صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

in their hands; and, hard by, is drawn a separate group of men and women, in habits plain and unfashionable, and of peculiar countenances.

On the left of the room, the most conspi. cuous portraiture is an elderly man, with a gold chain about his neck; his shoulders are loaded with three bags, on each of which is inscribed a “Plumb;" but, nevertheless, the scale he is placed in rises to the utmost height: and, in the prevailing balance, lie two boxes; the one containing the writings of an orphan's estate, to whom he was guardian ; the other, an account of money put out at fifty per cent.

Casting my eye directly forward, fronting me appears a large pair of golden scales, hung to a silver beam ; in one of which stands, in danger. of falling, a pert figure, with a scarlet hat on his head, in a purple robe, holding in one hand a roll, inscribed, “ A league with the Turks ; in the other, a little

scrap of paper, endorsed, “ The hopes of the Pretender.” Amazed to see this important figure kick the beam, I cast my eyes into the weighty scale ; and in it I find four parchments, tied together with a ribbon, in which was wove in capital letters,

66 The Quadruple Alliance.”

FREE.THINKER, No. 149, August 24, 1719,

[ocr errors]

No. XIX.

Da spatium vitæ, multos da, Jupiter, annos;
Hoc recto vultu, solum boc et pallidus optas :
Sed quam continuis et quantis longa senectus
Plena malis!


Enlarge my life with multitude of days,
In health, in sickness, thus the suppliant prays;
Hides from himself his state, and shuns to know,
That life protracted is protracted woe.


THERE was upon a time an old Queen, so very far stricken in years that her majesty was toothless and bald : her head shook and trem. bled perpetually, like the leaves of an aspen; and her sight was so dim, that spectacles were of no longer use to her: her mouth was almost hid by the near approach of the nose to the chin; her stature was so diminished, that she was shrunk into a shapeless heap; and her back was so bowed, that you would have thought she had been crooked from her infancy.

A Fairy, who assisted at the birth of this Queen, came to her and said, “Do


desire to grow young again ?"_“Most earnestly (re. plied the queen); I would part with all my jewels to be but twenty.”—“. Then (continued


the Fairy) it will be necessary to make an exchange, and to transfer your age and infirmities to some one who will be contented to spare you her youth and health. To whom, therefore, shall we give your

hundred Hereupon the Queen gave orders to make diligent inquiry throughout the kingdom, for a person who might be willing to barter youth for age, upon a valuable consideration. When these orders were publicly known, a great many poor people, from all parts, flocked to the court; all of them desirous to be made old and rich : but, when they had seen the queen at dinner, hideous in her infirmities, trembling and coughing over a mess of water-gruel, and doating ever and anon as she spoke, not one was inclinable to take up the burden of her years, They chose rather to live by begging, and to enjoy youth and health in rags. There came, likewise, a crowd of ambitious persons, to whom she promised great dignities and the highest honours : but when they had seen her; “ What will all our grandeur avail (said they), when we shall appear so frightful as to be ashamed to shéw ourselves in public ?”

At last there came a young country girl, whose name was Mopsy, in full bloom; who demanded no less than the crown, as an equie valent for her youth and beauty. The Queen immediately grew angry; but to what purpose? she was bent upon renewing her vigour at any rate, and she said to Mopsy, “Let us divide my kingdom, and share alike: you shall reign over the one half, and I will content myself with the other : this will be power enough in conscience for you, who are but a little mean peasant. “No (replies the girl), I am not so easily satisfied; let me enjoy my obscure condition and my rosy complexion, and much good may it do your majesty with your hundred years and your wrinkles, and more than one foot in the grave.”—“But then (says the Queen), what should I be able to do without my kingdom ?_“You would laugh, you would dance, you would sing, like me ; answers the young gypsey; and immediately she broke out into laughter, and danced, and sung. The Queen, who was far from being in a condition to imitate her jollity, said ; “And what would in my place ? you are neither accustomed to old age, nor empire. ”-“I cannot well say (answers this country lass) what I should do, but I have a month's mind to try it a little; for I have always heard it is a fine thing to be a queen.

When the two parties seemed now disposed

you do to an agreement, and were ready to strike the bargain, in comes the Fairy; and, addressing herself to Mopsy, said, “Are you willing to make trial of the condition of an old queen; and see first how you like it, before you resolve

upon the change in good earnest ?" -“ With all my heart," replies the girl. Her forehead is instantly furrowed with wrinkles, her chesnut hair turns white, she grows peevish and morose, her head shakes, her teeth are loose, and she is already an hundred years old. The fairy then opens a little box, and lets out a multitude of officers and courtiers of both sexes, richly appareled; who soon shot up into the full stature of men and women, and paid their homage to the new queen. She is conducted to her chair of state, and a costly banquet is immediately set before her: but, alas ! she has no appetite, and cannot bear the fumes of the table: her limbs fail her when she tries to walk; she is awkward and bashful, and in a maze; she knows not how to speak, nor which way to turn herself; she calls for a looking-glass, and is startled at her own deformity, and she coughs till her sides ache.

In the mean time, the true Queen stands in a corner of the room, by herself; she laughs, and begins to grow handsome. Her temples are

« السابقةمتابعة »