LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Chevalier Taylor

Vol. I. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Introductory
Ch. 2: Childhood
Ch. 3: Boyhood
Ch. 4: London
Ch. 5: Companions
Ch. 6: The Cypher
Ch. 7: Edinburgh
Ch. 8: Edinburgh
Ch. 9: Excursion
Ch. 10: Naval Services
Ch. 11: Periodical Press
Ch. 12: Periodical Press
Ch. 13: Past Times
Ch. 14: Past Times
Ch. 15: Literary
Ch. 16: War & Jubilees
Ch. 17: The Criminal
Ch. 18: Mr. Perceval
Ch. 19: Poets
Ch. 20: The Sun
Ch. 21: Sun Anecdotes
Ch. 22: Paris in 1814
Ch. 23: Paris in 1814
Ch. 24: Byron
Vol. I. Appendices
Scott Anecdote
Burns Anecdote
Life of Thomson
John Stuart Jerdan
Scottish Lawyers
Sleepless Woman
Canning Anecdote
Southey in The Sun
Hood’s Lamia
Murder of Perceval
Vol. II. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary
Ch. 2: Mr. Canning
Ch. 3: The Sun
Ch. 4: Amusements
Ch. 5: Misfortune
Ch. 6: Shreds & Patches
Ch. 7: A Character
Ch. 8: Varieties
Ch. 9: Ingratitude
Ch. 10: Robert Burns
Ch. 11: Canning
Ch. 12: Litigation
Ch. 13: The Sun
Ch. 14: Literary Gazette
Ch. 15: Literary Gazette
Ch. 16: John Trotter
Ch. 17: Contributors
Ch. 18: Poets
Ch 19: Peter Pindar
Ch 20: Lord Munster
Ch 21: My Writings
Vol. II. Appendices
The Satirist.
Authors and Artists.
The Treasury
Morning Chronicle
‣ Chevalier Taylor
Foreign Journals
Vol. III. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary Pursuits
Ch. 2: Literary Labour
Ch. 3: Poetry
Ch. 4: Coleridge
Ch 5: Criticisms
Ch. 6: Wm Gifford
Ch. 7: W. H. Pyne
Ch. 8: Bernard Barton
Ch. 9: Insanity
Ch. 10: The R.S.L.
Ch. 11: The R.S.L.
Ch. 12: L.E.L.
Ch. 13: L.E.L.
Ch. 14: The Past
Ch. 15: Literati
Ch. 16: A. Conway
Ch. 17: Wellesleys
Ch. 18: Literary Gazette
Ch. 19: James Perry
Ch. 20: Personal Affairs
Vol. III. Appendices
Literary Poverty
Ismael Fitzadam
Mr. Tompkisson
Mrs. Hemans
A New Review
Debrett’s Peerage
Procter’s Poems
Poems by Others
Poems by Jerdan
Vol. IV. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Critical Glances
Ch. 2: Personal Notes
Ch. 3: Fresh Start
Ch. 4: Thomas Hunt
Ch. 5: On Life
Ch. 6: Periodical Press
Ch. 7: Quarterly Review
Ch. 8: My Own Life
Ch. 9: Mr. Canning
Ch. 10: Anecdotes
Ch. 11: Bulwer-Lytton
Ch. 12: G. P. R. James
Ch. 13: Finance
Ch. 14: Private Life
Ch. 15: Learned Societies
Ch. 16: British Association
Ch. 17: Literary Characters
Ch. 18: Literary List
Ch. 19: Club Law
Ch. 20: Conclusion
Vol. IV. Appendix
Gerald Griffin
W. H. Ainsworth
James Weddell
The Last Bottle
N. T. Carrington
The Literary Fund
Letter from L.E.L.
Geographical Society
Baby, a Memoir
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E., p. 71.

The Chevalier John Taylor, or “John de Taylor, Ophthalmiater, Pont., Imp. and Royal,” or more at length, “Pontiff, Imper. and Royal,” meaning pontifical, imperial and royal, in the years 1761-2, published one of the most amusing and ludicrous books in the English language. Of his inordinate vanity, charlatanry, and impudence, it is impossible to form an idea without reading this unique work. It relates his wonderful cures of exalted personages, and nearly all the crowned heads in Europe; his unexampled travels over the world with his equipages and attendants; and his extraordinary personal adventures, including those with princesses and ladies of the highest rank in every country, and of all ages, who sought and courted him in disguise. His marvellous wit, his irresistible powers “as master of the art of pleasing,” and his consequent successes, cast the stories of

* “All these are signatures of Foreign correspondents in the ‘Chronicle’ within the last three weeks. What a pity it has no British letter-writers to counteract their poisons.”

Ferdinand Mendez Pinto completely into the shade, and leave the Chevalier de Taylor alone in his glory, superior to Paracelsus, Katterfelto, and the whole succession of quacks since the world was created.

It would require a large space to exhibit even faintly the magnificence and potency of this marvellous man, to whom, if his birth-place, Norwich, has not erected a splendid public monument of everlasting brass, it must be owing to a condition of desperate blindness of which the skill of no opthalmiater could effect a cure.* The title-page will say a little for the author:


Pontifical—Imperial and Royal—The Kings of Poland, Denmark, Sweden, the Electors of the Holy Empire—The Princes of Saxe Gotha, Mecklenberg, Anspach, Brunswick, Parma, Modena, Zerbst, Lorraine, Saxony, Hesse Cassel, Holstein, Salzbourg, Baviere, Liege, Bareith, Georgia, &c., Pr. in Opt. C. of Rom. M.D.—C.D.—Author of 45 Works in different Languages: the Produce for upwards of thirty Years, of the greatest Practice in the Cure of distempered Eyes, of any in the Age we live—Who has been in every Court, Kingdom, Province, State, City, and Town of the least Consideration in all Europe, without exception.


This Work contains all most worthy the Attention of a Traveller—also a Dissertation on the Art of Pleasing, with

* Himself alone could describe the important event:—“I shall only say on that head, that in Norwich I first beheld the light. That it was in that happy city I first began to breathe. It was there that I first became acquainted with the glories of the sun. A city memorable for many great events in our English annals; and it is possible that its having been the place of my birth, may not one day be judged unworthy the notice of

the most interesting Observations on the Force of Prejudice; numberless Adventures, as well amongst Nuns and Friars, as with Persons in high Life; with a Description of a great Variety of the most admirable Relations, which, though told in his well known peculiar Manner, each one is strictly true, and within the Chevalier’s own Observations and Knowledge.—Interspersed with the Sentiments of Crowned Heads, &c, in Favour of his Enterprises: and an Address to the public, showing that his Profession is distinct and independent of every other Part of Physic.


Qui visum vitam dat.

Going thus about giving light and life to all comers, it is annoying to think, that whilst so admired and courted by great ladies, et cetera, there were some plague-spots on the continent where the Chevalier was not welcomed. Thus he informs us—

“I must not here omit one of the most extraordinary adventures of my life, which happened in another of the most considerable courts in Europe, which has done me as much honour, with regard to my capacity, if not more, in the opinion of the great, than any other. I arrived in this court, furnished with every recommendation from many of the highest personages, proper to procure me an audience of the sovereign, and the protection of the courtiers. Notice being given of my arrival, and all my letters presented by a proper officer, the sovereign seemed so pleased and desirous (as he was most graciously pleased to say), of seeing a man who had made himself so singularly remarkable, as well by his reception in every court, as from his success with

posterity. Whether I err or not, in having this said, will he best known to those who shall have read the story of my life. For the present I shall repeat that it was in this famous city that my mother became first acquainted with my existence; it was there she first heard the news of the birth of her first dear son.”!!

so many great princes, and other great personages, by acts of his profession, that the hoar was next day fixed for honouring me with an audience, being that evening invited to supper at the marshal’s table as usual; in the palace there happened a trifling dispute between myself and a celebrated wit, then a favourite at court; the latter, to whom at that time I was a stranger, was so angry at my being flattered to have gained the superiority in the argument, that, in revenge, he so artfully prejudiced, the same night, the sovereign against me, that, when I was next morning prepared to throw myself at his feet, not thinking any more of the idle babble the night preceding, always supposing that all conversations round the table, amongst men of honour, are never suffered to transpire—an officer came to my apartments, and told me, that the sovereign would grant me no audience, but required that I might continue my road. My readers may suppose how greatly I was astonished at this information, on remembering that I never was in any court furnished with such powerful recommendations as to this, nor ever saw a fairer prospect of meeting with all the attention that I could possibly hope for; and above all, not knowing the cause of this disgrace; finding that I had no other remedy but to obey, I immediately ordered my equipage, which being then at the crisis of my grandeur, having with me no less than two coaches and six, above ten servants in livery, besides gentlemen, my companions, in my own pay—I parted instantly for the capital, and being charged with letters for the commander, I waited on him, without discovering the least uneasiness, or saying ought of my adventure with the master. Being detained at his table, and assured of his desire to serve me from the recommendation I brought him, dinner was scarcely over before he received a messenger, by the best authority, which was in substance, that that celebrated Englishman, who that day arrived at the capital, must continue his road; the commander addressing himself to me, said, sir, this must mean you; on this I most respectfully answered, that I knew it did, and told him all that had happened; upon which his excellency immediately asked me, what was my answer? Obey, sir, said I, without doubt; but as there is no time limited, to-morrow will do as well as to-day. This was to me most afflicting news, because here were my
head-quarters, where I had caused to be assembled, by public notice, persons who wanted my aid, many from the neighbouring countries, and some from distant nations: having several years observed, in foreign countries, to fix, as I passed, a certain place, to get together all persons complaining of distempered eyes, that I might give them better attendance, and thence be enabled to obtain the desired success. Knowing the commander to be my friend, I continued three days longer, imagining that this threatening storm might blow over, at least that I might know in what I had erred, and thence be enabled to seek a proper remedy; in the mean time I continued to enrol all my blind subjects, which were in a greater number in proportion, and of greater quality, than I had ever met with in any time of my life; but knowing myself not to be secure in my situation, I did not venture to do any operation; but told these my people, of whatsoever rank, that I was busy in preparing necessaries for their cure. The fourth morning after my arrival, the commander received another message from superior authority, with positive orders for my departure early the next morning. My time thus being limited, and my danger not small, my invention was on the rack to know what I could do to save my glory, and to secure myself from the loss that must necessarily ensue from my departure; the injury that would be done to so many people, and amongst them many of the great, that came from all parts for my aid, could not but to them be very considerable, and to me immense; for I must lose not only the profits arising from the cure of these people, but the reputation that I should have possibly acquired in consequence. Besides, my misfortune would not end here, for my leaving a country so suddenly, and from a cause unknown, could not fail of exposing me to censure amongst the people in many other nations, where this account of my quick departure should be reported, as being myself the most public man under the sun, being personally known not only in every town in Europe, but in every part of the globe. Reflecting thus on my dreadful situation, and believing myself within a few hours of certain ruin, a happy thought preserved my glory, enabled me to quit the country with the highest honour, secured me the good opinion of the public, added to my fortune, and lastly, gave peace to my mind; and here follows a most faithful
relation. Examining my book where the names of the persons of every rank who demanded my relief were entered, and fixing on eight or ten of the principal, I ordered my equipage to the door, put a few bandages, and some instruments in my pocket, took with me my chief assistant servant, and set forward to visit these great personages; on my arrival at each one, I said, that I was come with all necessaries to make the operation for their cure, and laboured to appear quite easy in my mind: at which they all seemed pleased, discovering their impatience for my assistance. When having seated them with great ceremony, I touched their eyes with an instrument, without giving the least pain, and called it my operation; this done, I applied proper bandages, and rolled up their eyes one after another, as fast as I could continue my visits, with three or four yards of ribbon; after having gone through this ceremony with all, I spoke to each one to the following effect:—‘Now, your excellency, my operation is done, and I make no doubt but that you will be perfectly restored: there remains only my attendance, without which your excellency may have a fever. Your eyes may swell; they may be inflamed, and you may lose your sight—if not your life.’ And in this manner I addressed every one, after the business was over, that I styled for my then present purpose an operation: their excellencies, one and all, in their different houses, discovered, as we may suppose, the greatest surprise at this relation of mine; and asked me, in the utmost confusion, what I meant. I told each one, that I had orders by authority to depart the next morning, that I am going to such a court, and that if they wished to avoid all these evils, they must prepare their equipages to follow me; that I would not speak of these things before the operation, dreading to create in them such fears, as might have made my operation unsuccessful; and to sum up all, they were under an absolute necessity of going with me, or employ all their interest to keep me with them for their sight, and perhaps their lives, as I had said, depended on my presence, and there were no other remedies since the operations were done. The business of each one was immediately to put all means at work to procure my stay, which they all did, but, as I expected, in vain. That evening I sent a proper notice to all, to be ready the next morning, repeating
their danger by my absence. The time arrived for my departure, when I set out with my own equipage, which I have already said, was the most brilliant I ever kept; I was followed by a train of coaches, and other machines, all filled with persons complaining with disordered eyes, and continued my road, with all my followers, till I arrived at the first town belonging to the neighbouring sovereign: there I fixed my quarters, and resolved to stay not only till I did my duty to these great people, but for all who should follow me from the capital. The news of my success with those who followed me, together with the singular manner I parted, was soon the subject of conversation in many provinces, and in some of the neighbouring kingdoms; so that in less than a month, the town was so excessively filled on my account, that it was difficult at any price to get a lodging. The consequences of my project were—my glory was not only secured, but greatly augmented, by returning these great personages to the capital recovered; my reputation was so much increased, that I was attended by crowds for a long time, in every country through which I travelled, and my reward greatly exceeded what I had ever met with in so short a time.”

Of the rapidity of his course the following minutes inform us:—

“I set out from my native country, and began my travels, in the year 1727.

“In this month I went to Paris, and after a few months being there, I went through all France, every town of any consideration, without exception; and thence through all Holland, and every town, without exception; and all this with such amazing rapidity, that I was returned to London in November, 1735.”

“After being a little time in Madrid, I went with the greatest rapidity through all the kingdom of Spain, and after going many thousand miles post, from town to town, I returned to Madrid in September, 1738.

“I continued at Madrid till the war was proclaimed, 1739.

“I departed immediately upon the declaration of the war, for Lisbon, where I arrived in September, the same year; and after about a month, began my tour through all Portugal, and the kingdom of Algarvy, and this with such astonishing speed, that
I had finished the whole, and returned to Lisbon before the middle of September, 1740.”

Denmark, Sweden, and everywhere else were overrun with like celerity: the author says—

“I left Stockholm, after being honoured, as in the preceding court, in February, 1752, and in a few months, with the greatest rapidity, passed through every town in that kingdom: about the middle of November in the same year, I received an invitation to go to Russia, and was resolved to make the whole journey by land; and with this view I returned to Copenhagen and Hamburgh, and went thence through all Germany to Breslaw, through Silesia, thence through all the principal towns, and the palatines, and in all Poland to Warsaw the capital, thence to Mittaw in Courland, thence to Riga and Peterburgh, and thence to Muscow; and all this amazing journey I travelled night and day, seldom in bed, gave myself little or no rest on the road, and was but a few weeks on this extraordinary expedition; being but a short time at Peterburgh, on my passage, travelling from the frontiers in a trenneau, on account of the snows.

“I continued in the court of Muscow from the latter end of January, 1753, to the middle of November in the same year, when I began my march in a trenneau, through various parts of that vast empire.

“In the month of March, 1754, I left this cold country, this northern part of Europe, returned by the same road I entered Russia, and passed with the utmost rapidity through all Germany and Bohemia, to the southern parts of Europe; namely Italy, and stopt scarce a day on the road, till I reached Venice, where I arrived about the middle of August, in the same year, and continued there till the beginning of November, in the same year.

“Then I began the tour through all Italy, and first to Rome, where I arrived the latter end of the same month. In January, 1755, I received from his holiness, the senate, and the colleges of the learned, the many remarkable dignities, of which the particulars will be found in the following work; left Rome in the beginning of February, in the same year, and proceeded to Naples.


“In a few weeks, after having received the usual marks of benevolence and favour from that court, and from the nobility, I began my tour through every town of consideration in that kingdom. In the beginning of May I returned to Naples, thence to Rome, and met on the road, the 15th of that month, in the night, a most dreadful accident, by being robbed at once of a large fortune; of the particulars hereafter. From Rome I proceeded to Parma, Modena, and through every state and town of the least consideration in all Italy, without exception; and returned to Venice the beginning of December, 1756.”

“Let all judge (he concludes) whether ever man’s travels by land equalled mine.” For languages he was Polyglot, and wrote and spoke them all. But I cannot expect my readers to feel the same interest in adventures a century old, which I hope they will do in mine, and therefore I shall merely make room for as much of the Chevalier as may serve to amuse a few minutes of idle time:—

“I was invited in form to dine one day with the ladies of the palace. Dinner being over, one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber, then at table, seemingly inclined to communicate to me an affair that was not proper the company should be acquainted with; the substance of this pretended secret was, that he had a poor girl, a relation of his, who waited on a lady not far from that palace, who laboured under such a weakness of sight, that, without my compassionate aid, she would soon be unfit for service, requiring that I would be so good as to permit him to send for her at that time, as my occupation was such, that it was often not easy to get access to me. I told his Excellency, as my readers may suppose, that I should be extremely happy to have it in my power to oblige him, and requested that he would instantly send for this young woman; his relation and I would retire from the company into some room his Excellency should appoint, and give her my best advice.”

She is sent for, and—

“In a few minutes his Excellency pulled me by the coat, and said to me, in one sentence, Dear Chevalier, retire quick, and
send that girl away. I instantly obeyed, and thought myself unnoticed; and being conducted into the room where the supposed maid-servant was waiting for me; no sooner was I entered, but the door was shut upon me; there did I find, as I believed, a charming lovely innocent, tender and deserving girl, with her eyes directed to the earth, her dress becoming her character, and with looks filled with every appearance of a respectful modesty; being seated by her, I addressed her to this effect, ‘His Excellency, to whom I find you are a relation, desired me to give you my opinion about some complaint in your sight; pity it is, added I, that aught should disturb the peace of so amiable an infant; happy indeed should I be to be found the instrument of the well-being of so desirable a person.’ The pretty maiden smiling at this discourse, suddenly interrupted me, and said,—‘If you please, sir, first to be informed of my complaints, and then ’twill be the time to propose the means of relief.’ A reply so proper, delivered with delicacy, and in a tone that discovered at least the well-bred maid, I fixed my eyes upon her with such attention, that betrayed how much I wished to have it in my power to deserve her care; that instant I heard the company excessive merry in the other room; but heaven knows! I knew not the real cause. I judged that they were diverting themselves at their own wit, and that I was entirely forgotten, at least I wished that this might be the case, being myself extremely happy in the presence of this new acquaintance. I proceeded then to tell my pretty maid, that if the discovery of her charms should augment my imagination, my own eyes might at length call out for aid; for I found my sight defective by numberless little clouds that moved before them, and never did this happen to me till I beheld her beauties; be not, said I, surprised that I tell you, all with me is not right; for when the whole man is out of order from a cause like this, no wonder if eyes, the windows of the soul, should share a part of the confusion. ‘Sir,’ says this charming girl, interrupting me again, ‘I came not prepared to hear such soft, such tender insinuations; you talked,’ said she, ‘about procuring me peace with regard to my eyes; how comes it, that you make so quick a transition from the business of the eye to that of the heart?’ ‘because,’ said I, ‘thou excellent charmer, when I came here I thought not of you, for you I knew not;
your eyes alone were the objects of my attention; but when I beheld your frame, gazed on your beauties, was a hearer of your pretty sayings, I thought not of a part, but the whole; all your graces joined their forces, and together deprived me of all power of reflecting on the motive that brought me to you.’ No sooner had I expressed this last phrase, but the company in the next room made some acclamations of joy, from a cause to which I yet continued to be a stranger. I therefore went on with my discourse to the lovely maiden, by telling her, how unable I was to fix my attention on her eyes alone, till I could recover myself from my surprise. That instant interrupting me, she says, ‘that word surprise from you, sir, a stranger, carries with it indeed from me something surprising. I repeat, sir,’ she said, ‘once more, what is it that my figure has done to make this change from the purport of your visit? I expected, by the honour of your presence, that you would speak to me about my eyes, and not tell me a tale that becomes a lover, troubled from the force of female charms.’ Addressing herself thus to me in a style like this, betrayed a judgment vastly superior to what could possibly be expected from a servant maid; on this I resolved to change my address, and played with words for two hours longer, in terms that became me only to observe in the presence of ladies of the first rank. Having in this style so well scattered all her reasoning, that I left her seemingly without power to oppose me, and flattered myself to have made a conquest, because she gave her consent to go with me that night to the masquerade, and afterwards to permit me, at my own table, to tell her the rest of my story; this no sooner agreed on both sides, but that instant all the company, with whom I was at table, poured in upon us, and amongst them his Excellency, my darling maid’s relation, who in seeming anger said to me, ‘how is it, sir, that you, who are so well known to excel in your knowledge of polite behaviour, could shut yourself for three hours together with a trifling girl, and leave the first ladies of the palace by themselves; you certainly must have forgot, that the assembly of to-day was chiefly on your account; that the ladies of the court honoured me with their presence, that they might themselves be witnesses of what I have so often told them in favour of your happy talents.’ I need not say how much I was shocked at this so unexpected a
visit, and the more so, as I feared the chief cause of his Excellency’s anger was, that some busy person had overheard me talking with so much tenderness to his relation. This lovely and amiable maid having received a blow from this her pretended kinsman, was commanded with seeming authority to go instantly home to her mistress.”

And who should this turn out to be but the reigning Princess, into whose presence he was soon after summoned! and—

“The instant she saw me in this her state, she cried out, ‘Come forward, dear Englishman! come forward, thou charmer of my heart,—come forward, I’ll keep my word; we will sup together; we will go this night together to the masquerade.’ Let all judge what a dreadful situation I was in at hearing these sentences; but being a little removed from my surprise, took courage, I advanced, threw myself at her highness’s foot, and to this effect most humbly offered an apology for my conduct. ‘Before I rise from the earth, let me beg that your highness would be pleased to permit me to show my right of pardon. The pain I suffered, when I addressed your highness in the character of the innocent maiden you can be no stranger to; for you yourself was witness, I saw in that lovely maiden all power to please, and to inspire in the heart of man every mark of tenderness and affection; your highness cannot but know, that I have lost that maid, that sweet, that lovely maid; lost her for ever; for never shall my eyes behold her more; I therefore most humbly claim your most gracious pity; for if ever cause was worthy of it, ’tis certainly that of mine.’”

Need I add he was pardoned and feted?

“I must not here omit to relate, that it is extremely dangerous, in some nations where I have been, not to obey invitations of tenderness from the fair of high rank, and strong passions; because, if their affections are great, they often turn to the other extreme. I am persuaded, there is not a man living better acquainted with these truths than myself, having had all the advantages of dress, good company, and favours received from the great, proper to obtain this knowledge; but, for want of room, I shall only give the following remarkable relation.


“I was once invited to dine at the table with the husband and his lady, where the custom is, that the wife is seldom or ever visible to any stranger, unless with two sets of people; those of palaces, which are above observing the idle custom of the vulgar; and the very lowest of the latter, who pay no regard to things of this kind, unless compelled by corporal punishment. Being thus favoured, and well knowing the laws of hospitality, I observed, during the time we were at table, by the lady’s conversation, that she would not be very sorry to see me without her husband; however, I knew too well my situation, to discover, by any word or act of mine, that I understood her meaning. The same evening a woman brought me a letter from that lady, wherein she expressed herself in terms filled with anger and surprise, at my not taking a proper notice of the regard she showed me at table, concluding with words to this effect:—If you are a gentleman, and would avoid the resentment of a lady highly offended, I charge you, on your life, not to fail to meet me, at the time and place herein appointed. Should you refuse to obey my orders, remember the consequence, adding, you know my husband, be on your guard!

“In another Court,” proceeds our veritable lady-killer, “not less considerable, having restored the sight of a widow lady, who was near arrived to her 90th year of age, of a noble birth, and of a large fortune, and who, being informed of my preparing to leave that country, and fearing in my absence to lose that blessing I had restored her, sent for me into her own apartment, and after sending away her servants, and commanding me to shut the door, that we might be alone together, she seated in her great chair, with her back to the light; after raising with her aged hands the shade that hung before her eyes, to prevent too strong a light, looked full upon me, and spoke to me to this effect: ‘I am told, Sir,’ says she, ‘that you intend to leave us to-morrow; I acknowledge that I am to you indebted for now beholding the glories of heaven; methinks I would be glad to preserve the blessing you have procured for me, for the few days I have here to live; I believe you are a good man, I am convinced you are a great man, and I have been told by many that you are of an extraordinary genius; tell me then, with freedom, how I must act to keep you near me, for when
you are gone, I shall live in perpetual fear of falling into that dark state in which you found me; I shall thence he deprived of all peace, and the rest of my life will pass away in grief and sorrow. I have no relations,’ added this good lady, ‘I have been long a widow; those who expect my possessions when I am in my grave, are no kindred of mine; think a little, then, and let me know whether it is not possible to contrive some way to keep you near me.’ To which I most respectfully answered: ‘Lady, I am extremely happy in having been the instrument of the good you thus acknowledge to have received from my hands; give over these fears of the loss of the sight I have restored for you; I have no doubt but it will continue during your life. For me, madam, such is my hard fate, that I am obliged at present to be in constant motion from one country to another: to-morrow I must part, my affairs oblige me to it, and as I am going to another part of Europe, I cannot more hope to be honoured with your presence.’ No sooner this said, but this good lady told me, with some warmth, ‘I find, young man, you do not understand me. I know the world will laugh at me; let them laugh, my motive is just. It is to enable me to be more worthy of heaven, by admiring, by my eyes, the great works of the Lord, and to judge that way, as I ought, of the greatness of his power; gratitude can be no fault. To the Lord I would be grateful, because it is by my sight that his marvellous wonders are told to my mind. To you I would be grateful, because it is by your hands that I am freed from that dark cloud which hindered me from beholding by my eye the glories of the day.’ To this pretty devout reasoning I replied, not being willing to seem to understand her: ‘If, lady, I rightly conceive what you have done me the honour to communicate to me, you are desirous that I should find out some way to engage me to be near you; and as you have no relations who have any other right to your possessions than what they may obtain by your own good will, in your judgment I am not unworthy to be trusted with the government of your fortune.’ On this, she suddenly interrupted me, and discovering some marks of displeasure, raised her voice, and said, ‘Lack-a-day, man, you do not understand me; I thought, to a man of your penetration, I had said enough to be understood;’ adding, (Do you know my chaplain? Do you under-
stand me now? I tell you again, that as I regard you as the best friend I have on earth, because you have procured to me a blessing that I esteem beyond life; how can I do too much to engage you to stay with me, and to secure me, by your presence, what I so much value. I say, I know the world will laugh at me. Let them laugh, it hurts not me, my design is just, and my mind from thence will be in peace.’ Finding that there was no possibility of pretending any longer a doubt of her meaning, without discovering a want of judgment, I immediately made an answer to this effect: ‘I am at length sensible, madam, of the honour you intend me, yet fear if I am raised to the happiness you are pleased to give me hopes of, I may deprive those of their right who are now waiting your fall. You say, lady, none have right but such as you shall hereafter approve of, and you seem to insinuate that I am the man you have chosen from all the world; and as a proof that these are your thoughts, you offer to give me your heart, as well as your possessions; I know no language capable of expressing the sense I have of my obligations to you; but permit me, lady, to tell you, that this condescension of your’s might expose me to much censure, the meddling world will say that I took some advantage of your goodness, and persuaded you into marriage by some unfair dealings; and it is possible that even you, notwithstanding all your excellent reasoning in favour of your motive, may be accused of some temporal expectation, namely, that you even loved me; that you wished me in your arms, and that gratitude was not your only motive.’ On saying this, I was instantly interrupted by the lady, who replied, seemingly in much confusion, ‘My dear worthy creature, your scruples are all idle; let the world call this resolution of mine love to heaven, or love to you, or love to both, to me all is indifferent; it is enough for me, that my heart is at ease, and without you, in this life, there is no comfort for me.’ On this I was silenced, and, with a bow becoming a respectful admirer, I most humbly took my leave, and instantly promised all obedience to my loving dear’s commands; after assuring her that I would wait not only on the parson, but also on her lawyer, to settle all preliminaries; and that I made no doubt, after telling the case to both, with that delicacy and judgment I flattered myself to be very capable of, and not omit to dispose properly
a little money to secure their interest in a cause so just, that the chaplain would say no more on this business, than what became him in his office, in reading the holy ceremony, and granting his good wishes to us and our posterity; and that the lawyer would thence be prevailed on to agree that our cause was right, and as we were his clients, as such he would defend us. All these things resolved, I retired home to reflect on how I was to act in so important an undertaking; I did not forget that I had left my intended bride in the most impatient situation, her heart rejoiced from the prospect of possessing a young lover, her brain disturbed through fear of some interruption to her approaching happiness; my mind also was busy on reflecting that I was going to act a curious part, and what would require all my abilities to perform with applause; for I was to be the preserver of this endearing, this amiable lady’s sight, the guardian of her honour, the partner of her bed, and, lastly, the faithful friend of her bosom. When my mind was thus employed, I was told that dinner was served, and that the table waited my presence. I was not so far lost in thought but I could remember that I might reassume these reflections after dinner with better prospect of success; because all wise men agree that, the body being at that time more at ease, the mind is the better enabled to think on the affairs of tenderness. From this thought I instantly resolved to think no more of love till dinner was over, when on retiring into my room, and finding my material self at ease, my spiritual self returned again to business, when on a sudden—oh, dreadful change! that troublesome companion called conscience, violently forced into my thoughts, a visitor that has been the ruin of the fortunes of tens of thousands. Numberless were thence my apprehensions, and finding with all my wisdom, I could not drive this vision from my brain, I had no way to ease my disquiet, but by telling my tale to one, whose interest was chiefly to recommend rather the bosom of Abraham to this lady than my own, ’twas agreed between us, what methods were necessary to prevent my enamoured good old lady’s mistaking another man for me, who might possibly be less delicate than myself, and give up all for such a prize; the consequence was, that my intended bride hearing of this discovery, changed, as usual in these cases, from extreme love to that of anger; and in a few weeks after, in the
crisis of her passion, she took leave of this troublesome world; whilst I was wandering to another part of the globe, often thinking of my misfortune, by neglecting so happy an opportunity to make me independent; and had no other consolation but from remembering, that my only reason for the neglect of so great a lady’s love was, that I had then living a lady who claimed me as her right; a reason, however trifling in the opinion of others, proved the undoubted cause of this great loss.—Should I repent, ’tis certain some would blame me—should I not repent, all must agree, that this deed of mine was well worthy of applause.”

It were exuberant to tell how “a lady of quality, having received impressions of tenderness in favour of the author, came disguised in an equipage to his lodgings, and whisked him off to the country.” How “the author was stopped on the road by a young princess, disguised like the daughter of a merchant,” with the consequences. How he undertook and succeeded in causing a “great princess to smile a few moments before departing this life,” and after receiving extreme unction. How many nuns he intrigued with, and how “no man living could be so well acquainted with the lives of nuns as himself.” How he demonstrates, contrary to the Turks, that women have souls. How he shows a certain way of making a conquest of the fair, though immensely rich, and the admirer only merit (like his own) to recommend him. How it is easier to conquer women of genius than those of weaker capacities. How “English women, from the extraordinary goodness of their hearts, more easily become a conquest than in any nation under the sun.” How he had “the gift or virtue of reading the heart by the eye of the fair;” and how he considered it would be dangerous to communicate this secret to women so as to enable them to read the hearts of men. How he celebrates the powers of dress and beauty, with some most grotesque and unquotable examples. How it is “highly criminal” in the marriage state to have no children, and how he may be consulted for a recipe to overcome the evil. How lovesickness can be infallibly cured by applying blisters on the calves of the legs. And these are but inklings of this strange performance, from which we copy in conclusion, as novel
a view of our first parents and the paradise, as ever was penned:—

“Fearing that what I have said of the natural tendency of the fair to good, may by some be called in doubt, before I proceed, I must beg leave to give the most powerful testimony of this truth, that can possibly enter the imagination of man, I mean the conduct of our first mother. When that excellent lady was with her lord, her heart filled with innocence, her mind with joy, when all with her was peace and comfort, may it not be presumed that she addressed this happy, this blessed man, one morning, in that first garden of the world, to this, or the like effect:—Thou soul’s treasure, thou dearest object of my wishes, thou darling, thou idol of my heart; permit me, my love, permit me, I pray thee, whilst thou art busy in obeying the commands of our master, that I take a little walk in this beauteous garden, to admire the works of heaven; lest, by being always near thee, the tenderness I know thou hast for me, should call thine attention from that labour thou art commanded to pursue; be assured, says this beauteous, this innocent, this adorable lady, this absence will deprive me of the greatest of all human enjoyments; for no happiness for me like thy dear presence; but certain it is, that it becomes me better to lose the joy of gazing upon thee, than that thou should’st neglect the duty of the day; to which her dear, happy, loving lord replied, thou engaging softness—thou charming partner of my life—half of myself—my very self; for indeed without thee I am not myself; how can I support one moment thy absence from me, thou art given me to alleviate the pains of life, to partake with me in all; and, believe me, so dearly do I love thee, that methinks all with me is well when thou art by; I dare not, my life, I dare not, my soul’s delight, my sweet companion, my better half, I dare not venture thee in this garden alone; remember that I am thy guardian angel, formed to protect thy virtues, and secure thee from all harm; who knows but by being alone in this garden, something may disturb thy peace, and rob me of thy love; to which this first and most amiable of her sex, answered, my heart’s dear, my life, my husband, thou forgettest that in this garden there is none of thy likeness, and what should please my
eye unless it is thy resemblance; in this last sentence all objection ceased; her lord, and her lover, was here convinced, that he should err, did he any longer oppose a desire in itself so innocent, and from a motive so well worthy of praise; both instantly agreed in opinion; they fixed their eyes on each other, with all the appearances of the most languishing lovers, with broken sighs, with every mark of tenderness and affection; they slowly turned their heads away and parted: the sovereign lord of their wishes remained at his work, and his dearest and best beloved lady wandered in the garden, always remembering the blessing she had left behind in her husband, and that every beauty she there discovered, served only to show his greatness, as being at the head of all, and consequently more worthy her love. At length, when filled with these pretty thoughts, a little living figure met her in her way, and addressed her in the voice of her lord, in words to this effect; dear, beauteous, lovely lady, stop for a moment and hear me speak; the delicate fair one, filled with amazement, fixed her eyes upon it, and seemed for a time to be lost in thought; but recovering by degrees her surprise, with all gentleness, with all becoming meekness and regard, demanded of this wretched figure, how earnest thou by this wondrous power of speech? to which this enemy of heaven, too well known in history to require my saying more, told a tale in a style filled with so much eloquence, and with such appearances of truth, that it could not fail of commanding all her attention. ‘Shall I,’ says she, in her own heart, ‘lose an opportunity so essential to the well-being of my dearest lord. My lord,’ said she again,—‘myself I mean, for we are but one in thought, in wish, in every desire; therefore, my lord is myself, and I he; will not then this other half, this other self, blame me; should I neglect this blest occasion; should I return into his adored presence without this knowledge, he may indeed be angry, and how shall I hereafter hope for peace, when I reflect, that I have lost what I never may find again; that I have lost the means of knowing this great secret, which by knowing, and by giving to this dear partner of my life, adding this knowledge to his charming figure, he will then remain the lord of all. For me,’ says she, ‘to live conscious through my own fault, that there is a being wiser than my lord, and I know not where,
the very thought carries horror! No, this must never be, I should indeed be unworthy so amiable a lover, so excellent a husband, did I charge my soul with so much guilt.’ Thus we clearly perceive, that it was not from any wild curiosity, as many amongst the unthinking have believed, but a resolution taken after the justest reasoning that ever entered the imagination of her sex. If then this beauteous, this delightful lady erred by acquiring this knowledge, she erred not from her own judgment, as I have said above, but by following the counsel of others; and her abundant love and duty to her lord and husband; and however lamentable her possession of this knowledge may have proved to her successors, she in all was innocent, and stands in all excused. If then, in our first mother, such virtues are so evident, where lives that wretch who dares presume to doubt of the continuance of them in all the female world.”