The Author is happy, in the Acquaintance of a Learned Lady.
IN the circle of my acquaint|ance, there was a young lady, of not the most promising person, and, of rather a vinegar aspect, who was just approxi|mating towards thirty years of age. Though, by avoiding married parties, mingling with very young company, dress|ing airily; shivering in lawn and sarce|net, at meeting, in December; affecting a girlish lisp, blush, and giggle, she was still endeavouring to ward off that invidious appellation of old maid. Upon good grounds, I am led to believe, that the charity of the tea table had added to her Page 113 years; because, from a long acquaintance with her, I could never induce her to re|member any event, however trivial, which happened before Lexington battle. The girls, of my age, respected me, as a man of spirit; but I was more fond of being es|teemed, as a man of learning. This young lady loved literature, and lamented to me her ignorance of the Greek. I gave her a decided preference to her rivals. She borrowed books of me, and read them with astonishing rapidity. From my own little library, and from those of my friends, I procured above sixty vol|umes for her; among which were Locke on Human Understanding, Stackhouse's Body of Divinity, and Glass's works, not on cookery, but the benignant works of John Glass, the father of Sandiman, and the Sandimanians; in which collection I did not however omit Pope's Homer, and Dryden's Virgil: and, to my astonish|ment, though I knew that her afternoons Page 114 were devoted to the structure of caps and bonnets, she perused those sixty volumes completely, and returned them to me, in less than a month. There was one thing peculiarly pleasing to me, as a man of let|ters; that she never made dog leaves, or soiled the books; a slovenly practice, of which even great scholars are some times guilty. I would, at times, endeavour to draw her into a conversation, upon the author she had recently perused. She would blush, look down, and say that it did not become a young girl, like her, to talk upon such subjects, with a gentle|man of my sense. The compliment it contained ever rendered the apology irresistable. One day, she asked me to lend her a dictionary. I immediately pro|cured for her the great Doctor Johnson's, in two volumes folio. About three days afterwards, she offered to return them. Knowing that a dictionary was a work, to which reference was often necessary▪ Page 115 and, thinking it might be of some service to every lady of her learning, I pressed her to keep it longer. When she replied, with the prettiest lisp imaginable, that they were indeed very pretty story books; but, since I had lent them to her, she had read them all through twice; and then inquired, with the same gentle lisp, if I could not lend her a book, called Rolling Belly Lettres. I was in abso|lute astonishment. Virgil's traveller, treading on the snake in the grass, was comparatively in perfect composure. I took a folio under each arm, and skipped out of the house, as lightly as if I had had nothing heavier, than a late antifeder|al election sermon to carry. This learned young lady was amazingly affronted, at my abrupt departure; but, when the cause of it was explained to her, some months after, she endeavoured to per|suade a journeyman tailor, who courted her niece, to challenge me to fight a Page 116 duel, who actually penned a challenge, upon one of his master's pasteboard pat|terns; and, I verily believe, would have sent it, by his second, if he had not been informed, that my character was estab|lished, as a man of honour.