“What happened the other Day, gives me a lively Image of the Inconsistency of human Passions and Inclinations. We pursue what we are denied, and place our Affections on what is absent, tho we neglected it when present. As long as you refused my Love, your Refusal did so strongly excite my Passion, that I had not once the Leisure to think of recalling my Reason to aid me against the Design upon your Virtue. But when that Virtue began to comply in my Favour, my Reason made an Effort over my Love, and let me see the Baseness of my Behaviour in attempting a Woman of Honour. I own to you, it was not without the most violent Struggle that I gained this Victory over my self; nay, I will confess my Shame, and acknowledge I could not have prevailed but by Flight. However, Madam, I beg that you will believe a Moments Weakness has not destroyed the Esteem I had for you, which was confirmed by so many Years of Obstinate Virtue. You have Reason to rejoice that this did not happen within the Observation of one of the young Fellows, who would have exposed your Weakness, and gloried in his own Brutish Inclinations. I am, Madam, Your most devoted Humble Servant.”
Isabella, with the Help of her Husband, returned the following Answer.
“I cannot but account my self a very happy Woman, in having a Man for a Lover that can write so well, and give so good a Turn to a Disappointment. Another Excellence you have above all other Pretenders I ever heard of; on Occasions where the most reasonable Men lose all their Reason, you have yours most powerful. We are each of us to thank our Genius, that the Passion of one abated in Proportion as that of the other grew violent. Does it not yet come into your Head, to imagine that I knew my Compliance was the greatest Cruelty I could be guilty of towards you? In Return for your long and faithful Passion, I must let you know that you are old enough to become a little more Gravity; but if you will leave me and coquet it any where else, may your Mistress yield.
Rideat et pulset Lasciva decentius AEtas.
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No. 319. Thursday, March 6, 1712. Budgell.
Quo teneam vultus mutantem Protea nodo?
I have endeavoured, in the Course of my Papers, to do Justice to the Age, and have taken care as much as possible to keep my self a Neuter between both Sexes. I have neither spared the Ladies out of Complaisance, nor the Men out of Partiality; but notwithstanding the great Integrity with which I have acted in this Particular, I find my self taxed with an Inclination to favour my own half of the Species. Whether it be that the Women afford a more fruitful Field for Speculation, or whether they run more in my Head than the Men, I cannot tell, but I shall set down the Charge as it is laid against me in the following Letter.