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parliament; and accordingly set out for the town of Wallop in the west, where my arrival was welcomed by a thousand throats, and I was in three days sure of a majority: but after drinking out one hundred and fifty hogsheads of wine, and bribing two-thirds of the corporation twice over, I had the mortification to find, that the borough had been before sold to Mr. Courtly.
In a life of this kind, my fortune, though considerable, was presently dissipated; and as the attraction grows more strong the nearer any body approaches the earth, when once a man begins to sink into poverty, he falls with velocity always increasing ; every supply is purchased at a higher and higher price, and every office of kindness obtained with greater and greater difficulty. Having now acquainted you with my state of elevation, I shall, if you encourage the continuance of my correspondence, shew you by what steps I descended from a first floor in Pall-Mall to my present habitation.
I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,
N° 41. TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 1753.
Si mutabile peclus
Th' attempt forsake,
TO THE ADVENTURER.
Fleet, March 24. I now send you the sequel of my story; which had not been so long delayed, if I could have brought myself to imagine, that any real impatience was felt for the fate of Misargyrus; who has travelled no unbeaten track to misery, and consequently can present the reader only with such incidents as occur in daily life.
You have seen me, Sir, in the zenith of my glory; not dispensing the kindly warmth of an all-cheering sun, but, like another Phaeton, scorching and blasting every thing round me. I shall proceed, therefore, to finish my career, and pass as rapidly as possible through the remaining vicissitudes of my life.
When I first began to be in want of money, I made no doubt of an immediate supply. The news
papers were perpetually offering directions to men, who seemed to have no other business than to gather heaps of gold for those who place their
felicity in scattering it. I posted away, therefore, to one of these advertisers, who by his proposals seemed to deal in thousands; and was not a little chagrined to find, that this general benefactor would have nothing to do with any larger sum than thirty pounds, nor would venture that without a joint note from myself and a reputable housekeeper, or for a longer time than three months.
It was not yet so bad with me, as that I needed to solicit surety for thirty pounds: yet partly from the greediness that extravagance always produces, and partly from a desire of seeing the humour of a petty usurer, a character of which I had hitherto lived in ignorance, I condescended to listen to his terms. He proceeded to inform me of my great felicity in not falling into the hands of an extortioner; and assured me, that I should find him extremely moderate in his demands : he was not, indeed, certain, that he could furnish me with the whole sum, for people were at this particular time extremely pressing and importunate for money ; yet as I had the appearance of a gentleman, he would try what he could do, and give me his answer in three days.
At the expiration of the time, I called upon him again; and was again informed of the great demand for money, and that “ money was money now:” he then advised me to be punctual in my payment, as that might induce him to befriend me hereafter; and delivered me the money, deducting at the rate of five
and-thirty per cent. with another panegyric upon his own moderation.
I will not tire you with the various practices of usurious oppression; but cannot omit my transaction with Squeeze on Tower-hill, who finding me a young man of considerable expectations, employed an agent to persuade me to borrow five hundred pounds, to be refunded by an annual payment of twenty per cent. during the joint lives of his daughter Nancy Squeeze and myself. The negociator came prepared to enforce his proposal with all his art; but finding that I caught his offer with the eagerness of necessity, he grew cold and languid: “ he had mentioned it out of kindness; “ he would try to serve me: Mr. Squeeze was an ho“ nest man, but extremely cautious.” In three days he came to tell me, that his endeavours had been ineffectual, Mr. Squeeze having no good opinion of my life: but that there was one expedient remaining ; Mrs. Squeeze could influence her husband, and her good-will might be gained by a compliment. I waited that afternoon on Mrs. Squeeze, and poured out before her the flatteries which usually gain access to rank and beauty: I did not then know, that there are places in which the only compliment is a bribe. Having yet credit with a jeweller, I afterwards procured a ring of thirty guineas, which I humbly presented, and was soon admitted to a treaty with Mr. Squeeze. He appeared peevish and backward, and my old friend whispered me, that he would never make a dry bargain : I, therefore, invited him to a tavern. Nine times we met on the affair; nine times I paid four pounds for the supper and claret; and nine
guineas I gave the agent for good offices. I then obtained the money, paying ten per cent. advance; and at the tenth meeting gave another disbursed fifteen pounds for the writings.
Others, who styled themselves brokers, would only trust their money upon goods : that I might, there. fore, try every art of expensive folly, I took a house and furnished it. I amused myself with despoiling my moveables of their glossy appearance, for fear of alarming the lender with suspicions; and in this I succeeded so well, that he favoured me with one hundred and sixty pounds upon that which was rated at seven hundred. I then found that I was to maintain a guardian about me, to prevent the goods from being broken or removed. This was, indeed, an unexpected tax; but it was too late to recede; and I comforted myself, that I might prevent a creditor, of whom I had some apprehensions, from seizing, by having a prior execution always in the house.
By such means I had so embarrassed myself, that my whole attention was engaged in contriving excuses, and raising small sums to quiet such as words would no longer mollify. It cost me eighty pounds in presents to Mr. Leech the attorney, for his forbearance of one hundred, which he solicited me to take when I had no need. I was perpetually harassed with importunate demands, and insulted by wretches, who a few months before would not have dared to raise their eyes from the dust before me. I lived in continual terror, frighted by every noise at the door, and terrified at the approach of every step quicker than common. I never retired to rest, without feeling the justness of the Spanish proverb, “ Let him who sleeps