Friday, March 14, 1712. Steele.
Inclusam Danaen turris ahenea
Robustaeque fores, et vigilum canum
Tristes exubiae, munierant satis
Nocturnis ab adulteris;
Your Correspondents Letter relating to Fortune-Hunters, and your subsequent Discourse upon it, have given me Encouragement to send you a State of my Case, by which you will see, that the Matter complained of is a common Grievance both to City and Country.
I am a Country Gentleman of between five and six thousand a Year. It is my Misfortune to have a very fine Park and an only Daughter; upon which account I have been so plagu’d with Deer-Stealers and Fops, that for these four Years past I have scarce enjoy’d a Moments Rest. I look upon my self to be in a State of War, and am forc’d to keep as constant watch in my Seat, as a Governour would do that commanded a Town on the Frontier of an Enemy’s Country. I have indeed pretty well secur’d my Park, having for this purpose provided my self of four Keepers, who are Left-handed, and handle a Quarter-Staff beyond any other Fellow in the Country. And for the Guard of my House, besides a Band of Pensioner-Matrons and an old Maiden Relation, whom I keep on constant Duty, I have Blunderbusses always charged, and Fox-Gins planted in private Places about my Garden, of which I have given frequent Notice in the Neighbourhood; yet so it is, that in spite of all my Care, I shall every now and then have a saucy Rascal ride by reconnoitring (as I think you call it) under my Windows, as sprucely drest as if he were going to a Ball. I am aware of this way of attacking a Mistress on Horseback, having heard that it is a common Practice in Spain; and have therefore taken care to remove my Daughter from the Road-side of the House, and to lodge her next the Garden. But to cut short my Story; what can a Man do after all? I durst not stand for Member of Parliament last Election, for fear of some ill Consequence from my being off of my Post. What I would therefore desire of you, is, to promote a Project I have set on foot; and upon which I have writ to some of my Friends; and that is, that care may be taken to secure our Daughters by Law, as well as our Deer; and that some honest Gentleman of a publick Spirit, would move for Leave to bring in a Bill For the better preserving of the Female Game.
I am, SIR,
Your humble Servant.
Mile-End-Green, March 6, 1711-12.
Here is a young Man walks by our Door every Day about the Dusk of the Evening. He looks up at my Window, as if to see me; and if I steal towards it to peep at him, he turns another way, and looks frightened at finding what he was looking for. The Air is very cold; and pray let him know that if he knocks at the Door, he will be carry’d to the Parlour Fire; and I will come down soon after, and give him an Opportunity to break his Mind.
I am, SIR,
Your humble Servant,
If I observe he cannot speak, Ill give him time to recover himself, and ask him how he does.
I beg you to print this without Delay, and by the first Opportunity give us the natural Causes of Longing in Women; or put me out of Fear that my Wife will one time or other be delivered of something as monstrous as any thing that has yet appeared to the World; for they say the Child is to bear a Resemblance of what was desir’d by the Mother. I have been marry’d upwards of six Years, have had four Children, and my Wife is now big with the fifth. The Expences she has put me to in procuring what she has longed for during her Pregnancy with them, would not only have handsomely defray’d the Charges of the Month, but of their Education too; her Fancy being so exorbitant for the first Year or two, as not to confine it self to the usual Objects of Eatables and Drinkables, but running out after Equipage and Furniture, and the like Extravagancies. To trouble you only with a few of them: When she was with Child of Tom, my eldest Son, she came home one day just fainting, and told me she had been visiting a Relation, whose Husband had made her a Present of a Chariot and a stately pair of Horses; and that she was positive she could not breathe a Week longer, unless she took the Air in the Fellow to it of her own within that time: This, rather than lose an Heir, I readily comply’d with. Then the Furniture of her best Room must be instantly changed, or she should mark the Child with some of the frightful Figures in the old-fashion’d Tapestry. Well, the Upholsterer was called, and her Longing sav’d that bout. When she went with Molly, she had fix’d her Mind upon a new Set of Plate, and as much China as would have furnished an India Shop: These also I chearfully granted, for fear of being Father to an Indian Pagod. Hitherto I found her Demands rose upon every Concession; and had she gone on, I had been ruined: But by good Fortune, with her third, which was Peggy, the Height of her Imagination came down to the Corner of a Venison Pasty, and brought her once even upon her Knees to gnaw off the Ears of a Pig from the Spit. The Gratifications of her Palate were easily preferred to those of her Vanity; and sometimes a Partridge or a Quail, a Wheat-Ear or the Pestle of a Lark, were chearfully purchased; nay, I could be contented tho I were to feed her with green Pease in April, or Cherries in May. But with the Babe she now goes, she is turned Girl again, and fallen to eating of Chalk, pretending twill make the Child’s Skin white; and nothing will serve her but I must bear her Company, to prevent its having a Shade of my Brown: In this however I have ventur’d to deny her. No longer ago than yesterday, as we were coming to Town, she saw a parcel of Crows so heartily at Break-fast upon a piece of Horse-flesh, that she had an invincible Desire to partake with them, and (to my infinite Surprize) begged the Coachman to cut her off a Slice as if twere for himself, which the Fellow did; and as soon as she came home she fell to it with such an Appetite, that she seemed rather to devour than eat it. What her next Sally will be, I cannot guess: but in the mean time my Request to you is, that if there be any way to come at these wild unaccountable Rovings of Imagination by Reason and Argument, you’d speedily afford us your Assistance. This exceeds the Grievance of Pin-Money, and I think in every Settlement there ought to be a Clause inserted, that the Father should be answerable for the Longings of his Daughter. But I shall impatiently expect your Thoughts in this Matter and am
Your most Obliged, and
most Faithful Humble Servant,
Let me know whether you think the next Child will love Horses as much as Molly does China-Ware.