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If much more than what is here intimated be not the plain truth, it is impossible to come at what is so, since one can find none who speak of you, who are not in love with your person, or indebted to your fortune. I wish you, as the còmpletion of human happiness, a long continuance of being what you are; and am, Madam, your most obedient and most humble servant,
To Mrs. STEELE. MADAM,
[1715.] F great obligations received are just motives
for addresses of this kind, you have an unquestionable pretension to my acknowledgments, who have condescended to give me your very self. I can make no return for so inestimable a favour, but in acknowledging the generosity of the giver.
To have either wealth, wit, or beauty, is generally a temptation to a woman to put an unreasonable value upon herself; but with all these, in a degree which drew upon you the addresses of men of the ampleft fortunes, you bestowed your person where you could have no expectations but from the gratitude of the receiver, though you knew he could exert that
* Prefixed to the third volume of “The Ladies Library.”
gratitude in no other returns but esteem and
Whoever should see, or hear you, would think it were worth leaving all the world for you; while I, habitually possessed of that happiness, have been throwing away impotent endeavours for the rest of mankind, to the neglect of her for whom any other man, in his senses, would be apt to sacrifice every thing else.
I know not by what unreasonable prepoffeffion it is, but methinks there must be something austere to give authority to wisdom; and I can. not account for having only raillied inany sea. fonable sentiments of yours, but that you are too beautiful to appear judicious.
One may grow fond, but not wise, from what is said by so lovely a counsellor. Hard fate, that you have been lefsened by your perfections, and lost power by your charms!
That ingenuous spirit in all your behaviour, that familiar grace in your words and actions, has for this seven years only inspired admiration ånd love; but experience has taught me, the best counsel I ever have received has been pronounced by the fairest and softest lips, and convinced me that I am in you blest with a wise friend, as well as a charming mistress *.
Your mind shall no longer suffer by your person ; nor shall your eyes, for the future, dazzle me into a blindness towards your understanding. I rejoice in this public occasion to shew my esteem for you; and must do you the justice to say, that there can be no virtue represented in all this Collection for the female world, which I have not known you exert, as far as the op
* See above, p. 276.-Swift, speaking of Steele, in his Journal to Stella, says,
6. We have scurvy Tatlers of late : so pray “ do not suspect me. I have one or two hints I design to fend “ him, and never any more : he does not deserve it. He is go“ verned by his wife most abominably, as bad as -so saw her since I came; nor has he ever made me an invitation; “ either he dares not, or is such a thoughtless Tisdall fellow, so that he never minds it.” Swift, Journal to Stella, Nov. 3, 1710.-“ Yes, Steele was a little while in prison, or at least in
a spunging-house, fome time before I came, but not since." Ibid. Dec. 14, 1719.--" Steele was arrested the other day for “ making a lottery, directly against an act of parliament. He “ is now under prosecution ; but they think it will be dropped o out of pity. I believe he will very soon lose his employment, “ for he has been mighty impertinent of late in his Spectators ; “ and I will never offer a word in his behalf.”—Ibid. July 1, 1712. And see what has been already quoted in p. 361; and a note on the new cd, of Tat. vol. VI. N° 228, p. 95, & feq.
portunities of your fortune have given you leave. Forgive me, that my heart overflows with love and gratitude for daily instances of your prudent economy, the just disposition you make of your little affairs, your chearfulness in dispatch of them, your prudent forbearance of any reflections that they might have needed less vigilance had you disposed of your fortune fuit. ably; in short, for all the arguments you every day give me of a generous and sincere affection.
It is impossible for me to look back on many evils and pains which I have suffered since wę came together, withoạt a pleasure which is not to be expressed, from the proofs I have had, in those circumstances, of your unwearięd goodness. How often has your tenderness removed pain from my sick head! how often anguish from my afflicted heart! With how skilful patience have I known you comply with the vain projects which pain has suggested, to have an aching limb removed by journeying from one side of a room to another ! how often, the next instant, travelled the same ground again, without telling your patient it was to no purpose to change his situation! If there are such beings as guardian angels, thus are they employed. I will no more believe one of them more good in its inclinations, than I can conceive it more charming in its form, than my wife,
But I offend, and forget that what I say to you is to appear in public. You are so great a lover of home, that I know it will be irksome to you to go into the world even in an applause. I will end this without so much as mentioning your little flock, or your own amiable figure at the head of it. That I think them preferable to all other children, I know is the effect of passion and instinct ; that I believe you the best of wives, I know proceeds from experience and reason. I am, Madam, your most obliged husband, and most obedient humble servant,
L E T TER
From Mr. ROYSTON MEREDITH.
Oct. 21, 1714.
F I mistake not, you are the gentleman who,
of late, has been so great a stickler for the liberty, rights, and properties of the subject;
* This and the three following letters were originally published in 1714, in a pamphlet, intituled, “ Mr. Steele detected:
poor and oppressed Orphan's Letters to the great and “ arbitrary Mr. Steele ; complaining of the great Injustice done “ to the Public in general, and to himself in particular, by the “ Ladies Library, publifhed by Mr. Steele; together with Mr. « Steele's Answers, and some just Reflections on them.” The integrity of Steele, whatever other failings he may have had, will overbalance the harsh obloquy of an exasperated adversary.