« ElőzőTovább »
Quibus divitias pollicentur, ab iis drachmam petunt:
heartily despise :
Deduct the sixpence, and bestow the rest.
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 passed, and the fear of what is to
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 befal us, there are many which 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 in 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 any thing be more surprising than to consider Cicero,* who made the greatest figure at the bar andin the senate of the Roman commonwealth, and at the same time
* This censure of Cicero seems to be unfounded ; for it is said of him that he wondered how one augur could meet another without laughing in his face.
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, every thing 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 fortune-tellers 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 po. pular 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:
“ MR. SPECTATOR,
Moorfields, Oct. 4, 1712. .“ 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 oneiro-critic, or, in plain English, an interpreter of dreams. For want of so useful a person, there are several good people who are very much puzzled in this particular, and dream a whole year together without being ever the wiser for it. I hope I am pretty well qualified for this office, having studied by candle-light all the rules of art which have been laid down upon this subject. My great uncle by my wife's side was a Scotch highlander, and second-sighted. I have four fingers and two thumbs upon one hand, and was born on the longest night of the year. My Christian and sur-name begin and end with the same letters. I am lodged in Moorfields, in a house that for these fifty years has been always tenanted by a conjurer.
you had been in company, so much as myself, with ordinary women of the town, you must know that there are many of them who every day in their lives, upon seeing or hearing of any thing that is unexpected, cry, ' My dream is out;' and cannot go to sleep in quiet the next night, until something or other has happened which has expounded the visions of the preceding one. There are others who are in very great pain for not being able to recover the circumstances of a dream, that made strong impressions upon them while it lasted. In short, Sir, there are many whose waking thoughts are wholly employed on their sleeping ones. For the benefit, therefore, of this curious and inquisitive part of my fellow-subjects, I shall in the first place tell those persons what they dreamt of, who fancy they never dream at all. In the next place I shall make out any dream, upon hearing a single circumcumstance of it; and, in the last place, I shall expound to them the good or bad fortune which such dreams portend. If they do not presage good luck, I shall desire nothing for my pains ; not questioning at the same time, that those who consult me will be so reasonable as to afford me a moderate share out of any considerable estate, profit, or emolument, which I shall thus discover to them. I interpret to the poor for nothing, on condition that their names may be inserted in public advertisements, to attest the truth of such my interpretations. As for people of quality, or others who are indisposed, and do care to come in person, I can interpret their dreams by seeing their water. I set set aside one day in the week for lovers; and interpret by
the great for any gentlewoman who is turned of sixty, after the rate of half-a-crown per week, with the usual allowances for good luck. I have several rooms and apartments fitted up at reasonable rates, for such as have not conveniences for dreaming at their own houses.
“ Titus TụROPHOIUS. 0.
“ N. B. I am not dumb."
N° 506. FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1712.
Candida perpetuo reside, Concordia, lecto,
Tamque pari semper sit Venus æqua jugo..
MART. 4 Epig. xiii. 7
But think each bappy sun his bridal day!
whom the world is obliged for those several excellent discourses which have been marked with the letter X:
I have somewhere met with a fable that made Wealth the father of Love. It is certain
a mind ought at least to be free from the apprehensions of want and poverty, before it can fully attend
to all the softnesses and endearments of this passion; notwithstanding we see multitudes of married people, who are utter strangers to this delightful passion, amidst all the affluence of the most plentiful fortunes.
It is not sufficient, to make a marriage happy, that the humours of two people should be alike. I could instance a hundred pair, who have not the least sentiment of love remaining for one another, yet àre so like in their humours, that if they were not already married, the whole world would design them for man and wife.
The spirit of love has something so extremely fine in-it, that it is very often disturbed and lost, by some little accidents, which the careless and unpolite
never attend to, until it is gone past recovery..
Nothing has more contributed to banish it from a married state, than too great a familiarity, and laying aside the common rules of decency. Though I could give instances of this in several particulars, I shall only mention that of dress. The beaux and belles about town, who dress purely to catch one another, think there is no further occasion for the bait, when their first design has succeeded. But besides the too common fault in point of neatness, there are several others which I do not remember to have seen touched
but in one of our modern comedies," where a French woman offering to undress and dress herself before the lover of the play, and assuring his [her] mistress that it was very usual in France, the lady tells her that is a secret in dress she never knew before, and that she was so unpolished an English woman, as to resolve never to learn even to dress before her husband.
There is something so gross in the carriage of some wives, that they Tose their husbands” hearts for faults, which if a man has either good-nature or good-breeding, he knows not how to tell them of. I am afraid, indeed, the ladies are generally most faulty in this particular; who, at their first giving into love, find the way so smooth and pleasant, that they fancy it is scarce possible to be tired in it.
There is so much nicety and discretion required to keep love alive after marriage, and make conversation still new and agreeable after twenty or thirty years, that I know nothing which seems readily to promise it, but an earnest endeavour to please on both sides, and superior good sense on the part of the man.
By a man of sense I mean one acquainted with business and letters.
A woman very much settles her esteem for a man, cording to the figure he makes in the world, and the character he bears among his
his own sex. As learning is the chief advantage we have over them, it is, methinks, as scandalous and inexcusable for a man of fortune to be illiterate, as for a woman not to know how to behave herself on the most ordinary occasions. It is this which sets the two sexes at the greatest distance: a woman is vexed
* The Funerat, or Grief A-la-mode, by Steele.