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the depths and secrets of all hearts; thou acknowledgest the upright of heart; thou judgest the hypocrite; thou ponderest mens thoughts and doings as in a balance; thou measurest their intentions as with a line; vanity and crooked ways cannot be hid from thee.
"Remember, O Lord! how thy servant hath walked before thee; remember what I have first sought, and what hath been principal in my intentions. I have loved thy assemblies, I have mourned for the divisions of thy church, I have delighted in the brightness of thy sanctuary. This vine, which thy right-hand hath planted in this nation, I have ever prayed unto thee that it might have the first and the latter rain, and that it might stretch her branches to the seas, and to the floods. The state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine eyes; I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart; I have, though in a despised weed, procured the good of all men. If any have been my enemies, I thought not of them, neither bath the sun almost set upon my displeasure; but I have been, as a dove, free from superfluity of maliciousness. Thy creatures have been my books, but thy scriptures much more. I have sought thee in the courts, fields, and gardens; but I have found thee in thy temples.
"Thousands have been my sins, and ten thou→ sands my transgressions, but thy sanctifications have remained with me, and my heart, thro' thy grace, hath been an unquenched coal upon thine altar.
"O Lord, my strength! I have since my youth met with thee in all my ways, by thy fatherly compassions, by thy comfortable chastisements, and by thy most visible providence. As thy favours have increased upon me, so have thy corrections, so o
me of the contrary; for one or two fop-women shall not make a balance for the crowds of coxcombs among ourselves, diversified according to the different pursuits of pleasure and business.
Returning home this evening a little before my usual hour, I scarce had seated myself in my easy chair, stirred the fire, and stroaked my cat, but I heard somebody come rumbling up stairs. I saw my door opened, and a human figure advancing towards me, so fantastically put together, that it was some minutes before I discovered it to be my old and intimate friend Sam Trusty. Immediately I rose up, and placed him in my own seat; a compliment I pay to few. The first thing he uttered was, Isaac, fetch me a cup of your cherry-brandy before you offer to ask any question." He drank a lusty draught, sat silent for some time, and at last broke out; "I am come," quoth he, " to insult thee for an old fantastic dotard, as thou art, in ever defending the women. I have this evening visited two widows, who are now in that state I have often heard you call an after-life; I suppose you mean by it, an existence which grows out of past entertainments, and is an untimely delight in the satisfactions which they once set their hearts upon too much to be ever able to relinquish. Have but patience," continued he, "until I give you a succinct account of my ladies, and of this night's adventure. They are nauch of an age, but very different in their characters. The one of them, with all the advances which years have made upon her, goes on in a certain romantic road of love and friendship which she fell into in her teens; the other has transferred the amorous passions of her first years to the love of cronics, petts, and favourites, with which she is always surrounded; but the genius of each of them will best appear by the account of what happened to
me at their houses. About five this afternoon, being tired with study, the weather inviting, and time lying a little upon my hands, I resolved, at the instigation of my evil genius, to visit them; their husbands having been our contemporaries. This I thought I could do without much trouble; for both live in the very next street. I went first to my lady Camomile; and the butler, who had lived long in the family, and seen me often in his master's time, ushered me very civilly into the parlour, and told me, though my lady had given strict orders to be denied, he was sure I might be admitted, and bid the black boy acquaint his lady, that I was come to wait upon her. In the window lay two letters, one broke open, the other fresh sealed with a wafer: the first directed to the divine Cosmelia, the second to the charming Lucinda; but both, by the indented characters, appeared to have been writ* by very, unsteady hands. Such uncommon addresses increased my curiosity, and put me upon asking my old friend the butler, if he knew who those persons were? Very well,' says he, this is from Mrs. Furbish to my lady, an old school-fellow and great crony of her ladyship's; and this the answer.' inquired in what county she lived. Oh dear!' says he, but just by, in the neighbourhood. Why, she was here all this morning, and that letter came and was answered within these two hours. They have taken an odd fancy, you must know, to call one another hard names; but, for all that, they love one another hugely.' By this time the boy returned with his lady's humble service to me, desiring I would excuse her; for she could not possibly see me, nor any body else, for it was opera-night."
For written. Instances of this kind are frequent in the Taller, Spectator, and Guardian.
"Methinks," says I," such innocent folly as two old women's courtship to each other, should rather make you merry than put you out of humour." "Peace, good Isaac," says he, "no interruption I beseech you. I got soon to Mrs. Feeble's, she that was formerly Betty Frisk; you must needs remember her; Tom Feeble of Brazen Nose fell in love with her for her fine dancing. Well, Mrs. Ursula, without further ceremony, carries me directly up to her mistress's chamber, where I found her environed by four of the most mischievous animals that can ever infest a family; an old shock dog with one eye, a monkey chained to one side of the chimney, a great grey squirrel to the other, and a parrot waddling in the middle of the room. However, for a while, all was in a profound tranquillity. Upon the mantletree, for I am a pretty curious observer, stood a pot of lambetive electuary, with a stick of liquorice, and near it a phial of rose-water, and powder of tutty. Upon the table lay a pipe filled with betony and colt's-foot, a roll of wax-candle, a silver spitting-pot, and a Seville orange. The lady was placed in a large wicker chair, and her feet wrapped up in flannel, supported by cushions; and in this attitude, would you believe it, Isaac, was she reading a romance with spectacles on. The first compliments over, as she was industriously endeavouring to enter upon conversation, a violent fit of coughing seized her. This awaked Shock, and in a trice the whole room was in an uproar; for the dog barked, the squirrel squealed, the monkey chattered, the parrot screamed, and Ursula, to appease them, was more clamorous than all the rest. You, Isaac, who know how any harsh noise affects my head, may guess what I suff red from the hideous din of these discordant sounds. At length all was appeased, and quiet restored: a chair was drawn for me;
where I was no sooner seated, but the parrot fixed his horny beak, as sharp as a pair of sheers, in one of my heels, just above the shoe. I sprung from the place with an unusual agility, and so, being within the monkey's reach, he snatches off my new bob-wig, and throws it upon two apples that were roasting by a sullen sea-coal fire. I was nimble enough to save it from any further damage than singing the fore-top. I put it on; and composing myself as well as I could, I drew my chair towards the other side of the chimney. The good lady, as soon as she had recovered breath, employed it in making a thousand apologies, and, with great eloquence, and a numerous train of words, lamented my misfortune. In the middle of her harangue, I felt something scratching near my knee, and feeling what it should be, found the squirrel had got into my coat-pocket. As I endeavoured to remove him from his burrow, he made his teeth meet through the fleshy part of my fore-finger. This gave me an unexpressible pain. The Hungary water was immediately brought to bathe it, and gold-beaters skin applied to stop the blood. The lady renewed her excuses; but being now out of all patience, I abruptly took my leave, and hobbling down stairs. with heedless haste, I set my foot full in a pail of water, and down we came to the bottom together." Here my friend concluded his narrative, and, with a composed countenance, I began to make him compliments of condolence; but he started from his chair, and said, "Isaac, you may spare your speeches, I expect no reply. When I told you this, I knew you would laugh at me; but the next woman that makes me ridiculous shall be a young one."