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fore she took her leave, she produced a long list of names, which she looked upon to know whither she was to go next. I must confess, I could hardly forbear discovering to her immediately, that I secretly laughed at: the fantastical regularity she observed in throwing away her time; but I seemed to indulge her in it, out of curiosity to hear her own sense of her way of life. Mr. Bickerstaff, said she, you cannot imagine how much you are obliged to me in staying thus long with you, having so many visits to make; and indeed, if I had not hopes that a third part of those I am going to will be abroad, I should be unable to dispatch them this evening. Madam, said I, are you in all this haste and perplexity, and only going to such as you have not a mind to see? Yes, sir, said she, I have several now with whom I keep a constant correspondence, and return visit for visit punctually every week, and yet we have not seen each other since last November was twelvemonth,
She went on with a very good air, and, fixing her eyes on her list, told me, she was obliged to ride about three miles and a half before she arrived at her own house. I asked after what manner this list was taken, whether the persons writ their names to her, and desired that favour, or how she knew she was not cheated in her muster-roll? The method we take, says she, is, that the porter or servant who comes to the door writes down all the names who come to see us, and all such are entitled to a return of their visit. But, said I, madam, I presume those who are searching for each other, and know one another by messages, may be understood as candidates only for each other's favour; and that after so many how-do-ye-does, you proceed 10 visit or not, as you like the run of each other's reputation or fortune. You understand it aright, said
bé of any
she; and, we become friends as soon as we are convinced that our dislike to each other
may consequence : for to tell you truly, said she, for it is in vain to hide any thing from a man of your penetration, general visits are not made out of good-will, but for fear of ill-will. Punctuality in this case is often a suspicious circumstance; and there is nothing so common as to have a lady say, I hope she has heard nothing of what I said of her, that she grows so great with
But indeed my porter is so dull and negligent, that I fear he has not put down half the people I owe visits to. Madam, said I, methinks it would be very proper if your gentleman usher or groom of the chamber were always to keep an account by way of debtor and creditor. I know a city lady who uses that method, which I think very laudable; for though you may possibly at the court end of the town receive at the door, and light up better than within Temple Bar, yet I must do that justice to my friends the ladies within the walls, to own, that they are much more exact in their correspondence. The lady I was going to men-, tion as an example, has always the second apprentice out of the counting-house for her own use on her visiting days, and he sets down very methodically all the visits which are made her. I remember very well, that on the first of January last, when she made up her account for the year 1708, it stood thus: Mrs. Courtwood-Debtor. Per Contra-Creditor.
This gentlewoman is a woman of great oeconomy, and was not afraid to go to the bottom of her affairs; and therefore ordered her apprentice to give her credit for my lady Easy’s impertinent visits upon wrong days, and deduct only twelve per cent. He had orders also to subtract one and a half from the whole of such as she had denied herself to before she kept a day; and, after taking those proper articles of credit on her side, she was in arrear but five hundred. She ordered her husband to buy in a couple of fresh coach-horses; and with no other loss than the death of two footmen, and a church-yard cough brought upon her coachman, she was clear in the world on the tenth of February last, and keeps so beforehand, that she pays every body their own, and yet makes daily new acquaintances.I know not whether this agreeable visitant was fired with the example of the lady I told her of, but she immediately vanished out of my sight, it being, it seems, as necessary a point of good breeding to go off as if you stole something out of the house, as it is to enter
you came to fire it. I do not know one thing that contributes so much to the lessening the esteem men of sense have to the fair sex, as this article of visits.
TRIALS OF DEAD MEN.
As soon as I had placed myself in my chair of judicature, I ordered my clerk, Mr. Lillie, to read to the assembly, who were gathered together according to notice, a certain declaration, by way of charge, to open the
purpose of my session, which tended only to this explanation, that as other courts were often called to
demand the execution of persons dead in law; so this was held to give the last orders relating to those who are dead in reason. The solicitor of the new company of upholders near the Haymarket appeared in behalf of that useful society, and brought in an accusation of a young woman, who herself stood at the bar before me. Mr. Lillie read her indictment, which was in substance, that whereas Mrs. Rebecca Pindust, of the parish of Saint Martin in the Fields, had, by the use of one instrument called a looking-glass, and by the further use of certain attire, made either of cambric, muslin, or other linen wares, upon her head, attained to such an evil art and magical force in the motion of her eyes and turn of her countenance, that she the said Rebecca had put to death several young men of the said parish ; and that the said young men had acknowledged in certain papers, commonly called loveletters, which were produced in court, gilded on the edges, and sealed with a particular wax, with certain amorous and enchanting words wrought upon the said seals, that they died for the said Rebecca : and whereas the said Rebecca persisted in the said evil practice; this way of life the said society construed to be, according to former edicts, a state of death, and demanded an order for the interment of the said Rebecca.
I looked upon the maid with great humanity, and desired her to make answer to what was said against her. She said it was indeed true, that she had practised all the arts and means she could to dispose of herself happily in marriage, but thought she did not come under the censure expressed in my writings for the same; and humbly hoped, I would not condemn her for the ignorance of her accusers, who, according to their own words, had rather represented her killing
than dead. She further alledged that the expressions mentioned in the papers written to her were become mere words, and that she had been always ready to marry any of those who said they died for her; but that they made their escape as soon as they found themselves pitied or believed. She ended her discourse by desiring I would for the future settle the meaning of the words I die,' in letters of love.
Mrs. Pindust behaved herself with such an air of innocence, that she easily gained credit, and was acquitted. Upon which occasion I gave it as a standing rule, that any person, who in any letter, billet, or discourse, should tell a woman he died for her, should, if she pleased, be obliged to live with her, or be immediately interred upon such their own confession, without bail or mainprize.
It happened, that the very next who was brought before me was one of her admirers, who was indicted upon that very head. A letter which he acknowledged to be his own hand was read, in which were the following words, “Cruel creature, I die for you.' It was obfervable that he took snuff all the time his accusation was reading. I asked him how he came to use these words, if he were not a dead man? He told me, he was in love with the lady, and did not know any other way of telling her so; and that all his acquaintance took the same method. Though I was moved with compassion towards him by reason of the weakness of his parts, yet for example-sake I was forced to answer, Your sentence shall be a warning to all the rest of your companions, not to tell lies for want of wit. Upon
this he began to beat his snuff-box with a very saucy air, and opening it again, 'Faith, Isaac, said he, thou art a very unaccountable old fellowPr’ythee, who