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No. 561. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30.
-Paulatim abolere Sichæum
Jampridem resides animos desuetaque corda. Virg.
I am a tall, broad-shouldered, impudent, black fellow, and, as I thought, every way qualified for a rich widow: but, after having tried my fortune for above three years together, I have not been able to get one single relict in the mind. My first attacks were generally successful, but always broke off as soon as they came to the word settlement. Though I have not improved my fortune this way, I have my experience, and have learnt several secrets which may be of use to those unhappy gentlemen, who are commonly distinguished by the name of widow-hunters, and who do not know that this tribe of women are, generally speaking, as much upon the catch as themselves. I shall here communicate to you
mysteries of a certain female cabal of this order, who call themselves The Widow club. This club consists of nine experienced dames, who take their places once a week round a large oval table.
" I. Mrs. President is a person who has disposed of six husbands, and is now determined to take a seventh'; being of opinion that there is as much virtue in the touch of a seventh husband as of a seventh son. Her comrades are as follow.
“II. Mrs. Snapp, who has four jointures, by four different bed-fellows, of four different shires. She is at present upon the point of marriage with a Middlesex man, and is said to have an ambition of extending her possessions through all the countries in England, on this side the Trent.
“III. Mrs. Medlar, who, after two husbands and a gallant, is now wedded to an old gentleman of sixty. Upon her making her report to the club, after a week's cohabitation, she is still allowed to sit as a widow, and accordingly takes her place at the board.
“ÎV. The widow Quick, married within a fortnight after the death of her last husband. Her weeds have served her thrice, and are still as good as new.
“V. Lady Catherine Swallow. She was a widow at
eighteen, and has since buried a second husband and two coachmen.
“ VI. The lady Waddle. She was married in the fifteenth year of her
age to Sir Simon Waddle, knight, aged threescore and twelve, by whom she had twins nine months after his decease. In the fifty-fifth year of her age, she was married to James Spindle, Esq., a youth of one and twenty, who did not outlive the honey-moon.
“ VII. Deborah Conquest. The case of this lady is something particular. She is the relict of Sir Sampson Conquest, some time justice of the quorum. Sir Sampson was seven foot high, and two foot in breadth, from the tip of one shoulder to the other. He had married three wives, who all of them died in childbed. This terrified the whole sex, who none of them durst venture on Sir Sampson. At length Mrs. Deborah undertook him, and gave so good an account of him, that in three years' time she very fairly laid him out, and measured his length upon the ground. This exploit has gained her so great a reputation in the club, that they have added Sir Sampson's three victories to hers, and gave her the merit of a fourth widowhood; and she takes her place accordingly.
« VIII. The widow Wildfire, relict of Mr. John Wildfire, fox-hunter, who broke his neck over a six-bar gate. She took his death so much to heart, that it was thought it would have put an end to her life, had she not diverted her sorrows by receiving the addresses of a gentleman in the neighbourhood, who made love to her in the second month of her widowhood. This gentleman was discarded in a fortnight, for the sake of a young Templar, who had the possession of her for six weeks after, till he was beaten out by a broken officer, who likewise gave up his place to a gentleman at court. The courtier was as short-lived a favourite as his predecessors, but had the pleasure to see himself succeeded by a long series of lovers, who followed the widow Wildfire to the thirty-seventh year of her age, at which time there ensued a cessation of ten years, when John Felt, haberdasher, took it in his head to be in love with her, and it is thought will very suddenly carry her off.
“IX. The last is pretty Mrs. Runnet, who broke her first husband's heart before she was sixteen, at which time she was entered of the club: but soon after left it, upon account of a second, whom she made so quick a despatch of,
that she returned to her seat in less than a twelvemonth. This
young matron is looked upon as the most rising member of the society, and will, probably, be in the president's chair before she dies.
" These ladies, upon their first institution, resolved to give the pictures of their deceased husbands to the club-room, but two of them bringing in their dead at full length, they covered all the walls : upon which they came to a second resolution, that every matron should give her own picture, and get it round with her husbands in miniature.
“As they have most of them the misfortune to be troubled with the cholic, they have a noble cellar of cordials and strong waters. When they grow maudlin, they are very apt to commemorate their former partners with a tear. But ask them which of their husbands they condole, they are not able to tell you, and discover plainly that they do not weep so much for the loss of a husband, as for the want of one.
“The principal rule, by which the whole society are to govern themselves, is this, to cry up the pleasures of a single life upon
all occasions, in order to deter the rest of their sex from marriage, and engross the whole world to themselves.
They are obliged, when any one makes love to a member of the society, to communicate his name, at which time the whole assembly sit upon his reputation, person, fortune, and good humour; and if they find him qualified for a sister of the club, they lay their heads together how to make him
By this means they are acquainted with all the widow-hunters about town, who often afford them great diversion. There is an honest Irish gentleman, it seems, who knows nothing of this society, but at different times has made love to the whole club.
“ Their conversation often turns upon their former husbands, and it is very diverting to hear them relate their arts and stratagems, with which they amused the jealous, pacified the choleric, or wheedled the good-natured man, until at last, to use the club phrase, “ They sent him out of the house with his heels foremost.'
“The politics which are most cultivated by this society of she-Machiavels, relate chiefly to these two points, How to treat a lover, and How to manage a husband. As for the first set of artifices, they are too numerous to come within the
of your paper, and shall therefore be reserved for a second letter. “ The management of a husband is built
the follow. ing doctrines, which are universally assented to by the whole club. Not to give him his head at first. Not to allow him too great freedoms and familiarities. Not to be treated by him like a raw girl, but as a woman that knows the world. Not to lessen anything of her former figure. To celebrate the generosity, or any other virtue, of a deceased husband, which she would recommend to his successor.
To turn away all his old friends and servants, that she may have the dear man to herself. To make him disinherit the undutiful children of any former wife. Never to be thoroughly convinced of his affection, until he has made over to her all his goods and chattels. “ After so long a letter, I am,
without more ceremony, “ Your humble servant,”' &c.
No. 562. FRIDAY, JULY 2.
-Præsens, absens ut sies. Ter. “It is a hard and nice subject for a man to speak of himself (says Cowley): it grates his own heart to say anything of disparagement, and the reader's ears to hear anything of praise from him."
Let the tenor of his discourse be what it will
, upon this subject, it generally proceeds from vanity. An ostentatious man will rather relate a blunder or an absurdity he has committed, than be debarred from talking of his own dear person.
Some very great writers have been guilty of this fault. It is observed of Tully in particular, that his works run very much in the first person, and that he takes all occasions of doing himself justice. “Does he think (says Brutus) that his consulship deserves more applause than my putting Cæsar to death, because I am not perpetually talking of the ides of March, as he is of the nones of December?” I need not acquaint my learned reader, that in the ides of March Brutus destroyed Cæsar, and that Cicero quashed the conspiracy of Catiline in the calends of December. How shocking soever this great man's talking of himself might have been to his contemporaries, I must confess I am never better pleased than when he is on this subject. Such openings of the heart give a man a thorough insight into his personal character, and illustrate several passages in the history of his life : besides, that there is some little pleasure in discovering the infirmity of a great man, and seeing how the opinion
1 After all the severity of this satire, it should be remembered, that the author ventured on a widow, the Countess of Warwick; who, to speak in the language of this letter, fairly laid him out, within the compass of four years : an exploit, for which her ladyship seems to have been well entitled to the chair of this society.
he has of himself agrees with what the world entertains of him.
The gentlemen of Port-Royal, who were more eminent for their learning and their humility than any other in France, banished the way of speaking in the first person out of all their works, as arising from vain-glory and self-conceit. To show their particular aversion to it, they branded this form of writing with the name of an egotism ; a figure not to be found among the ancient rhetoricians.
The most violent egotism which I have met with in the course of my reading, is that of Cardinal Wolsey, Ego et rex meus, “Ỉ and my king;
as perhaps the most eminent egotist that ever appeared in the world, was Montagne, the author of the celebrated Essays. This lively old Gascon has woven all his bodily infirmities into his works, and after having spoken of the faults or virtues of any other man, immediately publishes to the world how it stands with himself in that particular. Had he kept his own counsel, he might have passed for a much better man, though, perhaps, he would not have been so diverting an author. The title of an essay promises, perhaps, a discourse upon Virgil or Julius Cæsar; but when you look into it, you are sure to meet with more upon
Monsieur Montagne than either of them. The younger Scaliger, who seems to have been no great friend to this author, after having acquainted the world that his father sold herrings, adds these words ; La grande fadaise de Mon
Such openings of the heart give a man a thorough insight into his personal character—without doubt: and he might have said-raise one's ideas of it, when the writer or speaker has such a heart to lay open as Cicero had.