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to his lady, whom I longed to see and to converse with.' 'Me, madam!' answered Mrs. Roberts, with some emotion, had you heard any thing of me?' That you were such as I have found you, madam', replied the stranger, and had made Mr. Roberts happy in a fine boy. May I see him, madam? I shall love him for his father's sake.' His father, madam!' returned the mistress of the house, 'his father did you say? I am mistaken then; I thought you had been a stranger to him.'To his person, I own' said Mrs. Wilson, but not to his character; and therefore I shall be fond of the little creature. If it is not too much trouble, madam, I beg to be obliged.'
The importunity of this request, the fainting at first, and the settled concern of this unknown visitor, gave Mrs. Roberts the most alarming fears. She had, however, the presence of mind to go herself for the child, and to watch without witnesses the behaviour of the stranger. Mrs. Wilson took it in her arms, and bursting into tears, said, ''Tis a sweet boy, madam; would I had such a boy! Had he been mine, I had been happy!' With these words, and in an agony of grief and tenderness, which she endeavoured to restrain, she kissed the child, and returned it to its mother.
It was happy for that lady that she had an excuse to leave the room. She had seen and heard what made her shudder for herself; and it was not till some minutes, after having delivered the infant to its nurse, that she had resolution enough to return. They both seated themselves again, and a melancholy silence followed for some time. At last Mrs. Roberts began thus.
You are unhappy, madam, that you have no child; I pray Heaven that mine be not a grief to me. But I conjure you, by the goodness that appears in
you, to acquaint me with your story. Perhaps it concerns me; I have a prophetic heart that tells me it does. But whatever I may suffer, or whether I live or die, I will be just to you.'
Mrs. Wilson was so affected with this generosity, that she possibly had discovered herself, if a loud knocking at the door, and immediately after it the entrance of her husband into the room, had not prevented her. He was moving towards his mistress with the utmost cheerfulness, when the sight of her visitor fixed him to a spot, and struck him with an astonishment not to be described. The eyes of both ladies were at once rivetted to his, which so increased his confusion, that Mrs. Wilson, in pity to what he felt, and to relieve her companion, spoke to him as follows: I do not wonder, sir, that you are surprised at seeing a perfect stranger in your house; but my business is with the master of it; and if you will oblige me with a hearing in another room, it will add to the civilities which your lady has entertained me with.'
Wilson, who expected another kind of greeting from his wife, was so revived at her prudence, that his powers of motion began to return; and quitting the room, he conducted her to a parlour below stairs. They were no sooner entered into this parlour, than the husband threw himself into a chair, fixing his eyes upon the ground, while the wife addressed him in these words.
'How I have discovered your secret, or how the discovery has tormented me, I need not tell you. It is enough for you to know that I am miserable for ever. My business with you is short; I have only a question to ask, and to take a final leave of you in this world. Tell me truly then, as you shall answer it hereafter, if you have seduced this lady under false appearances, or have fallen into guilt
by the temptations of a wanton?' 'I shall answer you presently,' said Wilson; but first I have a question for you. Am I discovered to her? And does she know it is my wife I am now speaking to?' 'No, upon my honour,' she replied; her looks were so amiable, and her behaviour to me so gentle, that I had no heart to distress her. If she has guessed at what I am, it was only from the concern she saw me in, which I could not hide from her.' You have acted nobly then, returned Wilson, and have opened my eyes at last to see and to admire you. And now, if you have patience to hear me, you shall know all.
He then told her of his first meeting with this lady, and of every circumstance that had happened since; concluding with his determinations to leave her, and with a thousand promises of fidelity to his wife, if she generously consented, after what had happened, to receive him as a husband.'She must consent,' cried Mrs. Roberts, who at that moment opened the door, and burst into the room;
she must consent. You are her husband, and may command it. For me, madam,' continued she, turning to Mrs. Wilson, he shall never see me more. I have injured you through ignorance, but will atone for it to the utmost. He is your husband, madam, and you must receive him. I have listened to what has passed, and am now here to join my entreaties with his, that you may be happy
To relate all that was said upon this occasion would be to extend my story to another paper. Wilson was all submission and acknowledgment; the wife cried and doubted, and the widow vowed an eternal separation. To be as short as possible, the harmony of the married couple was fixed from that day. The widow was handsomely provided for, and
her child, at the request of Mrs. Wilson, taken home to her own house; where at the end of a year she was so happy, after all her distresses, as to present him with a sister, with whom he is to divide his father's fortune. His mother retired into the country, and, two years after, was married to a gentleman of great worth; to whom, on his first proposals to her, she related every circumstance of her story. The boy pays her a visit every year, and is now with his sister upon one of these visits. Mr. Wilson is perfectly happy in his wife, and has sent me, in his own hand, this moral to his story:
That though prudence and generosity may not always be sufficient to hold the heart of a husband, yet a constant perseverance in them will, one time or other, most certainly regain it.'
No. 6. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1753.
Totum mundum agit histrio.
TO MR. FITZ-ADAM.
"As you have chosen the whole world for your province, one may reasonably suppose, that you will not neglect that epitome of it, the theatre. Most of your predecessors have bestowed their favourite pains upon it: the learned and the critics, generally two very distinct denominations of men, have employed many hours and much paper in comparing the ancient and modern stage. I shall not undertake to decide a question which seems to me so im
possible to be determined, as which have most merit, plays written in a dead language, and which we can only read; or such as we every day see acted inimitably, in a tongue familiar to us, and adapted to our common ideas and customs. The only preference that I shall pretend to give to the modern stage over Greece and Rome, relates to the subject of the present letter: I mean the daily progress we make towards nature. This will startle any bigot to Euripides, who perhaps will immediately demand, whether Juliet's nurse be a more natural gossip than Electra's or Medea's. But I did not hint at the representation of either persons or characters. The improvement of nature, which I had in view, alluded to those excellent exhibitions of the animal or inanimate parts of the creation, which are furnished by the worthy philosophers Rich and Garrick; the latter of whom has refined on his competitor; and having perceived that art was become so perfect that it was necessary to mimic it by nature, he has happily introduced a cascade of real water.
"I know there are persons of a systematic turn, who affirm that the audience are not delighted with this beautiful water-fall, from the reality of the element, but merely because they are pleased with the novelty of any thing that is out of its proper place. Thus they tell you that the town is charmed with a genuine cascade upon the stage, and was in raptures last year with one of tin at Vauxhall. But this is certainly prejudice: the world, Mr. Fitz-Adam, though never sated with show, is sick of fiction. I foresee the time approaching, when delusion will not be suffered in any part of the drama: the inimitable Serpent in Orpheus and Eurydice, and the amorous Ostrich in the Sorcerer, shall be replaced by real monsters from Afric. It is well known that the pantomime of the Genii narrowly escaped being