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As much as I love to be informed of the success of my brave countrymen, I do not care for hearing of a victory before day, and was therefore very much out of humour at this unseasonable visit. I had no sooner recovered my temper, and was falling asleep, but I was immediately startled by a second 'rap; and upon my maid's opening the door, heard the same voice ask her, if her master was yet up? and at the same time bid her tell me, that he was come on purpose to talk with me about a piece of home-news that everybody in town will be full of two hours hence. I ordered my maid, as soon as she came into the room, without hearing her message, to tell the gentleman, that whatever his news was, I would rather hear it two hours hence than now; and that I persisted in my resolution not to speak with anybody that morning. The wench delivered my answer presently, and shut the door. It was impossible for me to compose myself to sleep after two such unexpected alarms; for which reason I put on my clothes in a very peevish humour. I took several turns about my chamber, reflecting with a great deal of anger and contempt on these volunteers in politics, that undergo all the pain, watchfulness, and disquiet of a first minister, without turning it to the advantage either of themselves or their country; and yet it is surprising to consider how numerous this species of men is. There is nothing more frequent than to find a tailor breaking his rest on the affairs of Europe, and to see a cluster of porters sitting upon the ministry. Our streets swarm with politicians, and there is scarce a shop which is not held by a statesman. As I was musing after this manner, I heard the upholsterer at the
door delivering a letter to my maid, and begging her, in very great hurry, to give it to her master as soon as ever he was awake, which I opened and found as follows: "MR. BICKERSTAFFE,
I was to wait upon you about a week ago, to let you know, that the honest gentleman whom you conversed with upon the bench at the end of the Mall, having heard that I had received five shillings of you, to give you a hundred pounds upon the Great Turk's being driven out of Europe, desired me to acqaint you, that every one of that company would be willing to receive five shillings, to pay a hundred pounds on the same conditions. Our last advices fron Muscovy making this a fairer bet than it was a week ago, I do not question but you will accept the wager.
But this is not my present business. If you remember, I whispered a word in your ear as we were walking up the Mall, and you see what has happened since. If I had seen you this morning, I would have told you in your ear another secret. I hope you will be recovered of your indisposition by to-morrow morning, when I will wait on you at the same hour as I did this; my private circumstances being such, that I cannot well appear in this quarter of the town after it is day
I have been so taken up with the late good news from Holland, and the expectation of further particulars, as well as with other transactions, of which I will tell you more to-morrow morning, that I have not slept a wink these three nights.
I have reason to believe, that Picardy will soon follow the example of Artois, in case the enemy continue in their present resolution of flying away from us. I think I told you last time we were together my opinion about the Deulle.
The honest gentlemen upon the bench bid me tell you, they would be glad to see you often among
them. We shall be there all the warm hours of the day during the present posture of affairs.
This happy opening of the campaign, will, I hope, give us a very joyful summer ; and I propose to také many a pleasant walk with you, if you will sometimes come into the Park; for that is the only place in which I can be free from the malice of my enemies. Farewell till three-a-clock to-morrow morning.
Your most humble servant, &c. 'P.S. The king of Sweden is still at Bender.'
I should have fretted myself to death at this promise of a second visit, if I had not found in his letter an intimation of the good news which I have since heard at large. I have, however, ordered my maid to tie up the ocker of my door, in such a manner as she would do if I were really indisposed. By which means I hope to escape breaking my morning's rest.
The Fortune Hunter.
I am amazed that, among all the variety of characters with which you have enriched your speculations, you have never given us a picture of those audacious young fellows among us, who commonly go by the name of fortune-stealers. You must know, sir, I am one who live in a continual apprehension of this sort of people, that lie in wait, day and night, for our children, and may be considered as a kind of kidnappers within the law. I am the father of a young heiress, whom I begin to look upon as marriageable, and who has looked upon herself as such for above these six years. She is now in the eighteenth year of her age. The fortune-hunters have already cast their eyes upon her, and take care to plant themselves in her view whenever she appears in any public assembly. I have myself caught a young jack-a-napes, with a pair of silver fringed gloves, in the very fact. You must know, sir, I have kept her as a prisoner of state ever since she was in her teens. Her chamber windows are cross-barred, she is not permitted to go out of the house but with her keeper, who is a stayed relation of my own; I have likewise forbid her the use of pen and ink for this twelve months last past, and do not suffer a band-box to be carried into her room before it has been searched. Notwithstanding these precautions, I am at my wits' end for fear of any sudden surprise. There were, two or three nights ago, some fiddles heard in the street, which I am afraid portend me no good; not to mention a tall Irishman, that has been walking before my house more than once this winter. My kinswoman likewise informs
me, that the girl has talked to her twice or thrice of a gentleman in a fair wig, and that she loves to go to church more than ever she did in her life. She gave me the slip about a week ago, upon which my whole house was in alarm. I immediately despatched a hue and cry after her to the 'Change, to her mantuamaker, and to the young ladies that visit her ; but after above an hour's search she returned of herself, having been taking a walk, as she told me, by Rosamond's pond. I have hereupon turned off her woman, doubled her guards, and given new instructions to my relation, who, to give her her due, keeps a watchful eye over all her motions. This, sir, keeps me in a perpetual anxiety, and makes me very often watch when my daughter sleeps, as I am afraid she is even with me in her turn. Now, sir, what I would desire of you is, to represent to this fluttering tribe of young fellows, who are for making their fortunes by these indirect means, that stealing a man's daughter for the sake of her portion, is but a kind of tolerated robbery; and that they make but a poor amends to the father, whom they plunder after this manner, by going to bed with his child.
Dear sir, be speedy in your thoughts on this subject, that, if possible, they may appear before the disbanding of
Your most humble servant,
Themistocles, the great Athenian general, being asked whether he would choose to marry his daughter to an indigent man of merit, or to a worthless man of an estate, replied, that he would prefer a man without an estate, to an estate without a man. The worst of it is our modern fortune-hunters are those who turn their heads that way, because they are good for nothing else. If a young fellow finds he can make nothing