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make me believe the strangest stories ! But I have now pretty nearly done with him; he dares not speak so big as he used to do: hardly a shoeblack will pull off his hat to him now; it is even as much as he can do to keep his own tight upon his head; nay, I have been assured that the next high wind will certainly blow it off.
E. You must doubtless have made great advances in the art of reasoning, from the various lights and experiments of modern times : pray what was the last philosophical study that engaged your attention?
C. One of the last was a system of quackery, called Animal Magnetism.
E. And what in theology?
C. A system of quackery, called Swedenborgianism.
E. And pray what are you doing at this moment?
C. I am going to turn over quite a new leaf. I am singing Ça Ira.
E. I do not know whether you are going to turn over a new leaf or no; but I am sure, from this account, it is high time you should. All I can say is, that if I cannot mend you, I will endeavour to take care you do not spoil me; and one thing more, that I wish you would lay your commands on Miss Burney to write a new novel, and make you laugh.
LETTER OF JOHN BULL".
I have long had the happiness of being married, as I have often said and sworn, to the best of all possible wives; but as this best of all possible wives has a few fancies, which I should be glad she were cured of, I have taken the liberty to lay my case before you. My wife, sir, has been much admired in her time, and still is, in my eye, a very desirable woman. But you well know, sir, that let wives wear as well as you can suppose, they will be the worse for wear;-and so it is with my dame: and if I were to say that I can see in her neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, I should belie my own eyesight. I like her however, altogether, better than any woman I know; and we should jog on quietly enough together, but that, of late, she has been pleased to insist upon my declaring, in all companies, that she is absolutely the handsomest woman under the sun; and that none of
* The following jeu d'esprit was written about the year 1792, and refers to the unqualified declarations of attachment to the constitution then promulgated by certain associations to prove their loyalty.
my neighbours' wives are fit to hold the candle to her: and there is one 'Squire Edmund, a hectoring bullying fellow, who, they say, is a little cracked (a great favourite with my wife, notwithstanding, ever since he has flattered and spoke her fair; for it is not long ago that he used to be drawing caricatures of her);-he, I say, goes about everywhere, telling people I ought to chailenge any one who presumes to assert to the contrary. “ Cara sposa,” have I often said to her, “ is it not sufficient if I love thee best, and that for the best reason, because thou art my wife? I chose thee freely, and am content to be 'to thy faults a little blind;' but to be entirely so, is neither good for thee nor for me.”—She lately made ine sign a paper, that she was, in all parts, of the exact proportions of the Venus de' Medici; though, Heaven knows! I never measured them together: and that not only there never was a more beautiful creature produced upon God's earth, but that it was utterly impossible for the imagination of man to conceive a more beautiful. I confess I was a good deal ashamed to make such boasts ; nevertheless, I complied, for the sake of peace. My wife, moreover, entertains an idea, that every man who sees her is in love with her: and, like Belise in the Femmes Sçavantes, she is resolved not to give up the point, though the best compliments she has met with of late from her neighbours have
been, “that she looks very well for a woman of her years; that she wears well, considering; that she has fine remains, and that one may easily see she has been a handsome woman in her time.” These are speeches, one would think, not very apt to feed her vanity; yet, whenever she hears of a match that is likely to take place, she cannot help fancying the lover was attracted by some remote resemblance to her admired person. “Yes,” she will cry on such occasions, “there was a tint of my complexion, which did the business; not so brilliant indeed—something of my majestic look —and an evident imitation of my walk.” With all this opinion of herself, my poor wife, especially of late, has been distractedly jealous of me. She is continually teasing me with embarrassing questions; as, “whether I love her as well as I did on my wedding-day; whether I will promise to love her if she should be blind, or decrepid, or out of her wits,” &c.—A circumstance has occurred lately, which has increased this jealousy tenfold. My next-door neighbour, you must know, is married again; and ever since that event she watches me as a cat watches a mouse. I cannot look out of the window, or inquire which way the wind sets, but it is in order to admire my neighbour's new wife. She pretends to have found love-letters which have passed between us; and is sure, she says, I design to part with her,
“ false-hearted man as I am;" upon which, the other day, she threw herself into violent hysterics, and alarmed the whole family and neighbourhood.
To be sure, the bride did send me a favour, which I wore in my hat, openly; and I do not deny but I may have paid her a few compliments, and written some verses upon her, for she is a showy, fine-spoken woman; but for all that, I would not marry her if I were free tomorrow; for, to tell you the truth, I suspect her to be too much of a termagant for me; and besides, John Bull is not given to change.
My wife has another failing, sir. She is fond of every thing that is old, because it is old; and she never will give any reason, except a woman's reason, which, you know, is no reason at all, for any one thing she does. If I presume to hint things might be better after a different fashion, I can get no other answer than that it is her way —that her grandmother and great-grandmother did so before her; and that it is her maxim never to alter the family management.” I can scarcely stir about my house, it is so filled with heavy lumbering furniture, half of which is worm-eaten, and of no use but to harbour vermin; but my wife cannot persuade herself to part with any of it, she has such a respect for a fine piece of antiquity : " and then,” says she, “old furniture has such a creditable look !” “So it might, my dear,” says I,