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Now artful Cupid takes his stand
HUDIBRAS, PART I. CANTO iii. l. 311.
FROM MY OWN APARTMENT, FEBRUARY 1. This morning I received a letter from a fortunehunter, which, being better in its kind than men of that character usually write, I have thought fit to communicate to the public.
TO ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, ESQUIRE.
SIR, “ I take the boldness to recommend to your care the inclosed letter, not knowing how to communicate it, but by your means, to the agreeable country, maid you mention with so much honour in your discourse concerning the lottery.
“ I should be ashamed to give you this trouble without offering at some small requital: I shall therefore direct a new pair of globes, and a telescope of the best maker, to be left for you at Mr. Morphew's, as a testimony of the great respect with
which I am
“ TO MOPSA, IN SHEER-LANE.
To satisfy you
« FAIREST UNKNOWN, “ It being discovered by the stars, that about three months hence you will run the hazard of being persecuted by many worthless pretenders to your person, unless timely prevented; I now offer my service for your security against the persecution that threatens you. This is therefore to let you
know, that I have conceived a most extraordinary passion for
you; and that for several days I have been perpetually haunted with the vision of a person I have never yet seen.
that I am in my senses, and that I do not mistake
for of higher rank, I assure you, that in your daily employment, you appear to my imagination more agreeable in a short scanty petticoat, than the finest woman of quality in her spreading fardingal; and that the dexterous twirl of your mop has more native charms, than the studied airs of a lady's fan. In a word, I am captivated with your menial qualifications: the domestic virtues adorn you like attendant Cupids ; cleanliness and healthful industry wait on all
your motions ; and dust and cobwebs fly your approach.
Now, to give you an honest account of myself, and that you may see my designs are honourable, I am an esquire of an antient family, born to about fifteen hundred pounds a-year; half of which I have spent in discovering myself to be a fool, and with the rest I am resolved to retire with some plain honest partner, and study to be wiser. I had
education in a laced coat, and a French dancing-school; and, by my travel into foreign parts, have just as much breeding to spare, as you may think you want, which I intend to exchange as fast as I can for old English honesty and good sense.
I will not impose on you by a false recommendation of my person, which, to show you my sincerity, is none of the handsomest, being of a figure somewhat short;
but what I want in length, I make out in breadth. But, in amends for that and all other defects, if you can like me when you see me, I shall continue to you, whether I find you fair, black, or brown,
“ The most constant of Lovers.”
This letter seems to be written by a wag, and for that reason I am not much concerned for what reception Mopsa shall think fit to give it; but the following certainly proceeds from a poor heart, that languishes under the most deplorable misfortune that possibly can befal a woman. A man that is treacherously dealt with in love, may have recourse to many consolations.
He may gracefully break through all opposition to his mistress, or explain with his rival; urge his own constancy, or aggravate the falsehood by which it is repaid. But a woman that is ill-treated, has no refuge in her griefs but in silence and secrecy. The world is so unjust, that a female heart which has been once touched, is thought for ever blemished. The very grief in this case is looked upon as a reproach, and a complaint, almost a breach of chastity. For these reasons we see treachery and falsehood are become, as it were, male vices, and are seldom found, never acknowledged, in the other sex. This
may serve to introduce Statira's letter; which, without any turn or art, has something so pathetical and moving in it, that I verily believe it to be true, and therefore heartily pity the injured creature that writ it.
TO ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, BSQUIRE.
SIR, “ You seem in many of your writings to be a man of a very compassionate temper, and well acquainted with the passion of love. This encourages me to apply myself to you in my present distress, which I believe you will look upon to be very great, and treat with tenderness, notwithstanding it wholly arises from love, and that it is a woman that makes this confession. I am now in the twenty-third year of my age, and have for a great while entertained the addresses of a man who, I thought, loved me more than life. I am sure I did him; and must own to you, not without some confusion, that I have thought on nothing else for these two long years, but the happy life we should lead together, and the means I should use to make myself still dearer to him. My fortune was indeed much beyond his; and as I was always in the company of my relations, he was forced to discover his inclinations, and declare himself to me by stories of other persons, kind looks, and many ways, which he knew too well that I understood. Oh! Mr. Bickerstaff, it is impossible to tell you, how industrious I have been to make him appear lovely in my thoughts. I made it a point of conscience to think well of him, and of no man else: but he has since had an estate fallen to him, and makes love to another of a greater fortune than mine. I could not believe the report of this at first; but about a fortnight ago I was convinced of the truth of it by his own behaviour. He came to give our family a formal visit, when, as there were several in company, and many things talked of, the discourse fell upon some unhappy woman, who was in my own circumstance. It was said by one in the room, that they could not believe the story could be true, because they did not believe any man could be so false. Upon which, I stole a look
him with an anguish not to be expressed. He saw my eyes full of tears, yet had the cruelty to say, that he could see no falsehood in alterations of this nature, where there had been no contracts or vows interchanged. Pray do not make a jest of misery, but tell me seriously your opinion of his behaviour; and if you can have any pity for my condition, publish this in your next paper ; that being the only way I have of complaining of his unkindness, and showing him the injustice he has done me. “ I am your humble servant,
“ The unfortunate STATIRA.” The name my correspondent gives herself, puts me in mind of my old reading in romances, and brings into my thoughts a speech of the renowned Don Bellianis, who, upon a complaint
made to him of a discourteous knight, that had left his injured paramour in the same manner, dries up her tears with a promise of relief.
· Disconsolate damsel, quoth he, 'a foul disgrace it were to all right-worthy professors of chivalry, if such a blot to knighthood should pass unchastised. Give me to know the abode of this recreant lover, and I will give him as a feast to the fowls of the air, or drag him bound before you at my horse's tail !
I am not ashamed to own myself a champion of distressed damsels, and would venture as far to relieve them as Don Bellianis; for which reason, I do invite this lady to let me know the name of the traitor who has deceived her; and do promise, not only her, but all the fair ones of Great Britain, who lie under the same calamity, to employ my righthand for their redress, and serve them to my
last drop of ink.