Imágenes de páginas

twelve-penny ordinary, or to carry him with three friends to Westminster-Hall. ;.

pe 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 noney." I continued here a close prisoner for many months, tillvat last I was exchanged for eight-and-forty farthings.

1.4 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. 5 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 ine out next day, I was beaten flat with a hammer, and again set a running.

“ 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 alight 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 sheers cut off my titles, clipped my brims, res

trenched 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 shewn my head, had not all my old acs quaintance been reduced to the same shameful figure, excepting some few that were punched through the belly: In the midst of this general calamity, when every body thought our misfortunes 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 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.

66 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 mistake, the person who gave me, having heedlessly thrown me into the hat among a pennyworth of farthings.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Scis etenim justum gemina suspendere lance

31135A Ancipitis libræ ?

to Pers. i 15W

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

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 any other court 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 any where at present, except in France, where, according to the best of my intelligence, it consists of such only as are marshals of that king, dom. 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 acci. dental or a necessary qualification, I must confess I am not able to determine.

As for the court of honour of which I ain 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 perriwig without a curl in it, a muff with very little hair upon it, and a thread-bare 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 Wolfembuttel.

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 correspondences 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 difa ficult for me to find them about midnight at crimp and basset.

« AnteriorContinuar »