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I have endeavoured to search into the original of this impertinent way of making love, which, according to some authors, is of great antiquity. If we may believe Monsieur Dacier and other critics, Horace's tenth Ode of the third book was originally a Serenade. And if I was disposed to shew my learn. ing, I could produce a line of him in another place, which seems to have been the burden of an old heathen serenade,
Audis minus, et minus jam,
Lydia, dormis?'-HoR. 1 Od. xxv. 8.
Am dying ?-FRANCIS. But notwithstanding the opinions of many learned men upon this subject, I rather agree with them who look
upon this custom, as now practised, to have been introduced by castrated musicians; who found out this method of applying themselves to their mistresses at these hours, when men of hoarser voices express their passions in a more vulgar method. It must be confessed, that your Italian eunuchs do practise this manner of courtship to this day,
But whoever were the persons that first thought of the serenade, the authors of all countries are unanimous in ascribing the invention to Italy.
There are two circumstances which qualified that country above all others for this midnight music.
The first I shall mention was the softness of their climate. This
gave the lover opportunities of being abroad in the air, or of lying upon the earth whole hours together, without fear of damps or dews; but as for our tramontane lovers, when they begin their midnight complaint with,
My lodging upon the cold ground is,
we are not to understand them in the rigour of the letter ; since it would be impossible for a British swain to condole himself long in that situation, without dying for his mistress. A man might as well serenade in Greenland as in our region. Milton seems to have had in his thoughts the absurdity of these Northern Serenades, in the censure which he passes upon them :
Or midnight ball,
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain. The truth of it is, I have often pitied, in a winter night, a vocal musician, and have attributed many of his trills and quavers to the coldness of the weather.
The second circumstance which inclined the Italians to this custom, was that musical genius which is so universal among them. Nothing is more frequent in that country, than to hear a cobbler work. ing to an opera-tune. You can scarce see a porter that has not one nail much longer than the rest, which you will find upon inquiry, is cherished for some instrument. In short, there is not a labourer, or bandicraftman, that in the cool of the evening does not relieve himself with solos and sonatas.
The Italian soothes his mistress with a plaintive voice; and bewails himself in such melting music, that the whole neighbourhood sympathizes with him little an inclination to music, that they seldom begin to sing until they are drunk; which also is usually the time when they are most disposed to serenade.
in bis sorrow.
Qualis populeå merens Philomela sub umbrâ.
Virg. Georg. iv. 511.
No 223. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 1710.
For when upon their ungot heirs,
From my own Apartment, September 11. I HAVE been very much solicited by Clarinda, Flavia, and Lysetta, to reassume my discourse concerning the methods of disposing honourably the unmarried part of the world, and taking off those bars to it, jointures and settlements; which are not only the greatest impediments towards entering into that state, but also the frequent causes of distrust and animosity in it after it is consummated. I have with very
much attention considered this case ; and among all the observations that I have made through a long course of years, I have thought the coldness of wives to their husbands, as well as disrespect from children to parents, to arise from this one
This trade for minds and bodies in the lump, without regard to either, but as they are accompanied with such sums of money, and such
parcels of land, cannot but produce a commerce between the parties concerned, suitable to the mean motives upon which they at first came together. I have heretofore given an account, that this method
of making settlements was first invented by a gripinġ lawyer, who made use of the covetous tempers of the parents of each side, to force two young people into these vile measures of diffidence, for no other end but to increase the skins of parchment, by which they were put into each other's possession out of each other's power. The law of our country has given an ample and generous provision for the wife, even the third of her husband's estate, and left to her good humour and his gratitude the expectation of farther provision; but the fantastical method of going farther, with relation to their heirs, has a foundation in nothing but pride and folly : for as all men wish their children as like themselves, and as much better, as they can possibly, it seems monstrous that we should give out of ourselves the opportunities of rewarding and discouraging them according to their deserts. This wise institution has no more sense in it, than if a man should begin a deed with, “Whereas no man living knows how long he shall continue to be a living creature, or an honest man.
And whereas I B. am going to enter into the state of matrimony with Mrs. D. therefore I shall from henceforth make it indifferent to me whether from this time forward I shall be a fool or a knave. And therefore, in full and perfect health of body, and a sound mind, not knowing which of my children, will prove better or worse, I give to my first-born, be he perverse, ungrateful, impious, or cruel, the lump and bulk of my estate ; and leave one year's purchase only to each of my younger children whether they shall be brave or beautiful, modest or honourable, from the time of the date hereof, wherein I resign my senses, and hereby promise to employ my judgment no farther in the distribution of my worldly goods from the day of the date hereof; hereby farther confessing and covenanting, that I am from henceforth married, and dead in law.'
There is no man that is conversant in modern settlements, but knows this is an exact translation of what is inserted in these instruments. Men's passions could only make them submit to such terms: and therefore all unreasonable bargains in marriage ought to be set aside, as well as deeds extorted from men under force, or in prison, who are altogether as much masters of their actions, as he that is possessed with a violent passion.
How strangely men are sometimes partial to themselves, appears by the rapine of him that has a daughter's beauty under his direction. He will make no scruple of using it to force from her lover as much of his estate as is worth ten thousand pounds, and at the same time, as a justice on the bench, will spare no pains to get a man hanged that has taken but a horse from him.
It is to be hoped the legislature will in due time take this kind of robbery into consideration, and not suffer men to prey upon each other when they are about making the most solemn league, and entering into the strictest bonds. The only sure remedy is, to fix a certain rate on every woman's fortune; one price for that of a maid, and another for that of a widow: for it is of infinite advantage, that there should be no frauds or uncertainties in the sale of
If any man should exceed the settled rate, he ought to be at liberty after seven years are over, by which time his love may be supposed to abate a little, if it is not founded upon reason, to renounce the bargain, and be freed from the settlement upon restoring the portion: as a youth married under four
may be off, if he pleases, when he comes to age, and as a man is discharged from all