George Frisbie Whicher.

The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood online

. (page 12 of 17)
Online LibraryGeorge Frisbie WhicherThe Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood → online text (page 12 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

inadvertencies of her sex as in exposing them.

The tender passion was still the theme in "Love-Letters on All Occasions
Lately passed between Persons of Distinction," which contains a number
of letters, mainly disconnected, devoted to the warmer phases of
gallantry. Some are essays in little on definite subjects: levity,
sincerity, the pleasures of conjugal affection, insensibility, and so
on. Most of them, however, are occasional: "Strephon to Dalinda, on her
forbidding him to speak of Love," "Orontes to Deanira, entreating her to
give him a meeting," and many others in which both the proper names and
the situations suggest the artificial romances. None of the missives
reveals emotions of any but the most tawdry romantic kind, warm desires
extravagantly uttered, conventional doubts, causeless jealousies, and
petty quarrels. Like Mrs. Behn's correspondence with the amorous Van
Bruin these epistles have nothing to distinguish them except their
excessive hyperbole. There is one series of twenty-four connected
letters on the model of "Letters from a Lady of Quality to a Chevalier,"
relating the love story of Theano and Elismonda, but in the course of
the whole correspondence nothing more momentous occurs than the lover's
leaving town. Indeed so imperceptible is the narrative element in Mrs.
Haywood's epistolary sequences that they can make no claim to share with
the anonymous love story in letters entitled "Love's Posy" (1686), with
the "Letters Written By Mrs. Manley" (1696),[4] or with Tom Brown's
"Adventures of Lindamira" (1702) in twenty-four letters, the honor of
having anticipated Richardson's method of telling a story in epistolary

Even after the publication of "Pamela" and "Clarissa" Mrs. Haywood
failed to realize the narrative possibilities of consecutive letters,
for "Epistles for the Ladies" (1749) hardly contains three missives on
any one theme. Though the collection is not free from letters in the
vein of gallantry, the emphasis on the whole is decidedly changed. There
are few attempts to exploit the emotions by describing the palpitations
of injured beauty or the expostulations and vows of love-sick cavaliers.
Instead Aminta is praised for enduring with unusual self-possession the
treachery of her lover and her most intimate friend. Sophronia
encourages Palmira to persist in her resolution of living apart from her
husband until she is convinced of the reformation of his manners, and
Isabinda sends to Elvira a copy of a modest epithalamium on her sister's
marriage. Occasionally a romantic love story runs through three or four
letters, but any deviation from the strictest principles of delicacy -
and there are not many - is sure to be followed by a fitting catastrophe.
Some reprobation of the licentious manners of the age is permitted, but
no catering to degenerate taste and no breath of scandal. The aim of the
epistles, which were apparently not intended as models, was to convey
moral precepts in an agreeably alleviated form, but the balance inclines
rather heavily toward sober piety. A mother recommends poetry and
history for the reading of her twelve year old daughter, though allowing
an occasional indulgence in "well wrote Novels." Eusebia discusses the
power of divine music with the Bishop of ***. Berinthia writes to
Berenice to urge her to make the necessary preparations for futurity.
Philenia assures the Reverend Doctor *** that she is a true penitent,
and beseeches his assistance to strengthen her pious resolutions.
Hillaria laments to Clio that she is unable to think seriously on death,
and Aristander edifies Melissa by proving from the principles of reason
and philosophy the certainty of a future existence, and the absurdity
and meanness of those people's notions, who degrade the dignity of their
species, and put human nature on a level with that of the brute
creation. In all this devotion there was no doubt something of Mrs.
Howe. "Epistles for the Ladies" was not the first "attempt to employ the
ornaments of romance in the decoration of religion"[6] nor the best, but
along with the pious substance the author sometimes adopts an almost
Johnsonian weightiness of style, as when Ciamara gives to Sophronia an
account of the finishing of a fine building she had been at an infinite
expense in erecting, with some moral reflections on the vanity and
disappointment of all sub-lunary expectations.

In her essays, even the most serious, Mrs. Haywood was a follower of
Addison rather than Johnson. The first of them, if we disregard the
slight discourse appended to the "Letters from a Lady of Quality to a
Chevalier," was "The Tea-Table: or, A Conversation between some Polite
Persons of both Sexes, at a Lady's Visiting Day. Wherein are represented
the Various Foibles, and Affectations, which form the Character of an
Accomplish'd Beau, or Modern Fine Lady. Interspersed with several
Entertaining and Instructive Stories,"[7] (1725), which most resembles a
"day" detached from the interminable "La Belle Assemblée" of Mme de
Gomez, translated by Mrs. Haywood a few months before. There is the same
polite conversation, the debate between love and reason, the poem,[8]
and the story. But the moral reflections upon tea-tables, the
description of Amiana's, where only wit and good humor prevail, and the
satirical portraits of a titled coxcomb and a bevy of fine ladies, are
all in the manner of the "Tatler." The manuscript novel read by one of
the company savors of nothing but Mrs. Haywood, who was evidently unable
to slight her favorite theme of passion. Her comment on contemporary
manners soon gives place to "Beraldus and Celemena: or the Punishment of
Mutability," a tale of court intrigue in her warmest vein. The authors
of the "Tatler" and "Spectator" had, of course, set a precedent for the
inclusion of short romantic stories in the essay of manners, and even
the essays with no distinct element of fiction were preparing for the
novelist the powerful tool of characterization. Writers of fiction were
slow to apply the new art to their proper materials. In the present
instance an experienced novelist employed the essay form to depict the
follies and affectations of a beau and fine ladies, and immediately
turned back to a story in which characterization is almost entirely
neglected for incident. It is interesting to find the same writer using
the realistic sketch of manners and the romantic tale of intrigue and
passion without any thought of combining the two elements. In the second
part of "The Tea-Table" Mrs. Haywood made no attempt to diversify the
patchwork of verse and prose with any narrative, save one small incident
illustrating pride. The sole point of interest is the long and laudatory
tribute to her friend Aaron Hill in "A Pastoral Dialogue, between Alexis
and Clarinda; Occasioned by Hillarius's intending a Voyage to America."

The "Reflections on the Various Effects of Love" (1726), however, takes
full advantage of the looseness of the essay form to become a mere
tissue of short narratives illustrating the consequences of passion. The
stories of Celia and Evandra, one cursing her betrayer, the other
wishing him always happy, exemplify revengeful and generous love. There
are two model epistles from Climene to Mirtillo, the first upon his
absence, the second upon his desertion of her. Soon the trite remarks
degenerate into a scandal novel, relating the history of Sophiana,
abandoned by Aranthus and sought by Martius, with many of her letters
describing her gradual change of heart in favor of the beseeching lover.
In the midst of exposing Hibonio's sudden infatuation for a
gutter-nymph, the essay abruptly ends with the exclamation, "More of
this in our next." Though there was no lack of slander at the end of
Mrs. Haywood's pen, she never attempted to continue the "Reflections."

But almost twenty years later she made a more noteworthy excursion into
the field of the periodical essay. "The Female Spectator," begun in
April, 1744, and continued in monthly parts until May, 1746, bid fair to
become the best known and most approved of her works. The twenty-four
numbers (two months being omitted) were bound in four volumes upon the
completion of the series and sold with such vigor that an edition
labeled the third was issued at Dublin in 1747. In 1771 the seventh and
last English edition was printed. As in the original "Spectator" the
essays are supposed to be the product of a Club, in this case composed
of four women. After drawing her own character in the terms already
quoted,[9] Mrs. Haywood mentions as her coadjutors in the enterprise
"Mira, a Lady descended from a Family to which Wit seems hereditary,
married to a Gentleman every way worthy of so excellent a Wife.... The
next is a Widow of Quality" who has not "buried her Vivacity in the Tomb
of her Lord.... The Third is the Daughter of a wealthy Merchant,
charming as an Angel.... This fine young Creature I shall call
Euphrosine." The suspiciously representative character of these
assistants may well make us doubt their actuality; and from the style of
the lucubrations, at least, no evidence of a plurality of authors can
readily be perceived. Indeed after the first few numbers we hear nothing
more of them. "Mira" was the pseudonym used by Mrs. Haywood in "The
Wife" (1756), while a periodical called "The Young Lady" began to appear
just before her death under the pen-name of Euphrosine.

Whether written by a Female Spectator Club or by a single authoress, the
essays in purpose, method, and style are evidently imitated from their
famous model. The loose plan and general intention to rectify the
manners of the age allowed the greatest latitude in the choice of
subject matter. In a single paper are jumbled together topics so diverse
as the degradation of the stage, the immoderate use of tea, and the
proper choice of lovers. The duty of periodical essayists to castigate
the follies of the time is graphically represented in the frontispiece
to the second volume, where Apollo, seated on some substantial clouds
and holding in his hand "The Female Spectator," despatches a flying
Mercury, who in spite of the efforts of two beaux with drawn swords and
a belle in _déshabillé_, chastises a female figure of Luxuria lolling in
a chariot pulled by one inadequate grasshopper. In the essays themselves
the same purpose led to the censure of gambling, lying, affectation of
youth by the aged, jilts, "Anti-Eternitarians," scandal bearing, and
other petty sins and sinners. For political readers a gentleman
contributes a conversation between a Hanoverian and an English lady, in
which the latter has the best of the argument. An account of Topsy-Turvy
Land satirizes illogical practices in a manner familiar to the readers
of "The Bab Ballads." The few literary papers are concerned with true
and false taste, the delights of reading, Mr. Akenside's "Pleasures of
the Imagination" and the horrors of the same, the outwearing of romance,
and love-letters passed between Augustus Caesar and Livia Drusilla,
which last Mrs. Haywood was qualified to judge as an expert. Essays on
religion and the future life reveal something of the sober touch and
moral earnestness of Johnson, but nothing of his compact and weighty
style. As in the "Spectator," topics are often introduced by a scrap of
conversation by way of a text or by a letter from a correspondent
setting forth some particular grievance. The discussion is frequently
illustrated by anecdotes or even by stories, though the author makes
comparatively small use of her talent for fiction. Indeed she records at
one point that "Many of the Subscribers to this Undertaking ... complain
that ... I moralize too much, and that I give them too few Tales." The
Oriental setting used by Addison with signal success is never attempted
and even scandal stories are frowned upon. Instead of the elaborate and
elegantly turned illustrative narratives of the "Spectator," Mrs.
Haywood generally relates anecdotes which in spite of the disguised
names savor of crude realism. They are examples rather than
illustrations of life.

One of the most lively is a story told to show the inevitable
unhappiness of a marriage between persons of different sects. The
husband, a High Church man, and the wife, of Presbyterian persuasion,
were happy enough during the first months of married life, "tho' he
sometimes expressed a Dissatisfaction at being denied the Pleasure of
leading her to Westminster-Abbey, for he would hear no Divine Service
out of a Cathedral, and she was no less troubled that she could not
prevail with him to make his Appearance with her at the Conventicle."
Consequently when their first child was born, they were unable to agree
how the boy was to be baptized. "All their Discourse was larded with the
most piquant Reflections," but to no purpose. The father insisted upon
having his own way, but Amonia, as his consort was not inappropriately
named, was no less stubborn in her detestation of lawn sleeves, and on
the eve of the christening had the ceremony privately performed by her
own minister. When the bishop and the guests were assembled, she
announced with "splenetic Satisfaction" that the child had already been
"made a Christian" and that his name was John. The astonished husband
lapsed into an "adequate rage," and though restrained by the company
from doing an immediate violence to his help-mate, was permanently
estranged from her through his resentment. Two other stories from "The
Female Spectator" were quoted by Dr. Nathan Drake in his "Gleaner."

In her bold attempt to rival Addison upon his own ground Mrs. Haywood
was more than moderately successful in the estimation of many of her
contemporaries. Rambling and trite as are the essays in her periodical,
their excellent intentions, at least, gained them a degree of
popularity. A writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine" for December, 1744,
applauding the conspicuous merit of the "fair philosophers in virtue's
cause," declared that

"Were your great predecessor yet on earth,
He'd be the first to speak your page's worth,
There all the foibles of the fair you trace;
There do you shew your sex's truest grace;
There are the various wiles of man display'd,
In gentle warnings to the cred'lous maid;
Politely pictur'd, wrote with strength and ease,
And while the wand'rer you reclaim, you please....
Women, the heart of women best can reach;
While men from maxims - you from practice teach."

The latter part of the panegyric shows that the fair romancer had not
been entirely smothered in the fair philosopher and moral essayist.

Perhaps encouraged by the success of "The Female Spectator" to publish
more frequently, or actuated by a desire to appeal to the public
interest in the political excitement of 1745-6, Mrs. Haywood next
attempted to combine the periodical essay with the news-letter, but the
innovation evidently failed to please. "The Parrot, with a Compendium of
the Times" ran only from 2 August to 4 October, 1746. The numbers
consisted commonly of two parts: the first being moralizings on life and
manners by a miraculous parrot; and the second a digest of whatever
happenings the author could scrape together. The news of the day was
concerned chiefly with the fate of the rebels in the last Stuart
uprising and with rumors of the Pretender's movements. From many
indications Eliza Haywood would seem to have taken a lively interest in
the Stuart cause, but certainly she had no exceptional facilities for
reporting the course of events, and consequently her budget of
information was often stale or filled with vague surmises. But she did
not overlook the opportunity to narrate _con amore_ such pathetic
incidents as the death of Jemmy Dawson's sweetheart at the moment of his
execution, later the subject of Shenstone's ballad. The vaporizings of
the parrot were also largely inspired by the trials of the rebels, but
the sagacious bird frequently drew upon such stock subjects as the
follies of the gay world, the character of women, the unreliability of
venal praise and interested personal satire, and the advantages of
making one's will - the latter illustrated by a story. Somewhat more
unusual was a letter from an American Poll, representing how much it was
to the interest of England to preserve, protect, and encourage her
plantations in the New World, and complaining of the tyranny of
arbitrary governors. But the essay parts of "The Parrot" are not even
equal to "The Female Spectator" and deserve no lightening of the deep
and speedy oblivion cast upon them.

Besides her periodical essays Mrs. Haywood wrote during her declining
years several conduct books, which, beyond showing the adaptability of
her pen to any species of writing, have but small importance. One of
them, though inheriting something from Defoe, owed most to the interest
in the servant girl heroine excited by Richardson's first novel. No
sociologist has yet made a study of the effect of "Pamela" upon the
condition of domestics, but the many excellent maxims on the servant
question uttered by Lord B - - and his lady can hardly have been without
influence upon the persons of the first quality who pored over the
volumes. In popular novels, at any rate, abigails and scullions reigned
supreme. In 1752 the "Monthly Review" remarked of a recent work of
fiction, "The History of Betty Barnes," that it seemed "chiefly
calculated for the amusement of a class of people, to whom the
_Apprentice's Monitor_, or the _Present for a servant maid_ might be
recommended to much better purpose," but the reviewer's censure failed
to quell the demand for romances of the kitchen. Mrs. Haywood, however,
might have approved of his recommendation, since she happened to be the
author of the little manual of household science especially urged upon
the females below stairs.

"A Present for a Servant-Maid. Or, the Sure Means of Gaining Love and
Esteem" was frequently reprinted both in London and Dublin during the
years 1743-4, and as late as 1772 a revision was mentioned in the
"Monthly Review" as a "well-designed and valuable tract."[10] The work
is a compendium of instructions for possible Pamelas, teaching them in
brief how to wash, to market, to dress any sort of meat, to cook, to
pickle, and to preserve their virtue. The maids are cautioned against
such female errors as sluttishness, tale-bearing, staying on errands,
telling family affairs, aping the fashion, and giving saucy answers.
They are forbidden to play with fire or candles, to quarrel with fellow
domestics, to waste victuals or to give them away. A fine example of the
morality of scruples inculcated by the tract is the passage on the duty
of religious observance. A maidservant should not neglect to go to
church at least every other Sunday, and should never spend the time
allowed her for that purpose walking in the fields or drinking tea with
an acquaintance. "Never say you have been at Church unless you have, but
if you have gone out with that Intention, and been diverted from it by
any Accident or Persuasions, confess the Truth, if asked." Girls so
unhappy as to live with people who "have no Devotion themselves" should
entreat permission to go to church, and if it is refused them, rather
leave their place than be deprived of sacred consolation. "If you lose
_one_, that God, for whose sake you have left it, will doubtless provide
another, and perhaps a better for you." Scarcely more edifying are the
considerations of self-interest which should guide a maidservant into
the paths of virtue. "Industry and Frugality are two very amiable Parts
of a Woman's Character, and I know no readier Way than attaining them,
to procure you the Esteem of Mankind, and get yourselves good Husbands.
Consider, my dear Girls, that you have no Portions, and endeavour to
supply the Deficiencies of Fortune by Mind." And in pure Pamela vein is
the advice offered to those maids whose honor is assailed. If the
temptation come from the master, it will be well to reflect whether he
is a single or a married man and act accordingly. One cannot expect the
master's son to keep a promise of marriage without great difficulty, but
the case may be different with a gentleman lodger, especially if he be
old and doting. And the moral of all is: Don't sell yourselves too
cheap. Finally to complete the usefulness of the pamphlet were added,
"Directions for going to Market: Also, for Dressing any Common Dish,
whether Flesh, Fish or Fowl. With some Rules for Washing, &c. The whole
calculated for making both the Mistress and the Maid happy."

More especially intended to promote the happiness of the mistress of the
family, "The Wife, by Mira, One of the Authors of the Female Spectator,
and Epistles for Ladies" (1756) contains advice to married women on how
to behave toward their husbands in every conceivable situation,
beginning with the first few weeks after marriage "vulgarly call'd the
honey-moon," and ending with "How a Woman ought to behave when in a
state of Separation from her Husband" - a subject upon which Mrs. Haywood
could speak from first-hand knowledge. Indeed it must be confessed that
the writer seems to be chiefly interested in the infelicities of married
life, and continually alleviates the rigor of her didactic pasages
[Transcriber's note: sic] with lively pictures of domestic jars, such as
the following:

"The happy day which had join'd this pair was scarce six weeks
elapsed, when lo! behold a most terrible reverse; - the hurry of their
fond passion was over; - dalliance was no more, - kisses and embraces
were now succeeded by fighting, scratching, and endeavouring to tear
out each other's eyes; - the lips that before could utter only, - my
dear, - my life, - my soul, - my treasure, now pour'd forth nothing but
invectives; - they took as little care to conceal the proofs of their
animosity as they had done to moderate those of a contrary emotion; -
they were continually quarreling; - their house was a Babel of
confusion; - no servant would stay with them a week; - they were shunn'd
by their most intimate friends, and despis'd by all their
acquaintance; till at last they mutually resolv'd to agree in one
point, which was, to be separated for ever from each other" (p. 16).

So the author discusses a wife's behavior toward a husband when laboring
under disappointment or vexatious accidents; sleeping in different beds;
how a woman should act when finding that her husband harbors unjust
suspicions of her virtue; the great indiscretion of taking too much
notice of the unmeaning or transient gallantries of a husband; the
methods which a wife is justified to take after supporting for a long
time a complication of all manner of ill-usage from a husband; and other
causes or effects of marital infelicity. Though marriage almost
inevitably terminates in a "brulée," the wife should spare no efforts to
ameliorate her husband's faults.

"If addicted to drinking, she must take care to have his cellar well
stor'd with the best and richest wines, and never seem averse to any
company he shall think fit to entertain: - If fond of women, she must
endeavour to convince him that the virtuous part of the sex are
capable of being as agreeable companions as those of the most loose
principles; - and this, not by arguments, for those he will not listen
to; - but by getting often to her house, the most witty, gay, and
spirituous of her acquaintance, who will sing, dance, tell pleasant
stories, and take all the freedoms that innocence allows" (p. 163).

Occasionally the advice to married women is very practical, as the
following deterrent from gluttony shows:

"I dined one day with a lady, who the whole time she employ'd her
knife and fork with incredible swiftness in dispatching a load of
turkey and chine she had heap'd upon her plate, still kept a keen
regard on what she had left behind, greedily devouring with her eyes
all that remain'd in the dish, and throwing a look of envy on every
one who put in for the smallest share. - My advice to such a one is,
that she would have a great looking-glass fix'd opposite the seat she
takes at table; and I am much mistaken, if the sight of herself in
those grim attitudes I have mention'd, will not very much contribute
to bring her to more moderation" (p. 276).

The method of "The Husband, in Answer to the Wife" (1756) is similar to
that of its companion-piece; in fact, much of the same advice is merely
modified or amplified to suit the other sex. The husband is warned to
avoid drinking to excess and some other particulars which may happen to

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryGeorge Frisbie WhicherThe Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood → online text (page 12 of 17)