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my looks, without tenderly enquiring the cause; but now he seems often to forget that I am present, while Maria engrosses his whole attention. I have been for some days deprived of his company, and have spent the time in reflecting seriously on my situation. The more I consider it, the more it appears to me of a particular and distressing nature. I have at last determined to request your opinion of it, and, through the channel of your paper, to give Maria a hint, that to keep clear of the grossness of vice, is not sufficient for the delicacy of the female character; and that the woman who, by an alluring and refined coquetry, engages the thoughts, and interests the feelings of a married man, is a more dangerous, and perhaps not a less criminal companion, than the avowed wanton, who excites a shortlived passion, soon extinguished by remorse, and, if I may be allowed the expression, fully compensated for by the returning tenderness of the repenting husband.
I am, &c.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
I MARRIED, for love, a most charming woman, who has made me the happy father of two very fine children: have a thousand a-year estate, and enjoy a most perfect state of health; yet a very slight and contemptible cause was near destroying all those fair prospects of happiness, by interrupting the harmony of a union founded on mutual liking, and cemented by mutual esteem. In your observations on the female world, you have suffered to escape your notice a dangerous and most destructive race, whose hearts, hardened by vanity, are equally impenetrable to the shafts of love, and insen
sible of the charms of Friendship; yet the business of their lives is to excite passions they never mean to gratify, and sentiments they are incapable of returning. My dear Mrs. B. unfortunately for us both, some months ago renewed an intimacy, formed in her childish days, with one of those females. To Maria I was introduced as the husband of her friend; as such I was received by her, without reserve, and soon treated with the most flattering distinction. Maria possesses all those powers of allurement which men for ever condemn, and can never withstand: she can assume every shape that is fitted to captivate the senses, or delight the imagination, and can vary her appearance at pleasure. So consummate is her art, that one could not, for an instant, suspect her of any design in her behaviour; and even at this moment, that an accident has laid open her whole character to me, I should not answer for my resolution were she to enter the room, and smilingly take my hand, as was her frequent custom, with such a mixture of sweetness and tenderness in her looks!....I almost fear I should be weak enough to forget that my opinion of her is founded on the clearest proofs of her dissembling arts, and stand before her self-condemned, as the defamer of innocence and undesigning simplicity.
Luckily I am out of her reach: I left my own house immediately upon the discovery I made of the fair hypocrite's real disposition. I mean to send for my dear Mrs. B. and with her pay a visit to the capital, and there use all my efforts to make her amends for any uneasiness my foolish infatuation may have given her; but first I wished to make this public acknowledgment of it; and, as Maria deserves no mercy, I shall shew her none, except concealing her family name.
For five months, Mr. Mirror, the Proteus-like animal had found out a thousand different ways to
charm me. Was I in spirits, she was all life and good humour; when in a graver mood, I found her all sense and seriousness. If what I had been reading excited in me a tender and not unpleasing melancholy, the sympathetic tear stood ready in her eye. A few days since, upon my reading to her the story of La Roche, so beautifully told in your papers, she wept leaning upon my shoulder; and I own to you, Mr. Mirror, as her tears fell upon the finest bosom Nature ever formed, while her white hand lightly pressed my arm, I thought I had never beheld so interesting an object. Mrs B. came suddenly into the room; her grave cold manner was at the moment disagreeably contrasted to Maria's animated feelings. For the first time since our marriage, I thought I saw a change in Mrs. B.'s temper, and that she was not the very amiable woman I took her for. She took amiss something I said, and I left the room in disgust. I strolled down a shady walk that goes round part of my improvements: at the end of it I found Maria seated on the grass, with one of my little girls on her lap. She rose at my approach, and, desiring the child to walk before us, took me under the arm, and, in the gentlest terms, expostulated with me on the abruptness of my manner. She had, she said, after a vain attempt to soothe her, left Mrs. B. in tears. She acknowledged I had not given her very serious cause of uneasiness, but that a man of my sense should make allowance for the trifling blemishes of a very good woman; adding, with a smile, "My dear Mr. B. we are none of us angels." I was puppy enough to be ready to exclaim "Upon my soul, you are ❝ one....I contented myself with saying, “whoever .66 you marry, Maria, will have no reason to com"plain of your temper." She blushed, drew out her handkerchief to cover her face with it, as if to conceal her emotions, but gave me such a look from
below it!.... A servant appeared to tell us that dinner waited, and we went into the house together.
In the afternoon one of my little girls came into the parlour, where I was sitting alone: 66 see what "I have found in the walk, Papa!" said she, holding out a paper. I took it from the child, and, seeing it was Maria's hand, was about to go up stairs to restore it to its owner, when my own name written in large characters, struck my eye. My good manners were overpowered by the immediate impulse of my curiosity; I opened the paper, and read what follows; it was part of an unfinished letter to a friend in town.
"You ask what havoc I have made among the "beaux at...........? Alas! my dear Bell, you knów "but little of my situation when you talk of beaux; "not a creature one would allow to pick up one's "fan within ten miles of us. Having nothing upon 66 my hands, I have struck up a sort of sentimental "Platonic flirtation with a Mr. B. who lives within 66 a small distance of our house. I knew his wife "at school, and she was one of the first who visited "me upon my arrival here. Her violent praises of "her beloved, gave me a sort of desire to see him; " and, I own, I found him tolerable enough in his 66 appearance, and by no means deficient in under"standing, but vain of his slight pretensions to ta"lents, and very fond of being thought profound. "At the first glance I saw into him, and could now "twist him round my finger. It is very diverting "to observe by what foolish principles your men, "who think themselves very wise, are governed. "Flatter this man's vanity, and you might lead him "round the world. Now I know you will treat me, "in return for my frankness, with a lecture on co"quetry, married men, impropriety, and so forth. "Take my advice, my dear Bell, and save yourself "the trouble; it would be all to no purpose. A co
"quette I am, and a coquette I will remain, to the "last day of the existence of my powers of pleas"ing."
The paper was there at an end. It raised in me the strongest indignation and contempt for the writer. And I felt so ashamed of my folly, that I determined not to see my dear Mrs. B. until I had made some atonement, by sending you an account of my errors and repentance. I am, &c.
No. XCVI. SATURDAY, APRIL 8.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
I AM neither ugly, nor old, nor poor, nor neglected; I have a clear conscience: nor have I suf fered any calamity by the inconstancy of lovers, or the death of relations. I am not unhappy. The world would laugh at me if I should say I were unhappy. But I am not happy. I will tell you my case: I confide in your feelings; for you seem to understand, what few people understand, that a person may be in easy circumstances, have a clear conscience, and enjoy sufficient reputation, and yet be ....no, I will not say miserable,....but not happy.
I am the only daughter of an eminent merchant. My father made his own fortune; and a very good fortune he has made of it. He married my mother before his situation was so comfortable as it is at present. They are neither of them niggardly. Hav ing wherewithal to live, not only with ease, but with some degree of splendor, they chuse, as they say,