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ing your interest in demons, they cannot help you either to my
or a sight of my face; therefore do not let them
“I can bear no discourse if you are not the subject; and believe me, I know more of love than you do of astronomy.
« Pray say some civil things in return to my generosity, and you shall have my very best pen employed to thank you, and I will confirm it. I am,
« Your admirer,
There is something wonderfully pleasing in the favour of women; and this letter has put me in so good a humour, that nothing could displease me since I received it. My boy breaks glasses and pipes, and instead of giving him a knock of the pate, as my way is (for I hate scolding at servants), I only fay, * Ah, Jack! thou hast a head, and so has a pin," or some such merry expression. But alas ! how am I mortified when he is putting on my fourth pair of stockings on these poor spindles of mine? The fair one understands love better than I astronomy! I am sure, without the help of that art, this poor meagre trunk of mine is a very ill habitation for love. She is pleased to speak civilly of my sense, but ingenium male habitat is an invincible difficulty in cases of this nature. I had always indeed, from a passion to please the eyes of the fair, a great pleasure in dress. Add to this, that I have writ fongs since I was sixty, and have lived with all the circumspection of an old beau, as I am. But my friend Horace has very well said, « Every year takes something from us,” and instructed me to form my pursuits and desires according to the stage of my
life. Therefore, I have no more to value myself upon, than that I can converse with young people without peevishness, or with ing myself a moment younger. For which reason, when I am amongst them, I rather moderate than interrupt their diversions. But though I have this complacency, I must not pretend to write to a lady civil things, as Maria desires. Time was, when I could have told her, I had received a letter from her fair hands; and that if this paper trembled as she read it, it then best expressed its author or some other gay conceit. Though I never saw her, I could have told her, that good sense and good humour smiled in her eyes; that conftancy and good nature dwelt in her heart; that beauty and good breeding appeared in all her actions. When I was fiveand-twenty, upon sight of one fyllable, even wrong spelt, by a lady I never faw, I could tell her, that her height was that which was fit for inviting our approach, and commanding our respect; that a smile fat on her lips, which prefaced her expressions before she uttered them, and her aspect prevented her speech. All she could say, though she had an infinite deal of wit, was but a repetition of what was expressed by her form-her form, which struck her beholders with ideas more moving and forcible than ever were inspired by musick, painting, or eloquence. At this rate I panted in those days; but ah! fixty-three! I am very sorry I can only return the agreeable Maria a passion expressed rather from the head than the heart.
« Dear MADAM,
“ You have already seen the best of me, and I so passionately love
that I desire we may never meet. If you will examine your heart, you will find that you join the man with the philosopher; and if you have that kind opinion of my sense as you pretend, I question not but you add to it complexion, air, and shape : but, dear Molly, a man in his grand climacterick is of no sex. Be a good girl, and conduct yourself with honour and virtue when
than myself. I am, with the greatest tenderness,
“ Your innocent lover,
« I. B."
WAS very much fürprised 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, I threw down the conjurer 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 written 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 the, smiling, “ I will not stay till you grow young again (as you men never fail to do in your dotage), but am come to consult you about disposing of myself to another. My person you fee; 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 not 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
satisfactions of a pleasant conversation. When I think of Crassus, my equipage, numerous servants, gay liveries, and various dresles, 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 expenfe 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
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 lo he is, indeed, madam; 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 loving 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's Clotilda lies by, and plants herself in the way of Crassus, and I am confident will snap 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 own 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 folidly 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 the 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 comparison with others.
“ But indeed, madam, when I behold that beauteous form of yours, 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 folemn prostitution, where there is not a union of minds. You would hardly believe it, but there have been designs even
“A neighbour in this very lane, who knows I have, by leading a very wary life, laid up a little money, had a great mind to marry me to his daughter. 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 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 Illington, 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 client 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.