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their mansions assigned them. I was surprised to hear him ask every one of them the same question, namely, What they had been doing? Upon this question being proposed to the whole assembly, they stared one upon another, as not knowing what to answer. He then interrogated each of them separately. Madam , says he to the first of them, you have been upon the earth about fifty years : What have you been doing there all this while ? Doing , says she , really I do not know what I have been doing :I desire I may have time given me to recollect. After about half an hour's pause, she told him than she had been playing at crimp; upon which Rhadamanthus beckoned to the keeper on his left hand , to take her into custody. And you , Madam , says the judge , that look with such a soft and languishing air , I think you set out for this place in your mine and twentieth year, what have you been doing all this while ? I had a great deal of business on my hands, says she , being taken up the first twelve years of my life in dressing a jointed baby , and all the remaining part of it in reading plays and romances. Very well, says he , you have employed your time to good purpose. Away
with her. The next was a plain countrywoman; well, mistress , says Radamanthus, and what have you been doing ? An't please your worship, says she , I did not live quite forty years, and in that time brought my husband seven daughters, made him nine thousand cheeses, and left my eldest girl with him, to look after his house in my absence, and who I may venture to say is as pretty a housewife as any in the country. Rhadamanthus smiled at the simplicity of the good woman, and ordered the keeper of Elysium to take her into his care. And you , fair lady , says he , what have you been doing these five and thirty years ? I have been doing no hurt , I assure you , Sir, said she. That is well, says he , but what good have you been doing ? The lady was in great confusion at this question, and not knowing what to answer, the two keepers leaped out to seize her at the same time, the one took her by the hand to convey her to Elysium, the other caught hold of her to carry her away to Erebus. But Rhadamanthus observing an ingenuous modesty in her countenance and behaviour, bid them both let her loose, and set her aside for a re-examination when he was more at leisure. An old woman, of a proud and sour look, presented herself next at the bar, and being asked what she had been doing? Truly, says she , I lived threescore and ten years in a very wicked world, and was so angry at the behaviour of a parcel of young flirts , that I passed most of my last years in condemning the follies of the times. I was every day blaming the silly conduct of people about me, in order to deter those I conversed with from falling into the like errors aud miscarriages. Very well , says Rhadamanthus, but did you keep the same watchful eye over your own actions ? Why truly, says she, I was so taken up with publishing the faults of others , that I had no time to consider my own. Madam , says Rhadamanthus , be pleased to file off to the left , and make room for the venerable matron that stands behind you. Old gentlewoman, says he, I think you are fourscore. You have heard the question , What have you been doing so long in the world ? Ah! Sir! says she , I have been doing what I should not have done, but I had made a firin resolution to have changed my life, if I had not been snatched off by an untimely end. Madam , says he , you will please to follov' :: your leader; and spying another of the same age , interrogated her in the same form. To which the matron replied , I have been the wise of a husband who was as dear to me in his old age as in his youth. I have been a mother, and very happy in my children, whom I endeavoured to bring up in every thing thai is good. My eldest son is blessed by the poor, and beloved by every one that knows him. I lived within my own family, and left it much more wealthy than I found it. Rhadamanthus, who knew the value of the old lady, siniled upon her in such a manner, that the keeper of Elysium, who knew his office reached out his hand to her. He no sooner touched her, but her wrinkles vanished , her eyes sparkled , her cheeks glowed with blushes and she appeared in full bloom and beauty. A young woman observing that this officer, who conducted the happy to Elysium, was so great a beautifier, longed to be in his hands, so that pressing through the crowd, she was the next that appeared at the bar. And being asked what she had been doing the five and twenty years that she had passed in the world , I have endeavoured , says she , ever since I cange to years of discretion , to make myself lovely and gain admirers. In order to it I passed my time in bottling up May-dew, inventing white-washes, mixing colours, cutting out patches, consulting my glass, suiting my complexion , tearing off my tucker, sinking my stays – Rhadamanthus, without hearing her out, gave the sign to take her off. Upon the approach of the keeper of Erebus , her colour faded, her face was puckered up with wrinkles , and her whole person lost in deformity.
I was then surprised with a distant sound of a whole troop of females that came forward laughing, singing and dancing. I was very desirous to know the reception they would meet with , and withal was very apprehensive , that Rhadamanthus would spoil their mirth : But at their nearer approach the noise grew so very great, that it awakened me.
I lay same time, reflecting in myself on the oddness of this dream, and could not forbear asking my own heart, what I was doing? I answered myself, that I was writing Guardians. If my readers make as good an use of this work as I design they should, I hope it will never be imputed to me as a work that is vain and unprofitable.