« ForrigeFortsæt »
long trapsticks that had no calfs to them. One of these looked like a man walking upon stilts, and was so lifted up into the air above his ordinary height, that his head turned round with it, while the others made such awkward circles, as he attempted to walk, that he scarce knew how to move forward upon his new supporters: observing him to be a pleasant kind of fellow, I stuck my cane in the ground, and told him I would lay him a bottle of wine that he did not march up to it on a line that I drew for him in a quarter of an hour.
The heap was at last distributed among the two sexes, who made a most piteous sight, as they wandered up and down, under the pressure of their several burdens. The whole plain was filled with murmurs and complaints, groans and lamentations. Jupiter at length, taking compassion on the poor mortals, ordered them a second time to lay down their loads, with a design to give every one his own again. They discharged themselves with a great deal of pleasure, after which, the phantom who had led them into such gross delusions was commanded to disappear. There was sent, in her stead, a goddess of a quite different figure: her motions were steady and composed, and her aspect serious but cheerful. She every now and then cast her eyes towards heaven, and fixed them upon Jupiter: her name was PATIENCE. She had no sooner placed herself by the mount of sorrows, but, what I thought very remarkable, the whole heap sunk to such a degree, that it did not appear a third part so big as it was before. She afterwards returned every man his own proper calamity, and teaching him how to bear it in the most commodious manner, he marched off with it contentedly, being very well pleased that he had not been left to his own choice, as to the kind of evils which fell to his lot.
Besides the several pieces of morality to be drawn out of this vision, I learnt from it, never to repine at my own misfortunes, or to envy the happiness of another, since it is impossible for any man to form a right judgment of his neighbour's sufferings; for which reason also, I have determined never to think too lightly of another's complaints, but to regard the sorrows of my fellow-creatures with sentiments of humanity and compassion.1
It was necessary to correct the moral of these humorous papers with this humane reflection.
No. 561. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30.
-Paulatim abolere Sichæum
Incipit, et vivo tentat prævertere amore
Jampridem resides animos desuetaque corda. VIRG.
I am a tall, broad-shouldered, impudent, black fellow, and, as I thought, every way qualified for a rich widow: but, after having tried my fortune for above three years together, I have not been able to get one single relict in the mind. My first attacks were generally successful, but always broke off as soon as they came to the word settlement. Though I have not improved my fortune this way, I have my experience, and have learnt several secrets which may be of use to those unhappy gentlemen, who are commonly distinguished by the name of widow-hunters, and who do not know that this tribe of women are, generally speaking, as much upon the catch as themselves. I shall here communicate to you the mysteries of a certain female cabal of this order, who call themselves The Widow club.' This club consists of nine experienced dames, who take their places once a week round a large oval table.
I. Mrs. President is a person who has disposed of six husbands, and is now determined to take a seventh; being of opinion that there is as much virtue in the touch of a seventh husband as of a seventh son. Her comrades are as follow.
"II. Mrs. Snapp, who has four jointures, by four different bed-fellows, of four different shires. She is at present upon the point of marriage with a Middlesex man, and is said to have an ambition of extending her possessions through all the countries in England, on this side the Trent.
"III. Mrs. Medlar, who, after two husbands and a gallant, is now wedded to an old gentleman of sixty. Upon her making her report to the club, after a week's cohabitation, she is still allowed to sit as a widow, and accordingly takes her place at the board.
"IV. The widow Quick, married within a fortnight after the death of her last husband. Her weeds have served her thrice, and are still as good as new.
"V. Lady Catherine Swallow.
She was a widow at
eighteen, and has since buried a second husband and two coachmen.
"VI. The lady Waddle. She was married in the fifteenth year of her age to Sir Simon Waddle, knight, aged threescore and twelve, by whom she had twins nine months after his decease. In the fifty-fifth year of her age, she was married to James Spindle, Esq., a youth of one and twenty, who did not outlive the honey-moon.
"VII. Deborah Conquest. The case of this lady is something particular. She is the relict of Sir Sampson Conquest, some time justice of the quorum. Sir Sampson was seven foot high, and two foot in breadth, from the tip of one shoulder to the other. He had married three wives, who all of them died in childbed. This terrified the whole sex, who none of them durst venture on Sir Sampson. At length Mrs. Deborah undertook him, and gave so good an account of him, that in three years' time she very fairly laid him out, and measured his length upon the ground. This exploit has gained her so great a reputation in the club, that they have added Sir Sampson's three victories to hers, and gave her the merit of a fourth widowhood; and she takes her place accordingly.
"VIII. The widow Wildfire, relict of Mr. John Wildfire, fox-hunter, who broke his neck over a six-bar gate. She took his death so much to heart, that it was thought it would have put an end to her life, had she not diverted her sorrows by receiving the addresses of a gentleman in the neighbourhood, who made love to her in the second month of her widowhood. This gentleman was discarded in a fortnight, for the sake of a young Templar, who had the possession of her for six weeks after, till he was beaten out by a broken officer, who likewise gave up his place to a gentleman at court. The courtier was as short-lived a favourite as his predecessors, but had the pleasure to see himself succeeded by a long series of lovers, who followed the widow Wildfire to the thirty-seventh year of her age, at which time there ensued a cessation of ten years, when John Felt, haberdasher, took it in his head to be in love with her, and it is thought will very suddenly carry her off.
"IX. The last is pretty Mrs. Runnet, who broke her first husband's heart before she was sixteen, at which time she was entered of the club: but soon after left it, upon account of a second, whom she made so quick a despatch of,
that she returned to her seat in less than a twelvemonth. This young matron is looked upon as the most rising member of the society, and will, probably, be in the president's chair before she dies.
"These ladies, upon their first institution, resolved to give the pictures of their deceased husbands to the club-room, but two of them bringing in their dead at full length, they covered all the walls: upon which they came to a second resolution, that every matron should give her own picture, and get it round with her husbands in miniature.
"As they have most of them the misfortune to be troubled with the cholic, they have a noble cellar of cordials and strong waters. When they grow maudlin, they are very apt to commemorate their former partners with a tear. But ask them which of their husbands they condole, they are not able to tell you, and discover plainly that they do not weep so much for the loss of a husband, as for the want of one.
"The principal rule, by which the whole society are to govern themselves, is this, to cry up the pleasures of a single life upon all occasions, in order to deter the rest of their sex from marriage, and engross the whole world to themselves. They are obliged, when any one makes love to a member of the society, to communicate his name, at which time the whole assembly sit upon his reputation, person, fortune, and good humour; and if they find him qualified for a sister of the club, they lay their heads together how to make him sure. By this means they are acquainted with all the widow-hunters about town, who often afford them great diversion. There is an honest Irish gentleman, it seems, who knows nothing of this society, but at different times has made love to the whole club.
"Their conversation often turns upon their former husbands, and it is very diverting to hear them relate their arts and stratagems, with which they amused the jealous, pacified the choleric, or wheedled the good-natured man, until at last, to use the club phrase, 'They sent him out of the house with his heels foremost.'
"The politics which are most cultivated by this society of she-Machiavels, relate chiefly to these two points, How to treat a lover, and How to manage a husband. As for the first set of artifices, they are too numerous to come within the
compass of your paper, and shall therefore be reserved for a second letter.
"The management of a husband is built upon the following doctrines, which are universally assented to by the whole club. Not to give him his head at first. Not to allow him too great freedoms and familiarities. Not to be treated by him like a raw girl, but as a woman that knows the world. Not to lessen anything of her former figure. To celebrate the generosity, or any other virtue, of a deceased husband, which she would recommend to his successor. To turn away
all his old friends and servants, that she may have the dear man to herself. To make him disinherit the undutiful children of any former wife. Never to be thoroughly convinced of his affection, until he has made over to her all his goods and chattels.1
"After so long a letter, I am, without more ceremony, "Your humble servant," &c.
No. 562. FRIDAY, JULY 2.
-Præsens, absens ut sies. TER.
"Ir is a hard and nice subject for a man to speak of himself (says Cowley): it grates his own heart to say anything of disparagement, and the reader's ears to hear anything of praise from him." Let the tenor of his discourse be what it will, upon this subject, it generally proceeds from vanity. An ostentatious man will rather relate a blunder or an absurdity he has committed, than be debarred from talking of his own dear person.
Some very great writers have been guilty of this fault. It is observed of Tully in particular, that his works run very much in the first person, and that he takes all occasions of doing himself justice. "Does he think (says Brutus) that his consulship deserves more applause than my putting
1 After all the severity of this satire, it should be remembered, that the author ventured on a widow, the Countess of Warwick; who, to speak in the language of this letter, fairly laid him out, within the compass of four years an exploit, for which her ladyship seems to have been well entitled to the chair of this society.