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No. 159. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12.
Præsens vel ino tollere de gradu
Vertere funeribus triumphos.
Having read over your paper of Tuesday last, in which you recommend the pursuits of wisdom and knowledge to those of the fair sex, who have much time lying upon their hands; and among other motives make use of this, that several women, thus accomplished, have raised themselves by it to considerable posts of honour and fortune: I shall beg leave to give you an instance of this kind, which many now living can testify the truth of, and which I can assure you is matter of fact.
“About twelve years ago I was familiarly acquainted with a gentleman, who was in a post that brought him a yearly revenue, sufficient to live very handsomely upon. He had a wife, and no child but a daughter, whom he bred up, as I thought, too high for one that could expect no other fortune than such a one as her father could raise out of the income of his place; which, as they managed it, was scarce sufficient for their ordinary expences. Miss Betty had always the best sort of clothes, and was hardly allowed to keep company but with those above her rank; so that it was no wonder she grew proud and haughty towards those she looked upon as her inferiors. There lived by them a barber, who had a daughter, about miss's age, that could speak French, had read several books at her leisure hours, and was a perfect mistress of her needle, and in all kinds of female manufacture. She was, at the same time, a pretty, modest, witty girl. She was hired to come to miss an hour or two every day, to talk French with her, and teach her to work, but miss always treated her with great contempt,
and, when Molly gave her any advice, rejected it with
“About the same time several young fellows made their addresses to Miss Betty, who had, indeed, a great deal of wit and beauty, had they not been infected with so much.vanity and self-conceit. Among the rest was a plain sober young man, who loved her almost to distraction. His passion was the common talk of the neighbourhood, who used to be often discoursing of Mr. T's Angel, for that was the name he always gave her, in ordinary conversation. As his circumstances were very indifferent, he being a younger brother, Mistress Betty rejected him with disdain: insomuch that the young man, as is usual among those who are crossed in love, put himself aboard the fleet, with a resolution to seek his fortune and forget his mistress. This was very happy for him, fór, in a very few years, being concerned in several captures, he brought home with him an estate of about twelve thousand pounds.
“Mean while, days and years went on, miss lived high and learnt but little, most of her time being employed in reading plays, and practising to dance, in which she arrived at great perfection. When, of a sudden, at à change of ministry, her father lost his place, and was forced to leave London, where he could no longer live upon the foot he had formerly doné. Not many years after I was told the poor gentleman was dead, and had left his widow and daughter in à very dèsolatë condition; but I could not learn where to find them, though I made what enquiry I could; and, I must own, I immediately suspected their pride would not suffer them to be seen or relieved by any of their former acquaintance. I had left enquiring after them for some years, when I happened, not long ágo, 'as I was asking åt a house for a gentleman I had some business with, to be led into a parlour, by a handsome young woman, who I presently fancied was that very daughter I had so long sought in vain. My
suspicion increased, when I observed her to blush at the sight of me, and to avoid, as much as possible, looking upon, or speaking to, me. Madam,' said I, are not you Mistress Such-a-one?' at which words the tears ran down her cheeks, and she would fain have retired without giving me an answer; but I stopped her, and, being to wait a while for the gentleman I was to speak to, I resolved not to lose this opportunity of satisfying my curiosity. I could not well discern by her dress, which was genteel, though not fine, whether she was the mistress of the house, or only a servant; but, supposing her to be the first, 'I am glad, madam,' said I, “after having long enquired after you, to have so happily met with you, and to find you mistress of so fine a place. These words were like to have spoiled all, and threw her into such a disorder, that it was some time before she could recover herself; but, as soon as she was able to speak, 'Sir,* said she, “you are mistaken; I am but a servant.' Her voice fell in these last words, and she burst again into tears. I was sorry to have occasioned in her so much grief and confusion, and said what I could to comfort her. 'Alas! Sir,' said she, “my condition is much better than I deserve; I have the kindest and best of women for my mistress. She is wife to the gentleman you come to speak withal. You know her very well, and have often seen her with me.'. To make my story short, I found that my late friend's daughter was now a servant to the barber's daughter, whom she had formerly treated so disdainfully. The gentleman, at whose house I now was, fell in love with Moll, and, being master of a great fortune, married her, and lives with her as happily, and as much to his satisfaction, as he could desire. He treats her with all the friendship and respect possible, but not with more than her behaviour and good qualities deserve: and it was with a great deal of pleasure I heard her maid dwell so long upon her commendation. She informed me that, after her father's death, her mother and she lived for a while together in great poverty. But her mother's spirit could not bear the thoughts of asking relief of any
of her own, or her husband's acquaintance; so that they retired from all their friends, until they were providentially discovered by this new-married woman, who heaped on them favours upon favours. Her mother died shortly after, who, while she lived, was better pleased to see her daughter a beggar, than a servant: but, being freed by her death, she was taken into thiş gentlewoman's family, where she now lived, though much more like a friend or companion, than like a servant.
“I went home full of this strange adventure, and, about a week after, chancing to be in company with Mr. T. the rejected lover, whom I mentioned in the beginning of my letter, I told him the whole story of his Angel, not questioning but he would feel, on this occasion, the usual pleasure of a resenting lover, when he hears that fortune has avenged him of the cruelty of his mistress. As I was recounting to him at large these several particulars, I observed that he covered his face with his hand, and that his breast heaved as though it would have burst, which I took at first to have been a fit of laughter;' but, "upon lifting up his head, I saw his eyes all red with weeping. He forced a smile at the end of my story, and we parted.
About a fortnight after I received from him the following letter.
"DEAR SIR, “I am infinitely obliged to you for bringing me news of my Angel. I have since married her, and think the low circumstances she was reduced to, a piece of good luck to both of us, since it has quite removed that little pride and vanity, which was the only part of her character that I disliked, and given me an opportunity of showing her the constant and sincere affection, which I professed to her in the time of her prosperity.
“ Yours, R. T.”
No. 160. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14.
Solventur risu tabulæ, tu missus abibis. From writing the history of lions, I lately went off to that of ants; but, to mny great surprise, I find that some of my good readers have taken this last to be a work of invention, which was only a plain narrative of matter of fact. They will several of them have it, that my last Thursday and Friday's papers are full of concealed satire, and that I have attacked people in the shape of pismires, whom I durst not meddle with in the shape of men. I must confess that I write with fear and trembling ever since that ingenious person, the Examiner, in his little pamphlet, which was to make way for one of his following papers, found out treason in the word expect.
But I shall for the future leave my friend to manage the controversy in a separate work, being unwilling to fill with disputes a paper which was undertaken purely out of good-will to my countrymen. I must therefore declare that those jealousies and suspicions, which have been raised in some weak minds, by means of the two above-mentioned discourses, concerning ants or pismires, are altogether groundless. There is not an emmet in all that whole narrative who is either whig or tory; and I could heartily wish that the individuals of all parties among us, had the good of their country at heart, and endeavoured to advance it by the same spirit of frugality, justice, and mutual benevolence, as are visibly exercised by the members of those little commonwealths.
After this short preface, I shall lay before my readers a letter or two which occasioned it.
“MR. IRONSIDE, “I have laid a wager, with a friend of mine, about the pigeons that used to peck up the corn which be