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not only influenced the court to dispense with her punishment, but so captivated one of the judges, that he married her next day, and to whom she had afterwards fifteen children. Listen.”
“ May it please the honourable bench to indulge me in a few words. I am a poor unhappy woman, who have no money to fee lawyers to plead for me, being hard put to it to get a tolerable living. I shall not trouble your honours with long speeches; for I have not the presumption to expect that you may, by any means, be prevailed on to deviate in your sentence from the law in my favour. All I humbly hope is, that your honours would charitably move the governor's goodness on my behalf, that my fine may be remitted. This is the fifth time, gentlemen, that I have been dragged before your court on the same account; twice I have paid heavy fines, and twice have been brought to public punishment for want of money to pay those fines. This may have been agreeable to the laws, and I don't dispute it; but since laws are sometimes unreasonable in themselves, and therefore repealed, and others bear too hard on the subject in particular cire cumstances, and therefore there is left a power somewhat to dispense with the execution of them, I take the liberty to say, that I think this law, by which I am punished, is both unreasonable in itself, and particularly severe with regard to me, who have always lived an inoffensive life in the neighbourhood where I was born, and defy my enemies (if I have any) to say I ever wronged man, woman, or child. Abstracted from the law, I cannot conceive (may it please your honours) what the nature of my offence is. I have brought five fine children into the world at the risk of my life ; I have maintained them well by my own industry, without burdening the township, and would have done it
better, if it had not been for the heavy charges and fines I have paid. Can it be a crime (in the nature of things I mean) to add to the number of the king's subjects in a new country that really wants people? I own it, I should think it a praiseworthy rather than a punishable action. I have debauched no other woman's husband, nor enticed any youth : these things I never was charged with, nor has any one the least cause of complaint against me, unless perhaps the minister or the justice, because I have had children without being married, by which they have missed a wedding-fee. But can this be a fault of mine? I appeal to your honours. You are pleased to allow I don't want sense; but I must be stupified to the last degree, not to prefer the honourable state of wedlock to the condition I have lived in. I always was, and still am, willing to enter into it; and doubt not my behaving well in it, having all the industry, frugality, fertility, and skill in economy, appertaining to a good wife's character. I defy any person to say I ever refused an offer of that sort: on the contrary, I readily consented to the only proposal of marriage that ever was made me, which was when I was a virgin ; but, too easily confiding in the person's sincerity that made it, I unhappily lost my own honour by trusting to his; and he then forsook me. That very person you all know; he is now become a magistrate of this county, and I had hopes he would have appeared this day on the bench, and have endeavoured to moderate the court in my favour; then I should have scorned to have mentioned it; but I must now complain of it as unjust and unequal, that my betrayer and undoer, the first cause of all my faults and miscarriages (if they must be deemed such), should be advanced to honour and power in the government that punishes my misfortunes with stripes and infamy. I should be told, 'tis like, that, were there no act of assembly in the case, the precepts of religion are violated by my transgressions. If mine is a religious offence, leave it to religious punishments. You have already excluded me from the comforts of your church communion. Is not that sufficient? You believe I have offended Heaven, and must suffer eternal fire: Will not that be suffi. cient? But how can it be believed that Heaven is angry at my having children, when, to the little done by me towards it, God has been pleased to add his divine skill and admirable workmanship in the formation of their bodies, and crowned it by furnishing them with ra. tional and immortal souls ? Forgive me, gentlemen, if I talk a little extravagantly on these matters. I am no divine; but if you, gentlemen, must be making laws, take into your wise consideration the great and grow. ing number of bachelors in the country, many of whom, from the mean fear of the expenses of a family, have never sincerely and honourably courted a woman in their lives. Is not theirs a greater offence against the public good than mine ? Compel them, then, by law, either to marriage, or to pay double the fine. What must poor young women do, whom custom hath forbid to solicit the men, and who cannot force themselves upon husbands, when the laws take no care to provide them with any ? Is not increase and multiply the first and great commandment of nature and of nature's God? and are those that contravene the law by human insti. tutions not greater offenders than the mother of five fine children that now supplicates your mercy for having fulfilled its obligations ? No, gentlemen ; though the king's statutes make me guilty of wrong against society, as it happens at present to be constituted, it is your duty, by obeying the natural feelings to which my poor estate and condition cannot but move you, at this time to mitigate the rigour of those artificial penalties which I have unfortunately incurred.
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.
- I HAVE never been able to understand," said the Bachelor one day, “ how it happens that Sir Philip Sidney enjoys so high a name in literature. He has done nothing to merit so much renown. His Arcadia is a sad namby-pamby affair; it scarcely shows even the promise of any masculine talent.”
“ Certainly, if you judge of the merits of that celebrated favourite of his age by the Arcadia only, your opinion must be allowed to be just,” replied Egeria ; " but the Arcadia is not so mawkish a thing as you seem to consider it. Not only does it possess many literary beauties, but there is the spirit of a fine enthusiasm spread over it, breathing virtue and benevolence; and in this respect it has not yet been excelled. I allow that the story lingers, and that the sentiments are rather long-winded; but, nevertheless, the melody of the style is sweet and pleasing, and nothing can exceed the charm of the disposition in which the subject seems to have been conceived.
“ The conversation in which Pyrocles describes to Musidorus the pleasures of the solitude to which he had retired is full of delightful poetry.”
“Eagles,” says he, “ we see, fly alone, and they are but sheep which always herd together : condemn not therefore my mind sometimes to enjoy itself; nor blame the taking of such times as serve most fit for it. And, alas! dear Musidorus, if I be sad, who knows better than you the just causes I have of sadness? And here Pyrocles suddenly stopped, like a man unsatisfied in himself, though his wit might well have served to have satisfied another. And so looking with a countenance as though he desired he should know his mind without hearing him speak, and yet desirous to speak, to breathe out some part of his inward evil, sending again new blood to his face, he continued his speech in this manner: and, Lord (dear cousin, said he), doth not the pleasantness of this place carry in itself sufficient reward for any time lost in it? Do you not see how all things conspire together to make this country a heavenly dwelling? Do you not see the grass, how in colour they excel the emeralds, every one striving to pass his fellow, and yet they are all kept of an equal height ? And see you not the rest of these beautiful flowers, each of which would require a man's wit to know, and his life to express? Do not these stately trees seem to maintain their flourishing old age with the only happiness of their seat, being clothed with a continual spring, because no beauty here should ever fade? Doth not the air breathe health, which the birds (delightful both to ear and eye) do daily solemnize with the sweet consent of their voices ? Is not every echo there of a perfect music; and these fresh and delightful brooks, how slowly they slide away, as loth to leave the company of so many things united in perfection, and with how sweet à murmur they lament their forced departure? Certainly, certainly, cousin, it must needs be that some goddess inhabiteth this region, who is the soul of this soil ; for neither is any less than a goddess worthy to be shrined