[Footnote 1: Budgell here defends with bad temper the Epilogue which Addison ascribed to him. Probably it was of his writing, but transformed by Addison’s corrections.]
[Footnote 2: Dryden’s Maximin.]
* * * * *
No. 342. Wednesday, April 2, 1712. Steele.
Justitiae partes sunt non violare homines: Verecundiae non offendere.
As Regard to Decency is a great Rule of Life in general, but more especially to be consulted by the Female World, I cannot overlook the following Letter which describes an egregious Offender.
I was this Day looking over your Papers, and reading in that of December the 6th with great delight, the amiable Grief of Asteria for the Absence of her Husband, it threw me into a great deal of Reflection. I cannot say but this arose very much from the Circumstances of my own Life, who am a Soldier, and expect every Day to receive Orders; which will oblige me to leave behind me a Wife that is very dear to me, and that very deservedly. She is, at present, I am sure, no way below your Asteria for Conjugal Affection: But I see the Behaviour of some Women so little suited to the Circumstances wherein my Wife and I shall soon be, that it is with a Reluctance I never knew before, I am going to my Duty. What puts me to present Pain, is the Example of a young Lady, whose Story you shall have as well as I can give it you. Hortensius, an Officer of good Rank in her Majesty’s Service, happen’d in a certain Part of England to be brought to a Country-Gentleman’s House, where he was receiv’d with that more than ordinary Welcome, with which Men of domestick Lives entertain such few Soldiers whom a military Life, from the variety of Adventures, has not render’d over-bearing, but humane, easy, and agreeable: Hortensius stay’d here some time, and had easy Access at all hours, as well as unavoidable Conversation at some parts of the Day with the beautiful Sylvana, the Gentleman’s Daughter. People who live in Cities are wonderfully struck with every little Country Abode they see when they take the Air; and tis natural to fancy they could live in every neat Cottage (by which they pass) much happier than in their present Circumstances. The turbulent way of Life which Hortensius was used to, made him reflect with much Satisfaction on all the Advantages of a sweet Retreat one day; and among the rest, you’ll think it not improbable, it might enter into his Thought, that such a Woman as Sylvana would consummate the Happiness. The World is so debauched with mean Considerations, that Hortensius knew it would be receiv’d as an Act of Generosity, if he asked for a Woman of the Highest Merit, without further Questions, of a Parent who had nothing to add to her personal Qualifications. The Wedding