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Rhadamanthus observing an ingenuous modesty in her countenance and behaviour, bid them both let her loose, and set her aside for a re-examination when he was more at leisure. An old woman, of a proud and sour look, presented herself next at the bar, and being asked what she had been doing; "Truly, (says she,) I lived threescore and ten years in a very wicked world, and was so angry at the behaviour of a parcel of young flirts, that I passed most of my last years in condemning the follies of the times; I was every day blaming the silly conduct of people about me, in order to deter those I conversed with from falling into the like errors and miscarriages." "Very well, (says Rhadamanthus,) but did you keep the same watchful eye over your own actions ?" "Why, truly, (says she,) I was so taken up with publishing the faults of others, that I had no time to consider my own.' "Madam, (says Rhadamanthus,) be pleased to file off to the left, and make room for the venerable matron that stands behind you. Old gentlewoman, (says he,) I think you are fourscore: you have heard the question, what have you been doing so long in the world ?" "Ah, sir! (says she,) I have been doing what I should not have done, but I had made a firm resolution to have changed my life, if I had not been snatched off by an untimely end." Madam, (says he,) you will please to follow your leader;" and spying another of the same age, interrogated her in the same form. To which the matron replied, "I have been the wife of a husband who was as dear to me in his old age as in his youth. I have been a mother, and very happy in my children, whom I endeavoured to bring up in everything that is good. My eldest son is blest by the poor, and beloved by every one that knows him. I lived within my own family, and left it much more wealthy than I found it." Rhadamanthus, who knew the value of the old lady, smiled upon her in such a manner, that the keeper of Elysium, who knew his office, reached out his hand to her. He no sooner touched her, but her wrinkles vanished, her eyes sparkled, her cheeks glowed with blushes, and she appeared in full bloom and beauty. A young woman observing that this officer, who conducted the happy to Elysium, was so great a beautifier, longed to be in his hands, so that, pressing through the crowd, she was the next that appeared at the bar. And being asked what she had been doing the five and twenty years that she had passed in
the world? "I have endeavoured (says she) ever since I came to years of discretion, to make myself lovely and gain admirers. In order to it, I passed my time in bottling up Maydew, inventing white-washes, mixing colours, cutting out patches, consulting my glass, suiting my complexion, tearing off my tucker, sinking my stays" Rhadamanthus, without hearing her out, gave the sign to take her off. Upon the approach of the keeper of Erebus, her colour faded, her face was puckered up with wrinkles, and her whole person lost in deformity.
I was then surprised with a distant sound of a whole troop of females that came forward laughing, singing, and dancing. I was very desirous to know the reception they would meet with, and withal was very apprehensive that Rhadamanthus would spoil their mirth: but at their nearer approach the noise grew so very great that it awakened me.
I lay some time, reflecting in myself on the oddness of this dream, and could not forbear asking my own heart, what I was doing? I answered myself, that I was writing Guardians. If my readers make as good a use of this work as I design they should, I hope it will never be imputed to me as a work that is vain and unprofitable.
I shall conclude this paper with recommending to them the same short self-examination. If every one of them frequently lays his hand upon his heart, and considers what he is doing, it will check him in all the idle, or, what is worse, the vicious moments of life, lift up his mind when it is running on in a series of indifferent actions, and encourage him when he is engaged in those which are virtuous and laudable. In a word, it will very much alleviate that guilt which the best of men have reason to acknowledge in their daily confessions, of "leaving undone those things which they ought to have done, and of doing those things which they ought not to have done."
No. 159. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12.
Præsens vel imo tollere de gradu
Vertere funeribus triumphos. HOR.
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 expenses. 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 scorn.
"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, for in a very few years, being concerned in several captures, he brought home with him an estate of about twelve thousand pounds.
"Meanwhile 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 a 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 done. Not many years after, I was told the poor gentleman was dead, and had left his widow and daughter in a very desolate condition, but I could not learn where to find them, though I made what inquiry 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 inquiring after them for some years, when I happened, not long ago, as I was asking at 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 sus-. picions 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 1,) after having long inquired 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 re
cover 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 this 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