being awake, are from eleven in the morning to eleven at night; half of
which I live to myself, in picking my teeth, washing my hands, paring my
nails, and looking in the glass. The insignificancy of my manners to the
rest of the world makes the laughers call me a _quidnunc_, a phrase I
shall never inquire what they mean by it. The last of me each night is
at St. James’s Coffee-house, where I converse, yet never fall into a
dispute on any occasion, but leave the understanding I have, passive of
all that goes through it, without entering into the business of life.
And thus, madam, have I arrived by laziness, to what others pretend to
by devotion, a perfect neglect of the world.” Sure, if our sex had the
liberty of frequenting public-houses and conversations, we should put
these rivals of our faults and follies out of countenance. However, we
shall soon have the pleasure of being acquainted with them one way or
other, for my brother Isaac designs, for the use of our sex, to give the
exact characters of all the chief politicians who frequent any of the
coffee-houses from St. James’s to the Change; but designs to begin with
that cluster of wise heads, as they are found sitting every evening,
from the left side of the fire, at the Smyrna, to the door. This
will be of great service for us, and I have authority to promise an
exact journal of their deliberations; the publication of which I am to
be allowed for pin-money. In the meantime, I cast my eye upon a new
book, which gave me a more pleasing entertainment, being a sixth part of
“Miscellany Poems,” published by Jacob Tonson, which I find, by my
brother’s notes upon it, no way inferior to the other volumes. There
are, it seems, in this, a collection of the best pastorals that have
hitherto appeared in England; but among them, none superior to that
dialogue between Sylvia and Dorinda, written by one of my own sex,
where all our little weaknesses are laid open in a manner more just,
and with, truer raillery than ever man yet hit upon.

Only this I now discern.
From the things thou’st have me learn;
That womankind’s peculiar joys
From past or present beauties rise.

But to reassume my first design, there cannot be a greater instance of
the command of females, than in the prevailing charms of the heroine in
the play which was acted this night, called “All for Love; or, The World
Well Lost.” The enamoured Antony resigns glory and power to the
force of the attractive Cleopatra, whose charms were the defence of her
diadem, against a people otherwise invincible. It is so natural for
women to talk of themselves, that it is to be hoped all my own sex, at
least, will pardon me, that I could fall into no other discourse. If we
have their favour, we give ourselves very little anxiety for the rest of
our readers. I believe I see a sentence of Latin in my brother’s
day-book of wit, which seems applicable on this occasion, and in
contempt of the critics.

Tristitiam et metus
Tradam protectis in mare Criticum
Portare ventis.

But I am interrupted by a packet from Mr. Kidney  from the St.
James’s Coffee-house, which I am obliged to insert in the very style and
words which Mr. Kidney uses in his letter.

St. James’s Coffee-house, May 2.

We are advised by letters from Berne, dated the 1st instant, N.S., that
the Duke of Berwick arrived at Lyons the 25th of the last month, and
continued his journey the next day to visit the passes of the mountains,
and other posts in Dauphine and Provence. These letters also informed
us, that the miseries of the people in France are heightened to that
degree, that unless a peace be speedily concluded, half of that kingdom
would perish for want of bread. On the 24th, the Marshal de Thesse
passed through Lyons, in his way to Versailles; and two battalions,
which were marching from Alsace to reinforce the army of the Duke of
Berwick, passed also through that place. Those troops were to be
followed by six Battalions more.

Letters from Naples of the 16th of April say, that the Marquis de Prie’s
son was arrived there, with instructions from his father, to signify to
the viceroy the necessity his Imperial Majesty was under, of desiring an
aid from that kingdom, for carrying on the extraordinary expenses of the
war. On the 14th of the same month, they made a review of the Spanish
troops in that garrison, and afterwards of the marines; one part of whom
will embark with those designed for Barcelona, and the rest are to be
sent on board the galleys appointed to convoy provisions to that place.

We hear from Rome, by letters dated the 20th of April, that the Count de
Mellos, envoy from the King of Portugal, had made his public entry into
that city with much state and magnificence. The Pope has lately held two
other consistories, wherein he made a promotion of two cardinals; but
the acknowledgment of King Charles is still deferred.

Letters from other parts of Italy advise us, that the Doge of Venice
continues dangerously ill: that the Prince de Carignan, having relapsed
into a violent fever, died the 23rd of April, in his 80th year.

Advices from Vienna of the 27th of April import, that the Archbishop of
Saltzburg is dead, who is succeeded by Count Harrach, formerly Bishop of
Vienna, and for these last three years coadjutor to the said Archbishop;
and that Prince Maximilian of Lichtenstein has likewise departed this
life, at his country seat called Cromaw in Moravia. These advices add,
that the Emperor has named Count Zinzendorf, Count Goes, and Monsieur
Consbruck, for his plenipotentiaries in an ensuing treaty of peace; and
they hear from Hungary, that the Imperialists have had several
successful skirmishes with the malcontents.

Letters from Paris, dated May the 6th, say, that the Marshal de Thesse
arrived there on the 29th of the last month; and that the Chevalier de
Beuil was sent thither by Don Pedro Ronquillo with advice, that the
confederate squadron appeared before Alicante the 17th, and having for
some time cannonaded the city, endeavoured to land some troops for the
relief of the castle; but General Stanhope finding the passes well
guarded, and the enterprise dangerous, demanded to capitulate for the
castle; which being granted him, the garrison, consisting of 600 regular
troops, marched out with their arms and baggage the day following; and
being received on board, they immediately set sail for Barcelona. These
letters add, that the march of the French and Swiss regiments is further
deferred for a few days; and that the Duke of Noailles was just ready to
set out for Roussillon, as well as the Count de Bezons for Catalonia.

The same advices say, bread was sold at Paris for 6d. per pound; and
that there was not half enough, even at that rate, to supply the
necessities of the people, which reduced them to the utmost despair;
that 300 men had taken up arms, and having plundered the market of the
suburb St. Germain, pressed down by their multitude the King’s Guards
who opposed them. Two of those mutineers were afterwards seized, and
condemned to death; but four others went to the magistrate who
pronounced that sentence, and told him, he must expect to answer with
his own life for those of their comrades. All order and sense of
government being thus lost among the enraged people, to keep up a show
of authority, the captain of the Guards, who saw all their insolence,
pretended, that he had represented to the King their deplorable
condition, and had obtained their pardon. It is further reported, that
the Dauphin and Duchess of Burgundy, as they went to the Opera, were
surrounded by crowds of people, who upbraided them with their neglect of
the general calamity, in going to diversions, when the whole people were
ready to perish for want of bread. Edicts are daily published to
suppress these riots, and papers, with menaces against the Government,
are publicly thrown about. Among others, these words were dropped in a
court of justice: “France wants a Ravilliac or a Jesuit to deliver her.”
Besides this universal distress, there is a contagious sickness, which,
it is feared, will end in a pestilence. Letters from Bordeaux bring
accounts no less lamentable: the peasants are driven by hunger from
their abodes into that city, and make lamentations in the streets
without redress.

We are advised by letters from the Hague, dated the 10th instant, N.S.,
that on the 6th, the Marquis de Torcy arrived there from Paris; but the
passport, by which he came, having been sent blank by Monsieur Rouillé,
he was there two days before his quality was known. That Minister
offered to communicate to Monsieur Heinsius the proposals which he had
to make; but the pensionary refused to see them, and said, he would
signify it to the States, who deputed some of their own body to acquaint
him, That they would enter into no negotiation till the arrival of his
Grace the Duke of Marlborough, and the other Ministers of the Alliance.
Prince Eugene was expected there the 12th instant from Brussels. It is
said, that besides Monsieur de Torcy and Monsieur Pajot,
Director-general of the Posts, there are two or three persons at the
Hague whose names are not known; but it is supposed that the Duke
d’Alba, ambassador from the Duke of Anjou, was one of them. The States
have sent letters to all the cities of the Provinces, desiring them to
send their deputies to receive the propositions of peace made by the
Court of France.