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N° 210. SATURDAY, AUGUST 12, 1710.
Sheer-lane, August 10. I DID myself the honour this day to make a visit to a lady of quality, who is one of those that are ever railing at the vices of the age ; but mean only one vice, because it is the only vice they are not guilty of. She went so far as to fall foul on a young woman who has had imputations ; but whether they were just or not, no one knows but herself. However that is, she is in her present behaviour modest, humble, pious, and discreet. I thought it became me to bring this censorious lady to reason, and let her see she was a much more vicious woman than the person she spoke of. Madam,” said I, “
you are very severe to this poor young woman, for a trespass which I believe Heaven has forgiven her, and for which, you see, she is for ever out of countenance."
Nay, Mr. Bickerstaff,” she interrupted, “ if you at this time of day contradict people of virtue, and stand up for ill women". No, no, Madam,” said I, « not so fast; she is reclaimed, and I fear you never will
be. Nay, nay, Madam, do not be in a passion; but let me tell you what you are. You are indeed as good as your neighbours ; but that is being very bad. You are a woman at the head of a family, and lead a perfect town-lady's life. You go on your own way, and consult nothing but your glass. What imperfections indeed you see there, you immediately mend as fast as you can. You
do the same by the faults I tell you of; for they are much more in your power to correct.
“ You are to know then, that your visiting ladies, that carry your virtue from house to house with so much prattle in each other's applause, and triumph over other people's faults, I grant you, have but the speculation of vice in your own conversations ; but promote the practice of it in all others
have to do with. “ As for you, madam, your
time passes away
in dressing, eating, sleeping, and praying. When you rise in a morning, I grant you an hour spent very well ; but you come out to dress in so froward an humour, that the poor girl, who attends you,
very being in that she is your servant, for the peevish things you say to her. When this poor creature is put into a way, that good or evil are regarded but as they relieve her from the hours she has and must pass with you;
the next you
have to do with is your coachman and footmen. They convey your ladyship to church.
While you are praying there, they are cursing, swearing, and drinking in an ale-house. During the time also which your ladyship sets apart for Heaven, you are to know, that your cook is sweating and fretting in preparation for your dinner. Soon after your meal you make visits, and the whole world that belongs to you speaks all the ill of
which repeating of others. You see, Madam, whatever
way you go, all about you are in a very
broad one. The morality of these people it is your proper business to inquire into ; and until you reform them you had best let your equals alone; otherwise, if I allow you are not vitious, you must allow me you are not virtuous,”
I took my leave, and received at my coming home the following letter :
“ MR. BICKERSTAFF, “ I have lived a pure and undefiled virgin these twenty-seven years; and I assure you, it is with great grief and sorrow of heart I tell you, that I become weary and impatient of the derision of the gigglers of our sex; who call me old maid, and tell me, I shall lead
apes. If you are truly a patron of the distressed, and an adept in astrology, you will advise whether I shall, or ought to be prevailed upon by the impertinences of my own sex, to give way to the importunities of yours. I assure you, I am surrounded with both, though at present a forlorn.
I am, &c.”
I must defer my answer to this lady out of a point of chronology. She says, she has been twenty-seven years a maid ; but I fear, according to a common error, she dates her virginity from her birth, which is a very erroneous method ; for a woman of twenty is no more to be thought chaste so many years than a man of that age can be said to have been so long valiant. We must not allow people the favour of a virtue, until they have been under the temptation to the contrary. A woman is not a maid until her birth-day, as we call it, of her fifteenth year. My plaintiff is therefore desired to inform me, whether she is at present in her twenty-eighth or fortythird year, and she shall be dispatched accordingly. St. James's Coffee-house, August 11. A merchant came hither this morning, and read a letter from a correspondent of his at Milan. It was dated the 7th instant, N. S. The following is an abstract of it. On the 25th of the last month, five thousand men were on their march in the Lampourdan, under the command of general Wesell, having received orders from his Catholic majesty to join him in his camp with all possible expedition. The duke of Anjou soon had intelligence of their motion, and took a resolution to decamp in order to intercept them, within a day's march of our army. The king of Spain was apprehensive the enemy might make such a movement, and commanded general Stanhope with a body of horse, consisting of fourteen squadrons, to observe their course and prevent their passage over the rivers Segra and Noguera, between Lerida and Balaguer. It happened to be the first day that officer had appeared abroad after a dangerous and violent fever ; but he received the king's commands on this occasion with a joy which surmounted his present weakness, and on the 27th of last month came up with the enemy on the plains of Balaguer. The duke of Anjou's rear-guard consisting of twentysix squadrons, that general sent intelligence of their posture to the king, and desired his majesty's orders to attack them. During the time which he waited for his instructions, he made his disposition for the charge, which was to divide themselves into three bodies; one to be commanded by himself in the centre, a body on the right by count Maurice of Nassau, and the third on the left by the earl, of Rochford. Upon the receipt of his majesty's direction to attack the enemy, the general himself charged with the utmost vigour and resolution,
while the earl of Rochford and count Maurice extended themselves on his right and left, to prevent the advantage the enemy might make of the superiority of their numbers. What appears to have misled the enemy's general in this affair was, that it was not supposed practicable that the confederates would attack him till they had received a reinforcement. For this reason he pursued his march without facing about, till we were actually coming on to engagement. General Stanhope's disposition made it impracticable to do it at that time ; count Maurice and the earl of Rochford attacking them in the instant in which they were forming themselves. The charge was made with the greatest gallantry, and the enemy very soon put into so great disorder, that their whole cavalry were commanded to support their rear-guard. Upon the advance of this reinforcement, all the horse of the king of Spain were come up to sustain general Stanhope, insomuch that the battle improved to a general engagement of the cavalry of both armies. After a warm dispute for some time, it ended in the utter defeat of all the duke of Anjou's horse. Upon the dispatch of these advices, that prince was retiring towards Lerida. We have no account of any considerable loss on our side, except that both those heroic youths, the earl of Rochford and count Nassau, fell in this action. They were, you know, both sons of persons who had a great place in the confidence of your late king William ; and I doubt not but their deaths will endear their families, which were ennobled by him, in your nation. General Stanhope has been reported by the enemy dead of his wounds; but he received only a slight contusion on the shoulder.
P. S. We acknowledge you here a mighty brave people; but you are said to love quarrelling so well,