« PreviousContinue »
Officious couplers wantonly engage
Though I shall not as yet vouchsafe to let the reader so far into my secrets, as to inform him whether I am married or single, it may not be amiss to acquaint him, that, suppo. sing I still remain a bachelor, it has not been the fault of my friends or relations. On the contrary, as soon as I was what they called settled in the world, they were so assidu. ous in looking out a wife for me, that nothing was required on my part but immediately to fall in love with the lady they had pitched upon : and could I have complied with their several choices, I should have been married at the same time to a tall and a short, a plump and a slender, a young and an old woman ; one with a great deal of money, and another with none at all; cach of whom was severally recommended by them as the properest person in the world for me.
I know not how it happens, but it is notorious, that most people take a pleasure in making matches ; either thinking matrimony to be a state of bliss, into which they would charitably call all their friends and acquaintances ; or per. haps struggling in the toils, they are desirous of drawing others into the net that ensnared them. Many matches have been brought about between two persons, absolute strangers to each other, through this kind mediation of friends, who
are always ready to take upon them the office of an honour. able go-between.
As we cannot insure happiness to our friends, at the same time that we help them to husbands and wives, one would imagine, that few would care to run the hazard of bestow. ing misery, where they meant a kindness. I know a good. natured lady, who has officiously brought upon herself the ill-will and the curses of many of her dearest and most in. timate friends on that very account. She has a sister, for whom she has provided a most excellent husband, who has shown his affection for her by spending her whole fortune upon his mistresses : another near relation, having by her means snatched up a rich widow, the bridegroom was ar. rested for her debts within a week after marriage : and it cost her a whole twelvemonth to bring two doting lovers of her acquaintance together, who parted before the honey. moon was expired.
But if our friends will thus condescend to be match. makers from a spirit of benevolence, and for our own ad. vantage only, there are others, who have taken
profession from less disinterested motives ; who bring beauty and fortune to market, and traffic in all the accomplishments that can make the married state happy. I have known many droll accidents happen from the mistakes of these mercenary persons ; and remember one in particular, which I shall here set down for the entertainment of my readers.
A careful old gentleman came to town in order to marry his son, and was recommended by one of these couplers to a twenty thousand pounder. He accordingly put on his best wig, best beaver, and gold-buttoned coat, and went to pay his respects to the lady's mother. He told her, that he had not the pleasure of being known to her ; but as his son's quiet depended upon it, he had taken the liberty of waiting on her ; in short, he immediately broke the matter to her, and informed her, that his boy had seen her daughter at church, and was violently in love with her ; concluding,
that he would do very handsomely for the lad, and would make it worth her while to have him. The old lady thanked him for the honour he intended her family ; but she supposed, to be sure, as he appeared to be a prudent and sensible gentleman, he would expect a fortune answerable.
Say nothing of that, say nothing of that,' interrupted the Don : • I have heard—but if it was less, it should not break any squares between us.'- Pray, sir, how much does the world
? replied the lady. Why, madam, I suppose she has not less than twenty thousand pounds.'— Not so much, sir,' said the old lady very gravely.“Well, mad. am, I suppose then it may be nineteen, or-or-only eighteen thousand pounds.'-- Not so much, sir.'-• Well, well, perhaps not : but--if it was only seventeen thousand.'• No, sir.'— Or sixteen.'— No.'—Or (we must make allowances) perhaps but fifteen thousand.'-Not so much, sir.' Here ensued a profound silence for near a minute ; when the old gentleman, rubbing his forehead— Well, ma. dam, we must come to some conclusion. Pray, is it less than fourteen thousand ? How much more is it than twelve thousand ?- Less, sir.'- More than ten thousand ??• Not so much, sir.'—Not so much, madam ?'— Not so much.'—Why, if it is lodged in the funds, consider, madam, interest is very low, very low ; but as the boy loves her, trifles shall not part us. Has she got eight thousand pounds ? -Not so much, sir.'_Why, then, madam, perhaps the young lady's fortune may not be above six-or five thou. sand pounds.'-— Nothing like it, sir.' At these words the old gentleman started from his chair, and running out of the room— Your servant, your servant: my son is a fool ; and the fellow who recommended me to you is a blockhead, and knows nothing of business.'
THE CHARACTER OF A JEALOUS WIFE.
Rage in her eyes, distraction in her mien,
SIR,—We are told, that in Spain it is the custom for husbands never to let their wives go abroad without a watchful old woman to attend them; and in Turkey it is the fashion to lock up their mistresses under the guard of a trusty eunuch : but I never knew that in any country the men were put under the same restrictions. Alas! sir, my wife is to me a very duenna ; she is as careful of me, as the keisler aga, or chief eunuch, is of the grand seignior's favourite sultana : and whether she believes that I am in love with every woman, or that every woman is in love with me, she will never trust me out of her sight; but sticks as close to me, as if she really was, without a figure, bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. I am never suffered to stir abroad without her, lest I should go astray ; and at home she follows me up and down the house, like a child in leading strings : nay, if I do but step out of the room on any ordinary occasion, she is so afraid I should give her the slip, that she always screams after me, My dear, you are not going out ;" though for better security, she generally locks up my hat and cane, together with her own gloves and cloak, that one may not stir out without the other.
I cannot flatter myself that I am handsomer or better made than other men ; nor has she, in my eyes at least, fewer charms than other women ; and yet she is so very doubtful of my constancy, that I cannot speak, or even pay
the compliment of my hat to any young lady, though in public, without giving new alarms to her jealousy. Such a one, she is sure from her flaunting, is a kept madam; another is no better than she should be ; and she saw ano. ther tip me the wink, or give me a nod, as a mark of some private assignation between us. A nun, sir, might as soon force her way into a convent of monks, as any young woman get admittance into our house : she has therefore affronted all her acquaintance of her own sex, that are not, or might not have been, the grandmothers of many genera. tions; and is at home to nobody but maiden ladies in the bloom of threescore, and beauties of the early part of this century.
She trusted me one evening out of doors to share an entertainment abroad with some male friends ; but we had scarcely despatched the first course, before word was brought that my boy was come with a lantern to light me home. I sent him back with orders to call in an hour ; when presently after the maid was despatched, with notice that my dear was gone to bed very ill, and wanted me di. rectly. I was preparing to obey the summons, when, to our great surprise, the sick lady herself bolted into the room, complained of my cruel heart, and fell into a fit from which she did not recover, till the coach had set us down at our house.
Whilst my wife is thus cautious that I should not be led astray even by my own sex when abroad, she takes parti. cular care that I may not stumble on temptation at home. It was some time after our marriage, before she could find maids for her purpose. One was too pert a hussy ; another went too fine ; another was an impudent forward young baggage. At present our household is made up of a set of beautiful monsters. My lady's own waiting woman has a most inviting hump back, and is so charmingly paralytic, that she shakes all over like a Chinese figure ; the housemaid squints most delightfully with one solitary eye, which