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N° 51. THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 1755.
Adde quod absumunt vires, pereuntque labore:
Languent officia, atque ægrotat fama vacillans.
When haughty mistresses our souls enthrall,
SINCE pleasure is almost the only pursuit of a fine gentleman, it is very necessary, for the maintaining his consequence and character, that he should have a girl in keeping. Intriguing with women of fashion, and debauching tradesmen's daughters, naturally happen in the common course of gallantry; but this convenient female, to fill up the intervals of business, is the principal mark of his superior taste and quality. Every priggish clerk to an attorney, or pert apprentice, can throw away his occasional guinea in Covent-Garden; but the shortness of their finances will not permit them to persevere in debauchery with the air and spirit of a man of quality. The kept mistress (which those halfreprobates dare not think of) is a constant part of the retinue of a complete fine gentleman; and is, indeed, as indispensable a part of his equipage, as French valet de chambre, or a four-wheel'd post-chaise.
It was formerly the fashion among the ladies to keep a monkey. At that time every woman of quality thought herself obliged to follow the mode; and even
the merchants' wives in the city had their fashionable pugs to play tricks and break china. A girl in keeping is as disagreeable to some of our men of pleasure, as pug was to some ladies; but they must have one to spend money and do mischief, that they may be reckoned young fellows of spirit. Hence it happens, that many gentlemen maintain girls, who in fact are little more than their nominal mistresses; for they see them as seldom, and behave to them with as much indifference, as if they were their wives: however, as the woman in a manner bears their name, and is maintained by them, they may appear in the world with the genteel character of a keeper. I have known several gentlemen take great pains to heighten their reputation in this way; and turn off a first mistress, merely because she was not sufficiently known, for the sake of a celebrated woman of the town, a dancer, or an actress: and it is always the first step of an Englishman of fashion after his arrival at Paris, to take one of the Filles d'Opera under his protection. It was but the other day, that Florio went abroad, and left his girl to roll about the town in a chariot, with an unlimited order on his banker; and almost as soon as he got to France, took a smart girl off the stage, to make as genteel a figure at Paris. In short, as a gentleman keeps running horses, goes to White's, and gets into parliament, for the name of the thing; so must he likewise have his kept mistress, because it is the fashion: and I was mightily pleased with hearing a gentleman once boast, that he lived like a man of quality-" For, says he, I have a post-chaise and never ride in it, I have a wife and never see her, and I keep a mistress and never lie with her."
But if these sort of keepers, who never care a farthing for their mistresses, are to be laughed at, those who are really fond of their dulcineas are to be pitied. The most hen-pecked husband, that ever bore
the grievous yoke of a shrew, is not half so miserable, as a man who is subject to the humours and unaccountable caprice of a cunning slut, who finds him in her power. Her behaviour will continually give him new occasion of jealousy; and perhaps she will really dispense her favours to every rake in town, that will bid up to her price. She will smile, when she wants money; be insolent, when she does not; and in short leave no artifice untried, to plague his heart, and drain his pocket. A friend of mine used constantly to rail at the slavish condition of married men, and the tyranny of petticoat government: he therefore prudently resolved to live an uncontrouled bachelor, and for reason pitched upon a country girl, who should serve him as a handmaid. Determining to keep her in a very snug and retired manner, he had even calculated, how much she would save him in curtailing his ordinary expenses at taverns and bagnios: but this scheme of economy did not last long; for the artful jade soon contrived" to wind her close into his easy heart," and inveigled him to maintain her in all the splendor and eclat of a first-rate lady of pleasure. He at first treated her with all the indifference of a fashionable husband: but as soon as she found herself to be entire mistress of his affections, it is surprising to think what pains she took, to bring him to the most abject compliance with all her whimsies, and to tame him to the patient thing he now is. A frown on his part would frequently cost him a brocade, and a tear from her was sure to extort a new handkerchief or an apron. Upon any slight quarrel— O she would leave him that moment; and though the baggage had more cunning than to hazard an intrigue with any one else, she would work upon his jealousy by continually twitting him with-She knew a gentleman, who would scorn to use her so barbarously,—and she would go to him, if she could be sure she was not
with child. This last circumstance was a coup de reserve, which never failed to bring about a reconciliation: nay, I have known her make great use of breeding qualms upon occasion; and things were once come to such an extremity, that she was even forced to have recourse to a sham miscarriage to prevent their separation. He has often been heard to declare, that if he ever had a child by her, it should take it's chance at the Foundling-Hospital. He had lately an opportu nity of putting this to a trial: but the bare hinting such a barbarous design threw the lady into hysterics. However, he was determined, that the babe, as soon as it was born, should be put out to nurse, he hated the squall of children. Well! madam was brought to bed: she could not bear the dear infant out of her sight; and it would kill her not to suckle it herself. The father was therefore obliged to comply; and an acquaintance caught him the other morning, stirring the pap, holding the clouts before the fire, and (in a word) dwindled into a mere nurse. Such is the transformation of this kind keeper, whose character is still more ridiculous than that of a fondlewife among husbands. The amours, indeed, of these fond souls commonly end one of these two ways: they either find themselves deserted by their mistress, when she has effectually ruined their constitution and estate; or after as many years cohabitation, as would have tired them of a wife, they grow so doatingly fond of their whore, that by marriage they make her an honest woman, and perhaps a lady of quality.
The most unpardonable sort of keepers are married men, and old men. I will give the reader a short sketch of each of these characters, and leave him to judge for himself.
Cynthio about two years ago was married to Cla rinda, one of the finest women in the world. Her temper and disposition was as agreeable as her person,
and her chief endeavour was to please her husband. But Cynthio's folly and vanity soon got the better of his constancy and gratitude; and it was not six months after his marriage, before he took a girl he was formerly acquainted with into keeping. His dear Polly uses him like a dog; and he is cruel enough to revenge the ill-treatment he receives from her upon his wife. He seldom visits her, but when his wench has put him out of humour; and once, though indeed unknowingly, communicated to her a filthy disease, for which he was obliged to his mistress. Yet is he still so infatuated as to doat on this vile hussy, and wishes it in his power to annul his marriage, and legitimate his bastards by Polly. Though it is palpable to every one but Cynthio, that Polly has no attraction but the name of mistress, and Clarinda no fault but being his wife.
Sir Thrifty Gripe is arrived at his grand climacteric, and has just taken a girl into keeping. Till very lately the multiplication-table was his rule of life, and "a penny saved is a penny got" was his favourite maxim. But he has suddenly deserted Wingate for Rochester, and the 'Change for CoventGarden. Here he met with the buxom Charlotte, who at once opened his heart and his purse, and soon began to scatter his guineas in paying her debts, and supplying her fresh expenses. Her equipage is as genteel and elegant as that of a duchess; and the wise men in the ally shake their heads at Sir Thrifty as the greatest spendthrift in town. Sir Thrifty was formerly married to a merchant's daughter, who brought him a fortune of 20,000l. but after she had two sons by him, he sent her into the North of Wales to live cheap, and prevent the probable expense of more children. His sons were obliged to an uncle for education; and Sir Thrifty now scarce allows them enough to support them. His mistress and he almost