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happens that I was near in the right, give me leave to present this gentleman to the favour of a civil salute." His friend advances, and so on, until they had all saluted her. By this means the poor girl was in the middle of the crowd of these fellows, at a loss what to do, without courage to pass through them; and the Platonics, at several peep-holes, pale, trembling, and fretting. Rake perceived they were observed, and therefore took care to keep Sukey in chat with questions concerning their way of life; when appeared at last Madonella*, a lady who had writ a fine book concerning the recluse life, and was the projectrix of the foundation. She approaches into the hall; and Rake, knowing the dignity of his own mien and aspect, goes deputy from his company: She begins, "Sir, I am obliged to follow the servant, who was sent out to know what affair could make strangers press upon a solitude which we, who are to inhabit this place, have devoted to Heaven and our own thoughts?" "Madam," re plies Rake, with an air of great distance, mixed with a certain indifference, by which he could dissemble dissimulation, "your great intention has made more noise in the world, than you design it should; and we travellers, who have seen many foreign institutions of this kind, have a curiosity to see in its first rudiments, this seat of primitive piety; for such it must be called by future ages, to the eternal honour of the founders: I have read Madonella's excellent and seraphic discourse on this subject." The lady immediately answered, "If what I have said could have contributed to raise any thoughts in you that may make for the advancement
* The person here represented, or rather grossly misrepresented, under the name of Madonnella, a diminutive from Madona, which signifies the Virgin Mary, was, Mrs. Mary Astell, a lady of superior understanding, of considerable learning, and singular piety.
of intellectual and divine conversation, I should think myself extremely happy." He immediately fell back with the profoundest veneration; then advancing, Are you, then, that admired lady? If I may approach lips which have utterred things so sacred." -He salutes her. His friends followed his example. The devoted within stood in amazement where this would end, to see Madonella receive their address and their company. But Rake goes on-" We would not transgress rules; but if we may take the liberty to see that place you have thought fit to choose for ever, we would go into such parts of the gardens, as is consistent with the severities you have imposed on yourselves."
To be short, Madonella permitted Rake to lead her into the assembly of nuns, followed by his friends, and each took his fair one by the hand, after due explanation, to walk round the gardens. The conversation turned upon the lilies, the flowers, the arbours, and the growing vegetables; and Rake had the solemn impudence, when the whole company stood round him, to say, that "he sincerely wished men might rise out of the earth like plants; and that our minds were not of necessity to be sullied with carnivorous appetites for the generation, as well as support of our species*." This was spoken with so easy and fixed an assurance, that Madonella answered, Sir, under the notion of a pious thought, you deceive yourself in wishing an institution foreign to that of Providence. These desires were implanted in us for reverend in purposes, preserving the race of men, and giving opportunities for making our chastity more heroic." The conference was continued in this celestial strain, and carried on so well by the managers on both sides, that it created a second and a third interview; and,
* An illusion to, or rather a quotation from Sir T. Browne's "Religio Medici."
without entering into further particulars, there was hardly one of them but was a mother or father that day twelvemonth.
Any unnatural part is long taking up, and as long laying aside; therefore Mr. Sturdy may assure himself, Plantonica will fly for ever from a forward behaviour; but if he approaches her according to this model, she will fall in with the necessities of mortal life, and condescend to look with pity upon an unhappy man, imprisoned in so much body, and urged by such violent desires.
From my own Apartment, June 22.
The evils of this town increase upon me to so great a degree, that I am half afraid I shall not leave the world much better than I found it. Several worthy gentlemen and critics have applied to me, to give my censure of an enormity which has been revived, after being long suppressed, and is called punning. I have several arguments ready to prove, that he cannot be a man of honour, who is guilty of this abuse of human society. But the way to expose it, is like the expedient of curing drunkenness, showing a man in that condition: therefore I must give my reader warning to expect a collection of these offences; without which preparation, I thought it too adventurous to introduce the very mention of it in good company and I hope, I shall be understood to do it, as a divine mentions oaths and curses only for their condemnation. I shall dedicate this discourse to a gentleman, my very good friend, who is the Janus* of our times, and whom, by his years and wit, you would take to be of the last age; but by his dress and morals, of this.
* Under the fanciful name of Janus, Steele clearly alludes to Swift.
St. James's Coffee-house, June 22.
Last night arrived two mails from Holland, which bring letters from the Hague of the twenty-eighth instant, N. S. with advice that the enemy lay encamped behind a strong retrenchment, with the marsh of Romiers on their right and left, extending itself as far as Bethune: La Basse is in their front, Lens in their rear, and their camp is strengthened by another line from Lens to Doway. The Duke of Marlborough caused an exact observation to be made of their ground, and the works by which they were covered, which appeared so strong that it was not thought proper to attack them in their present posture. However, the Duke thought fit to make feint as if he designed it: His Grace accordingly marched from the abbey at Looze, as did Prince Eugene from Lampret, and advanced with all possible diligence towards the enemy. To favour the appearance of an intended assault, the ways were made, and orders distributed in such manner, that none in either camp could have thoughts of any thing but charging the enemy by break of day next morning but soon after the fall of the night of the twenty-sixth, the whole army faced towards Tournay, which place they invested early in the morning of the twenty-seventh. The marshal Villars was so confident that we designed to attack him, that he had drawn great part of the garrison of the place which is now invested into the field: for which reason, it is presumed, it must submit within a small time, which the enemy cannot prevent, but by coming out of their present camp, and hazarding a general engagement. These advices add, that the garrison of Mons had marched out under the command of marshal d'Arco; which, with the Bavarians, Walloons, and the troops of Cologne, have joined the grand army of the enemy.
No 33. SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines
nostri est farrago libelli.
Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream,
By Mrs. JENNY DISTAFF, Half-Sister to Mr.
From my own Apartment, June 12.
My brother has made an excursion into the country, and the work against Saturday lies upon me. very glad I have got pen and ink in my hand; for I have for some time longed for his absence, to give a right idea of things, which I thought he put in a very odd light, and some of them to the disadvantage of my own sex. It is much to be lamented, that it is necessary to make discourses, and publish treatises, to keep the horrid creatures, the men, within the rules of common decency.
I gladly embrace this opportunity to express myself with the resentment I ought, on people who take liberties of speech before that sex, of whom the honoured names of Mother, Daughter, and Sister are a part: I had liked to have named Wife in the number; but the senseless world are so mistaken in their sentiments of pleasure, that the most amiable term in human life is become the derision of fools and scorners. My brother and I have at least fifty times quarrelled upon this topic. I ever argue, that the frailties of women are to be imputed to the false ornaments, which men of wit put upon our folly and coquetry, He lays all the vices of men upon womens' secret approbation of libertine characters