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No. 560. MONDAY, JUNE 28, 1714.
-Verba intermissa retentat
EVERY one has heard of the famous conjurer*, who, according to the opinion of the vulgar, has studied himself dumb; for which reason, as it is believed, he delivers out all his oracles in writing. Be that as it will, the blind Teresias was not more famous in Greece than this dumb artist has been for some years last past in the cities of London and Westminster. Thus much for the profound gentleman who honours me with the following epistle :
From my Cell, June 24, 1714. BEING informed that you have lately got the use of your tongue, I have some thoughts of following your example, that I may be a fortune-teller properly speaking. I am grown weary of my taciturnity, and having served my country many years under the title of " the dumb doctor," I shall now prophesy by word of mouth, and (as Mr. Lee says of the magpye, who you know was a great fortuneteller among the ancients) chatter futurity. I have hitherto chosen to receive questions and return answers in writing, that I might avoid the tediousness and trouble of debates, my querists being generally of an humour to think that they have never predictions enough for their money. In short, Sir, my case has been something like that of those discreet animals the monkeys, who, as the Indians tell us, can speak if they would, but purposely avoid it, that they may not be made to work. I have hitherto gained a livelihood by holding my tongue, but shall now open my mouth in order to fill it. If I appear a little word-bound in my first solutions and responses, I hope it will not be imputed to any want of fore
*Duncan Campbell.--See NO. 474.
sight, but to the long disuse of speech. I doubt not by this invention to have all my former customers over again; for, if I have promised any of them lovers or husbands, riches or good luck, it is my design to confirm to them, viva voce, what I have already given them under my hand. If you will honour me with a visit, I will compliment you with the first opening of my mouth; and if you please, you may make an entertaining dialogue out of the conversation of two dumb men. Excuse this trouble, worthy Sir, from one who has been a long time Your silent admirer,
• CORNELIUS AGRIPPA.'
I have received the following letter, or rather billetdoux, from a pert young baggage, who congratulates with me upon the same occasion.
'DEAR MR. PRATE-APACE,
June 23, 1714.
I AM a member of a female society who call ourselves the Chit-chat club, and am ordered by the whole sisterhood to congratulate you upon the use of your tongue. We have all of us a mighty mind to hear you talk, and if you will take your place among us for an evening, we have unanimously agreed to allow you one minute in ten, without interruption.
I am, SIR,
Your humble servant,
P. S. You may find us at my lady Betty Clack's, who will leave orders with her porter, that if an elderly gentleman, with a short face, inquires for her, he shall be admitted, and no questions asked.'
As this particular paper shall consist wholly of what I have received from my correspondents, I shall fill up the remaining part of it with other congratulatory letters of the same nature.
Oxford, June 25, 1714.
WE are here wonderfully pleased with the opening of your mouth, and very frequently open ours in approbation of your design; especially since we find you are
resolved to preserve your taciturnity as to all party-matWe do not question but you are as great an orator as Sir Hudibras, of whom the poet sweetly sings,
"" -He could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope."
If you will send us down the half dozen well turned periods that produced such dismal effects in your muscles, we will deposit them near an old manuscript of Tully's orations, among the archives of the university; for we all agree with you, that there is not a more remarkable accident recorded in history, since that which happened to the son of Croesus; nay, I believe you might have gone higher, and have added Balaam's ass. We are impatient to see more of your productions, and expect what words will next fail from you, with as much attention as those who were set to watch the speaking head which friar Ba con formerly erected in this place.
We are, worthy SIR,
Your most humble servants,
Middle-Temple, June 24.
'I AM very glad to hear that thou beginnest to prate; and find, by thy yesterday's vision, thou art so used to it, that thou canst not forbear talking in thy sleep. Let me only advise thee to speak like other men, for I am afraid thou wilt be very queer if thou dost not intend to use the phrases in fashion, as thou callest them in thy second paper. Hast thou a mind to pass for a Bantamite *, or to make us all Quakers? I do assure thee, dear Spec, I am not polished out of my veracity, when I subscribe myself
Thy Constant admirer,
And humble servant,
See No. 557.
No. 561. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 1714.
-Paulatim abolere Sichæum
Incipit, et vivo tentat prævertere amore
VIRG. En. i. ver. 724.
Works in the pliant bosom of the fair,
AM a tall, broad-shouldered, impudent, black fellow, and, as I thought, every way qualified for a rich widow: but after having tried my fortune for above three years together, I have not been able to get one single relict in the mind. My first attacks were generally successful, but always broke off as soon as they came to the word settlement. Though I have not improved my fortune this way, I have my experience, and have learned several secrets which may be of use to those unhappy gentlemen, who are commonly distinguished by the name of widowhunters, and who do not know that this tribe of women are, generally speaking, as much upon the catch as themselves. I shall here communicate to you the mysteries of a certain female cabal of this order, who call themselves the Widow-club. This club consists of nine experienced dames, who take their places once a-week round a large oval table.
1. Mrs. President is a person who has disposed of six husbands, and is now determined to take a seventh; being of opinion that there is as much virtue in the touch of a seventh husband as of a seventh son. Her comrades are as follow:
2. Mrs. Snap, who has four jointures by four different bed-fellows, of four different shires. She is at present upon the point of marriage with a Middlesex man, and is said to have an ambition of extending her possessions through all the counties in England, on this side the Trent.
3. Mrs. Medlar, who, after two husbands and a gallant, is now wedded to an old gentleman of sixty. Upon her making her report to the club after a week's cohabitation, she is still allowed to sit as a widow, and accordingly takes her place at the board.
4. The widow Quick, married within a fortnight after the death of her last husband. Her weeds have served her thrice, and are still as good as new.
5. Lady Catharine Swallow. She was a widow at eighteen, and has since buried a second husband and two coachmen.
6. The lady Waddle. She was married in the 15th year of her age to Sir Simon Waddle, knight, aged threescore and twelve, by whom she had twins nine months after his decease. In the 55th year of her age she was married to James Spindle, esq. a youth of one-and-twenty, who did not outlive the honey-moon.
7. Deborah Conquest. The case of this lady is something particular. She is the relict of Sir Sampson Con'quest, some time justice of the quorum. Sir Sampson was seven feet high, and two feet in breadth from the tip of one shoulder to the other. He had married three wives, who all of them died in child-bed. This terrified the whole sex, who none of them durst venture on Sir Sampson. At length Mrs. Deborah undertook him, and gave so good an account of him, that in three years time she very fairly laid him out, and measured his length upon the ground. This exploit has gained her so great a reputation in the club, that they have added Sir Sampson's three victories to hers, and give her the merit of a fourth widowhood; and she takes her place accordingly.
8. The widow Wildfire, relict of Mr. John Wildfire, fox-hunter, who broke his neck over a six-bar gate. She took his death so much to heart, that it was thought it would have put an end to her life, had she not diverted her sorrows by receiving the addresses of a gentleman in the neighbourhood, who made love to her in the second month of her widowhood. This gentleman was discarded in a fortnight for the sake of a young Templar, who had the possession of her for six weeks after, till he was beaten out by a broken officer, who likewise gave up his place to a gentleman at court. The courtier was as short lived a favourite as his predecessors, but had the pleasure of