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My young bachelor friends, suspend your
ordinary avocations for a few minutes and
listen to me. I will do you no harm. I am
only a benevolent old gentleman, residing in
a sweet country town, possessing a comfortable
property, a devoted housekeeper, and
some charming domestic animals. I have no
wife, no children, no poor relations, no cares
to worry me, and nothing particular to do.
I am a nice, harmless, idle old man. Come,
listen to me freely, my gallant young bachelor

I have a mania. It is not saving money,
not good living, not music, nor smoking, nor
angling, nor pottery, nor old pictures. It is
nothing of the selfish sort. It is, my young
friends, simply an amiable mania for
promoting the marriages of the single ladies of
my acquaintance. I call them all My
Spinsters; and the one industrious object of
my idle existence is to help them to a settlement
for life. In my own youth I missed
the chance of getting a wife, as I have always
firmly believed, for want of meeting with a
tender-hearted old gentleman like myself to
help me to the necessary spinster. It is
possibly this reflection which originally led to
the formation of the benevolent mania that
now possesses me. Perhaps sheer idleness, a
gallant turn of mind, and living in a sweet
country town have had something to do with
it also. But, I cannot undertake to account
categorically for this one tender and remarkable
peculiarity of mine. I can only confess to it
freely at the outset. You know the worst of
me now from my own lips. Surely I am
a candid as well as a harmless old man?

Although I have been very successful,
considering the badness of the times, in setting
the marriage-bells ringing and stimulating
the wedding-cake trade of my native town, I
must still acknowledge, with just as much
disappointment and regret as it is possible
for so amiable an old man as myself to feel,
that the number of My Spinsters now on
hand is something little short of prodigious.
Not from any deficiency of the necessary
attraction on their partsnothing shall ever
induce me to admit thatbut solely from
want of a sufficiently large bachelor public to
appeal to. The sweet country town in which
I live is also a small country town, and my
spinsters are wasting amid a miserably
reduced population of eligible men. Under
these disastrous circumstances, I must try if
I cannot get them settled in life by making
them known beyond their own limitsin
fact, by asking the Conductor of this widely-
circulated publication to let me try the effect
of advertising one or two sample lots of
marriageable women in his columns. You see I
shirk nothing. I do not attempt any deception
as to the motive which induces me to
call you together. I appear before you in the
character of an amateur matrimonial agent
having a few choice spinsters to dispose of;
and I can wait patiently, my brisk young
bachelor friends, until I find that you are
ready to make me a bid.

Let us now proceed at once to business.
Shall we try a soft and sentimental lot to
begin with? I am anxious to avoid
mistakes at the outset, and I think softness and
sentiment are perhaps the safest attractions
to start upon. Lot One. The six unmarried
sisters of my friend Mr. Bettifer.

I became acquainted, gentlemen, with Mr.
Bettifer in our local reading-rooms
immediately after he came to settle in my
neighbourhood. He was then a very young man,
in delicate health, with a tendency to be
melancholy and a turn for metaphysics. He
was kind enough to ask me to call on him;
and I found that he lived with six sisters at
my first visit, and under the following agreeable

I was shown into a very long room, with
a piano at one end of it and an easel at
another. Mr. Bettifer was alone at his
writing-desk when I came in. I apologised
for interrupting him, but he very politely
assured me that my presence acted as an
inestimable relief to his mind, which had been
stretchedto use his own strong language
on the metaphysical rack all the morning.
He gave his forehead a violent rub as he said
that, and we sat down and looked seriously
at one another in silence. I am not at all a
bashful old man, but I began nevertheless to
feel a little confused at this period of the

"I know no question so embarrassing,"
said Mr. Bettifer, by way of starting the talk
pleasantly, "as the question, on which I

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