The History of the Human Heart
Vilario having found out Camillo's amorous vein, and by his last conversation removed from his mind the impression of his tutor's rigidity, soon gained upon his temper, and became his entire confidant; so that Camillo was under no manner of restraint; but frankly communicated all his inclinations to Vilario, who took care to gratify him in every respect, and permitted him to run into all the extravagance of unbridled youth, observing no other decorum, but what was necessary to conceal their course of life from such of Camillo's relations as they were obliged to visit, before whom, both the tutor and pupil practised all the grimace of virtue and piety, passing upon them, by the most exquisite dissimulation, for two of the soberest gentlemen of the age. They even carried their hypocrisy so far, as to be frequently seen at church, not only on Sundays, but on week-days; and behaved on these occasions with all the outward marks of the most sincere devotion, though in their hearts, they perhaps, cursed the parson, and wished the service at the Devil. They were obliged to this kind of behaviour, in order to obtain and preserve the esteem of a rich citizen and near kinsman of Camillo's, who being himself very devoutly inclined, from a small tincture of fanaticism he had imbibed in his youth, during the last years of the usurpation<14>, when the whole kingdom was possessed with a kind of religious madness, was mightily pleased to find the marks of grace so pregnant in his young kinsman, and on that account, and to encourage the young saint in his pious courses, was profuse of his purse, which was a strong temptation to Camillo to continue his hypocrisy, because his other less religious exercises demanded more money than the allowance his father made him would admit of, though that was very liberal. Therefore, whenever his cash ran low, he went to church in the city, where he was sure to meet with his old kinsman; there he put on a demure look for half an hour, and repeated the responses with a zealous and fervent spirit of devotion; which so charmed the heart of the old miser, that he constantly invited him home, and recruited those pockets, which had been emptied the night before, not with acts of charity and religion, but in company with a knot of such pious youths as himself, who, for the improvement of their morals by the virtuous conversation of the girls of the town, used frequently to spend their evenings together.
But Camillo did not grow profligate all at once; his tutor in iniquity was obliged to initiate him by slow and insensible degrees; for to speak the truth, except a natural proneness to the fair sex, Camillo had no constitutional vice to struggle with, and the care and conversation of his first tutor had instilled into his tender mind the seeds and first principles of many good qualities, which in time might have been cherished to great and good purposes, and took Vilario some pains to eradicate. Camillo had a natural openness of temper, a strong antipathy to falsehood and prevarication, and an innate veneration for everything relating to religion. These were virtues that stood in the way of Vilario's views upon him, yet he durst not attack them openly in person, but led his pupil into such company as by degrees laughed him out of everything that might be a check upon the gratification of any sensual appetite.
After Vilario had discovered Charlotta's plot upon Camillo, as I have observed, he kept him out of her reach, not out of any personal regard to the honour or interest of his pupil, but for his own interest and reputation, which he knew would suffer if he permitted such a step to be taken while under his direction. And lest be might be drawn into the same snare by someone who had more skill in laying and conducting a matrimonial plot, he railed against marriage with all the wit and malice he was master of, and represented that state to his young charge in the most hideous colours, till he had wrought him up to the greatest aversion for it. This point gained, Vilario became less cautious of carrying his pupil into all sorts of company and conversation, particularly such as he himself generally kept when he laid aside his virtuous airs, and appeared in his own natural colours. These consisted chiefly of young rakes of quality, who had formerly profited under the tuition of this hopeful travelling governor; players, poets, musicians, old bawds and young whores. He had acquaintance of all classes, and set hours for attending their meetings at different places of the town, which he managed so artfully, that though he was every night in some scene of debauchery or other, yet he came so seldom to the same place, that he escaped being observed to be one of their society.
He at first introduced Camillo to the class of them who observed the greatest decorum in their debauches; from them to the next degree, till he had travelled through all the scenes of vice and folly our metropolis is able to exhibit, and Camillo in a few weeks became so expert a scholar in this university of vice, that he excelled most of his fellow-students in iniquity; could walk in that dark path without leading-strings, and was in a fair way of groping out his way to the Devil without the help of a guide. We shall only take a short view of some of his rambles in England, and then proceed to his exploits, in foreign parts, on which the short stay he made at London, had great influence.
A night or two after his affair with the widow's daughter was blown up, Vilario and he walking in the Mall at St. James's, were met by an acquaintance of the former's, who seemed to be a man of threescore, but was dressed like a boy of fifteen, and what between the antiquity of his phiz, and the youthfulness of his dress and conversation, he made in Camillo's eyes a very ridiculous appearance. However, as Vilario showed him respect, and there appeared a great intimacy betwixt them, he refrained treating him with that contempt which his appearance created in him, and received the compliments the old beau made him on Vilario's introducing them to each other, with as much politeness as the small knowledge he had yet of the town would permit him; Captain Wearwell, for that was the beau's name, grew all of a sudden mighty fond of Camillo, and by now and then throwing in a small dash of flattery<15>, against which few young men are very well armed, got the better of his first prepossession, and in two or three lengths of the Mall, from the most contemptible ridiculous animal in life, he became, in our young traveller's eyes, the most accomplished, obliging, complaisant gentleman alive. He asked Camillo if he had seen any of the public diversions, or if his tutor had introduced him to any of the choice spirits of the town. "I have been," replied Camillo, "at the play, the opera, and masquerade, and was very well entertained at them," but that he was yet a stranger to such good company as he had mentioned, amongst whom he supposed such a country rustic would make but an awkward figure, which he supposed was the reason Vilario had not yet carried him into assemblies where the conversation might be too polite for him to share in, which, however, he should be glad of, in hopes they would have good nature enough to put up with his ignorance, till, by copying from them, he might so far improve himself, as at length to become supportable. "Why," returned the old beau, "Vilario has greatly injured you, and robbed the beau monde of a great deal of pleasure which they might already have reaped from your conversation: indeed, sir, you are too severe upon yourself; your mien, your dress, and everything about you, pardon the liberty I take of saying this to your face, sir, has quite the genteel and courtly air of St. James's. I could not think it possible that such accomplishments can be acquired in the country; but some are born with happy talents, and besides, you have fallen into good hands; Vilario has seen so much of the world, that but a week's conversation with him, polishes more than a twelve-month's travel. Well, Camillo, I prophesy you will be the darling of the ladies, and make more holes in their hearts than there are patches on their face: egad!But you shall go with us to Locket's to-night, where a set of smarts are to meet, and are afterwards to make the grand tour, which must be high diversion for one who has not seen the manner in which we men of pleasure live. You have, hitherto, sir, amused yourself in scouring after a poor hare or a fox, over hills, dales, and five-bar gates, in eminent danger of your neck; and then, when come home, been obliged to pass the evening in the dull repetition of the mighty exploits of Ringwood and Fowler; and the height of your pleasure was toasting the squire's cherry-cheeked daughter, in dull October, or sophisticated Port: but now, my hero, the scene is changed; you pass the whole day in a round of soft circling delights, where every sense is ravished, and the soul knows no satiety from the infinite variety of substantial joy; and then my boy, instead of hares and foxes, we make war upon more noxious animals, the constables and watch, and instead of coney-warrens and ferret-holes, we demolish bawdy-houses, unrig the girls, and play a thousand other pleasant frolics, to which the whole generation of fox-hunters are utter strangers, and cannot conceive the most distant idea of the dear pleasure which we enjoy in these midnight sallies."
This description of a town ramble, had too much of novelty in it not to take the fancy of our young adventurer: he had conceived a high notion of the polite accomplishments of Captain Wearwell, and was eager to merit those applauses he had so liberally bestowed upon him, and to be initiated into that society, whose pleasures were so much refined, that they quite surpassed his rustic apprehension of things; therefore you may suppose the scene changed from the Mall to Locket's, where an expensive supper, and plenty of generous wine, gave fresh vigour to the youthful imagination, and stifled all former notions of temperance and rational pleasures. The company, by a whisper, were made acquainted with the quality of our young squire, and his address and air were sufficient to let them into the secret of his being a novice in the town, and all its ways; they received him with abundance of complaisance, praised with one side of their faces, while with the other they laughed at the awkward simplicity of his manners. Some of than were inclinable to make merry with him, and to play off their wit at him, as the butt of the company, but Vilario's presence kept them within bounds, he not caring to allow them to carry matters too far, for fear of discouraging his pupil, whom he intended to engage into a liking for all the mad frolics of that thoughtless class of mortals, as most suitable to his own taste, and the designs he had upon him, Camillo behaved pretty well, and took some sallies of raillery which were now and then played off against him, for wit, and arguments of the regard the company had for him; for he thought they honoured him by permitting him to be of their society, though the group consisted of younger brothers who lived by sharping, disbanded captains, debauched posts, and superannuated players; but such as they were, he thought them the best company in the world. After some hours spent in riot, noise and nonsense, they set about their grand tour, and prepared the mighty enterprise of demolishing lamps, beating the watch, and scouring the streets. Capt. Wearwell was commander in chief, and led the van, while Vilario brought up the rear with his pupil, who wanted experience enough to be trusted in a more advanced station. The first house they entered was a noted bagnio, where they met with a covey of town partridges, which Camillo liked better than all he had ever drawn a net over in the country, and amongst them Miss M the famous posture girl, whose presence put our company of ramblers upon the crotchet of showing their new associate a scene, of which he had never so much as dreamed before.
They were showed a large room, wine was brought in, the drawer dismissed, and after a bumper the ladies were ordered to prepare. They immediately stripped stark naked, and mounted themselves on the middle of the table: Camillo was greatly surprised at this apparatus, and not less puzzled in guessing for what purpose the girls had posted themselves on that eminence. They were clean limbed, fresh complexioned, and had skins as white as the driven snow, which was heightened by the jet-black colour of their hair. They had very good faces, and the natural blush<16> which glowed on their cheeks (in spite of the custom of their trade, on seeing so many men fix their eyes on that part which all other women choose to hide) rendered them in Camillo's mind, finished beauties, and fit to rival Venus herself, who could not appear more lovely, had she thus sat for her picture to Apelles. From viewing their faces, he bashfully cast his eyes on the altar of love, which he never had so fair a view of as at this present time: he had seen, it's true, the secret, though only budding, beauties of his cousin Maria, and been very familiar with those of the laundry maid in the country; but the parts of the celebrated posture girl, had something about them which attracted his attention more than anything he had either felt or seen. The throne of love was thickly covered with jet-black hair, at least a quarter of a yard long, which she artfully spread asunder, to display the entrance into the magic grotto. The uncommon figure of this bushy spot, afforded a very odd sort of amusement to Camillo, which was more heightened by the rest of the ceremony which these wantons went through. They each filled a glass of wine, and laying themselves in an extended posture placed their glasses on the mount of Venus, every man in company drinking off the bumper, as it stood on that tempting protuberance, while the wenches were not wanting in their lascivious motions, to heighten the diversion. Then they went through the several postures and tricks made use of to raise debilitated lust, when cloyed with natural enjoyment, and afterwards obliged poor Camillo to shoot the bridge, and pass under the warm cataracts, which discomposed him more than if he had been overset in a Gravesend wherry. However, though it raised the laugh of the whole company, he bore their frolic with a good deal of patience, as he was told it was necessary for all new members to be thus initiated into the mysteries of their society. Camillo began now to be disgusted at the prodigious impudence of the women; he found in himself no more of that uneasy emotion he felt at their first setting out; and was desirous of the company's dismissing them; but his companions would not part with them, till they had gone through the whole of their exercise; the nymphs, who raised a fresh contribution on every new discovery of their impudent inventions, required no entreaties to gratify the young rakes, but proceeded, without the least sense of shame, to show them how far human nature could debase itself. Having resumed a proper posture, with wanton fingers they entered the mysterious cave, and heaved; and thrust, and wriggled, till they opened the teeming springs, which shot their volatile liquids into a wine-glass, each held in the other hand.but here the reader will hardly believe me, though I assure him on the credit of my talisman, that what the glasses received, was mingled with their wine, and drank off without the least shock to the nature of any one present, except Camillo, whose surprise was beyond expression.
This last exploit inflamed these sons of debauchery so much, that they proposed, as conclusion of the scene, that each man should choose his posture, and go through what they had seen only imitated before. But this was a step the nymphs would not comply with, it being the maxim of these damsels, never to admit of the embraces of the men, for fear of spoiling their trade. This very much surprised Camillo, who from their former behaviour, persuaded himself there could not be invented any species of wickedness with which they would not comply, for the sake of money; and though before this their refusal, their abandoned obscenity had quite stifled all thoughts of lying with them, yet now his desires were as strong as if they had been modest virgins, and he had seen nothing of their wantonness; so that he became as earnest to oblige them to comply, as any man of the company; but the girls remained inflexible, dressed themselves in the greatest hurry, and could be prevailed on by no entreaties to stay longer in the company. The gentlemen, who believed it all grimace, and that they stood off only to enhance their price, offered what money they pleased; but that had no effect; and one of them, who seemed to be a girl of an uncommon genius, addressed herself to the company in this manner.
"Gentlemen, I cannot blame you for having a very mean opinion of us, and for believing that after the scenes we have gone through tonight, we have no remains of virtue or modesty left, but I can assure you I have as great an aversion to whoring, (and I may venture to say as much for those that are here with me) as some women who are nicely scrupulous in every other respect; and, however strange you may think it, my mind is as little tainted by the life I am obliged to lead, and have pursued from my infancy, as it was before I was capable of knowing the distinction of the sexes. Perhaps, gentlemen, if you would permit me to give you a short sketch of my history, you would be inclined to think me sincere, and that it is needless for you to persevere in your present intention."
This preamble raised our gentlemen's curiosity, and with one accord they agreeing to hear her story, she began as follows.
"I was born, gentlemen, of honest parents, but had the misfortune to lose them before I could be sensible of my loss. I was but turned of eight when both father and mother died, in a short space after one another, and left me to the care of an aunt, without any other obligation to support me, but what arose from the ties of blood, for all their effects were scarce sufficient to bury them. But alas! Our being so nearly related, was not sufficient to induce my aunt to be long solicitous about my welfare; it is true, she allowed me a bare subsistence for a year or two, but without troubling her head about cultivating my mind, or forming my morals, of which she had naturally herself but very loose notions. I was then remarkably well limbed, had a good complexion, and tolerable features, with a natural liveliness in my temper, which engaged me to my aunt more than nearness of blood; my forward prattle diverted her, and she indulged me in every rompish trick I could invent, without considering what were their tendencies; she carried me to see her neighbours, a set of gossips, who had not all the nicest notions of virtue, and who were pleased with my forwardness, however indecently expressed. I was taught a number of licentious songs, of which I did not then understand the meaning, which used to set the old women, her cronies, in such a titter, that I was thought the best company in the world, and was loaded with caresses, toys, and sugar-plums, for what I ought to have been severely chastised.
"I went on improving in this kind of education, till I was eleven years of age, when my aunt married her second husband, for she was all this time a widow. He proved a covetous hunks, who grudged me every bit of victuals I eat, and wanted my aunt to turn me over to the parish. She was dotingly fond of him, and though she liked me well enough, for my forward tricks, yet she would have been glad to have been rid of me in any shape, except to the parish, which her pride would not let her think of; therefore she made shift to keep me for some months, in hopes that some opportunity would offer to shake me off in a manner more agreeable to her pride.
"At this juncture a famous rope-dancer came to the village where we lived, and put up at the house of one of my aunt's intimates, where I had frequently been. All our family went to see the rope-dancing, and my aunt and P. stayed with the woman of the house after the show was over, and the dancer was admitted to drink with them after the fatigue of her exercise. They soon became familiarly merry together, and I was desired to add to their mirth by a bawdy song, which I humoured so by my action, as to engage the good-will and attention of the rope-dancer. She commended my parts, and at last ventured to observe that I was a well-limbed active girl, and if rightly brought up, might make my fortune by following her profession; but added she, I am afraid she's too forward, she would be too soon debauched: that's the only rub she could meet with. No more passed that night; the gossips parted, but the next day my aunt sent for the dancer, and, in short, I was bound apprentice for seven years to learn postures and rope-dancing.
"If I had any modesty before this period, it easily wore off under the tuition of my new mistress, who found me an apt scholar in learning her postures. I soon began to think that there was no more harm in exposing myself before men, than before women: however, as I grew up, I was taught that nothing could be a greater misfortune to me in the way of my profession, than to have any criminal conversation with the men. This lesson, learned before I well understood the basis it was founded on, and so I found my self guarded against the evil, when experience taught me what I was cautioned against: and though when in that woman's service I exposed myself naked, and in many obscene postures in some select companies, yet being so much accustomed to vicious tricks in my infancy, they inspired in me no more loose thoughts, than if I had been reading a Common-Prayer book; it was purely mechanical, a scene in which my body was only concerned, but in no measure influenced my morals. I pleased my mistress, and got her a great deal of money, for the first four years I was with her, by the many feats of activity she had learned me; but after that time, my joints became less pliable, and I found myself unable to go through the many monkey tricks she put into her bills, to allure the wondering crowd. She saw I could not help it, and therefore was not angry with me, though she was concerned to see that she would be forced to hire one to supply my place in those parts of her show which I could no longer exhibit: but to make up for the loss she had in that respect, she resolved to make sale of that commodity, which she had hitherto so often told me it was my greatest interest to preserve; and fancying that I would make but small opposition to her will, without consulting me, she made sale of my virginity to a country Justice in Devonshire. We were then showing away in a village belonging to that gentleman, who was an old bachelor; and he, after the bargain was struck, sent for my mistress and me to his house; which was at one end of the village. We had no reason to be displeased with the entertainment off the old justice; for we were treated with all the respect due to persons of a much higher rank, and I was favoured by the good squire with particular marks of esteem. After supper I was surprised that we were conducted into separate apartments, as we used in all places to be bedfellows; I began to be apprehensive of some danger, and desired the servant, who lighted me to my chamber, to tell my mistress I wanted to speak with her before she went to sleep. My mistress came in a few minutes, and asked me what I wanted with her; I told her, I was afraid to lie alone in that great old house, which might be haunted with spirits for aught I knew, and would rather be her bedfellow as usual, or go to the inn and lie there: 'child,' says she, 'what do you mean? Who knows but the good justice may have some business with you; before morning? If he has, it would be ill manners to disappoint him: in short, I believe he has a month's mind for a maidenhead, and I fancy may bid pretty high; if he does, you may let the old fellow have his will; I am sure you will not be the worse for it tomorrow.' I started at the proposal, as if I had trod upon a serpent, and told her, after what lessons I had heard her give me on that subject, I was surprised to hear her talk at such a rate; that for my part, to carry on her business, I had gone all the lengths she had hitherto desired me, but was determined to take her own advice, and not go one step further. 'Hey dey!' replied my mistress, half in a rage, 'What, madam, do you pretend to give yourself airs of chastity! you, who have exposed all you have to half the kingdom! Sure you are bewitched! It is true, I advised you to keep your maidenhead for fear of spoiling your shape, and rendering you useless in our way; but now you are grown so already, caution is needless; and as your fruit is now ripe, you ought, to make the most of it before it grows too mellow; you must some time or other, bring the toy to market, and I doubt not but Mr. Justice will give you your full price, and leave you as marketable as before; Therefore, hussy, cease your blubbering, receive the squire as you ought, and show no more coyness than is necessary to squeeze his pockets;' so saying, she whipped out of the room, took the key on the outside, and locked me in.
"I acknowledge, gentlemen, you have reason to believe I am entertaining you with a romance; but more so if I should repeat the agony I felt at this instant. Incredible as it may seem to you, nothing is however more true than this circumstance: even now, when better acquainted with the loosest scenes of vice, I shudder at the thoughts of what I felt. I do not say my sentiments were delicate on that subject, or that the thoughts of honour, or dread of shame influenced my mind; I had long accustomed myself to think with indifference of what other women are most ashamed. I had no character to lose, I had sense enough to think that bad enough in the eye of the censorious world, which, ignorant of the heart, judges only by the shallowest appearances; but I found something within me, which started at the thoughts of prostitution, and made me dread it worse than death. I then reflected how often, when I have been fretting myself at the mean opinion most of my sex had of me, for exposing myself in the manner I did, and how they looked on me as one abandoned to all sense of virtue; I then. reflected, I say, how often I had comforted myself with this thought, that however abandoned I appeared to the world, yet my mind wad a stranger to many of those vices I knew most of my rigid censurers were guilty of in private; and that I could boast to myself I had preserved my real chastity. But now that I was in a fair way of losing the fruits of all my care to a lascivious old miser, I fancied to myself; that my chastity was much more valuable to me, and the preservation of it a much greater virtue, than to other women, brought up according to all the strict rules of decency and decorum. I had as much flesh and blood in my constitution as most women: the scenes I acted, the conversation I heard, the company I kept, were all strong provocatives, and capable of setting every wanton desire afloat, to destroy every virtuous resolution; yet I went through the fiery trial, and preserved not only my person but my mind in a great measure free from the stains of lawless lust, while those who thought me abandoned, perhaps owed their chastity to the frigidity of their constitution; or want of temptation and opportunity: for many yield without half the repugnance I felt in my own mind, without half the struggles I opposed to the attempts of the justice. But I had still another motive to determine me to be true to myself at that time, which though it showed more of the woman in me, yet it heightened my present distress; and that was the affection I had contracted for a young man who travelled in our company; I had plighted my faith to him, that as soon as I was disposed to alter my condition, or part with my maidenhead, it should be his upon honest terms; but we both proposed to suspend our design, till we were in a condition of living above the scandalous occupation we were now engaged in.
All these thoughts crowded on my mind at once, and sunk into the most terrible despair; for I concluded my mistress had sold me to the old lecher. I ran to the door, and tried to unlock it, to see if I could get out of the house, but that was impossible; however I espied a bolt on the inside, which I immediately shot, and then barricaded the door with all the tables and chairs in the room, resolving, that since I could not get out, nobody should get in. Being now secure in my own imagination, and trusting to the strength of the garrison, I undressed and went to bed, pleased that I had disappointed their wicked intentions for that night, and trusting that providence would put something in my head to dissipate my fears against next day. In about half an hour I was just dropping asleep, when s heard the key turn in the door, and a foot push against it: but all stood firm, and I was diverting myself with the thoughts how vexed his worship would be, that he should be obliged to hug his pillow for that night, after promising himself the mumbling of a maidenhead of fifteen. After some few bounces at the door to no purpose, the noise suddenly ceased, and I turned myself to rest, when to my inexpressible surprise, I saw the old gentleman enter in his night-gown and slippers, with a candle in his hand, through a door which opened at the foot of the bed, and which I had not before observed. I shrieked out as if I had seen a ghost, for that indeed was the first notion that struck me; but I was soon convinced that the apparition was not purely spiritual; for setting the candle down, he threw off his nightgown, jumped into bed as nimbly as a boy of eighteen, clasped me fast in his withered arms, and stifled me with his odious kisses, for the old rogue stunk at that time, or I fancied he did, like any goat. I endeavoured all I could to get from him, and made noise enough to have raised the dead; but the worthy justice did not mind my cries, threats, curses, or entreaties, he was for going the shortest way to storm the citadel, when he found coaxing would not do, and I observed by his not being concerned at my outcries, that I could expect no relief from without; I therefore left off my squalling, and reserved my strength to oppose the enemy force to force, who seemed ready to enter the breach. But when I put down my hand to oppose his entrance, for he had already penetrated the outworks, I found he had exhausted all his ammunition in the storm, and had not one grain of powder left to carry on the attack, if I had left the fort without a guard: what I now laid hold on, gave me the idea of a snail that had been trod upon, shrinking back into its shell. I was glad to find my enemy so impotent, for I begun to find my strength fail with struggling and bawling, and therefore considered with myself, that it was the thing I was contending for, and not the name, and since my old hero was in no condition to do me any injury, it was needless to make opposition, as his inability was guard sufficient to my virtue. I made my repulses weaker and weaker by degrees, and at last, as if quite exhausted, left him the open field. Overjoyed that I had removed all impediments, he made another push, vigorous enough to have alarmed any poor virgin more experienced than me, but alas! He was still as far from the point as ever: he bobbed against the breach, but could not move one inch over the threshold. He repeated his efforts, but always in vain; his forces were now weakened, and dispirited beyond all possibility of rallying: quite confounded that he was so baffled, he started from his post as if he had been stung by a nettle, bounces out of bed, puts on his night-gown, and vanished in an instant, without speaking one word.
Pleased with my deliverance from age, impotence, and lechery, I slept soundly for the rest of the night, and in the morning got up earlier than ordinary, went to the village, where I met my sweetheart, and told him every syllable that passed, without concealing the minutest circumstance. We both joined in cursing the old bawd our mistress, and laughing at the poor justice. But then we thought it necessary to consult what was to be done to avoid such accidents for the future, and we could think of no other expedient to free me from the danger of being sold to the first that would give money enough for me, but to leave the service. This thought was no sooner mentioned, than it was put into execution, for that very day I set out for Gosport, took shipping there for London, where I arrived without any accident, accompanied by the young man, who treated me with as much modesty, as if I had been his sister. We soon got into a company of strollers, who were exhibiting at Sadler's Wells, where I had not been above a month, when Mr. the famous painter, sent for me; I wondered what he might want with me, but was not above answering his message. I went, and he told me he had a proposal to make to me, which if I accepted, would turn much to my advantage; if I did not, he hoped I would not take the offer amiss, since he had no intention to affront but to serve me. I begged him to name his proposal without any further preamble. In a word, his design, was to make use of me as a figure in a private academy of painters, and was directed to me by Sir James Thornhill, who had the chief management of that affair. I was by no means startled at the proposal, because while with my mistress, I had frequently, to humour select companies of young rakes, acted my postures quite naked; therefore I made little or no hesitation to engage with the Academy, who allowed me more than I could get by rope-dancing; and they made it an express condition in their engagement with me, that was to have no commerce with men: an injunction I observed sacredly for seven years; for so long I stood as a pattern for the use of that society. During this time, I lived privately, and respected by all who knew me; for I had shaken of all acquaintance with strollers, taken lodgings in a remote corner; and passed for a young lady from the country. I never went out, but in a chair to the Academy, which was only three times a week. The rest of my time I employed in reading, so that my landlady justly looked upon me as a very sober and virtuous person. But in about seven years the affairs of that society took a different turn, and I was left to shift for myself, and had nothing now to depend on but what I had from young painters, for standing to them at their own houses, which was not sufficient to maintain me. My acquaintance lay among the painters, and some of them, who knew my difficulties, in order to help me, have sent for me to taverns, where I only showed myself naked, without going through any further obscenities. This happening often, and in promiscuous company, one told another, and I was sent for continually, till at length I made myself too common, and, to get bread, was obliged to fall into all the tricks which you have seen, yet still I have preserved my chastity, and am resolved to do so till I can be settled in some better way of life."
The company were mightily pleased with the history the posture-girl gave of herself. By this time their fire was in some measure abated, and they did not insist so violently upon their first proposal, but permitted the ladies to depart, and were contented to send for some less reserved, and who had not such odd notions of chastity. And now our revellers proposed to adjourn their ramble for that night, and to spend the remainder of it by lying in state, that is, each with a brace of girls. The ladies were sent for, and every gentleman made his election by balloting, and then retired to their respective apartments with their Bona Robas<17>.
Camillo liked a girl well enough, but he found no great stomach for two of them at a time; and had so much country bashfulness left, that he scarce knew how to behave between them. But these sort of creatures know how to banish modesty, and everything else that tends to baulk their view; they placed our young traveller in the middle between them, and used all the tricks and freedom they could invent to animate him to action. Camillo had nothing frigid in his constitution, but he found himself so much embarrassed how to please two at a time, and shocked with the thoughts of having a witness to an action he had always observed the greatest privacy in, that he was little better than the old justice, for the first quarter of an hour he was in bed, and frequently wished them both at the devil: for to his other perplexity was added the shame to be thought incapable, a secret he could not hide from their busy fingers, which were officiously employed to raise the pendent member; and the more he was vexed, the less capable he was of helping himself. But at last, the heat of blood got the better of his embarrassment. Their warm dalliance brought the spirits to their proper channels, when Camillo had begun to despair of finding his vigour return. He now resolved not to lose the opportunity, by deliberating which of the two he should begin with, but taking the one that lay most convenient, he gave a sufficient proof of his virility, which some moments before there was some reason to call in question; and before morning he gave each of them reason enough to be pleased with his manhood, as they were with his liberality, before they went away; for he tipped each of them a yellow-boy<18>, treated them with breakfast, and sent them home in their chairs. This he did very early, and got borne to his lodgings without calling for his companions; for he began to be crop-sick<19>, and was afraid of a fresh debauch if he stayed.
Vilario came home about an hour after, and told Camillo that the company were charmed with his behaviour and conversation, and had made him promise, in his name, to meet them at night in the same place; but Camillo desired to be excused for that night, as he found himself a little out of order, and durst not venture too much at once on his constitution, before he had seasoned it by degrees. It was not proper for the tutor to urge too much against so good an excuse, and therefore gave him a respite for that night.