Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

and perceived the spirit, who sat opposite to me, to be likewise awake, I began to make overtures of conversation, by complaining how dark it was. 'And extremely 4 cold too,' answered my fellow-traveller; 'though, I 'thank God, as I have no body, I feel no inconvenience 'from it: but you will believe, Sir, that this frosty air 'must seem very sharp to one just issued forth out of an 4 oven: for such was the inflamed habitation I am lately 'departed from.' 'How did you come to your end, Sir?' 4 said I. * I was murdered, Sir,' answered the gentleman. 'I am surprised, then,' replied I, 'that you did not 'divert yourself by walking up and down, and playing 'some merry tricks with the murderer.' 'Oh, Sir,' returned he, 'I had not that privilege, I was lawfully put 'to death. In short, a physician set me on fire, by 'giving me medicines to throw out my distemper. I 'died of a hot regimen, as they call it, in the small-pox.' One of the spirits at that word started up, and cried out, ' The small pox! bless me! I hope I am not in 'company with that distemper, which I have all my life 'with such caution avoided, and have so happily escaped 'hitherto!' This fright set all the passengers who were awake into a loud laughter; and the gentleman recollecting himself with some confusion, and not without blushing, asked pardon, crying, 'I protest I dreamt that I 'was alive.' 'Perhaps, Sir,' said I, 'you died of that 'distemper, which therefore made so strong an impression on you.' 'No, Su',' answered he, ' I never had it • in my life; but the continual and dreadful apprehension 'it kept me so long under cannot, I see, be so imme'diately eradicated. You must know, Sir, I avoided 'coming to London for thirty years together, for fear of 'the small-pox, till the most urgent business brought me 'thither about five days ago. I was so dreadfully afraid 'of this disease, that I refused the second night of my

i

'arrival to sup with a friend, whose wife had recovered of 'it several months before, and the same evening got a 'surfeit by eating too many muscles, which brought me 'into this good company.'

'I will lay a wager,' cried the spirit, who sat next him'there is not one in the coach able to guess my dis'temper.' I desired the favour of him, to acquaint us with it, if it was so uncommon. 'Why, Sir, (said Le 'I died of honour.'—' Of honour, Sir!' repeated I, wifi some surprise. 'Yes, Sir,' answered the spirit, 'of 'honour, for I was killed in a duel.'

'For my part,' said a fair- spirit, ' I was innoculaied 'last summer, and had the good fortune to escape with a 'very few marks in my face. I esteemed myself now 'perfectly happy, as I imagined I had no restraint to J 'full enjoyment of the diversions of the town; bm 'within a few days after my coming up, I caught cold bj 'overdancing myself at a ball, and last night died of J 'violent fever.'

After a short silence, which now ensued, the fair spin1 who spoke last, it being now day-light, addressed herself to a female, who sat next her, and asked her to what chance they owed the happiness of her company. She answered, she apprehended to a consumption: but the physicians were not agreed concerning her distemper, for she left two of them in a very hot dispute about it, when she came out of her body. 'And pray, Madam,' said the same spirit, to the sixth passenger, 'how came you & 'leave the other world?' But that female spirit screwing up her mouth, answered, she wondered at the curiosity d some people; that perhaps persons had already heard some reports of her death, which were far from being true: that whatever was the occasion of it, she was glad at being delivered from a world, in winch she had no pleasure, and where there was nothing but nonsense ^ mpertinence; particularly among her own sex, whose oose conduct she had long been entirely ashamed of.

The beauteous spirit, perceiving her question gave offence, pursued it no farther. She had indeed all the sweetness and good-humour, which are so extremely amiable (when found) in that sex, which tenderness most exquisitely becomes. Her countenance displayed all the cheerfulness, the good-nature, and the modesty, which diffuse such brightness round the beauty of Seraphina,* awing every beholder with respect, and, at the same time, ravishing him with admiration. Had it not been indeed for our conversation on the small-pox, I should have imagined we had been honoured with her identical presence. This opinion might have been heightened by the good sense she uttered, whenever she spoke: by the delicacy of her sentiments, and the complacence of her behaviour, together with a certain dignity, which attended every look, word, and gesture; qualities which could not fail making an impression on a heartf so capable of receiving it as mine, nor was she long in raising in me a very violent degree of seraphic love. I do not intend by this, that sort of love which men are very properly said to make to women in the lower world, and which seldom lasts any longer than while it is making. I mean by seraphic love, an extreme delicacy and tenderness of friendship, of which, my worthy reader, if thou hast no conception, as it is probable thou mayst not, my endeavour to instruct thee would be fruitless, as it would be to explain the most difficult problems of Sir Isaac Newton to one ignorant of vulgar arithmetic.

• A particular lady of quality is meant here; but every lady of quality or no quality, are welcome to apply the character to themselves.

j- We have before made an apology for this language, which we here repeat for the last time: though the heart may, we hope, be metaphorically used here with more propriety, than when we apply those passions to the body, which belong to the soul.

To return therefore to matters comprehensible by all understandings; the discourse now turned on the vanity, folly, and misery of the lower world, from which every passenger in the coach expressed the highest satisfactk* in being delivered: though it was very remarkable, thai notwithstanding the joy we declared at our death, there was not one of us who did not mention the accident which occasioned it, as a thing we would have avoided if we could. Nay, the very grave lady herself, who was the forwardest in testifying her delight, confessed inadvertently, that she left a physician by her bedside. And the gentleman, who died of honour, very liberally cursed both his folly, and his fencing. While we were entertaining ourselves with these matters, on a sudden a most offensive smell began to invade our nostrils. This very much resembled the savour, which travellers, in summer, perceive at their approach to that beautiful village of the Hague, arising from those delicious canals, which, as they consist of standing water, do at that time emit odourgreatly agreeable to a Dutch taste; but not so pleasant to any other. Those perfumes, with the assistance of a fair wind, begin to affect persons of quick olfactory nerves at a league's distance, and increase gradually as you approach. In the same manner did the smell I have just mentioned more and more invade us, till one of the spirits, looking out of the coach-window, declared we were just arrived at a very large city; and indeed he had scarce said so, before we found ourselves in the suburbs, and at the same time, the coachman being asked by another, informed us, that the name of this place was the City of Diseases. The road to it was extremely smooth, and excepting the abovementioned savour, delightfully pleasant. The streets of the suburbs were lined with bagnios, taverns, and cooks shops; in the first we saw several beautiful women, but in tawdry dresses, looking out at the windows; and in the

latter were visibly exposed all kinds of the richest dainties: but on our entering the city, we found, contrary to all we had seen in the other world, that the suburbs were infinitely pleasanter than the city itself. It was indeed, a very dull, dark, and melancholy place. Few people appeared in the streets, and these, for the most part, were old women, and here and there a formal grave gentleman, who seemed to be thinking, with large tie-wigs on, and amber-headed canes in their hands. We were all in hopes, that our vehicle would not stop here; but, to our sorrow, the coach soon drove into an inn, and we were obliged to alight.

CHAPTER III.

Tlie adventures we met with in the City of Diseases.

We had not been long arrived in our inn, where it seems

we were to spend the remainder of the day, before our

host acquainted us, that it was customary for all spirits, in

their passage through that city, to pay their respects

to that lady Disease, to whose assistance they had

owed their deliverance from the lower world. We

answered, we should not fail in any complacence which

was usual to others; upon which our host replied he would

immediately send porters to conduct us. He had not

long quitted the room, before we were attended by some

of those grave persons, whom I have before described in

large tie-wigs with amber-headed canes. These gentlemen

are the ticket-porters in the city, and their canes are the

insignia, or tickets, denoting their office. We informed

them of the several ladies to whom we were obliged, and

were preparing to follow them, when on a sudden they all

stared at one another, and left us in a hurry, with a frown

« AnteriorContinuar »