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Moll had been often brought before him for making children spit pins, and giving maids the nightmare; and that the country people would be tossing her
into a pond and trying experiments with her every 5 day, if it was not for him and his chaplain.
I have since found upon inquiry, that Sir Roger was several times staggered with the reports that had been brought him concerning this old woman,
and would frequently have bound her over to the 10 country sessions, had not his chaplain with much ado persuaded him to the contrary.
I have been the more particular in this account, because I hear there is scarce a village in England
that has not a Moll White in it. When an old 15 woman begins to doat, and grow chargeable to a
parish, she is generally turned into a witch, and fills the whole country with extravagant fancies, imaginary distempers, and terrifying dreams. In
the meantime, the poor wretch that is the innocent 20 occasion of so many evils, begins to be frighted at
herself, and sometimes confesses secret commerces and familiarities that her imagination forms in a delirious old age. This frequently cuts off charity
from the greatest objects of compassion, and inspires 25 people with a malevolence towards those poor de
crepit parts of our species in whom human nature is defaced by infirmity and dotage.
No. 17. Sir Roger in Love
-Hæret lateri lethalis arundo.1
Virg. Æn. iv. 73.
This agreeable seat is surrounded with so many pleasing walks, which are struck out of a wood, in the midst of which the house stands, that one can hardly ever be weary of rambling from one labyrinth of delight to another. To one used to live in a city 5 the charms of the country are so exquisite, that the mind is lost in a certain transport which raises us above ordinary life, and yet is not strong enough to be inconsistent with tranquility. This state of mind was I in, ravished with the murmur of waters, 10 the whisper of breezes, the singing of birds; and whether I looked up to the heavens, down on the earth, or turned to the prospects around me, still struck with new sense of pleasure; when I found by the voice of my friend, who walked by me, that we 15 had insensibly strolled into the grove sacred to the widow. “This woman," says he, "is of all others the most unintelligible; she either designs to marry, or she does not. What is the most perplexing of all is, that she does not either say to her lovers she 20 has any resolution against that condition of life in general, or that she banishes them; but, conscious of her own merit, she permits their addresses, with
out fear of any ill consequence, or want of respect, from their rage or despair. She has that in her aspect, against which it is impossible to offend.
A man whose thoughts are constantly bent upon 5 so agreeable an object, must be excused if the
ordinary occurrences in conversation are below his attention. I call her indeed perverse, but alas! why do I call her so? Because her superior merit
is such, that I cannot approach her without awe, 10 that my heart checked by too much esteem: I
am angry that her charms are not more accessible, that I am more inclined to worship than salute her. How often have I wished her unhappy, that
I might have an opportunity of serving her? and 15 how often troubled in that very imagination, at
giving her the pain of being obliged? Well, I have led a miserable life in secret upon her account; but fancy she would have condescended to have some
regard for me, if it had not been for that watchful 20 animal her confidant.
“Of all persons under the sun" (continued he, calling me by name), " be sure to set a mark upon confidants: they are of all people the most imperti
nent. What is most pleasant to observe in them, is, 25 that they assume to themselves the merit of the
persons whom they have in their custody. Orestilla is a great fortune, and in wonderful danger of surprises, therefore full of suspicions of the least indifferent thing, particularly careful of new
quaintance, and of growing too familiar with the old. Themista, her favorite woman, is every whit as careful of whom she speaks to, and what she says. Let the ward be a beauty, her confidant shall treat you with an air of distance; let her be 5 a fortune, and she assumes the suspicious behavior of her friend and patroness. Thus it is that very many of our unmarried women of distinction are to all intents and purposes married, except the consideration of different sexes. They are directly 10 under the conduct of their whisperer; 3 and think they are in a state of freedom, while they can prate with one of these attendants of all men in general, and still avoid the man they most like. You do not see one heiress in a hundred whose fate does 15 not turn upon this circumstance of choosing a confidant. Thus it is that the lady is addressed to, presented 4 and flattered, only by proxy, in her
In my case, how is it possible that -Sir Roger was proceeding in his harangue, when 20 we heard the voice of one speaking very importunately, and repeating these words, "What, not one smile?" We followed the sound till we came close to a thicket, on the other side of which we saw a young woman sitting as it were in a personated 25 sullenness just over a transparent fountain. Opposite to her stood Mr. William, Sir Roger's master of the game. The knight whispered me, “Hist, these are lovers.” The huntsman looking earnestly
at the shadow of the young maiden in the stream, “Oh thou dear picture, if thou couldst remain there in the absence of that fair creature whom you
represent in the water, how willingly could I stand 5 here satisfied forever, without troubling my dear
Betty herself with any mention of her unfortunate William, whom she is angry with! But alas! when she pleases to be gone, thou wilt also vanish
Yet let me talk to thee while thou dost stay. Tell 10 my dearest Betty thou dost not more depend upon
her, than does her William: her absence will make away with me as well as thee. If she offers to remove thee, I will jump into these waves to lay
hold on thee; herself, her own dear person, I must 15 never embrace again. Still do you hear me with
out one smile It is too much to bear." He had no sooner spoke these words, but he made an offer of throwing himself into the water: at which his
mistress started up, and at the next instant he 20 jumped across the fountain, and met her in an
embrace. She, half recovering from her fright, said in the most charming voice imaginable, and with a tone of complaint, "I thought how well you would
drown yourself. No, no, you will not drown your25 self till you have taken your leave of Susan Holiday."
The huntsman, with a tenderness that spoke the most passionate love, and with his cheek close to hers, whispered the softest vows of fidelity in her ear, and cried, “Do not, my dear, believe a word