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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

The Spectator and The Tatler

Will Honeycomb’s Courtships

By Eustace Budgell (1686–1737)

YOU may easily guess that I have not lived so long in the world without having had some thoughts of settling in it, as the phrase is. To tell you truly, I have several times tried my fortune that way, though I can’t much boast of my success.

I made my first addresses to a young lady in the country; but when I thought things were pretty well drawing to a conclusion, her father happening to hear that I had formerly boarded with a surgeon, the old put forbid me his house, and within a fortnight after married his daughter to a fox-hunter in the neighbourhood.

I made my next application to a widow, and attacked her so briskly, that I thought myself within a fortnight of her. As I waited upon her one morning, she told me that she intended to keep her ready money and jointure in her own hand, and desired me to call upon her attorney in Lincoln’s Inn, who would adjust with me what it was proper for me to add to it. I was so rebuffed by this overture, that I never inquired either for her or her attorney afterward.

A few months after I addressed myself to a young lady who was an only daughter, and of a good family. I danced with her at several balls, squeezed her by the hand, said soft things to her, and, in short, made no doubt of her heart; and though my fortune was not equal to hers, I was in hopes that her fond father would not deny her the man she had fixed her affections upon. But as I went one day to the house in order to break the matter to him, I found the whole family in confusion, and heard, to my unspeakable surprise, that Miss Jenny was that very morning run away with the butler.

I then courted a second widow, and am at a loss to this day how I came to miss her, for she had often commended my person and behaviour. Her maid, indeed, told me one day that her mistress had said she never saw a gentleman with such a spindle pair of legs as Mr. Honeycomb.

After this I laid siege to four heiresses successively, and being a handsome young dog in those days, quickly made a breach in their hearts. But I don’t know how it came to pass, though I seldom failed of getting the daughter’s consent, I could never in my life get the old people on my side.

I could give you an account of a thousand other unsuccessful attempts, particularly of one which I made some years since upon an old woman, whom I had certainly borne away with flying colours, if her relations had not come pouring in to her assistance from all parts of England. Nay, I believe I should have got her at last, had not she been carried off by a hard frost.