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from the pocket of a horseman's coat. They discoursed in dark and ambiguous terms, affected a busy and anxious circumspection, urged the man often to drink, and seemed defirous to render him fubservient to fome purpose which they were unwilling to discover. They endeavoured to conciliate his good.will, by extravagant commendations of his dexterity and diligence; and en couraged him to familiarity, by asking him many questions. He was, however, fill cautious and reserved. One of them therefore, pretending to have known his mother, put a crown into his hand, and foon after took an opportunity to ask him at what hour a ftage-coach, the passengers of which they intended to humbug, fete out in the morning ; whether it was full; and if it was attended with a guard.
The man was now confirmed in his suspicions; and, though he had accepted the bribe, refolved to discover the secret. Having evaded the questions with as much art as he could, he went to his master, Mr. Spiggot, who was then in bed, and acquainted him with what he had obferved.
· Mr. Spiggot immediately got up, and held a consult. ation with his wife, what was to be done. She ad. vised him immediately to fend for the constable, with proper alifants, and secure them: but he confidered, that, as this would probably prevent a robbery, it would deprive him of an opportunity to gain a very confiderable fum, which he would become entitled to upon their conviction, if he could apprebend them after the fact: he therefore very prudently called up four or five of the oftlers that belonged to the yard; and, baving communicated his fufpicions and design, engaged them to inlift under his command, as an effort to the
coach, and to watch the motions of the highwaymen, as he should direct. But mine host, also wisely confi. dering that this expedition would be attended with certain expence, and that the profit which he hoped was contingent, acquainted the passengers with their danger, and proposed that a guard should be hired by á voluntary contribution; a proposal, to which, upon a fight of the "robbers through the window, they readily agreed. Spiggot was now secured against pecuniary loss, at all events: and, about three o'clock, the knights of the frolic, with infinite fatisfaction, beheta five paffengers, among whom there was but one gen tleman, step into the coach, with the aspect of crimiz nals going to execution; and enjoyed the fignificant ligns which passed between them and the landlord, concerning the precautions taken for their defence.
As foon as the coach was gone, the supposed highway men paid their reckoning in great hafte, and called for their horses: care had already been taken to faddle them; for it was not Mr. Spiggot's desire, that the adventurers should go far before they executed their pur. pose; and as soon as they departed, he prepared to follow them with his poffe. He was, indeed, greatly furprised to fee, that they turned the contrary way when they went out of the inn yard; but he supposed they might chuse to take a small circuit to prevent fufpicion, as they might easily overtake the coach whenever they would : he determined, however, to keep behind them; and therefore, instead of going after the coach, followed them at a distance; till, to his utter disappointment, he saw them persist in a different rout, and at length turn into an inn in Ficcadilly, where several servants in livery appeared to have been
waiting for them, and where his curiosity was soon gratified with their characters and their names.
In the mean time, the coach proceeded in its journey. The panic of the paffengers increased, upon perceiving that the guard which they had hired did not come up; and they began to accuse Spiggot of having betrayed them to the robbers, for a share of the booty: they could not help looking every moment from the window, though it was so dark, that a waggon could not have been seen at the distance of twenty yards : every tree was mistaken for a man and horse; the noise of the vehicle in which they rode was believed to be the trampling of purfuers; and they expected every moment to hear the coachman commanded to ttop, and to fee a pistol thrust in amongst them, with the dreadful injunction, “ Deliver your money.”
Thus far the distress, however great and unmerited, will be deemed ridiculous ; the sufferers will appear to have ingenioully tormented themselves, by the fagacity with which they reasoned from appearances intended to deceive them, and their solicitude to prevent mischiefs which none would attempt.
But it happened, that, when the coach had got about two miles out of town, it was overtaken by a horseman, who rode very hard, and called out with great eagerness to the driver to stop. This incident, among perfogs who had suffered perpetual apprehension and alarm from the moment they set out, produced a proportionate effect. The wife of the gentleman was fo terrified, that the funk down from her feat; and he was so much convinced of his danger, so touched at her ditress, and so incensed against the ruffian who had produced it, that, without uttering a word, he
drew a pistol from his pocket, and seeing the man par.. ley with the coachman, who had now stopped his horses, he shot him dead upon the spot.
The man, however, who had thus fallen the vi&tim of a frolic, was soon known to be the servant of a lady,who had paid earnest for the vacant place in the stage, and having by some accident been delayed till it was set out, had followed it in a hackney-coach, and fent him before her to detain it till she came up.
Here the ridicule is at an end; and we are sur. prised that we did not sooner refled, that the company ... had sufficient cause for their fear and their precaution, and that the frolic was nothing more than a lie, which it would have been folly not to believe, and presumption to disregard.
The next day, while the Bucks were entertaining a polite circle at White's with an account of the farce they had played the night before, news arrived of the
catastrophe. A sudden confusion covered every coun. E tenance; and they remained some time filent, looking
upon each other, mutually accused, reproached, and condemned.
This favourable moinent was improved by a gentle. man, who, though sometimes seen in that assembly, is yet eminent for his humanity and wisdom. man,
6.who found himself bewildered in " the intricacies of a labyrinth, when the sun was gosc ing down, would think himself happy, if 'a clue
“ should be put into his hand, by which he might be coled out in fafety: he would not surely quit it for a
moment, because it might possibly be recovered ; E
" and, if he did, would be in perpetual danger of "- dumbling upon some other wanderer, and bringing
19. said he,
I a common calamity upon botls. In the maze of life " we are often bewildered, and darkness and danger
surround us: but every one may at least fecure cones science against the power of accident, by adhering « inviolably to that rule, by which we are enjoined to 4. abftain even from the Appearances of Evil.
No. LXIX. Tuesday, July 3. 1753
Ferè libenter homines id quod volunt credunt:
Men willingly believe what they wish to be true.
Tully has long ago observed, that no man, however weakened by long life, is so conscious of his own decrepitude, as not to imagine that he may yet hold his station in the world for another year..
Of the truth of this remark every day furnishes new confirmation : there is no time of life in which men, for the most part, seem less to expect the Aroke of death, than when every other eye feos it impending;