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Park, I heard somebody at a distance hemming after me: and who should it be but my old neighbour the upholsterer. I saw he was reduced to extreme poverty, by certain shabby superfluities in his dress : for, notwithstanding that it was a very sultry day for the time of year, he wore a loose great coat and a muff, with a long campaign-wig out of curl ; to which he had added the ornament of a pair of black garters buckled under the knee. Upon his coming up to me, I was going to inquire into his present circumstances; but was prevented by his asking me, with a whisper, 'Whether the last letters brought any accounts that one might rely upon from Bender ?' I told him, “None that I heard of;' and asked him, “Whether he had yet married his eldest daughter ?' He told me ‘No. But pray,' says he, 'tell me sincerely, what are your thoughts of the king of Sweden ?' (for though his wife and children were starving, I found his chief concern at present was for this great monarch). I told him, 'that I looked upon him as one of the first heroes of the age. “But pray,' says he, do you think there is anything in the story of his wound?' and finding me surprised at the question, 'Nay,' says he, 'I only propose it to you.' I answered, that I thought there was no reason to doubt it.' 'But why in the heel,' says he, 'more than in any other part of the body?' 'Because,' says I, 'the bullet chanced to light there.
This extraordinary dialogue was no sooner ended, but he began to launch out into a long dissertation upon the affairs of the North; and after having spent some time on them, he told me, he was in a great perplexity how to reconcile the Supplement with the
English Post, and had been just now examining what the other papers say upon the same subject. “The Daily Courant' (says he) has these words, 'We have advices from very good hands, that a certain prince has some matters of great importance under consideration. This is very mysterious ; but the Postboy leaves us more in the dark, for he tells us, ' That there are private intimations of measures taken by a certain prince, which time will bring to light.' Now the Postman, (says he,) who used to be very clear, refers to the same news in these words ; “The late conduct of a certain prince affords great matter of speculation.' This certain prince, (says the upholsterer,) whom they are all so cautious of naming, I take to be upon which, though there was nobody near us, he whispered something in my ear, which I did not hear, or think worth my while to make him repeat.
We were now got to the upper end of the Mall, where were three or four very odd fellows sitting together upon the bench. These I found were all of them politicians, who used to sun themselves in that place every day about dinner-time. Observing them to be curiosities in their kind, and my friend's acquaintance, I sat down among them.
The chief politician of the bench was a great assertor of paradoxes. He told us, with a seeming concern, that by some news he had lately read from Muscovy, it appeared to him that there was a storm gathering in the Black Sea, which might in time do hurt to the naval forces of this nation. To this he added, that for his part, he could not wish to see the Turk driven out of Europe, which he believed could not but be
prejudicial to our woollen manufacture. He then told us, that he looked upon those extraordinary revolutions which had lately happened in these parts of the world, to have risen chiefly from two persons who were not much talked of; and those, says he, are Prince Menzikoff, and the Duchess of Mirandola. He backed his assertions with so many broken hints, and such a show of depth and wisdom, that we gave ourselves up to his opinions.
The discourse at length fell upon a point which seldom escapes a knot of true-born Englishmen, whether in case of a religious war, the Protestants would not be too strong for the Papists? This we unanimously determined on the Protestant side. One who sat on my right hand, and, as I found by his discourse, had been in the West Indies, assured us, that it would be a very easy matter for the Protestants to beat the pope at sea ; and added, that whenever such a war does break out, it must turn to the good of the Leeward Islands. Upon this, one who sat at the end of the bench, and, as I afterwards found, was the geographer of the company, said, that in case the Papists should drive the Protestants from these parts of Europe, when the worst came to the worst, it would be impossible to beat them out of Norway and Greenland, provided the northern crowns hold together, and the Czar of Muscovy stand neuter.
He further told us for our comfort, that there were vast tracts of lands about the pole, inhabited neither by Protestants nor Papists, and of greater extent than all the Roman Catholic dominions in Europe.
When we had fully discussed this point, my friend the upholsterer began to exert himself upon the pre
sent negotiations of peace, in which he deposed princes, settled the bounds of kingdoms, and balanced the power of Europe, with great justice and impartiality.
I at length took my leave of the company, going away ; but had not been gone thirty yards, before the upholsterer hemmed again after me. Upon his advancing towards me, with a whisper, I expected to hear some secret piece of news, which he had not thought fit to communicate to the bench ; but instead of that, he desired me in my ear to lend him half-a
In compassion to so needy a statesman, and to dissipate the confusion I found he was in, I told him, if he pleased, I would give him five shillings, to receive five pounds of him when the Great Turk was driven out of Constantinople ; which he very readily accepted, but not before he had laid down to me the impossibility of such an event, as the affairs of Europe · now stand.
This paper I design for the particular benefit of those worthy citizens who live more in a coffee-house than in their shops, and whose thoughts are so taken up with the affairs of the allies, that they forget their customers
A Visit from the Upholsterer.
A COMMON civility to an impertinent fellow, often draws upon one a great many unforeseen troubles ; and if one doth not take particular care, will be interpreted by him as an overture of friendship and intimacy. This I was very sensible of this morning. About two hours before day, I heard a great rapping at my door, which continued some time, till my maid could get herself ready to go down and see what was the occasion of it. She then brought me up word, that there was a gentleman who seemed very much in haste, and said he must needs speak with me. By the description she gave me of him, and by his voice, which I could hear as I lay in my bed, I fancied him to be my old acquaintance the upholsterer, whom I met the other day in St. James's Park. For which reason I bid her tell the gentleman, whoever he was, that I was indisposed, that I could see nobody, and that, if he had anything to say to me, I desired he would leave it in writing. My maid, after having delivered her message, told me, that the gentleman said he would stay at the next coffee-house till I was stirring, and bid her be sure to tell me, that the French were driven from the Scarp, and that the Douay was invested. He gave her the name of another town, which I found she had dropped by