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thousand pounds a year upon the exchange of London.
"I rejoiced heartily at this news, and took the first opportunity of paying my congratulations upon so happy an occasion. As I was drest for this visit in very clean canonicals, my friend, who, possibly, had connected the idea of a good living with a good cassock, received me with the utmost complaisance and good-humour; and after having testified his joy at seeing me, desired to be informed of my fortune and preferment. I gave him a particular account of all that had happened to me since our separation; and concluded with a very blunt request, that he would lend me fifty guineas to pay my debts with, and to make me the happiest curatewithin the bills of mortality.
"As there was something curious in my friend's answer to this request, I shall give it to you word for word, as near as I can remember it; marking the whole speech in italics, that my own interruptions may not be mistaken.
"Fifty guineas! And so you have run yourself in debt fifty-two pounds ten shillings! Within a very trifle, sir. Ay, ay, I mean so. Fifty guineas is the sum you want; and perhaps you would think it hard if I refused lending it. I should indeed. I knew you would. Let me see (going to the escritoire). Can you change me a hundred pound note? Who I, sir? you surprize me. Here John! (enters John) get change for a hundred pound note: I want to lend this gentleman some money-Or-no, no; I shan't want you (Exit John). I believe I have forty guineas in my pocket. You may get the other ten somewhere else. One, two, three-Ay, there are just forty guineas. And pray, sir, when do you intend to pay me? I had rather be excused, sir, from taking any; I did not expect to be so
mortified. Extravagance, sir, is the sure road to mortification. I must deal plainly with you. He that lends his money has a right to deal plainly. You began the world with about two thousand pounds in your pocket. Seventeen hundred, sir. And these seventeen hundred pounds, I think, lasted you about five years. True, sir. Five times three are fifteen. Ay, you lived at the rate of about three hundred and fifty pounds a year. After this, as you tell me yourself, you turned curate; and because forty pounds a year was an immense sum, you very prudently fell in love and married a beggar. Do you think, sir, that if I had intended to marry a beggar, I should have spent my fortune as I did? No, sir; I married a woman of fortune, great fortune; and so might you-What hindered you? But I say nothing against your wife. I hope you are both heartily sorry that you ever saw one another's faces. Are your children boys or girls? Girls, sir. And I suppose I am to portion them? But I must tell you once for all, sir, that this is the last sum you must expect from Me. I have proportioned my expences to my estate, and will not be made uneasy by the extravagance of any man living. I have two thousand a year, and I spend two thousand. If you have but forty, I see no occasion for your spending more than forty. I have a sincere regard for you, and I think my actions have proved it; but a gentleman who knows you very well, told me yesterday, that you were an expensive, thoughtless, extravagant, young fellow.
"I know not to what length my friend would have extended his harangue; but as I had already heard enough, I laid the forty guineas upon the table, and, like lady Townly in the play, taking a great gulp, and swallowing a wrong word or two, left the room without speaking a syllable.
"I have now laid aside my tragedy, and am writing a comedy, called The Friend. I do not know that I have wit enough for such a performance; but if it be damned, it is no more than the author, though a parson, will consent to be, if ever he makes a second attempt to borrow money of a friend.
"Your taking proper notice of this letter will oblige
"Your humble servant and admirer,
To gratify my correspondent, I have published his letter in the manner I received it. But I must entreat the next time I have the favour of hearing from him, that he will contrive to be a little more new in his subject: for I am fully persuaded, that ninety-nine out of every hundred, as well clergy as laity, who have borrowed money of their friends, have been treated exactly in the same manner.
No. 4. THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 1753.
To the entertainment of my fair readers, and to recommend to them an old fashioned virtue, called prudence, I shall devote this and the following paper. If the story I am going to tell them should deserve their approbation, they are to thank the husband and wife from whom I had it; and who are desirous, this day, of being the readers of their own adventures.
An eminent merchant in the city, whose real name I shall conceal under that of Wilson, was
married to a lady of considerable fortune and more merit. They lived happily together for some years, with nothing to disturb them but the want of children. The husband, who saw himself richer every day, grew impatient for an heir; and as time rather lessened than increased the hopes of one, he became by degrees indifferent, and at last averse to his wife. This change in his affection was the heaviest affliction to her; yet so gentle was her disposition, that she reproached him only with her tears; and seldom with those, but when upbraidings and ill-usage made her unable to restrain them.
It is a maxim with some married philosophers, that the tears of a wife are apt to wash away pity from the heart of a husband. Mr. Wilson will pardon me if I rank him, at that time, among these philosophers. He had lately hired a lodging in the country, at a small distance from town, whither he usually retired in the evening, to avoid, as he called it, the persecutions of his wife.
In this cruel separation, and without complaint, she passed away a twelvemonth; seldom seeing him but when business required his attendance at home, and never sleeping with him. At the end of which time, however, his behaviour, in appearance, grew kinder; he saw her oftener, and began to speak to her with tenderness and compassion.
One morning, after he had taken an obliging leave of her, to pass the day at his country lodging, she paid a visit to a friend at the other end of the town; and stopping in her way home at a thread-shop in a bye-street near St. James's, she saw Mr. Wilson crossing the way, and afterwards knocking at the door of a genteel house over against her, which was opened by a servant in livery, and immediately shut, without a word being spoken. As the manner of his entrance, and her not knowing he had
an acquaintance in that street, a little alarmed her, she inquired of the shop-woman if she knew the gentleman who lived in the opposite house. 'You have just seen him go in, madam,' replied the woman. 'His name is Roberts, and a mighty good gentleman, they say, he is. His lady' - -At those words Mrs. Wilson changed colour, and interrupting her His lady, madam!-I thought that- -Will you give me a glass of water? This walk has so tired me-- -Pray give me a glass of water--I am quite faint with fatigue.' The good woman of the shop ran herself for the water, and by the additional help of some hartshorn that was at hand, Mrs. Wilson became, in appearance, tolerably composed. She then looked over the threads she wanted, and having desired a coach might be sent for,' I believe,' said she, you were quite frightened to see me look so pale; but I had walked a great way, and should certainly have fainted if I had not stepped into your shop.-But you were talking of the gentleman over the way— I fancied I knew him; but his name is Roberts, you say. Is he a married man, pray?' The happiest in the world, madam, returned the threadwoman, he is wonderfully fond of children, and to his great joy his lady is now lying-in of her first child, which is to be christened this evening; and as fine a boy, they say it is, as ever was 'seen.' At this moment, and as good fortune would have it, for the saving a second dose of hartshorn, the coach that was sent for came to the door: into which Mrs. Wilson immediately stept, after hesitating an apology for the trouble she had given; and in which coach we shall leave her to return home, in an agony of grief which herself has told me she was never able to describe.
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