In he sold this office. Very little is known of the events of this part—or, indeed, of any part—of his life. Yet despite the numerous enemies which his book raised up for him, most of these notices are favourable—notably that of Saint-Simon, an acute judge and one bitterly prejudiced against roturiers generally. He was defeated thrice in , and on one memorable occasion he had but seven votes, five of which were those of Bossuet, Boileau, Racine, Pellisson and Bussy-Rabutin.
It is not surprising that, considering the recent panic about poisoning, the bitter personal enmities which he had excited and the peculiar circumstances of his death, suspicions of foul play should have been entertained, but there was apparently no foundation for them. The treatise of Theophrastus may have furnished the first idea, but it gave little more.
The result was quite unlike anything that had been before seen, and it has not been exactly reproduced since, though the essay of Addison and Steele resembles it very closely, especially in the introduction of fancy portraits.
The short paragraphs of which his chapters consist are made up of maxims proper, of criticisms literary and ethical, and above all of the celebrated sketches of individuals baptized with names taken from the plays and romances of the time. These last are the great feature of the work, and that which gave it its immediate if not its enduring popularity. Thus it is with most men ; in their youth they are only occupied with themselves, are spoiled by idleness or pleasure, and then wrongly imagine, when more advanced in years, that it is sufficient for them to be useless or poor for the commonwealth to be obliged to give them a place or to relieve them.
They seldom profit by that important maxim, that men ought to employ the first years of their lives in so qualifying themselves by their studies and labour, that the commonwealth itself, needing their in- dustry and their knowledge as necessary materials for its building up, might be induced, for its own benefit, to make their fortune or improve it. It is our duty to labour in order to make ourselves worthy of filling some office : the rest does not concern us, but is other people's business. In France a great deal of resolution, as well as a widely cultivated intellect, are required to decline posts and offices, and thus consent to remain in retirement and to do nothing.
A man of merit, and in office, is never trouble- some through vanity. The post he fills does not elate him much, because he thinks that he deserves a more important one, which he does not occupy, and this mortifies him. He is more incHned to be restless than to be haughty or disdainful ; he is only uncomfortable to himself. It goes against the grain of a man of merit continually to dance attendance, but for a reason quite the opposite of what some might imagine.
His very merits make him modest, so that he is far from thinking that he gives the smallest pleasure by showing him- self when the prince passes, by placing himself just before him, and by letting him look at his face ; he is more apt to fear being importunate, and he needs many arguments based on custom and duty to persuade him- self to make his appearance ; while, on the contrary, a man who has a good opinion of himself, and who is usually called a conceited man,i likes to show himself, and pays his court with the more confidence as it never enters into his head that the great people by whom he is seen may think otherwise of him than he thinks of himself.
Destouches' best comedies is called Le Glorieux. If I dared to make a comparison between two conditions of Hfe vastly different, I would say that a courageous soldier applies himself to perform his duty almost in the same maijner as a tyler goes about his work ; neither the one nor the other seeks to expose his life, nor are diverted by danger, for to them death is an accident of their callings, but never an obstacle. Thus the first is scarcely more proud of having appeared in the trenches, carried some advanced works or forced some intrenchment, than the other of having climbed on some high roof, or on the top of a steeple.
Both have but endeavoured to act well, whilst an ostentatious man gives himself endless trouble to have it said that he has acted well. Some men, satisfied with themselves because their actions or works have been tolerably successful, and having heard that modesty becomes great men, affect the simplicity and the natural air of truly modest people, like those persons of middling size who stoop, when under a doorway, for fear of hurting their heads.
Your son stammers; do not think of letting " a gentleman, a well-mannered man," but never " an honest man," wliich is in French un honitne de bien. Why, for you to enrich Xanthus, whom you love, is no more than taking a drop of water from the Tiber ; and thus you prevent the bad consequences of his having entered a profession for which he was not fit. It is virtue alone which should guide us in the choice of our friends, without any inquiry into their poverty or riches ; and as we are resolved not to abandon them in adversity, we may boldly and freely cultivate their friendship even in their greatest prosperity.
If it be a happiness to be of noble parentage, it is no less so to possess so much merit that nobody inquires whether we are noble or plebeian. Vet, in , at tlie age of twenty-three, he was appointed advocate-general, through the influence of his father. Hence his appearance in the sixth edition of the " Characters," also published in From time to time have appeared in the world some extraordinary and admirable men, refulgent by their virtues, and whose eminent qualities have shone with prodigious brilliancy, like those uncommon stars of which we do not know why they appear, and know still less what becomes of them after they have disappeared.
These men have neither ancestors nor posterity ; they alone are their whole race. A sensible mind shows us dur duty and the obhgation we lie under to perform it, and if attended with danger, to perform it in spite of danger ; it inspires us with courage or supplies the want of it. He who excels in his art, so as to carry it to the utmost height of perfection, goes in some measure beyond it, and becomes the equal of whatever is most noble and most transcendental : thus V.
Next to personal merit, it must be owned that IV At that time Pierre Mignard , the celebrated artist, and Pierre Corneille were still alive, and Lulli , the great musician, had only been dead a few months. His clothes are made of the finest mate- rials ; but are those same materials less fine in the warehouse or in the whole piece.
I praise, therefore, the skill of his tailor. He wants none of all those curious nicknacks which are worn 1 Desiderius Erasmus , one of the most celebrated scholars and learned men of his time. See also page , note i. You are mistaken, Philemon, if you think you will be esteemed a whit the more for your showy coach, the large number of rogues who follow you, and those six horses that draw you along ; we mentally remove all splendour which is not properly yours, to reach you personally, and find you to be a mere conceited noodle.
Jean de La Bruyère and the Characters
Not but that a man is sometimes to be forgiven who, on account of his splendid retinue, his rich clothes, and his magnificent carriage, thinks himself of more noble descent and more intelligent than he really is ; for he sees this opinion expressed on the countenances and in the eyes of those who speak to him. Plaindre had sometimes the meaning of "to be sparing,'' and Le Sage employs it in Gil Bias in that sense. Colbert induced some Dutch and Flemish weavers to settle in France, where they made a cloth called Toile Colbertine, of which Moliere wore a doublet as the Marquis in les Facheux.
With us a soldier is brave, a lawyer learned ; we proceed no farther. Among the Romans a lawyer was brave and a soldier learned ; a Roman was a soldier and a lawyer, A hero seems to have but one profession, namely, to be a soldier, whilst a great man is of all professions — a lawyer, a soldier, a politician or a cour- tier ; put them both together and they are not worth an honest man.
In war it is very difficult to make a distinction between a hero and a great man, for both possess military virtues. It seems, however, that the first should be young, daring, unmoved amidst dangers and dauntless, whilst the other should have extraordinary sense, great sagacity, lofty capacities, and a long experi- ence. Perhaps Alexander was but a hero, and Caesar a great man. Paul says i Cor.
See page 43, note 2. Jurien de la Gravifere, happily stiil alive, and formerly Minister for the French Navy, think mure favourably than La Bruyfere did of the talents of the youthful king of Macedonia. He had nothing to do in his early years but to show himself worthy of his innate talents, and to give himself up to the bent of his genius.
He has done and performed deeds before he knew anything ; or rather, he knew what was never taught him. I dare say it : many victories were the sport of his childhood. A life attended by great good fortune as well as by long experience, would have gained renown by the mere actions of his youth. The whole of the above paragraph is filled with reminiscences from Bossuet's Oraison funebre du Prince de Conde, delivered in the year Short-sighted men, I mean those whose minds are limited and never extend beyond their own little sphere, cannot understand that universality of talent one sometimes observes in the same person.
They allow no one to possess solid qualities when he is agreeable ; or, when they think they have perceived in a person some bodily attractions, such as agility, elasticity, and skill, they will not credit him with the possession of those gifts of the mind, perspicacity, judgment, and wisdom ; they will not believe what is told in the history of Socrates, that he ever danced.
Compare the saying of Mascarille in Moliere's I,es Pricieuses ridicules: " People of quality know everything! An intelligent man, of a simple and straight- forward character, may fall into some snare, for he does not think that anybody would spread one for him or select him in order to deceive him. This assurance makes him less cautious, and he is caught by some rogues through this failing. But the latter will not be so successful when they attempt it a second time ; such a man can only be deceived once.
If I am a just man, I will be careful not to offend any one, but above all not to offend an intelligent man, if I have the smallest regard for my own interests. There exists nothing so subtle, so simple, and so imperceptible which is not revealed to us by a something in its composition.
ISBN 13: 9782080700728
A blockhead cannot enter a room, nor leave it, nor sit down, nor rise, nor be silent, nor stand on his legs like an intelligent man. He introduces himself into a company of highly respectable people, though he is a perfect stranger to them, and with- out waiting till they address him, or feeling that he interrupts them, he often speaks, and that in an absurd 1 Charles Castel, Abbede Saint Pierre , amemberof the French Academy, whence he was ejected in on account of his Discours sur la Polysynodie, a work in which he proposed a kind of Constitution for the French nation.
He is like a dog that is driven out of the king's chair and jumps into the pulpit. He looks with indifference, without any embarrassment or without any shame, upon the world's opinion ; he and a blockhead have the same feelings of modesty, CelsusUs not of avery high birth, but he is allowed to visit the greatest men in the land ; he is not learned, but he is acquainted with some learned men ; he has not much merit, but he knows people who have a great deal of it; he has no abilities, but he has a tongue that serves him to be understood, and feet that carry him from one place to another.
He is a man made to run backwards and forwards, to listen to proposals and to talk about them, to do this officially, to exceed the duties of his post, and even to be disowned ; to reconcile people who fall out the first time they see one another ; to succeed in one affair and fail in a thousand ; to arrogate all the honour of success to himself, and cast all the blame of a failure on others. He knows all the scandal and the tittle- tattle, of the town ; he does nothing but only repeats and hears what others do ; he is a newsmonger, he is even acquainted with family secrets, and busies himself about the greatest mysteries ; he tells you the reason why a certain person was banished and another has been re- called ; he knows why and wherefore two brothers have 1 Celsiis is the Baron de Breteuil, who was sent in on a diplomatic mission to the dukes of Parma and Modena, but failed, and was disowned.
Did he not tell the latter their union would not last long? Was he not present when certain words were spoken? Did he not enter into some kind of negotiation? Would they believe him? Did they mind what he said? To whom do you talk about those things? Who has had a greater share in all court intrigues than Celsus?
And if it were not so, or if he had not dreamed or imagined it to be so, would he think of making you believe it? Would he put on the grave and mysterious look of a man newly returned from an embassy? He neither says nor feels anything, but repeats the feelings and sayings of others ; it is so natural for him to make use of other people's minds that he is the first deceived by it, and often believes he speaks his own mind or expresses his own thoughts when he is but the echo of some man he just parted with.
See also page 43, note i. Some commentators say Menippus was the Marquis de Cavoye , one of the handsomest men and one of the greatest duellists of the court. He often soliloquises, and so little conceals it, that the passers-by see him and think he is always making up his mind, or is finally deciding some matter or other. If you bow to him at a certain time, you perplex him as to whether he has to return the bow or not ; and, whilst he is deliberating, you are already out of his sight.
His vanity, which has made him a gentle- man, has raised him above himself, and made him what naturally he is not. When you behold him, you can judge he has nothing to do but to survey himself, so that he may perceive everything he wears suits him, and that his dress is not incongruous ; he fancies all men's eyes are upon him, and that people come to look on him one after another. The greatest nobles, in order to pay their court to the king, lodged in some wretched rooms in the palace. It is the motive alone that gives merit to human actions, and disinter- estedness perfects them. False greatness is unsociable and inaccessible ; as it is sensible of its weakness, it conceals itself, or at least does not show itself openly, and only allows just so much to be seen as will carry on the deceit, so as not to appear what it really is, namely, undoubtedly mean.
True greatness, on the contrary, is free, gentle, familiar, and popular ; it allows itself to be touched and handled, loses nothing by being seen closely, and is the more admired the better it is known. Out of kindness it stoops to inferiors, and recovers, without effort, its true character; sometimes it unbends, becomes negligent, lays aside all its superiority, yet never loses the power of resuming it and of maintaining it ; amidst laughter, gambols, and jocularity it preserves its dignity, and we approach it freely, and yet with some diffidence.
It is noble, yet sympathetic, whilst inspiring respect and confidence, and makes us view princes as of lofty, nay, of very lofty rank, without making us feel that we are of inferior condition.! A wise man is cured of ambition by ambitioa itself ; his aim is so exalted that riches, office, fortune, and favour cannot satisfy him. He sees nothing good and sufficiently efficient in such a poor superiority to engage his affections and to render it deserving of his cares and his desires ; he has to use some effort not to despise it too much.
The only thing that might tempt him is that kind of honour which should attend a whollypure and unaffected virtue; but men but rarely grant it, so he does without it. A man is good who benefits others : if he suffers for the good he does, he is still better ; and if he suffers through those to whom he did good, he has arrived at such a height of perfection that nothing but an increase of his sufferings can add to it ; if he dies through them, his virtue cannot stand higher ; it is heroic, it is complete.
Women do not like those same charms in one another which render them agreeable to men : many ways and means which kindle in the latter the greatest passions, raise among them aversion and anti- pathy. There exists among some women an artificial grandeur depending on a certain way of moving their eyes, tossing their heads, and on their manner of walking, which does not go farther ; it is like a dazzling wit which is deceptive, and is only admired because it is super- ficial.
In a few others is to be found an ingenuous, natural greatness, not beholden to gestures and motion, which springs from the heart, and is, as it were, the result of their noble birth ; their merit, as unruffled as it is efficient, is accompanied by a thousand virtues, which, in spite of all their modesty, break out and display themselves to all who can discern them. I have heard some people say they should like to be a girl, and a handsome girl, too, from thirteen to two- and-twenty, and after that age again to become a man.
- Les caractères by Jean de La Bruyère!
- Real Estate Marketing in the 21st Century - Twitter Marketing for Realtors!
- Kirgistan gibt es nicht (German Edition);
- Blokes Terrible Tomb Of Terror #1.
- The Characters of Theophrastus?
Some young ladies are not sensible of the ad- vantages of a happy disposition, and how beneficial it would be to them to give themselves up to it ; they enfeeble these rare and fragile gifts which Heaven has given them by affectation and by bad imitation ; their very voice and gait are affected ; they fashion their looks, adorn themselves, consult their looking-glasses to see whether they have sufficiently changed their own natural appearance, and take some trouble to make themselves less agreeable.
For a woman to paint herself red or white is, I admit, a smaller crime than to say one thing and think another ; it is also something less innocent than to dis- guise herself or to go masquerading, if she does not pretend to pass for what she seems to be, but only thinks of concealing her personality and of remaining unknown ; it is an endeavour to deceive the eyes, to wish to appear outwardly what she is not ; it is a kind of " white lie.
We should judge of a woman without taking into account her shoes and head-dress, and, almost as we measure a fish, from head to tail. If women were by nature what they make themselves by art ; if they were to lose suddenly all the freshness of their complexion, and their faces to become as fiery and as leaden as they make them with the red and the paint they besmear themselves with, they would consider themselves the most wretched creatures on earth. A coquette is a woman who never yields to the ' An allusion to a fashion of the time La Bruyere wrote, when the ladies wore shoes with very high heels and enormous head-dresses, called Fon- tanges; the latter were invented by Marie-Angdique Scoraille de Roussille, Duchesse de Fontanges i66i-i68i , who was one of the mistresses of Louis XIV.
The same dress, which formerly enhanced her beauty when she was young, now disfigures her, and shows the more the defects of old age ; winning manners and affectation cling to her even in sorrow and sickness ; she dies dressed in her best, and adorned with gay-coloured ribbons.
Lise is as old as that, but years for her have less than twelve month's ; nor do they add to her age ; she thinks so, and whilst she looks in the glass, lays the red on her face and sticks on the patches, confesses there is a time of life when it is not decent to affect a youthful appearance, and, indeed, that Clarissa with her paint and patches is ridiculous. Women make preparations to receive their lovers, but if they are surprised by them, they forget in what sort of dress they are, and no longer think of themselves. They are in no such confusion with people for whom they do not care ; they perceive that they are not well dressed, bedizen themselves in their presence, or else disappear for a moment and return beautifully arrayed.
Many particulars about her are related in Bussy-Rabutin's Histoire amoureuse des Gaules. Fascination is despotic; beauty is something more tangible and independent of opinion.
Jean de La Bruyère Images
A man can feel his heart touched by certain women of such perfect beauty and such transcendent merit that he is satisfied with only seeing them and con- versing with them. A handsome woman, who possesses also the qualities of a man of culture, is the most agreeable acquaintance a man can have, for she unites the merits of both sexes. A young lady accidentally says many little things which are clearly convincing, and greatly flatter those to whom they are addressed. Men say almost nothing accidentally ; their endearments are premedi- tated ; they speak, act, and are eager to please, but convince less.
Handsome women are more or less whimsical ; those whims serve as an antidote, so that their beauty may do less harm to men, who, without such a remedy, would never be cured of their love. Women become attached to men through the favours they grant them, but men are cured of their love through those same favours. When a woman no longer loves a man, she for- gets the very favours she has granted him. A woman with one gallant thinks she is no coquette ; she who has several thinks herself but a coquette.
A woman avoids being a coquette if she steadfastly loves a certain person, but she is not thought sane if she persists in a bad choice. A former gallant is of so little consideration that he must give way to a new husband ; and the latter lasts so short a time that a fresh gallant turns him out.
A former gallant either fears or despises a new rival, according to the character of the lady to whom he pays his addresses. Often a former gallant wants nothing but the name to be the husband of the woman he loves ; if It was not for this circumstance he would have been dismissed a thou- sand times. Gallantry in a woman seems to add to coquetry. A male coquette, on the contrary, is something worse than a gallant A male coquette and a woman of gal- lantry are pretty much on a level Few intrigues are secret; many women are not better known by their husbands' names than they are by the names of their gallants.
A woman of gallantry strongly desires to be loved ; it is enough for a coquette to be thought amiable and to be considered handsome. This one seeks to form an engagement ; that one is satisfied with pleasing. The first passes successively from one engagement to another ; the second has at one and the same time a great many amusements on her hands. Passion and pleasure are predominant in the first ; vanity and levity in the second. Gallantry is a weakness of the heart, or perhaps a constitu- tional defect ; coquetry is an irregularity of the mind. A woman of gallantry is feared ; a coquette is hated.
From two such characters might be formed a third worse than any. A weak woman is one who is blamed for a fault for which she blames herself; whose feelings are strug- gling with reason, and who should like to be cured of her folly, but is never cured, or not till very late in life. An inconstant woman is one who is no longer in love ; a giddy woman is one who is already in love with another person ; a flighty woman neither knows if she loves or whom she loves ; and an indifferent woman is one who loves nobody.
Treachery, if I may say so, is a falsehood told by the whole body ; in a woman it is the art of arranging words or actrons for the purpose of deceiving us, and sometimes of making use of vows and promises which it costs her no more to break than it did to make. A faithless woman, if known to be such by the person concerned, is but faithless ; if she is believed faithful, she is treacherous. The benefit we obtain from the perfidy of women is that it cures us of jealousy. Some women in their lifetime have a double engagement to keep, which it is as difScult to violate as to conceal ; in the one nothing is wanting but a legal consecration, and in the other nothing but the heart.
If we were to judge of a certain woman by her beauty, her youth, her pride, and her haughtiness, we could almost assert that none but a hero would one day win her. She has chosen to fall in love with a little monster deficient in intelligence. There are some women past their prime, who, on account of their constitution or bad disposition, are naturally the resource of young men not possessing sufficient wealth.
I do not know who is more to be pitied, either a woman in years who needs a young man, or a young man who needs an old woman. He kindles jealousy amongst men as well as amongst women ; he is admired and envied ; but in Versailles, four leagues from Paris, he is despised. A citizen is to a woman who has never left her native province what a courtier is to a woman born and bred in town.
A man who is vain, indiscreet, a great talker and a mischievous wag, who speaks arrogantly of him- self and contemptuously of others, who is boisterous, haughty, forward, without morality, honesty, or common- sense, and who draws for facts on his imagination, wants men of the highest families who considered it no disgrace to live at the ex- pense of rich and amorous old crones, and even to receive money from young ladies. Ruelle means literally "a small street,'' hence the narrow opening between the wall and the bed, which bed superfine ladies, gaily dressed, were lying when they received their friends, and thus ruelle came to mean "any fashionable assembly.
Ash's " Dict'onary of the English Language," London, , ruelle is still defined "a little street, a circle, an assembly at a private house. Is it for the sake of secrecy, or from some eccentricity, that a certain lady loves her footman and Dorinna her physician? Roscius treads the stage with admirable grace : yes, Lelia, so he does ; and I will allow you, too, that his limbs are well shaped, that he acts well, and very long parts, and that to recite perfectly he wants nothing else, as they say, but to open his mouth.
But is he the only actor who is charming in everything he does? Moreover, Roscius cannot be yours ; he is an- other's, or, if he were not, he is pre-engaged. Claudia waits for him till he is satiated with Messalina. Take Bathyllus, then, Lelia. Where will you find, I do not say among the knights you despise, but among the very players, one to compare with him in rising so high whilst dancing or in cutting capers?
Or what do you think of Cobus, the tumbler, who, throwing his feet forward, whirls himself quite round in the air before he lights on the ground? But, perhaps, you know that he is no longer young? As for Bathyllus, you will say, the crowd round him is still too great, and he refuses more ladies than he gratifies. Well, you can have Draco, the flute-player ; none of all his profession swells his cheeks with so much decency as he does whilst playing on the hautboy or the flageolet ; for he can play on a great number of instruments ; and he is so comical that 1 The "lady " is said to have been Madame de la Ferriere, the wife of a 7nattre des requites, and Dorinna a certain Mdlle.
Foucault, a relative of some well-known conseiller au Jiarlement, who was in love with a Doctor Moreau. Who eats or drinks more at a meal than Draco? He makes the whole company intoxicated, and is the last to remain comparatively sober. You sigh, Lelia. Is it because Draco has already made his choice, or because, un- fortunately, you have been forestalled? Is he at last engaged to Cesonia, who has so long pursued him, and who has sacrificed for him such a large number of lovers, I might even say, the entire flower of Rome?
I pity you, Lelia, if you have been infected with this new fancy which possesses so many Roman ladies for what are called public men, whose calling exposes them to the public gaze. What course will you pursue, then, since the best of their kind are already engaged? A woman of fashion looks on a gardener as a gardener, and on a mason as a mason ; but other women, 1 The original has questionnaire, a word then already antiquated, and which meant a man applying the question or rack.
During the eighteenth century the names of the Marechale de la Ferte, and of her sister the Countess d'Olonne see page 61, note , both of very dissolute manners, were mentioned as having been the originals of Claudia and Messalina, whilst Claudia was also, according to some, a portrait of Marie-Anne Mancini, Duchesse de Bouillon, though it is not probable that La Bruyere intended to allude to her. Anything is a temptation to those who dread it.
What kind of a woman is one who is " spiri- tually directed"? Is she more obhging to her husband, kinder to her servants, more careful of her family and her household, more zealous and sincere for her friends? I do not ask if she makes presents fo her children who already are opulent, but if, having wealth enough and to spare, she provides them with the necessaries of life, and, at least, gives them what is their due?
Is she more exempt from egotism, does she dislike others less, and has she fewer worldly affections? I understand you now ; she is a woman who has a spiritual director. If a father-confessor and a spiritual director cannot agree about their line of conduct, what third per- son shall a woman take to be arbitrator?
It is not essential that a woman should provide herself with a spiritual director, but she should lead such a regular life as not to need one. If a woman should tell her father-confessor, among her other weaknesses, those which she has for her director, and the times she wastes in his company, perhaps she might be enjoined as a penance to leave him. Would I had the liberty of shouting, as loud as I could, to those holy men who formerly suffered by women : " Flee from women; do not become their spiritual directors, but let others take care of their salvation!
It is too much for a husband to have a wife who is a coquette and sanctimonious as well ; she should select only one of those qualities. I have deferred it for a long time, but after all I have suffered it must come out at last ; and I hope my frankness may be of some service to those ladies who, not deeming one confessor sufficient to guide them, show no discrimination in the choice of their directors. I cannot help admiring and being amazed on beholding some people who shall be name- less ; I open my eyes wide when I see them ; I gaze on them ; they speak and I listen ; then I inquire, and am told certain things, which I do not forget.
I cannot understand how people, who appear to me the very reverse of intelligent, sensible, or experienced, and without any knowledge of mankind, or any study of religion and morality, can presume that Heaven, at the present time, should renew the marvels of an apos- 70 OF WOMEN. It is to me still more incomprehensible if, on the con- trary, they fancy themselves predestined to fill a function so noble and so difficult, and for which but few people are qualified, and persuade themselves that in under- taking it they do but exercise their natural talents and follow an ordinary vocation.
I perceive that an inclination of being intrusted with family secrets, of being useful in bringing about recon- ciliations, of obtaining various appointments, or of pro- curing places to people,! Formerly such women divided the week in days for gambling, for going to a theatre, a concert, a fancy-dress ball, or a nice sermon.
On Mondays they went and lost their money at Ismena's ; 1 Placer des domestiques, in the original; dotnestique was used for any person belonging to the household of some great nobleman, even if he were himself a noble ; it also meant "a household. But with other times came other manners ; now, they exaggerate their austerity and their solitude ; they no longer open their eyes, which were given them to see ; they do not make any use of their senses, and what is almost incredible, but little of their tongues ; and yet they think, and that pretty well of themselves and ill enough of others ; they compete with each other in virtue and reformation in a jealous kind of way ; they do not dislike being first in their new course of life, as they were in the career they lately abandoned out of policy or dis- gust.
They used gaily to damn themselves through their intrigues, their luxury and sloth, and now their presump- tion and envy will damn them, though not so merrily. A woman is easily managed if a man will only give himself the trouble. One man often manages a great many ; he cultivates their understanding and their memory, settles and determines their religious feelings, and undertakes even to regulate their very affections.
They neither approve nor disapprove, commend or condemn, till they have consulted his looks and his countenance. He is the confidant of their joys and of their sorrows, of their desires, jealousies, hatred, and love ; he makes them break with their gallants, embroils and reconciles them with their husbands, and is useful during the intervals. He is seen with them when they drive about in the streets, and during their walks, as well as in their pew at church and their box at the theatre ; he goes the same round of visits as they do, and attends on them when they go to the baths, to watering-places, and on their travels ; he has the most comfortable apartment at their country- seat.
He grows old, but his authority does not decline ; a small amount of intelligence and the spending of a good deal of leisure time suffice to preserve it ; the chil- dren, the heirs, the daughter-in-law, the niece, and the servants, are all dependent on him. He began by making himself esteemed, and ends by making himself 1 Our author's note says, " A pretended pious woman. This old and necessary friend dies at last with- out being regretted, and about half a score of women he tyrannised over recover their liberty at his death. Some women have endeavoured to conceal their conduct under a modest exterior ; but the most any one of them has obtained by the closest and most constant dissimulation has been to have it said, " One would have taken her for a Vestal virgin.
It is a proof positive that a woman has an un- stained and established reputation if it is not even sullied by the familiar intercourse with some ladies who ;ire unlike her, and if, with all the inclination people have to make slanderous observations, they ascribe a totally different reason to this intimacy than similarity of morals. An actor overdoes his part when on the stage ; a poet amplifies his descriptions ; an artist who draws from life heightens and exaggerates passions, contrasts, and attitudes ; and he who copies him, unless he mea- sures with a pair of compasses the dimensions and the proportions, will make his figures too big, and all parts of the composition of his picture by far larger than they were in the original.
Thus an imitation of sagacity becomes pretentious affectation. There is a pretended modesty which is vanity, a pre tended glory which is levity, a pretended grandeur which is meanness, a pretended virtue which is hypocrisy, and a pretended wisdom which is affectation. An affected and pretentious woman is all deportment and words ; a sensible woman shows her sense by her behaviour.
This one follows her inclination and dis- position, that one her reason and her affections ; the one is formal and austere, the other is on all occasions exactly 74 OF WOMEN. The first hides her weaknesses underneath a plausible outside ; the second conceals a rich store of virtue underneath a free and natural air. Affectation and pretension shackle the mind, yet do not veil age or ugliness, but often imply them ; common-sense, on the contrary, palliates the imperfections of the body, ennobles the mind, gives fresh charms to youth, and makes beauty more dangerous.
Why should men be blamed because women are not learned? What laws, edicts, or regulations prohibit them from opening their eyes, from reading and remem- bering what they have read, and from introducing this in their conversation and in their writings? Is their ignor- ance, on the contrary, not owing to a custom introduced by themselves ; or to the weakness of their constitution, or to the indolence of their mind, or the care of their beauty, or to a certain flightiness which will not allow them to prosecute any continuous studies, or to a talent and aptitude they only have for needlework, or to an inatten- tion caused by domestic avocations, or to a natural aver- sion for all serious and difficult things, or to a curiosity quite distinct from that which gratifies the mind, or to a wholly different pleasure from that of exercising the memory?
But to whatever cause men may ascribe this ignorance of women, they may consider themselves happy that women, who rule them in so many things, are inferior to them in this respect. We look on a learned woman as we do on a fine piece of armour, artistically chiselled, admirably polished, and of exquisite workmanship, which is only fit to be shown to connoisseurs, of no use whatever, and no more apt to be used for war or hunting than a horse out of a riding- school is, though it may be trained to perfection.
Les caractères | Open Library
Now you can draw your own conclusions, namely, that those who have the fewest imperfections are most likely to have the greatest amount of common-sense, and that thus a sensible woman bids fairest to become learned ; and that a learned woman could never be such without having overcome a great many imperfections, and this is the very best proof of her sense. It is very difficult to remain neutral when two women, who are both our friends, fall out through some cause or other in which we are not at all concerned ; we must often side with one or lose both.
There are certain women who love their money better than their friends, and their lovers better than their money. We are amazed to observe in some women stronger aiid more violent passions than their love for men, I mean ambition and gambling. Such women render men chaste, and have nothing of their own sex but the.
Montaigne was of opinion that women had no need of learning, and Moliere, in his Fenimes Savantes, holds the golden mean. Women run to extremes ; they are either better or worse than men. Women exceed the generality of men in love; but men are their superiors in friendship. Men are the cause that women do not love one another. There is some danger in making fun of people. The result was quite unlike anything that had been seen previously, and, it has not been exactly reproduced since, although the essay of Addison and Steele resembles it very closely, especially in the introduction of fancy portraits.
As a Christian moralist, he aimed at reforming people's manners and ways by publishing records of his observations of aristocratic foibles and follies, which earned him many enemies at the court. The short paragraphs of which his chapters consist are made up of maxims proper, of criticisms literary and ethical, and above all, of the celebrated sketches of individuals baptized with names taken from the plays and romances of the time.
These last are the greatest feature of the work, and that which gave it its immediate, if not its enduring, popularity. They are wonderfully piquant, extraordinarily lifelike in a certain sense, and must have given great pleasure or more frequently exquisite pain to the apparent subjects, who in many cases were unmistakable and most recognizable. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. Learn how and when to remove these template messages. This article relies largely or entirely on a single source.
Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this article by introducing citations to additional sources. February This article includes a list of references , but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations.