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this secret, and you may take my word, you will never want it. An inviolable fidelity, good humour, and complacency of temper, outlive all the charms of a fine face, and make the decays of it invisible.'
We discoursed very long upon this head, which was equally agreeable to us both; for I must confess, as I tenderly love her, I take as much pleasure in giving her instructions for her welfare, as she herself does in receiving them. I proceeded, therefore, to inculcate these sentiments, by relating a very particular passage that happened within my own knowledge.
There were several of us making merry at a friend's house in a country village, when the sexton of the parish-church entered the room in a sort of surprise, and told us, that as he was digging a grave in the chancel, a little blow of his pick-axe opened a decayed coffin, in which there were several written papers. Our curiosity was immediately raised, so that we went to the place where the sexton had been at work, and found a great concourse of people about the grave. Among the rest, there was an old woman, who told us, the person buried there was a lady whose name I do not think fit to mention, though there is nothing in the story but what tends very much to her honour*. This lady lived several years an exemplary pattern of conjugal love, and dying soon after her husband, who every way answered her character in virtue and affection, made it her death-bed request, “ that all the letters which she had received from him both before and after her marriage, should be buried in the coffin with her.' These I found, upon examination, were the papers
* A son of Sir Thomas Chicheley, one of King William's admirals, assured the very respectable communicator of this note, that the lady here alluded to was his mother, and that the letters were genuine.
Several of them had suffered so much by time, that I could only pick out a few words; as my soul! lilies ! roses! dearest angel! and the like. One of them, which was legible throughout, ran thus:
• MADAM, • If you would know the greatness of my love, consider that of your own beauty. That blooming countenance, that snowy bosom, that graceful person, return every moment to my imagination: the brightness of your eyes hath hindered me from closing mine since I last saw you. You may still add to your beauties by a smile. A frown will make me the most wretched of men, as I am the most passionate of lovers.'
It filled the whole company with a deep melancholy to compare the description of the letter with the person
that occasioned it, who was now reduced to a few crumbling bones and a little mouldering heap of earth. With much ado I deciphered another letter, which began with, ' My dear, dear wife.' This gave me a curiosity to see how the style of one written in marriage, differed from one written in courtship. To my surprise, I found the fondness rather augmented than lessened, though the panegyric turned upon a different accomplishment. The words were as follow:
• Before this short absence from you, I did not know that I loved you so much as I really do; though, at the same time, I thought I loved you as much as possible. I am under great apprehension, lest you should have
uneasiness whilst I am defrauded of my share in it, and cannot think of tasting any pleasures that you do not partake with me. Pray, my dear, be careful of your health, if for no other reason, but because you know I could not outlive you. It is natural in absence to make professions of an inviolable constancy; but towards so much merit, it is scarce a virtue, especially when it is but a bare return to that of which you have given me such continued proofs ever since our first acquaintance. I am,' &c.
It happened that the daughter of these two excellent persons was by when I was reading this letter. At the sight of the coffin, in which was the body of her mother, near that of her father, she melted into a flood of tears. As I had heard a great character of her virtue, and observed in her this instance of filial piety, I could not resist my natural inclination of giving advice to young people, and therefore addressed myself to her. Young lady,' said I, you see how short is the possession of that beauty, in which nature has been so liberal to you. You find the melancholy sight before you is a contradiction to the first letter that you heard on that subject; whereas you may observe, the second letter, which celebrates your mother's constancy, is itself, being found in this place, an argument of it. But, Madam, I ought to caution you not to think the bodies that lie before you, your father and your mother. Know, their constancy is rewarded by a nobler union than by this mingling of their ashes, in a state where there is no danger or possibility of a second separation.'
N° 105. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1709.
Sheer-lane, December 9. As soon as my midnight studies are finished, I take but a very short repose, and am again up at an ex
ercise of another kind; that is to say, my fencing. Thus my life passes away in a restless pursuit of fame, and a preparation to defend myself against such as attack it. This anxiety in the point of reputation is the peculiar distress of fine spirits, and makes them liable to a thousand inquietudes, from which men of grosser understandings are exempt; so that nothing is more common, than to see one part of mankind live at perfect ease under such circumstances, as would make another part of them entirely miserable.
This may serve for a preface to the history of poor Will Rosin, the fiddler of Wapping, who is a man as much made for happiness and a quiet life, as any one breathing; but has been lately entangled in so many intricate and unreasonable distresses, as would have made him, had he been a man of too nice honour, the most wretched of all mortals. I came to the knowledge of his affairs by mere accident. Several of the narrow end of our lane having made an appointment to visit some friends beyond Saint Katharine's, where there was to be a merry meeting, they would needs take with them the old gentleman, as they are pleased to call me. I who value my company by their good-will, which naturally has the same effect as good-breeding, was not too stately, or too wise, to accept of the invitation. Our design was to be spectators of a sea-ball; to which I readily consented, provided I might be incognito, being naturally pleased with the survey of human life in all its degrees and circumstances. In order to this merriment, Will Rosin, who is the Corelli of the Wapping side, as Tom Scrape is the Bononcini of Redriffe, was immediately sent for; but, to our utter disappointment, poor Will was under an arrest, and desired the assistance of all his kind masters and mistresses, or he must go to jail. The whole company received his message with great humanity, and very generously threw in their halfpence apiece in a great dish, which purchased his redemption out of the hands of the bai-, liffs. During the negotiation for his enlargement, I had an opportunity of acquainting myself with his history.
Mr. William Rosin, of the parish of Saint Katharine, is somewhat stricken in years, and married to a young widow, who has very much the ascendant over him; this degenerate age being so perverted in all things, that, even in the state of matrimony, the young pretend to govern their elders. The musician is extremely fond of her; but is often obliged to lay by his fiddle, to hear louder notes of hers, when she is pleased to Le angry with him: for you are to know, Will is not of consequence enough to enjoy her conversation but when she chides him, or makes use of him to carry on her amours; for she is a woman of stratagem; and even in that part of the world, where one would expect but very little gallantry, by the force of natural genius, she can be sullen, sick, out of humour, splenetic, want new clothes, and more money, as well as if she had been bred in Cheapside, or Cornhill. She was lately under a secret discontent, upon account of a lover she was like to lose by his marriage; for her gallant, Mr. Ezekiel Boniface, had been twice asked in the church, in order to be joined in matrimony with Mrs. Winifred Dimple, spinster, of the same parish. Hereupon Mrs. Rosin was far gone in that distemper which well-governed husbands know by the description of, • I am I know not how;' and Will soon understood that it was his part to inquire into the occasion of her melancholy, or suffer as the cause of it himself. After much importunity, all he could get out of her was, that she was the most unhappy and the most wicked of all women, and had no friend