« ПредишнаНапред »
formed that Mr. Wilson had a country lodging to which he was supposed to retire almost every evening since his disagreement with his wife: but in fact, it was to his house near St. James's that he constantly went. He had indeed hired the lodge ings above mentioned, but from another motive than merely to shun his wife. The occasion was this:
As he was sauntering one day through the birdcage
walk in the park, he saw a young woman sitting alone upon one of the benches, who, though, plainly, was neatly dressed, and whose air and manner distinguished her from the lower class of
He drew nearer to her without being perceived, and saw in her countenance, which innocence and beauty adorned, the most composed melancholy that can be imagined. He stood looking at her for some time ; which she at last perceiving, started from her seat in some confusion, and endeavoured to avoid him. The fear of losing her gave him courage to speak to her. He begged pardon for disturbing her, and excused his curiosity by her extreme beauty, and the melancholy that was mixed with it.
It is observed by a very wise author whose name and book I forget, that a woman's heart is never so brim-full of affliction, but a little flattery will insinuate itself into a corner of it; and as Wilson, was a handsome fellow, with an easy address, the lady was soon persuaded to replace herself upon the bench, and to admit him at her side. Wilson who was really heart-struck, made her a thousand protestations of esteem and friendship; conjuring her to tell him if his fortune or services could con. tribute to her happiness, and vowing never to leave her, till she made him acquianted with the cause of her concern.
Here a short pause ensued; and after a deep sigh and a stream of tears, the lady began thus :
• If, sir, you are the gentleman your appearance speaks you to be, I shall thank Heaven that I have found you. I am the unfortunate widow of an officer who was killed at Dettingen. As he was only a lieutenant, and his commission all his fortune, I married him against a mother's consent, for which she has disclaimed me. How I loved him, or he me, as he was gone for ever from me, I shall forbear to mention, though I am unable to forget. At my return to England, for I was the constant follower of his fortunes, I obtained, with some difficulty, the allowance of a subaltern's widow, and took lodgings at Chelsea.
• In this retirement I wrote to my mother, acquainting her with my loss and poverty, and desiring her forgiveness for my disobedience; but the cruel answer I received from her determined me, at all events, not to trouble her again.
• I lived upon this slender allowance with all imaginable thrift, till an old officer, a friend of my husband, discovered me at church, and made me a visit. To this gentleman's bounty I have long been indebted for an annuity of twenty pounds, in quarterly payments. As he was punctual in these payments, which were always made me the morning they came due, and yesterday being quarter-day, I wondered I neither saw him nor heard from him. Early this morning I walked from Chelsea to inquire for him at his lodgings in Pall-mall; but how shall I tell you, sir, the news I learnt there ?—This friend ! this generous and disinterested friend! was killed yesterday in a duel in Hyde-park.' She stopt here to give vent to a torrent of tears, and then proceeded. I was so stunned at this intelligence that I knew not whither to go: Chance more than choice brought me to this place ; where if I have found a benefactor--and indeed, sir, I have need of one- - I shall call it the happiest accident of my life.'
The widow ended her story, which was literally true, in so engaging and interesting a manner that Wilson was gone an age in love in a few minutes. He thanked her for the confidence she had placed in him, and swore never to desert her. He then requested the honour of attending her home, to which she readily consented, walking with him to Buckingham-gate, where a coach was called, which conveyed them to Chelsea. Wilson dined with her that day, and took lodgings in the same house, calling himself Roberts, and a single man. These were the lodgings I have mentioned before; where, by unbounded generosity and constant assiduities, he triumphed in a few weeks over the honour of this fair widow.
I shall stop a moment here, to caution those virtuous widows who are my readers, against too hasty a disbelief of this event. If they please to consider the situation of this lady, with poverty to alarm, gratitude to incite, and a handsome fellow to inflame, they will allow that in a world near six thousand years old, one such instance of frailty, even in a young and beautiful widow, may possibly have happened. But to go on with my story.
The effects of this intimacy were soon visible in the lady's shape; a circumstance that greatly added to the happiness of Wilson. He determined to remove her to town; and accordingly took the house near St. James's, where Mrs.
Wilson had seen him enter, and where his mistress, who passed in the neighbourhood for his wife, at that time lay-in.
No. 5. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1753.
[CONCLUSION OF THE STORY OF MRS. WILSON.]
I RETURN now to Mrs. Wilson, whom we left in a hackney.coach, going to her own house, in all the misery of despair and jealousy. It was happy for her that her constitution was good, and her resolution equal to it; for she has often told me that she passed the night of that day in a condition little better than madness.
In the morning her husband returned ; and as his heart was happy, and without suspicions of a discovery, he was more than usually complaisant to her. She received his civilities with her accustomed cheerfulness; and finding that business would detain him in the city for some hours, she determined, whatever distress it might occasion her, to pay an immediate visit to his mistress, and to wait there till she saw him. For this purpose she ordered a coach to be called, and in her handsomest undress, and with the most composed countenance, she drove directly to the house. She inquired at the door if Mr. Roberts was within ; and being answered no, but that he dined at home, she asked after his lady, and if she was well enough to see company; adding, that as she came a great way, and had business with Mr. Roberts, she should be glad to wait for him in his lady's apartment. The servant ran immediately up stairs, and as quickly returned with a message from his mistres, that she would be glad to see her.
Mrs. Wilson confesses that at this moment, notwithstanding the resolution she had taken, her spirits totally forsook her, and that she followed the servant with her knees knocking together, and a face paler than death. She entered the room where the lady was sitting, without remembering on what errand she came; but the sight of so much beauty, and the elegance that adorned it, brought every thing to her thoughts, and left her with no other power than to Aling herself into a chair, from which she instantly fell to the ground in a fainting fit.
The whole house was alarmed upon this occasion, and every one busied in assisting the stranger; but most of all the mistress, who was indeed of a humane disposition, and who, perhaps, had other thoughts to disturb her than the mere feelings of humanity. In a few minutes, however, and with the proper applications, Mrs. Wilson began to re
She looked round her with amazement at first, not recollecting where she was; but seeing herself supported by her rival, to whose care she was so much obliged, and who, in the tenderest distress was inquiring how she did, she felt herself relapsing into a second fit. It was now that she exerted all the courage she was mistress of, which, together with a flood of tears that came to her relief, enabled her when the servants were withdrawn to begin as follows.
I am indeed, madam, an unfortunate woman, and subject to these fits; but will never again be the occasion of trouble in this house. You are a lovely woman, and deserve to be happy in the best of husbands. I have a husband too; but his affections are gone
He is not unknown to Mr. Roberts, though unfortunately I am. It was for his advice and assistance that I made this visit; and not finding him at home, I begged admittance