Page images

equipage is an old woman, who was what Corinna is now; an antiquated footman, who was pimp to Limberham's father; and a chambermaid, who is Limberham's wench by fits, out of a principle of politics, to make her jealous and watchful of Corinna. Under this guard, and in this conversation, Corinna lives in state: the furniture of her habitation, and her own gorgeous dress, make her the envy of all the strolling ladies in the town; but Corinna knows she herself is but part of Limberham's household stuff, and is as capable of being disposed of elsewhere, as any other moveable. But while her keeper is persuaded by his spies, that no enemy has been within his doors since his last visit, no Persian prince was ever so magnificently bountiful: a kind look or falling tear is worth a piece of brocade, a sigh is a jewel, and a smile is a cupboard of plate. All this is shared between Corinna and her guard in his absence. With this great economy and industry does the unhappy Limberham purchase the constant tortures of jealousy, the favour of spending his estate, and the opportunity of enriching one by whom he knows he is hated and despised. These are the ordinary and common evils which attend keepers; and Corinna is a wench but of common size of wickedness, were you to know what passes under the roof where the fair Messalina reigns with her humble adorer.

Messalina is the professed mistress of mankind; she has left the bed of her husband, and her beauteous offspring, to give a loose to want of shame and fulness of desire. Wretched Nocturnus, her feeble keeper! How the poor creature fribbles in his gait, and skuttles from place to place to dispatch his necessary affairs in painful daylight, that he may return to the constant twilight preserved in that scene of wantonness, Messalina's bed-chamber! How does he, while he is absent from thence, consider in his imagination the breadth of his porter's shoulders, the spruce night-cap of his valet, the ready attendance of his butler! any of all whom he knows she admits, and professes to approve of. This, alas! is the gallantry, this the freedom of our fine gentlemen; for this they preserve their liberty, and keep clear of that bugbear, marriage. But he does not understand either vice or virtue, who will not allow, that life without the rules of morality is a wayward, uneasy being, with snatches only of pleasure; but under the regulation of virtue, a reasonable and uniform habit of enjoyment. I have seen in a play of old Haywood's a speech at the end of an act, which touched this point with much spirit. He makes a married man in the play, upon some endearing occasion, look at his spouse with an air of fondness, and fall into the following reflection on his condition :

Oh marriage! happiest, easiest, safest state;
Let debauchees and drunkards scorn thy rites,
Who, in their nauseous draughts and lusts, profane
Both thee and Heav'n, by whom thou wert ordain'd,
How can tbe savage call it loss of freedom,
Thus to converse with, thus to gaze at
A faithful, beauteous friend ?
Blush not, my fair one, that thy love applauds thee,
Nor be it painful to my wedded wife
That my full heart o'erflows in praise of thee.
Thou art by law, by interest, passion, mine :
Passion and reason join in love of thee.
Thus, through a world of calumny and fraud,

We pass both unreproach'd, both undeceivid;
8 While, in each other's interest and happiness,

We without art all faculties employ,
And all our senses without guilt enjoy.


No 50. THURSDAY, AUGUST 4, 1709.

Quicquid agunt homines

nostri est farrago libelli.

Juv. Sat. i. 85, 86.
Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream,
Our motley paper seizes for its theme.

White's Chocolate-house, August 2.

THE HISTORY OF ORLANDO THE FAIR. WHATEVER malicious men may say of our Lucu. brations, we have no design but to produce unknown merit, or place in a proper light the actions of our contemporaries who labour to distinguish themselves, whether it be by vice or virtue. For we shall never give accounts to the world of any thing, but what the lives and endeavours of the persons of whom we treat, make the basis of their fame and reputation. For this reason, it is to be hoped that our appearance is reputed a public benefit; and though certain persons may turn what we mean for panegyric into scandal, let it be answered once for all, that if our praises are really designed as raillery, such malevolent persons owe their safety from it, only to their being too inconsiderable for history. It is not every man who deals in rats-bane, or is unseasonably amorous, that can adorn story, like Æsculapius * ; nor every stockjobber of the India company can assume the port, and personate the figure of Aurengezebe. My noble

* Dr. Radcliffe.

ancestor, Mr. Shakspeare, who was of the race of the Staffs, was not more fond of the memorable Sir John Falstaff than I am of those worthies : but the Latins have an admirable admonition expressed in three words, to wit, Ne quid nimis, which forbids my indulging myself on those delightful subjects, and calls me to do justice to others, who make no less figures in our generation : of such, the first and most renowned is, that eminent hero and lover, Orlando* the handsome, whose disappointments in love, in gallantry, and in war, have banished him from public view, and made him voluntarily enter into a confinement to which the ungrateful age would otherwise have forced him. Ten lustra and more are wholly passed since Orlando first appeared in the metropolis of this island: his descent noble, his wit humorous, his person charming. But to none of these recommendatory advantages was his title so undoubted, as that of his beauty. His complexion was fair, but his countenance manly; his stature of the tallest, his shape the most exact : and though in all his limbs he had a proportion as delicate as we see in the works of the most skilful statuaries, his body had a strength and firmness little inferior to the marble of which such images are formed. This made Orlando the universal flame of all the fair sex; innocent virgins sighed for him as Adonis; experienced widows, as Hercules. Thus did this figure walk alone the pattern and ornament of our species, but of course the envy of all who had the same passions without his superior merit, and pretences to the favour of


that enchanting creature, woman. However, the generous Orlando believed himself formed for the world, and not to be engrossed by any particular affection. He sighed not for Delia, for Chloris, for Chloe, for Betty, nor my lady, nor for the ready chamber-maid, nor distant baroness : woman was his mistress, and the whole sex his seraglio. His form was always irresistible: and if we consider, that not one of five hundred can bear the least favour from a lady without being exalted above him. self; if also we must allow, that a smile from a side-box has made Jack Spruce half mad; we cannot think it wonderful that Orlando's repeated conquests touched his brain : so it certainly did, and Orlando became an enthusiast in love; and in all his address, contracted something out of the ordinary course of breeding and civility. However, powerful as he was, he would still add to the advantages of his person that of a profession which the ladies always favour, and immediately commenced soldier. Thus equipped for love and honour, our hero seeks distant climes and adventures, and leaves the despairing nymphs of Great Britain to the courtships of beaux and witlings till his return. His exploits in foreign nations and courts have not been regularly enough communicated unto us, to report them with that veracity, which we profess in our narrations : but after many feats of arms (which those who were witnesses to them have suppressed out of envy, but which we have had faithfully related from his own mouth in our public streets) Orlando returns home full, but not loaded, with years. Beaux born in his absence made it their business to decry his furniture, his dress, his manner; but all such rivalry he suppressed (as the philosopher did the sceptic, who argued there was no such thing as motion) by only

« PreviousContinue »