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my charity and piety procured us many friends. But the times are changed. Those qualities are now little regarded, and we must have recourse to other means. You and I had long ago been stripped of all we have, had I not taken care to keep in with his lordship, and other persons of consequence. You may talk as you will concerning the justice of your cause, and the triumphs to be expected from thence, but commend me to a little seasonable prudence and policy. You, dear Miss, are for new-modelling the world (which is impossible), in order to cut it out for your own friendship. Now I am for taking an easier way, and conforming ourselves to the world, that we may the better recommend ourselves to its favour. These, I grant you, are very opposite maxims; but experience vouches for the utility of mine.
Miss Veridet, perceiving by this and other trials, that it was impossible all at once to wean her from luxury and grandeur, took a lodging near his lordship's, that she might be ready to lay hold on every new opportunity that should favour the friendly designs she had on her nurse. In this situation they sometimes visited, and at other times did not so much as traffic in how-do-you's. This justice however must be done to his lordship, that he generally carried towards Miss Veridet with civility at least; nay, and shewed a greater desire for nurse's recovery, and the reformation of their family, than nurse herself. He frequently joined with Miss Veridet in pressing the necessity of greater frugality in entertainments, of more compassion towards the poor, of establishing a strict discipline among the servants, and particularly insisted on it, that nurse herself should conform to the rules prescribed her by the physicians. As to the regulating of servants, she in part consented to it, and accordingly some sets of them, such as those who had care of the stables and the gardens, were brought under a method; but she could never be persuaded to submit entirely to rules herself. A great table, and a magnificent equipage, were dearer to her than health and life, which she was willing to sacrifice to her palate and her vanity; although after all she provided but ill for either; for as to the first, she had little or no pleasure in what she eat or drank, being generally gorged and cloyed with greater quan
tities than nature required, or could dispense with; and as to the latter, she did but purchase contempt from some, and envy from others, with all her vast expenses. Her most favourite guests, having their bellies filled with her delicacies, would get into corners, laugh at her folly, and rail at her pride and luxury in the most reproachful terms; nay, some of them would puke up her victuals, accompanied with no small virulence, in her very face. She was little beloved by any sort of people; but none hated her so much, or talked so hardly of her, as those whom she entertained with the greatest preparations, and those who owed their rise and fortunes entirely to her partiality. Various curses in short, seemed to fall upon her, according to her various ways of betraying the confidence reposed in her, as trustee to Miss Veridet's fortune. That which she laid out in articles of luxury, turned to distempers, and that which she expended on her vanity, became the occasion of shame and reproach to her. In the mean time poor Miss Veridet's affairs were very ill managed. Counsellor Clod-pate, and Skin-flint, the attorney, both nephews to nurse Le Clerk, were intrusted with the care of Miss's lawsuit. After they had received immense sums by that business, they actually betrayed the cause they were feed for, and a decree had certainly gone against their client, had she not, to the utter amazement of all Westminster, appeared in court, and pleaded her own cause; for which, however, she was immediately saddled with a separate action of damage by every lawyer at the bar, and with a trespass by the court, for presuming to act as a lawyer, without being regularly bred to the business, or qualified according to form; and what was worse, for interrupting the business of all the courts, inasmuch as nothing could be done, while she was within the walls. With the like skill and fidelity was she generally served in other matters. Nurse's own relations, or the younger sons of great men, who were often fit for no other purpose, and altogether ignorant of business, were for the most part employed, and had large salaries for mismanaging the affairs of this injured young lady. Of a good number of servants who were paid for attending on Miss's own person, few or none ever went near her, so that she scarcely knew any of them, nor were they better acquainted with her.
There were some, indeed, who shewed an honest zeal for the service of their young mistress; but the world-being generally averse to her, hated also those who espoused her, and in some measure, did them the honour to persecute them for their fidelity. Nurse in the mean time, who could have protected these persons, and ought to have enabled them to render a more effectual service, looked on them with a jealous eye, as reproaching her own unaccountable conduct by their zeal and care. For these, and other the like reasons, she took care to keep them down, and to restrain the too petulant warmth of the men, by all manner of discouragements. Those, said she, who have a real friendship for Miss, will serve her to the utmost of their power for her own sake, although I shew them no countenance; and so, as her cause and mine are still in some measure one, I shall share in their services for nothing, while I purchase, with all the favours I can confer, the interest and assistance of those who care not a straw for either of us, but as we are useful to themselves.
Nurse took care to be as public as possible in her visits to Miss, and to speak of her on all occasions, as her best friend, and only confidant; though perhaps their hearts were never farther asunder, than at that very instant. By this means she hoped to support her credit, as if her conduct was approved of by Miss Veridet; and, for a time, it had this effect. But when nurse's practices were once seen through, this appearance of friendship and consultation between the two ladies served only to render Miss Veridet suspected, and afterward hated by those who were perfectly indifferent to her before. Hence it came to pass, that the party of those, who disputed her patrimony with her, was greatly increased. Some questioned her legitimacy, others that of her father; and the generality of them insisted, that all she had so impudently called her own, and nurse had so infamously abused, was conferred on her by voluntary contribution, and might be withdrawn again at pleasure. They are now preparing to proceed on this way of reasoning to a forcible resumption, as they call it, of all the estate; while nurse, in the mean time, as if the whole world were either her fast friends, or absolute slaves, perseveres in every practice that can help to inflame the universal odium against
herself, and increase the growing prejudices so unjustly entertained against Miss. Her conduct is made up of two things, the most incompatible in nature, a defence of Miss Veridet's rights, and a dependence on mere policy and worldly power. With her right hand she holds by these; and with her left, which is paralytic, she feebly attempts to manage that. Till she is restored to a sounder mind, and a better state of health, the affairs of this injured heiress are not likely to be put on an advantageous footing.
Jupiter, Mercury, Momus, Mars, Venus, Cupid, Apollo, Bacchus, Lucina, Clio.
THROW up the sashes, ye Hours, set open the gates, dust those clouds, it is a long time since they were used, and range them in order for the company to sit on.Heark'ee, Mercury, are the broken steps in the milky-way mended yet, as I directed? Juno hath led me a weary life since she was overturned in her chariot on an old shattered causeway near the Pleiades; and this morning hath given me-such a lecture, and all in Ela, her usual note on these occasions, for neglecting the highways, as well as for other failures.
Merc. Bacchus, who, you may remember, got himself made overseer of the roads this year, like a true fuddling squire, careful of his own neck, hath gravelled the bad places so well with stars, that you may trundle an apple all the way from hence to the far end of the world.
Jup. It is very well. He shall have a bowl of the best for that, if we live to see nectar in plenty again. Make proclamation that all the gods may assemble immediately, only do not cite Momus; he, you know, turns all our deliberations into ridicule.
Mom. I am sorry your eyes are beginning to fail you, Jupiter; I was just at your elbow when you excepted me.