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produce half the adventures that this twelvepenny piece has been engaged in, were it possible for him to give us an account of his life.”
My friend's talk made so odd an impression upon my mind, that soon after I was a-bed I fell insensibly into a most unaccountable reverie, that had neither moral nor design in it, and cannot be so properly called a dream as a delirium.
Methoughts the shilling that lay upon the table reared itself upon its edge, and turning the face towards me, opened its mouth, and in a soft silver sound, gave 'me the following account of his life and adventures :
"I was born (says he) on the side of a mountain, near a little village of Peru, and made a voyage to England in an ingot, under the convoy of Sir Francis Drake. I was, soon after my arrival, taken out of my Indian babit, refined, naturalized, and put into the British mode, with the face of Queen Elizabeth on one side, and the arms of the country on the other. Being thus equipped, I found in me a wonderful inclination to ramble, and visit all parts of the new world into which I was brought. The people very much favoured my natural disposition, and shifted me so fast from hand to hand, that before I was five years old, I had travelled into almost every corner of the nation. But in the beginning of my sixth year, to my unspeakable grief, I fell into the hands of a miserable old fellow, who clapped me into an iron chest, where I found five hundred more of my own quality who lay under the same confinement. The only relief we had, was to be taken out and counted over in the fresh air every morning and evening. After an imprisonment of several years, we heard somebody knocking at our chest, and breaking it open with a hammer. This we found was the old man's heir, who, as his father lay a dying, was so good as to come to our release: he separated us that very day. What was the fate of my companions I know not: as for myself, I was sent to the apothecary's shop for a pint of sack. The apothecary gave me to an herb-woman, the herb-woman to a butcher, the butcher to a brewer, and the brewer to his wife, who made a present of me to a nonconformist preacher. After this manner I made my way merrily through the world; for, as I told you before, we shillings love nothing so much as travelling. I sometimes fetched in a shoulder of mutton, sometimes a play-book, and often had the satisfaction to treat
a Templar at a twelvepenny ordinary, or carry him, with three friends, to Westminster Hall.
“In the midst of this pleasant progress which I made from place to place, I was arrested by a superstitious old woman, who shut me up in a greasy purse, in pursuance of a foolish saying, “That while she kept a Queen Elizabeth's shilling about her, she should never be without money.” I continued here a close prisoner for many months, till at last I was exchanged for eight and forty farthings.
“I thus rambled from pocket to pocket till the beginning of the civil wars, when, to my shame be it spoken, I was employed in raising soldiers against the king : for being of a very tempting breadth, a sergeant made use of me to inveigle country fellows, and list them in the service of the parliament.
“As soon as he had made one man sure, his way was to oblige him to take a shilling of a more homely figure, and then practise the same trick upon another. Thus I continued doing great mischief to the crown, till my officer, chancing one morning to walk abroad earlier than ordinary, sacrificed me to his pleasures, and made use of me to seduce a milk-maid. This wench bent me, and gave me to her sweetheart, applying more properly than she intended the usual form of, “ To my love and from my love.” This ungenerous gallant marrying her within a few days after, pawned me for a dram of brandy, and drinking me out next day, I was beaten flat with a hammer, and again set a running.
a “After many adventures, which it would be tedious to relate, I was sent to a young spendthrift, in company with the will of his deceased father. The young fellow, who I found was very extravagant, gave great demonstrations of joy at the receiving of the will: but opening it, he found himself disinherited
and cut off from the possession of a fair estate, by virtue of my being made a present to him. This put him into such a passion, that after having taken me in his hand, and cursed me, he squirred me away from him as far as he could fling me. I chanced to light in an unfrequented place under a dead wall, where I lay undiscovered and useless, during the usurpation of Oliver Cromwell.
“ About a year after the king's return, a poor cavalier that was walking there about dinner-time, fortunately cast his eye upon me, and, to the great joy of us both, carried me to
a cook's shop, where he dined upon me, and drank the king's health. When I came again into the world, I found that I had been happier in my retirement than I thought, having probably, by that means, escaped wearing a monstrous pair of breeches.
“ Being now of great credit and antiquity, I was rather looked upon as a medal than an ordinary coin ; for which reason a gamester laid hold of me, and converted me to a counter, having got together some dozens of us for that use. We led a melancholy life in his possession, being busy at those hours wherein current coin is at rest, and partaking the fate of our master, being in a few moments valued at a crown, a pound, or a sixpence, according to the situation in which the fortune of the cards placed us. I had at length the good luck to see my master break, by which means I was again sent abroad under my primitive denomination of a shilling
I shall pass over many other accidents of less moment, and hasten to that fatal catastrophe, when I fell into the hands of an artist, who conveyed me under ground, and with an unmerciful pair of shears, cut off my titles, clipped my brims, retrenched my shape, rubbed me to my inmost ring, and, in short, so spoiled and pillaged me, that he did not leave me worth a groat. You may think what a confusion I was in, to see myself thus curtailed and disfigured. I should have been ashamed to have shown my head, had not all my old acquaintance been reduced to the same shameful figure, excepting some few that were punched through the belly. In the midst of this general calamity, when everybody thought our misfortune irretrievable, and our case desperate, we were thrown into the furnace together, and (as it often happens with cities rising out of a fire) appeared with greater beauty and lustre than we could ever boast of before. What has happened to me since this change of sex which you now see, I shall take some other opportunity to relate. In the mean time, I shall only repeat two adventures, as being very extraordinary, and neither of them having ever happened to me above once in my life. The first
" Pair of breeches.] A conceit of the people, from the disposition of the arms of England and Ireland, in the commonwealth coin.
* To have shown.] It should be, to show : the only inaccuracy, however, in this delicious paper.
was, my being in a poet's pocket, who was so taken with the brightness and novelty of my appearance, that it gave occasion to the finest burlesque poem in the British language, entitled from me, The Splendid Shilling.” The second adventure, which I must not omit, happened to me in the year 1703, when I was given away in charity to a blind man; but indeed this was by a mistake, the person who gave me having heedlessly thrown me into the hat among a pennyworth of farthings."
No. 250. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 1710.
Scis etenim justum gemina suspendere lance
PERS. From my own Apartment, November 13. I LAST winter erected a court of justice for the correcting of several enormities in dress and behaviour, which are not cognizable in
other courts of this realm. The vintner's case, which I there tried, is still fresh in every man's memory. That of the petticoat gave also a general satisfaction, not to mention the more important points of the cane and perspective; in which, if I did not give judgments and decrees according to the strictest rules of equity and justice, I can safely say, I acted according to the best of my understanding. But as for the proceedings of that court, I shall refer my reader to an account of them, written by my secretary, which is now in the press, and will shortly be published under the title of “ Lillie's Reports.”
As I last year presided over a court of justice, it is my intention this year to set myself at the head of a Court of Honour. There is no court of this nature anywhere at present, except in France, where, according to the best of my intelligence, it consists of such only as are Marshals of that kingdom. I am likewise informed, that there is not one of that honourable board at present who has not been driven out of the field by the Duke of Marlborough: but whether this be only an accidental, or a necessary qualification, I must confess I am not able to determine.
? By Mr. John Phillips.
As for the Court of Honour of which I am here speaking, I intend to sit myself in it as president, with several men of honour on my right hand, and women of virtue on my left, as my assistants. The first place of the bench I have given to an old Tangereen captain with a wooden leg. The second is a gentleman of a long twisted periwig without a curl in it, a muff with
upon it, and a threadbare coat with new buttons, being a person of great worth, and second brother to a man of quality. The third is a gentleman usher, extremely well read in romances, and grandson to one of the greatest wits in Germany, who was some time master of the ceremonies to the Duke of Wol. fembuttel.
As for those who sit further on my right hand, as it is usual in public courts, they are such as will fill up the number of faces upon the bench, and serve rather for ornament than use.
The chief upon my left hand are, an old maiden lady, that preserves some of the best blood of England in her veins.
A Welsh woman of a little stature, but high spirit.
An old prude that has censured every marriage for these thirty years, and is lately wedded to a young rake.
Having thus furnished my bench, I shall establish correspondencies with the Horse-guards, and the veterans of Chelsea College; the former to furnish me with twelve men of honour, as often as I shall have occasion for a grand jury, and the latter with as many good men and true for a petty jury.
As for the women of virtue, it will not be difficult for me to find them about midnight at crimp and basset.
Having given this public notice of my court, I must further add, that I intend to open it on this day seven-night, being Monday the twentieth instant; and do hereby invite all such as have suffered injuries and affronts, that are not to be redressed by the common laws of this land, whether they be short bows, cold salutations, supercilious looks, unreturned smiles, distant behaviour, or forced familiarity; as also all such as have been aggrieved by any ambiguous expression, accidental justle, or unkind repartee; likewise all such as have been defrauded of their right to the wall, tricked out of the upper end of the table, or have been suf