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A Society of Persons of Quality,
Entertainments of Gallantry (London: J. Morphew, 1712).

A Society of Persons of Quality, Entertainments of Gallantry (London: J. Morphew, 1712).

Entertainments| OF| GALLANTRY:| OR| Remedies for Love.| [rule]| Familiarly Discours'd, by a Society of| Persons of Quality.| [rule]| ----Amor est medicabilis--- Ovid.| Ipse quidem nostro Jussu de Corde perusto| Ipse Tyrannorum maximus exit Amor;| Falsus Amor; neq; enim tentas expellere verum.| Cowl. Plant. lib. 1st.| [double rule]| LONDON,| Printed for John Morphew, near Stationers-|Hall, 1712.

Description

titlepage/ [14] pp. dedication: "Gallants of the British Nation"; preface/ 88 pp./ 8

Shelf-markslink

{NA:CtY: College Pamphlets 907} {NA:TxHR: WRC PR3291.A19S6}

Bibliographical Reference

W. H. McBurney (1960), p.22: 57. - ESTC: n007353.

History of Publication
  1. this editionEntertainments of Gallantry (London: J. Morphew, 1712). Reprint: ed. M. F. Shugrue (New York/ London, 1973).
Remarks

Six discourses of a group of young aristocrats on a vacation in Epsom. Ovid's Remedia amoris give the topic with their question of how to protect oneself against love. "Novels" give examples, yet the book mainly consists of discussions - interesting: those dealing with the dangers of operas, comedies, romances and novels. The young group is delighted by the fact that it has become easy to publish "novels" and finally decides to become authors themselves by bringing their discourses after writing them down to a publisher.

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Excerps

The Fifth ENTERTAINMENT.

Never was [a] Lover more punctual to an amorous Rendezvous, than this refin'd Assembly was careful to meet the next Day at the usual Place, where every one being seated, the Countess beganthe Discourse in the following manner

For my part I must acknowledge myself altogether ignorant of the Latin Tongue, which was I perfect i[n], I should hardly confess it. Our Sex ought by no means to value it self on such Knowledge, and those Women who affect the Title of Learned, are seldom or never well fix'd in the World. Not that I approve the Ignorance most of us live in; I own we ought to use our utmost Endeavours toward the refining our Minds, by the Advantage we enjoy of reading. But let's take care how we flatter our selves in this Point; all Books are not in our Sphere; we ought to leave the most serious Studies entirely to the Men, and not profess our selves Mistresses of the Greek and Latin, but confine our Genius to the Belles Lettres, and be satisfy'd with what is sufficient to raise us a degree above the vulgar Ignorance. Authors of Gallantry suit us best; they refine our Wit, without puz[!]ling|<62> our Senses; and we may find Advantages of such Lectures, in our daily Conversation. Every one must allow Ovid of that Number; and 'tis with a vast Pleasure I always read his Works, translated into our Tongue. I find him every where expressing himself in a manner easy, tender and agreeable; and the better to acquit myself of my Duty, I have endeavour'd as much as possible, to come up to his Sense, in the following Precepts against Love. The first indeed seems to me very inconsiderable, but it mayn't however be improper to cite it.

If you lie under an Obligation of frequenting those Places where your Mistress resorts, by a discreet Management of your Eyes and Countenance, conceal your Love. Seem designedly ungenteel, that your voluntary Negligence, which is an affront to her Beauty, may make her sensible you are no longer desirous to please her.

[...|<67>]

('Tis not enough; you must yet go farther, and commit a Violence upon your Inclinations by not frequenting the Theatre. Good Comedies are dangerous to a Heart ill cur'd. A Samlow has such an absolute command over us, that she even inspires the Passion she imitates. Nor is the Opera less to be avoided; Dances well perform'd, Airs agreeably sung by a soft melodious Voice,|<68> join'd in Consort with Masterly Touches on Instruments; inspire the Soul with resistless Softness; and prove so many Arrows, that fatally pierce the yielding Heart. In a Word, harmonious Voices are no less imperiously powerful in Love than piercing Eyes.)

I believe, says a young Lady, the Comedians of Ovid's time, were not a little incens'd at his Advertisment; and certainly our Modern ones would not think themselves less injur'd should we renew it now; not that I imagine it practicable. What? Live without Comedies and Opera's! I had rather be for ever depriv'd of the Pleasures you pretend to taste in Love, than to quit those real ones I find in Comedies, and especially in Opera's.

You must needs place an entire Satisfaction in such Diversions, Madam, reply'd the Gentleman, since you dare prefer 'em even to those we feel loving. But I easily excuse your Opinion, since it proceeds from a Heart as yet insensible; but a thousand to one you change your Opinion e'er long: You'll grow nicer in the Choice of your Pleasures, and make a great differene between the Transports of the Heart, and the Amusements of the Mind: Not that I think Opera's so extremely dangerous to Lovers. Such Sights have nothing in 'em strenuous enough to produce the Effects we are apprehensive of; they rather surprize us than affect us, and have a greater Power over the Eyes than the Mind. They are not capable of exciting those Tendernesses, Love must owe its rise too; they raise not the Passions, and the Pomp that attends 'em never reaches the Heart; or if it does, 'tis so superficially, that the Impression is imperceptible. We go from an Opera full of Admiration, rather than Soft-|<69>ness, and the Vanity that accompanies it, will not give us leave even long to admire; thus seeing our selves not at all affected wit any part, we remember it no longer than we are present.

But 'tis a different Case with Comedy, which affects us in the most sensible manner, and touches us to the very bottom of our Hearts; softening, animating, and Filling us with powerful Ideas. Lofty Expressions utter'd by a Powell, or any excellent Actor, makes a strange agreeable Confusion in the Mind; affects it every way, and leaves behind a deep Idea of the Part, he has so admiraby personated. This ought however to be no reason for depriving our selves of the Entertainments of the Stage, which ought not to be held so offensive to the amorous Heart: For tho' Love is the great Machine, nay the very Soul that actuates the Theatre; yet would we but examine Matters more curiously, we should find our selves less mov'd by the Hero's Love, that the Accidents and dangerous Consequences that usually attend it. The Author of the Sophronisba even to Desparation; I must confess the manner of expressing his Passion is most affecting, but the Fate that attends it even amazing; it fills the Audience with Compassion, and he is universally pity'd, less as a Lover, than as being unfortunate, and at the last fatal. The furious Jealousy of Mithridates, produces the same Effects in favour Ziphares; but the Audience rather laments the Perils he exposes himself to for Monima, than his violent Passion for her.

Add to this, repy'd the Divine, that a Tragedy where Love has the greatest share, may in some measure assist Lovers in overcoming their|<70> own Passion. The attending Misfortunes which they are Eye-witnesses of, may undeceive 'em, make 'em apprehensive of the like Dangers, and inspire them with an eager desire of avoiding a Precipice, where so many have found their Fate: Love is seldom crown'd on the Stage; its Catastrophy is always sad, and the most passionate Lovers are generally the most unhappy. Pyrrhus finds his Fate at the Altar, where the Nuptials of Andromache were intended. Alexander reaps not the Fruit of his Perfidy to Statira, in quitting her Charms for those of Roxana, it ends in al their Deaths. Such Examples are not a little instructive to Lovers; and in my humble Opinion 'tis a wrong Method of proceeding, when we represent that for an infectious Poison, which will prove in effect a wholesome remedy.

You reason very ingeniously Sir, answer'd a Lady, but say what you will, you'll scarce persuade me of the Theatre not encouraging Love; thousands will tell you the contrary. But lest I should engage myself in a Question beyond my Sphere; I'll only hint, that in my Opinion 'tis indifferent, and only to be justify'd by the various Use we make of it. It works divers Effects according to the diversity of Hearts it meets with. An Inamorato will certainly increase his Flame; when another whose only aim is to stifle it, shall by these means, fortify his resolutions, and grow wise at others Expence. But generally speaking, Comedy is rather more apt to create than banish Love, and I would never advise a Lover to seek a Remedy for his Passion either at Drury-Lane, or Hay-Market; and I believe that Countess can give us a Remedy more a-propos from Ovid's Spring.|<71>

Ovid really has more, answer'd the Countess, but give me leave to resign my place. It is very reasonable that Sir W—— should take same trouble upon him in interpreting Ovid; and, lest you might say I had encroach'd another's Priviledges; I have left him his Share, tho' indeed it is the least Share of all, which is an Advantage we ejoy'd, by our entering the last on this Subject: I believe Sir W—— no less satisfied with his Chance, than I with mine.

At these Words the Assembly rose, to follow their several Inclinations; for my part I know nothing of the matter, nor do believe the Reader very solicituous to be better inform'd than I am.

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The Sixth ENTERTAINMENT.

THE moment the Clock struct Four, our Assembly met the usual Place; but was not a little surpris'd to miss of Sir W—— whom no one had seen since Dinner. They could not imagine the Reason of his staying so long, each was giving his Opinion, but none hit right. They had a last order'd a Footman to go seek him, when they perceiv'd him advancing towards towards 'em in great haste. Ah! Gentlemen and Ladies, says he, I assure you 'tis no small Difficulty to grope out Author's Meaning and heaving heard that purling Streams and Fountains where the Muses delight, I took sober Walk immediately after Dinner, to reflect on the three following Precepts of Ovid. Apollo pardons you Madam, continu'd he, addressing himself to the Countess, but you was in wrong Yesterday, in not concluding this Sub-|<72>ject, when your Career was so hardly stopp'd. You ought out of Charity to have included the following one however; I assure you it would have agreed incomparably well with those you have already handled.

(Avoid reading Romances, or Books of Gallantry, where Love-Intrigues fill every Page. Lovers are too easily flatter'd by 'em, and they always leave behind a Tincture of the Love which inspires 'em. Poetry is yet more advantageous to Love; it expresses a Passion so tenderly, that it is impossible not to be captivated; it fires the coldest heart, and the moment you begin to read you begin to love.)

I own it Sir, says a Gentleman, Poesy has mighty and prevailing Charms; 'tis as sweet Poison, and and agreeable Enchantment, expresses Love to the Life, nor is is any thing more proper to inspire a Passion than soft Verses. They cause an Emotion in the Soul not to be express'd, an 'tis with Pain we endeveour to overcome its pleasing Effects: The Heart suffers it self to be master'd, and lies open to all the Transports they inspire. But 'tis not every Poet can do this; Very few can reach the Heart, and be guilty of this sweet Violence, which ought to be the only Aim of their Art, an which affects and transports the Reader beyond himself.

Poesy is now almost monopoliz'd by the Stage, there it shews its greatest Efficacy, by ravishing the severest Audience; and is scarce known in other Places. The empty bundles of jumbled Words so long reigning in almost all our Modern Languages, are so faint and inexpressive, that it proves the greatest fatigue, but to read 'em; They are so void of the natural softness of a true Poet, that tho' they were assisted by the most willing Lo-|<73>vers[!] Fancy, yet they would fall short of expressing a Passion with Energy. We have no melting Elegies, such as could triumph over the most insensible Lady's Cruelty, such as Tibullus, Propertius, and above all our Ovid, left the World excellent Models of. A Man blest with such Talents, might conquer universally; no one would be cruel to him, nor would he ever languish long without enjoying the Fruits of his Expectations.

I knew a very pretty Woman, answer'd a Lady, who never had the least Thought of Poetry's prevailing Power; she would never receive Billet doux from her Lover, but would make no Scruple at the Sonnets, Madrigals, Epigramms, which he was continulally presenting her with. Pray how come that?

I'll tell you reply'd another Lady, perhaps his Lover was so very indifferent a Poet, that she never apprehended his Verses powerful enough to make any Impression on her Heart.

There is yet another reason, reply'd Sir W——, perhaps this Lady was of the number of those, who have a thousand ridiculous Niceties in their imgainary Honour; and whose Virtue is more affrighted at the Name of Love, than as the Passion it self. A Billet-doux alarms the sham Modesty of these scrupulous Hearts; they think it an impardonable Crime to receive one, and at the same time are well-pleas'd with a Love-Elegy, which is in effect the same thing. For pray, what matters it, whether Love presents itself in Verse or in Prose? It is less dangerous in a Letter than in a Madrigal? but because they imagine the first carries a much larger Signification, it is absolutely rejected, while the other is carefully perus'd und the sham Appearance of an Air|<74> of Gallantry, the Consequences of which are altogether insignificant. Thus they scream their Pleasure in hearing themselves ador'd, and this specious Pretext; are all the while improving Probabilities to their Advantage; and have the Secret of entertaining a Flame, spite of their conceited Womanish Reserve.

Sir W—— speaks with a great deal of Reason, reply'd the Devine, it is much better to act from the Heart; a Lady may acknowledge her Passion, provided in infringe not on her Duty: there is a certain allowable Softness and Compliance, which tends directly to one Period in all its designs. These eternal Prudes, proud of an imaginary unsocialble Virtue are often the least so in reality. We must live with more humaniz'd Ladies; and leave these Heroines to indulge themselves in their belov'd Romantick Sphere.

As to Romances, interrupted a Gentleman, if I am not mistaken, Sir W—— forbids Lovers reading 'em. I really can't comprehend his meaning, continu'd he, but in my Opinion, there is nothing more capable of disgusting a Lover than such Books: Can there be any thing more frivolous, or less reasonable than what they contain? What Man would not for ever renounce the Pleasures of loving, and of being belov'd, if he was to undergo all the honourable Fatigues a Hero in Romance is ever expos'd to? There's nothing but Misfortunes upon Misfortunes thro' their whole series of Action; and they have no sooner, after thousand Dangers past attain'd to the sight of their Mistresses, but some unforseen Gyant, or enchanted Lady calls 'em away to more Glory. Far from forbidding Lovers the reading of such Trifles, I would advise it: Or|<75> if I did forbid 'em, it would not be out of any apprehension of making 'em amorous, but for fear they might deprave the Imagination, and fill'em with a thousand false Ideas, which may insensibly hurry 'em to Extravagances. I wonder to hear Ovid advise such Remedies.

Pray don't accuse Ovid, this Precept belongs not to him, reply'd the Devine, Sir W—— gave it us voluntarily, the better to suit our Modern Follies. Such Books full of high, lofty Expressions, and void of Sense, were not known in Ovid's Age, or if they were, they had not the absolute sway, they now bear thro' the vitiated taste of Mankind. But at length, thank Reason, we have Disabus'd our Senses, and such fatiguing bombast Volumes have given place to more entertaining Novels, and Histories of Gallantry —

Which are not at all preferable to Romances, interrupted a Gentleman, ommitting some few, you find 'em so flat, and void of Entertainment, that they require much Leisure and more Patience to read 'em out. Never was Mankind more pester'd with ill Productions than in the present Age. Every one must write, 'tis a Disease every Wittling is infected with, and the itching Desire to see their Names in print, is so raging, that they are well contented to proclaim themselves ridiculous, if the World is but well satisfy'd of their being Authors. Here's one just come to Town; another that yet carries about him the Marks of Discipline; talks Dutch, French or English, but void of Learning, and unexperienc'd in Books well worded; yet this Fellow, nothing will serve him but writing a Book: Well; he begins by translating some unfortunate Author, (whose Sense he is so far from understanding, that he scarce is able to explain|<76> him verbatim) into English: With this design he selects some doting Author, that has before doz'd over the same Subject; and dictates his Periods after his Example, 'till having only chang'd some of the Words, and those too for the worst; he tells the World he really understands English no more than the Language he undertook to translate. Another resigning himself to his extravagant fancy, and unbounded Imagination, sets himself to penning some ridiculous Adventures, which he has the Confidence to call Novels. Now pray tell me, ought not this to be regulated? And in respect to good Sense, ought we not to have a Comptroller General of Wit, as well as a Justice of Peace?

Stop your Career Sir, interrupted a Lady, your Enthusiasm has transported you a little too far; if the Books you seem so inveterate against, chance not to please you, prithee don't read 'em, no one obliges you. All Men's Tastes are not so delicately Nice as yours; many read for pleasure only, and are less solicitous for the Useful than the Agreeable. Histories of Gallantry are very Proper to relax the Mind; and the very worst have something in 'em diverting. I think instead of railing thus at our Modern productions, you ought to give those Persons Thanks, who wear themselves out for our Entertainment: The very Number of Authors is agreeable, and advantageous; it informs Foreigners, that Wit, and the Sciences reign among us, and that the present age is no less estimable for lively pieces of Wit than that of Augustus. If some new Author has the ill Fortune to displease, be not however too hasty in condemning him; Time may produce, even from him, something more accomplish'd. The first Flight is never a Master-piece; Time|<77> is requir'd for perfecting the Fruits of our Brain equally with those of the Earth: Never discourage a young Author despising his first Works, nor make him in despair utterly throw away his Pen; but on the contrary animate him by small Commendations, which may in the end prove so many Spurs to Perfection.

The Entertainments return to their more entertaining side after. A stupid story is inserted. The succeeding discussion deals with alcoholism as a possible last resort – and then the book turns into a novel itself: One of the participants announces that the work is concluded, the last statement leaving nothing more to add, and one of the ladies responds in delight: "We are here become Authors" [p.87]. The group decides to stay anonymous; someone has to write down the previous discourses. It remains unclear whether the remedies can actually help. Those who are desperate are, however, happy about the most unlikely solution to their problem, and that concludes the discourses. A lady is particularly happy about her beloved one returning. The group parts without any further consequences. A gallant last move addresses the gallant reader, who will most certainly be delighted about the whole piece.

o.s.