I am willing to postpone every thing, to do any the least Service for the Deserving and Unfortunate. Accordingly I have caused the following Letter to be inserted in my Paper the Moment that it came to my Hands, without altering one Tittle in an Account which the Lady relates so handsomely her self.
'I flatter my self, you will not only pity, but, if possible, redress a Misfortune my self and several others of my Sex lie under. I hope you will not be offended, nor think I mean by this to justifie my own imprudent Conduct, or expect You should. No! I am sensible how severely, in some of your former Papers, you have reproved Persons guilty of the like Mismanagements. I was scarce Sixteen, and, I may say without Vanity, Handsome, when courted by a false perjured Man; who, upon Promise of Marriage, rendered me the most unhappy of Women. After he had deluded me from my Parents, who were People of very good Fashion, in less than three Months he left me. My Parents would not see, nor hear from me; and had it not been for a Servant, who had lived in our Family, I must certainly have perished for want of Bread. However, it pleased Providence, in a very short time, to alter my miserable Condition. A Gentleman saw me, liked me, and married me. My Parents were reconciled; and I might be as happy in the Change of my Condition, as I was before miserable, but for some things, that you shall know, which are insupportable to me; and I am sure you have so much Honour and Compassion as to let those Persons know, in some of your Papers, how much they are in the wrong. I have been married near five Years, and do not know that in all that time I ever went abroad without my Husband's Leave and Approbation. I am obliged, through the Importunities of several of my Relations, to go abroad oftner than suits my Temper. Then it is, I labour under insupportable Agonies. That Man, or rather Monster, haunts every Place I go to. Base Villain! By reason I will not admit his nauseous wicked Visits and Appointments, he strives all the ways he can to ruin me. He left me destitute of Friend or Money, nor ever thought me worth enquiring after, till he unfortunately happened to see me in a Front Box, sparkling with Jewels. Then his Passion returned. Then the Hypocrite pretended to be a Penitent. Then he practised all those Arts that helped before to undo me. I am not to be deceived a second time by him. I hate and abhor his odious Passion; and, as he plainly perceives it, either out of Spight or Diversion, he makes it his Business to expose me. I never fail seeing him in all publick Company, where he is always most industriously spightful. He hath, in short, told all his Acquaintance of our unhappy Affair, they tell theirs; so that it is no Secret among his Companions, which are numerous. They, to whom he tells it, think they have a Title to be very familiar. If they bow to me, and I out of good Manners return it, then I am pester'd with Freedoms that are no ways agreeable to my self or Company. If I turn my Eyes from them, or seem displeased, they sower upon it, and whisper the next Person; he his next; 'till I have at last the Eyes of the whole Company upon me. Nay, they report abominable Falshoods, under that mistaken Notion, She that will grant Favours to one Man, will to a hundred. I beg you will let those who are guilty, know, how ungenerous this way of Proceeding is. I am sure he will know himself the Person aim'd at, and perhaps put a stop to the Insolence of others. Cursed is the Fate of unhappy Women! that Men may boast and glory in those things that we must think of with Shame and Horror! You have the Art of making such odious Customs appear detestable. For my Sake, and I am sure, for the Sake of several others, who dare not own it, but, like me, lie under the same Misfortunes, make it as infamous for a Man to boast of Favours, or expose our Sex, as it is to take the Lie or a Box on the Ear, and not resent it.' Your Constant Reader, and Admirer, LESBIA.
P. S. 'I am the more Impatient under this Misfortune, having receiv'd fresh Provocation, last Wednesday, in the Abbey.'
I entirely agree with the amiable and unfortunate LESBIA, that an Insult upon a Woman in her Circumstances, is as infamous in a Man, as a tame Behaviour when the Lie or a Buffet is given; which Truth, I shall beg leave of her to illustrate by the following Observation.
It is a Mark of Cowardice passively to forbear resenting an Affront, the Resenting of which would lead a Man into Danger; it is no less a Sign of Cowardice to affront a Creature, that hath not Power to avenge it self. Whatever Name therefore this ungenerous Man may bestow on the helpless Lady he hath injur'd, I shall not scruple to give him in return for it, the Appellation of Coward.
A Man, that can so far descend from his Dignity, as to strike a Lady, can never recover his Reputation with either Sex, because no Provocation is thought strong enough to justifie such Treatment from the Powerful towards the Weak. In the Circumstances, in which poor LESBIA is situated, she can appeal to no Man whatsoever to avenge an Insult, more grievous than a Blow. If she could open her Mouth, the base Man knows, that a Husband, a Brother, a generous Friend would die to see her righted.
A generous Mind, however enrag'd against an Enemy, feels its Resentments sink and vanish away, when the Object of its Wrath falls into its Power. An estranged Friend, filled with Jealousie and Discontent towards a Bosom-Acquaintance, is apt to overflow with Tenderness and Remorse, when a Creature, that was once dear to him, undergoes any Misfortune. What Name then shall we give to his Ingratitude, (who forgetting the Favours he sollicited with Eagerness, and receiv'd with Rapture) can insult the Miseries that he himself caused, and make Sport with the Pain to which he owes his greatest Pleasure? There is but one Being in the Creation whose Province it is to practise upon the Imbecillities of frail Creatures, and triumph in the Woes which his own Artifices brought about; and we well know, those who follow his Example, will receive his Reward.
Leaving my fair Correspondent to the Direction of her own Wisdom and Modesty; and her Enemy, and his mean Accomplices, to the Compunction of their own Hearts; I shall conclude this Paper with a memorable Instance of Revenge, taken by a Spanish Lady upon a guilty Lover, which may serve to show what violent Effects are wrought by the most tender Passion, when sower'd into Hatred; and may deter the Young and unwary from unlawful Love. The Story, however Romantick it may appear, I have heard affirmed for a Truth.
Not many Years ago an English Gentleman, who in a Rencounter by Night in the Streets of Madrid had the Misfortune to kill his Man, fled into a Church-Porch for Sanctuary. Leaning against the Door, he was surprized to find it open, and a glimmering Light in the Church. He had the Courage to advance towards the Light; but was terribly startled at the sight of a Woman in White who ascended from a Grave with a bloody Knife in her Hand. The Phantome marched up to him, and asked him what he did there. He told her the Truth, without reserve, believing that he had met a Ghost: Upon which, she spoke to him in the following Manner. 'Stranger, thou art in my Power: I am a Murderer as thou art. Know then, that I am a Nun of a noble Family. A base perjur'd Man undid me, and boasted of it. I soon had him dispatched; but not content with the Murder, I have brib'd the Sexton to let me enter his Grave, and have now pluck'd out his False Heart from his Body; and thus I use a Traitor's Heart.' At these Words she tore it in Pieces, and trampled it under her Feet.Translation of motto: