My Father is a very eminent Man in this Kingdom, and one who bears considerable Offices in it. I am his Son, but my Misfortune is, That I dare not call him Father, nor he without Shame own me as his Issue, I being illegitimate, and therefore deprived of that endearing Tenderness and unparallel’d Satisfaction which a good Man finds in the Love and Conversation of a Parent: Neither have I the Opportunities to render him the Duties of a Son, he having always carried himself at so vast a Distance, and with such Superiority towards me, that by long Use I have contracted a Timorousness when before him, which hinders me from declaring my own Necessities, and giving him to understand the Inconveniencies I undergo.
It is my Misfortune to have been neither bred a Scholar, [a Soldier,] nor to [any kind of] Business, which renders me Entirely uncapable of making Provision for my self without his Assistance; and this creates a continual Uneasiness in my Mind, fearing I shall in Time want Bread; my Father, if I may so call him, giving me but very faint Assurances of doing any thing for me.
I have hitherto lived somewhat like a Gentleman, and it would be very hard for me to labour for my Living. I am in continual Anxiety for my future Fortune, and under a great Unhappiness in losing the sweet Conversation and friendly Advice of my Parents; so that I cannot look upon my self otherwise than as a Monster, strangely sprung up in Nature, which every one is ashamed to own.
I am thought to be a Man of some natural Parts, and by the continual Reading what you have offered the World, become an Admirer thereof, which has drawn me to make this Confession; at the same time hoping, if any thing herein shall touch you with a Sense of Pity, you would then allow me the Favour of your Opinion thereupon; as also what Part I, being unlawfully born, may claim of the Man’s Affection who begot me, and how far in your Opinion I am to be thought his Son, or he acknowledged as my Father. Your Sentiments and Advice herein will be a great Consolation and Satisfaction to, sir, Your Admirer and Humble Servant, W. B.
[Footnote 1: that]
[Footnote 2: Georg. II. v. 89.]
[Footnote 3: Infamy.]
[Footnote 4: Shame]
[Footnote 5: suffer and are]
* * * * *
No. 204. Wednesday, October 24, 1711. Steele.
Urit grata protervitas,
Et vultus nimium lubricus aspici.