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A scene written with so great strength of imagi. nation indisposed me from further reading, and threw me into a deep contemplation. I began to reflect upon the different ends of good and bad kings ; and as this was the birth-day of our late renowned monarch*; I could not forbear thinking on the departure of that excellent prince, who life was crowned with glory, and his death with peace. I let my mind go so far into this thought, as to imagine to myself what might have been the vision of his de. parting slumbers. He might have seen confederate kings applauding him in different languages; slaves that had been bound in fetters lifting up their hands, and blessing him; and the persecuted in their several forms of worship imploring comfort on his last moments. The reflection upon this excellent prince's mortality had been a very me, lancholy entertainment to me, had I not been relieved by the consideration of the glorious reign, which succeeds it.
We now see as great a virtue as ever was on the British throne, surrounded with all the beauty of suc. cess. Our nation may not only boast of a long series of great, regular, and well-laid designs, but also of triumphs and victories; while we have the happi. ness to see our sovereign exercise that true policy which tends to make a kingdom great and happy, and at the same time enjoy the good and glorious effect of it,
* King William III.
N' 91. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 1709.
From my own Apartment, November 7. I was very much surprised this evening with a visit from one of the top Toasts of the town, who came privately in a chair, and bolted into my room, while I was reading a chapter of Agrippa upon the occult sciences; but, as she entered with all the air and bloom that nature ever bestowed on woman, threw down the conjuror and met the charmer. I had no sooner placed her at my right hand by the fire, but she opened to me the reason of her visit. “ Mr. Bickerstaff,” said the fine creature, “ I have been your correspondent some time, though I never saw you before; I have writ by the name of Maria. You have told me you were too far gone in life to think of love. Therefore, I am answered as to the passion I spoke of; and,” continued she, smiling, " I will not stay until you grow young again, as you men never fail to do in your dotage; but am come to consult you about disposing of myself te another. My person you see; my fortune is very considerable; but I am at present under much perplexity how to act in a great conjuncture. I have two lovers, Crassus and Lorio; Crassus is prodigiously rich, but has no one distinguishing quality; though at the same time he is not remarkable on the defective side. Lorio has travelled, is well bred, pleasant in discourse, discreet in his conduct, agreeable in his person; and with all this, he has a competency of fortune without superfluity. When I consider Lorio, my mind is filled with an idea of
the great satisfactions of a pleasant conversation. When I think of Crassus, my equipage, numerous servants, gay liveries, and various dresses, are opposed to the charms of his rival. In a word, when I cast my eyes upon Lorio, I forget and despise fortune; when I behold Crassus, I think only of pleasing my vanity, and enjoying an uncontrolled expence in all the pleasures of life, except love." She paused here.
«Madam,” said I, “ I am confident you have not stated your case with sincerity, and that there is some secret pang which you have concealed from me; for I see by your aspect the generosity of your mind: and that open ingenuous air lets me know, that you have too great a sense of the generous passion of love, to prefer the ostentation of life in the arms of Crassus, to the entertainments and conveniences of it in the company of your beloved Lorio: for so he is indeed, Madamı; you speak his name with a different accent from the rest of your discourse. The idea his image raises in you gives new life to your features, and new grace to your speech. Nay, blush not, Madam; there is no dishonour in loying a man of merit; I assure you I am grieved at this dallying with yourself, when you put another in competition with him, for no other reason but superior wealth.”—“. To tell you, then," said she,“ the bottom of my heart, there is Clotilda lies by, and plants herself in the way of Crassus, and I am confident will soap him if I refuse him. I cannot bear to think that she will shine above me. When our coaches meet, to see her chariot hung behind with four footmen, and mine with but two: hers, powdered, gay, and saucy, kept only for show; mine, a couple of careful rogues that are good for something; I owi, I cannot bear that Clotilda should be in all the pride and wantonness of wealth, and I only in the ease and affluence of it.”
Here I interrupted: “ Well, Madam, now I see your whole affliction; you could be happy, but that you fear another would be happier. Or rather, you could be solidly happy, but that another is to be happy in appearance. This is an evil which you must get over, or never know happiness. We will put the case, Madam, that you married Crassus, and she Lorio.” She answered, “ Speak not of it, I could tear her eyes out at the mention of it." « Well then, I pronounce Lorio to be the man ; but I must tell you, that what we call settling in the world is, in a kind, leaving it; and you must at once resolve to keep your thoughts of happiness within the reach of your fortune, and not measure it by comparįson with others. But, indeed, Ma. dam, wben I behold that beauteous form of your's, and consider the generality of your sex, as to their disposal of themselves in marriage, or their parents doing it for them without their own approbation, I cannot but look upon all such matches as the most impudent prostitutions. Do but observe, when you are at a play, the familiar wenches that sit laughing among the men. These appear detestable to you in the boxes. Each of them would give up her person for a guinea; and some of you would take the worst there for life for twenty thousand. "If so, how do you differ but in price? As to the circumstance of marriage, I take that to be hardly an alteration of the case; for wedlock is but a more solemn prostitution, where there is not an union of minds. You would hardly believe it, but there have been designs even upon me.
“ A neighbour in this very lane, who knows I have, by leading a very wary life, laid up a litt e money, had a great mind to marry me to his daugh
ter. I was frequently invited to their table: the girl was always very pleasant and agreeable. After dinner, Miss Molly would be sure to fill my pipe for me, and put more sugar than ordinary into my coffee; for she was sure I was good natured. If I chanced to hem, the mother would applaud my vigour; and has often said on that occasion, • I wonder, Mr. Bickerstaff, you do not marry, I am sure you would have children. Things went so far, that my mistress presented me with a wrought night-cap and a laced band of her own working. I began to think of it in earnest; but one day, having an occasion to ride to Islington, as two or three people were lifting me upon my pad, I spied her at a convenient distance laughing at her lover, with a parcel of romps of her acquaintance. One of them, who I suppose had the same design upon me, told me she said, “Do you see how briskly my old gentleman mounts?' This made me cut off my amour, and to reflect with myself, that no married life could be so unhappy, as where the wife proposes no other advantage from her husband, than that of making herself fine, and keeping her out of the dirt."
My fair elient burst out a laughing at the account I gave her of my escape, and went away seemingly convinced of the reasonableness of my discourse to her.
As soon as she was gone, my maid brought up the following epistle, which, by the style, and the description she gave of the person, I suppose was left by Nick Doubt. «Hark you,” said he, “ girl, tell old Basket-hilt I would have him answer it by the first opportunity.” What he says is this.
“ ISAAC, “ You seem a very honest fellow; therefore, pray tell me, did not you write that letter in praise of the squire and his Lucubrations yourself, &c."..