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find by one of your last week's Papers, was not altogether a stranger to you. When I married this gentleman, he had a very handsome estate; but upon buying a set of microscopes, he was chosen a Fellow of the Royal Society ; from which time I do not remember erer to have heard him speak as other people did, or talk in a manner that any of his family could understand him. He used, however, to pass away his time very innocently in conversation with several members of that learned body; for which reason, I never advised him against their company for several years, until at last I found his brain quite turned with their discourses. The first symptom which he discovered of his being a Virtuoso, as you call him, poor man! was about fifteen years ago; when he gave me positive orders to turn off an old weedingwoman, that had been employed in the family for some years. He told me, at the same time, that there was no such thing in nature as a weed, and that it was his design to let his garden produce what it pleased ; so that, you may be sure, it makes a very pleasant show as it now lies. About the same time he took a humour to ramble up and down the country, and would often bring home with him his pockets full of moss and pebbles. This, you may be sure, gave me a heavy heart; though at the same time I must needs say, he had the character of a very honest man, notwithstanding he was reckoned a little weak, until he began to sell his estate, and buy those strange baubles that you have taken notice of. Upon Midsummer-day last, as he was walking with me in the fields, he saw a very odd-coloured butterfly just before us. I observed that he immediately changed colour, like a man that is surprised with a piece of good luck: and telling me, that it was what he had looked for above these twelve years, he threw off his coat, and followed it. I lost sight of them both in less than a quarter of an hour; but my husband continued the chase over hedge and ditch until about sunset: at which time, as I was afterward told, he caught the butterfly as she rested herself upon a cabbage, near five miles from the place where he first put her up.
He was here lifted from the ground by some passengers in a very fainting condition, and brought home to me about midnight. His violent exercise threw him into a fever, which grew upon him by degrees, and at last carried him off. In one of the intervals of his distemper he called to me, and, after having excused himself for running out his estate, he told me, that he had always been more industrious to improve his mind than his fortune: and that his family must rather value themselves
memory as he was a wise man, than a rich one. He then told me, that it was a custom among the Romans for a man to give his slaves their liberty when he lay upon his death-bed. I could not imagine what this meant, until, after having a little composed himself, he ordered me to bring him a flea which he had kept several months in a chain, with a design, as he said, to give it its manumission. This was done accordingly. He then made the Will, which I have since seen printed in your Works word for word. Only I must take notice, that
you have omitted the codicil, in which he left a large Concha Veneris, as it is there called, to a Member of the Royal Society, who was often with him in his sickness, and assisted him in his will. And now, Sir, I come to the chief business of my letter, which is to desire your friendship and assistance in the disposal of those many rarities and curiosities which lie upon my hands. If you know any one that has an occasion for a parcel of dried spiders, I will sell them a pennyworth. I could likewise let any one have a bargain of cockle-shells. I would also desire your
advice, whether I had best sell my beetles in a lump, or by retail. The gentleman above mentioned, who
husband's friend, would have me make an auction of all his goods, and is now drawing up a catalogue of every particular for that purpose, with the two following words in great letters over the head of them Auctio Gimcrackiana. But
talking with him, I began to suspect he is as mad as poor Sir Nicholas was. Your advice in all these particulars will be a great piece of charity to,
Sir, your most humble servant,
I shall answer the foregoing letter, and give the widow my best advice, as soon as I can find out chapmen for the wares which she has put off. In the mean time, I shall give my reader the sight of a letter, which I have received from another female correspondent by the same post.
GOOD MR. BICKERSTAFF, 'I am convinced, by a late Paper of yours, that a passionate woman, who among the common people goes under the name of a scold, is one of the most insupportable creatures in the world. But, alas! Sir, what can we do? I have made a thousand vows and resolutions every morning to guard myself against this frailty; but have generally broken them before dinner, and could never in my life hold out until the second course was set upon the table. What most troubles me is, that my husband is as patient and good-natured 'as your own worship, or any man living can be. Pray give me some directions, for I would observe the strictest and severest rules you can think of to cure myself of this distemper, which is apt to fall into my tongue every moment.
I am, Sir, your most humble servant, &c.'
In answer to this most unfortunate lady I must acquaint her, that there is now in town an ingenious physician of my acquaintance, who undertakes to cure all the vices and defects of the mind by inward medicines or outward applications. I shall give the world an account of his patients and his cures in other Papers, when I shall be more at leisure to treat upon this subject. I shall only here inform my correspondent, that, for the benefit of such ladies as are troubled with virulent tongues, he has prepared a cold-bath, over which there is fastened at the end of a long pole, a very convenient chair, curiously gilt and carved. When the patient is seated in this chair, the doctor lifts up the pole, and gives her two or three total immersions in the cold-bath, until such time as she has quite lost the use of speech. This operation so effectually chills the tongue, and refrigerates the blood, that a woman, who at her entrance into the chair is extremely passionate and sonorous, will come out as silent and gentle as a lamb. The doctor told me, he would not practise this experiment upon women of fashion, had not he seen it made upon those of meaner condition with very good effect.
No 222. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1710,
PERSIUS, Sat. v. 165.
From my own Apartment, September 8. WHEREAS, by letters from Nottingham, we have advice, that the young ladies of that place complain
for want of sleep, by reason of certain riotous lovers, who for this last summer have 'very much infested the streets of that eminent city, with violins and bass-viols, between the hours of twelve and four in the morning, to the great disturbance of many of her Majesty's peaceable subjects: and whereas I have been importuned to publish some edict against those midnight alarms, which, under the name of serenades, do greatly annoy many well-disposed persons, not only in the place above mentioned, but also in most of the polite towns of this island: I have taken that matter into my serious consideration, and do find that this custom is by no means to be indulged in this country and climate.
It is indeed very unaccountable, that most of our British youth should take such great delight in these nocturnal expeditions. Your robust true-born Briton, that has not yet felt the force of flames and darts, has a natural inclination to break windows; while those whose natural ruggedness has been soothed and softened by gentle passions, have strong a propensity to languish under them, especially if they have a fiddler behind them to utter their complaints ; for, as the custom prevails at present, there is scarce a young man of any fashion in a corporation, who does not make love with the town-music. The Waits often help him through his courtship; and my friend Banister* has told me, he was proffered 5001. by a young fellow, to play but one winter under the window of a lady, that was a great fortune, but more cruel than ordinary. One would think they hoped to conquer their mistresses' hearts as people tame hawks and eagles, by keeping them awake, or breaking their sleep when they are falling into it.
* Mr. Johu Banister, a composer, and at the head of the band in Drury-lane.