Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

am sur

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 rounded 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 forty-third 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 twenty-six 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 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 con

federates 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 bis 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, that you cannot be quiet at home. The favourers of the house of Bourbon among us affirm, that this Stanhope, who could as it were get out of his sickbed to fight against their King of Spain, must be of the antimonarchical party.

N° 211. TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 1710.

-Nequeo monstrare, et sentio tantum.

Juv. Sat. vii. 56. What I can fancy, but can ne'er express.-Dryden.

Sunday, August 13. If there were no other consequences of it, but barely that human creatures on this day assemble themselves before their Creator, without regard to their usual employments, their minds at leisure from the cares of their life, and their bodies adorned with the best attire they can bestow on them; I

say, were this mere outward celebration of a Sabbath all that is expected from men, even that were a laudable distinction, and a purpose worthy the human nature. But when there is added to it the sublime pleasure of devotion, our being is exalted above itself; and he, who spends a seventh day in the contemplation of the next life, will not easily fall into the corruptions of this in the other six. They, who never admit thoughts of this kind into their imaginations, lose higher and sweeter satisfactions than can be raised by any other entertainment. The most illiterate man who is touched with devotion, and uses frequent exercises of it, contracts a certain greatness of mind, mingled with a noble simplicity that raises him above those of the same condition; and there is an indelible mark of goodness in those who sincerely possess it. It is hardly possible it should be otherwise; for the fervours of a pious mind will naturally contract such an earnestness and attention towards a better being, as will make the ordinary passages of life go off with a becoming indifference.

By this a man in the lowest condition will not appear mean, or in the most splendid fortune insolent.

As to all the intricacies and vicissitudes, under which men are ordinarily entangled with the utmost sorrow and passion, one who is devoted to Heaven, when he falls into such difficulties, is led by a clue through a labyrinth. As to this world, he does not pretend to skill in the mazes of it; but fixes his thoughts upon one certainty, that he shall soon be out of it. And we may ask very boldly, what can be a more sure consolation than to have a hope in death? When men are arrived at thinking of their very dissolution with pleasure, how few things are there that can be terrible to them! Certainly, nothing can be dreadful to such spirits, but what would make death terrible to them, falsehood towards man or impiety towards Heaven. To such as these, as there are certainly many such, the gratifications of innocent pleasures are doubled, even with reflections upon their imperfection. The disappointments, which naturally attend the great promises we make ourselves in expected enjoyments, strike no damp upon such men, but only quicken their hoples of soon knowing joys, which are too pure to admit of allay or satiety.

It is thought, among the politer sort of mankind, an imperfection to want a relish of any of those things which refine our lives. This is the foundation of the acceptance which eloquence, music, and poetry, make in the world ; and I know not why devotion, considered merely as an exaltation of our happiness, should not at least be so far regarded as to be considered. It is possible, the very inquiry would lead men into such thoughts and gratifications, as they did not expect to meet with in this place. Many a good acquaintance has been lost from a general prepossession in his disfavour, and a

« ZurückWeiter »