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The ladies will see by this letter, what I have often told them, that WILL. is one of those old-fashioned. men of wit and pleasure of the town, that shows his parts by raillery on marriage, and one who has often tried his fortune that way without success. I cannot, however, dismiss his letter, without observing, that the true story on which it is built, does honour to the sex, and that, in order to abuse them, the writer is obliged to have recourse to dream and fiction.
No. 500. FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3.
-Huc natas adjice septem,
You, who are so well acquainted with the story of Socrates, must have read how, upon his making a discourse concerning love, he pressed his point with so much success, that all the bachelors in his audience took a resolution to marry by the first opportunity, and that all the married men immediately took horse and galloped home to their wives. I am apt to think your discourses, in which you have drawn so many agreeable pictures of marriage, have had a very good effect this way in England. We are obliged to you, at least, for having taken off that senseless ridicule, which for many years the witlings of the town have turned upon their fathers and mothers. For my own part, I was born in wedlock, and I do not care who knows it: for which reason, among many others, I should look upon myself as a most insufferable coxcomb, did I endeavour to maintain that cuckoldom was inseparable from marriage, or to make use of husband and wife as terms of reproach. Nay, sir, I will go one step further, and declare to you before the whole world, that I am a married man, and at the same time, I have so much assurance as not to be ashamed of what I have done.
Among the several pleasures that accompany this state of life, and which you have described in your former
papers, there are two you have not taken notice of, and which are seldom cast into the account, by those who write on this subject. You must have observed, in your speculations on
human nature, that nothing is more gratifying to the mind of man than power or dominion; and this I think myself amply possessed of, as I am the father of a family. I am perpetually taken up in giving out orders, in prescribing duties, in hearing parties, in administering justice, and in distributing rewards and punishments. To speak in the language of the Centurion, “I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” In short, sir, I look upon my family as a patriarchal sovereignty, in which I am myself both king and priest. All great governments are nothing else but clusters of these little private royalties, and therefore I consider the masters of families as small deputygovernors presiding over the several little parcels and divisions of their fellow-subjects. As I take great pleasure in the administration of my government in particular, so I look upon myself not only as a more useful, but as a much greater and happier man than any bachelor in England of my own rank and condition.
“There is another accidental advantage in marriage, which has likewise fallen to my share, I mean the having a multitude of children. These I cannot but regard as very great blessings. When I see my little troop before me, I rejoice in the additions which I have made to my species, to my country, and to my religion, in having produced such a number of reasonable creatures, citizens, and Christians. I am pleased to see myself thus perpetuated ; and as there is no production comparable to that of a human creature, I am more proud of having been the occasion of ten such glorious productions, than if I had built a hundred pyramids at my own expense, or published as many volumes of the finest wit and learning In what a beautiful light has the Holy Scripture represented Abdon, one of the judges of Israel, who had forty sons and thirty grand-sons, that rode on threescore and ten ass-colts, according to the magnificence of the Eastern countries! How must the heart of the old man rejoice, when he saw such a beautiful procession of his own descendants, such a numerous cavalcade of his own raising ! For my own part, I can sit in my parlour with great content, when I take a review of half a dozen of my little boys mounted upon their hobby-horses, and of as many little girls tutoring their babies, each of them endeavouring to ex
cel the rest, and to do something that may gain my favour and approbation. I cannot question but He who has blessed me with so many children, will assist my endeavours in providing for them. There is one thing I am able to give each of them, which is, a virtuous education. I think it is Sir Francis Bacon's observation, that in a numerous family of children, the eldest is often spoiled by the prospect of an estate, and the youngest, by being the darling of the parent; but that some one or other in the middle, who has not perhaps been regarded, bas made his way in the world, and overtopped the rest. It is my business to implant in every one of my children the same seeds of industry, and the same honest principles. By this means, I think I have a fair chance, that one or other of them may grow considerable in some or other way of life, whether it be in the army, or in the feet; in trade, or any of the three learned professions ; for you must know, sir, that from long experience and observation, I am persuaded of what seems a paradox to most of those with whom I converse, namely, that a man who has many children, and gives them a good education, is more likely to raise a family, than he who has but one, notwithstanding he leaves him his whole estate. For this reason, I cannot forbear amusing myself with finding out a general, an admiral, or an alderman of London, a divine, a physician, or a lawyer, among my little people who are now, perhaps, in petticoats; and when I see the motherly airs of my
little daughters when they are playing with their puppets, I cannot but flatter myself that their husbands and children will be happy in the possession of such wives and mothers.
“ If you are a father, you will not, perhaps, think this letter impertinent; but if you are a single man, you will not know the meaning of it, and probably throw it into the fire : whatever you determine of it, you may assure yourself that it comes from one who is “ Your most humble servant,
No. 505. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9.
Non habeo denique nauci Marsum augurem,
De divitiis deducant drachmam, reddant cætera. ENNIUS. THOSE who have maintained that men would be more miserable than beasts, were their hopes confined to this life only, among other considerations, take notice that the latter are only afflicted with the anguish of the present evil, whereas the former are very often pained by the reflection on what is past, and the fear of what is to come.
This fear of any future difficulties or misfortunes, is so natural to the mind, that were a man's sorrows and disquietudes summed up at the end of his life, it would generally be found that he had suffered more from the apprehension of such evils as never happened to him, than from those evils which had really befallen him. To this we may add, that among those evils which befall us, there are many that have been more painful to us in the prospect, than by their actual pressure.
This natural impatience to look into futurity, and to know what accidents may happen to us hereafter, has given birth to many ridiculous arts and inventions. Some found their prescience on the lines of a man's hand, others on the features of his face; some on the signatures which nature has impressed on his body, and others on his own hand-writing : some read men's fortunes on the stars, as others have searched after them in the entrails of beasts, or the flights of birds. Men of the best sense have been touched, more or less, with these groundless horrors and presages of futurity, upon surveying the most indifferent works of nature. Can anything be more surprising, than to consider Cicero, who made the greatest figure at the bar, and in the senate of the Roman commonwealth, and, at the same time, outshined all the philosophers of antiquity in his library and in his retirements, as busying himself in the college of augurs, and observing,
with a religious attention, after what manner the chickens pecked the several grains of corn which were thrown to them ?
Notwithstanding these follies are pretty well worn out of the minds of the wise and learned in the present age, multitudes of weak and ignorant persons are still slaves to them. There are numberless arts of prediction among the vulgar, which are too trifling to enumerate; and infinite observations of days, numbers, voices, and figures, which are regarded by them as portents and prodigies. In short, everything prophesies to the superstitious man; there is scarce a straw or a rusty piece of iron that lies in his way by accident.
It is not to be conceived, how many wizards, gipsies, and cunning-men are dispersed through all the counties and market-towns of Great Britain, not to mention the fortunetellers and astrologers, who live very comfortably upon the curiosity of several well-disposed persons in the cities of London and Westminster.
Among the many pretended arts of divination, there is none which so universally amuses as that by dreams. I have indeed observed, in a late speculation, that there have been sometimes, upon very extraordinary occasions, supernatural revelations made to certain persons by this means ; but as it is the chief business of this paper to root out popular errors, I must endeavour to expose the folly and superstition of those persons, who, in the common and ordinary course of life, lay any stress upon things of so uncertain, shadowy, and chimerical a nature. This I cannot do more effectually, than by the following letter, which is dated from a quarter of the town that has always been the habitation of some prophetic Philomath; it having been usual, time out of mind, for all such people as have lost their wits to resort to that place, either for their cure or for their instruction.
Moorfields, October 4, 1712. “MR. SPECTATOR,
Having long considered whether there be any trade wanting in this great city, after having surveyed very attentively all kinds of ranks and professions, I do not find, in any quarter of the town, an Oneirocritic, or, in plain English,