The Spectator is a web novel created by Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele.
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No. 535. Thursday, November 13, 1712. Addison.
‘Spem longam reseces–‘
My Four Hundred and Seventy First Speculation turned upon the Subject of Hope in general. I design this Paper as a Speculation upon that vain and foolish Hope, which is misemployed on Temporal Objects, and produces many Sorrows and Calamities in human Life.
It is a Precept several times inculcated by _Horace_, that we should not entertain an Hope of any thing in Life which lies at a great Distance from us. The Shortness and Uncertainty of our Time here, makes such a kind of Hope unreasonable and absurd. The Grave lies unseen between us and the Object which we reach after: Where one Man lives to enjoy the Good he has in view, ten thousand are cut off in the Pursuit of it.
It happens likewise unluckily, that one Hope no sooner dies in us but another rises up in its stead. We are apt to fancy that we shall be happy and satisfied if we possess ourselves of such and such particular Enjoyments; but either by reason of their Emptiness, or the natural Inquietude of the Mind, we have no sooner gained one Point but we extend our Hopes to another. We still find new inviting Scenes and Landskips lying behind those which at a Distance terminated our View.
The natural Consequences of such Reflections are these; that we should take Care not to let our Hopes run out into too great a Length; that we should sufficiently weigh the Objects of our Hope, whether they be such as we may reasonably expect from them what we propose in their Fruition, and whether they are such as we are pretty sure of attaining, in case our Life extend itself so far. If we hope for things which are at too great a Distance from, us, it is possible that we may be intercepted by Death in our Progress towards them. If we hope for things of which we have not thoroughly considered the value, our Disappointment will be greater than our Pleasure in the Fruition of them. If we hope for what we are not likely to possess, we act and think in vain, and make Life a greater Dream and Shadow than it really is.
Many of the Miseries and Misfortunes of Life proceed from our Want of Consideration, in one or all of these Particulars. They are the Rocks on which the sanguine Tribe of Lovers daily split, and on which the Bankrupt, the Politician, the Alchymist and Projector are cast away in every Age. Men of warm Imaginations and towring Thoughts are apt to overlook the Goods of Fortune [which are ] near them, for something that glitters in the Sight at a distance; to neglect solid and substantial Happiness, for what is showy and superficial; and to contemn that Good which lies within their reach, for that which they are not capable of attaining. Hope calculates its Schemes for a long and durable Life; presses forward to imaginary Points of Bliss; and grasps at Impossibilities; and consequently very often ensnares Men into Beggary, Ruin and Dishonour.
What I have here said, may serve as a Moral to an _Arabian_ Fable, which I find translated into _French_ by Monsieur _Galland_. 
The Fable has in it such a wild, but natural Simplicity, that I question not but my Reader will be as much pleased with it as I have been, and that he will consider himself, if he reflects on the several Amus.e.m.e.nts of Hope which have sometimes pa.s.sed in his Mind, as a near Relation to the _Persian_ Gla.s.s-Man.
_Alnaschar_, says the Fable, was a very idle Fellow, that never would set his Hand to any Business during his Father’s Life. When his Father died, he left him to the value of an hundred Drachmas in _Persian_ Mony. _Alnaschar_, in order to make the best of it, laid it out in Gla.s.ses, Bottles, and the finest Earthen Ware. These he piled up in a large open Basket, and having made choice of a very little Shop, placed the Basket at his Feet, and leaned his Back upon the Wall, in Expectation of Customers. As he sat in this Posture with his Eyes upon the Basket, he fell into a most amusing Train of Thought, and was over-heard by one of his Neighbours, as he talked to himself in the following manner: _This Basket_, says he, _cost me at the Wholesale Merchant’s an Hundred Drachmas, which is all I have in the World. I shall quickly make two hundred of it, by selling it in Retail. These two hundred_ _Drachmas will in a very little while rise to four Hundred, which of course will amount in time to four Thousand. Four Thousand Drachmas cannot fail of making Eight Thousand. As soon as by this means I am Master of Ten Thousand, I will lay aside my Trade of a Gla.s.s-Man, and turn Jeweller. I shall then deal in Diamonds, Pearls, and all sorts of rich Stones. When I have got together as much Wealth as I can well desire, I will make a Purchase of the finest House I can find, with Lands, Slaves, Eunuchs and Horses. I shall then begin to enjoy my self, and make a noise in the World. I will not, however, stop there, but still continue my Traffick, till I have got together an Hundred Thousand Drachmas. When I have thus made my self Master of an hundred thousand Drachmas, I shall naturally set my self on the foot of a Prince, and will demand the Grand _Visier’s_ Daughter in Marriage, after having represented to that Minister the Information which I have received of the Beauty, Wit, Discretion, and other high Qualities which his Daughter possesses. I will let him know at the same time, that it is my Intention to make him a Present of a thousand Pieces of Gold on our Marriage-Night. As soon as I have married the Grand _Visier’s_ Daughter, I’ll buy her ten black Eunuchs, the youngest and best that can be got for Mony. I must afterwards make my Father-in-Law a Visit with a great Train and Equipage. And when I am placed at his Right-hand, which he will do of course, if it be only to Honour his Daughter, I will give him the thousand Pieces of Gold which I promised him, and afterwards, to his great Surprize, will present him another Purse of the same Value, with some short Speech; as,_ Sir, you see I am a Man of my Word: I always give more than I promise.
_When I have brought the Princess to my House, I shall take particular care to breed in her a due Respect for me, before I give the Reins to Love and Dalliance. To this end I shall confine her to her own Apartment, make her a short Visit, and talk but little to her. Her Women will represent to me, that she is inconsolable by reason of my Unkindness, and beg me with Tears to caress her, and let her sit down by me; but I shall still remain inexorable, and will turn my Back upon her all the first Night. Her Mother will then come and bring her Daughter to me, as I am seated upon my Sofa. The Daughter, with Tears in her Eyes, will fling herself at my Feet, and beg of me to receive her into my Favour: Then will I, to imprint in her a thorough Veneration for my Person, draw up my Legs and spurn her from me with my Foot, in such a manner that she shall fall down several Paces from the Sofa.
Alnaschar_ was entirely swallowed up in this Chimerical Vision, and could not forbear acting with his Foot what he had in his Thoughts: So that unluckily striking his Basket of brittle Ware, which was the Foundation of all his Grandeur, he kicked his Gla.s.ses to a great distance from him into the Street, and broke them into ten thousand Pieces.
[Footnote 1: [that lie]
[Footnote 2: Arabian Nights, translated by Antony Galland, who died 1715.]
No. 536. Friday, November 14, 1712. Addison.
‘O verae Phrygiae neque enim Phryges!’
As I was the other day standing in my Bookseller’s Shop, a pretty young Thing about Eighteen Years of Age, stept out of her Coach, and brushing by me, beck’ned the Man of the Shop to the further end of his Counter, where she whispered something to him with an attentive Look, and at the same time presented him with a Letter: After which, pressing the End of her Fan upon his Hand, she delivered the remaining part of her Message, and withdrew. I observed, in the midst of her Discourse, that she flushed, and cast an Eye upon me over her Shoulder, having been informed by my Bookseller, that I was the Man of the short Face, whom she had so often read of. Upon her pa.s.sing by me, the pretty blooming Creature smiled in my Face, and dropped me a Curtsie. She scarce gave me time to return her Salute, before she quitted the Shop with an easie Scuttle, and stepped again into her Coach, giving the Footman Directions to drive where they were bid. Upon her Departure, my Bookseller gave me a Letter, superscribed, _To the ingenious Spectator_, which the young Lady had desired him to deliver into my own Hands, and to tell me that the speedy Publication of it would not only oblige her self, but a whole Tea-Table of my Friends. I opened it therefore, with a Resolution to publish it, whatever it should contain, and am sure, if any of my Male Readers will be so severely critical as not to like it, they would have been as well pleased with it as my self, had they seen the Face of the pretty Scribe.
_London, Nov._ 1712.
‘You are always ready to receive any useful Hint or Proposal, and such, I believe, you will think one that may put you in a way to employ the most idle part of the Kingdom; I mean that part of Mankind who are known by the Name of the Womens-Men or Beaus, _&c. Mr._ SPECTATOR, you are sensible these pretty Gentlemen are not made for any Manly Imployments, and for want of Business are often as much in the Vapours as the Ladies. Now what I propose is this, that since Knotting is again in fashion, which has been found a very pretty Amus.e.m.e.nt, that you would recommend it to these Gentlemen as something that may make them useful to the Ladies they admire. And since ’tis not inconsistent with any Game, or other Diversion, for it may be done in the Playhouse, in their Coaches, at the Tea-Table, and, in short, in all Places where they come for the sake of the Ladies (except at Church, be pleased to forbid it there, to prevent Mistakes) it will be easily complied with. ‘Tis beside an Imployment that allows, as we see by the Fair s.e.x, of many Graces, which will make the Beaus more readily come into it; it shews a white Hand and Diamond Ring to great advantage; it leaves the Eyes at full liberty to be employed as before, as also the Thoughts, and the Tongue. In short, it seems in every respect so proper, that ’tis needless to urge it further, by speaking of the Satisfaction these Male-Knotters will find, when they see their Work mixed up in a Fringe, and worn by the fair Lady for whom and with whom it was done. Truly, _Mr._ SPECTATOR, I cannot but be pleased I have hit upon something that these Gentlemen are capable of; for ’tis sad so considerable a part of the Kingdom (I mean for Numbers) should be of no manner of use. I shall not trouble you farther at this time, but only to say, that I am always your Reader, and generally your Admirer, C. B.
_P. S._ ‘The sooner these fine Gentlemen are set to Work the better; there being at this time several fine Fringes that stay only for more Hands.’
I shall, in the next place, present my Reader with the Description of a Set of Men who are common enough in the World, tho’ I do not remember that I have yet taken notice of them, as they are drawn in the following Letter.
‘Since you have lately, to so good purpose, enlarged upon Conjugal Love, it’s to be hoped you’ll discourage every Practice that rather proceeds from a regard to Interest, than to Happiness. Now you cannot but observe, that most of our fine young Ladies readily fall in with the Direction of the graver sort, to retain in their Service, by some small Encouragement, as great a Number as they can of supernumerary and insignificant Fellows, which they use like Whifflers, and commonly call _Shoeing-Horns_. These are never designed to know the length of the Foot, but only, when a good Offer comes, to whet and spur him up to the Point. Nay, ’tis the Opinion of that grave Lady, Madam _Matchwell_, that it’s absolutely convenient for every prudent Family to have several of these Implements about the House, to clap on as Occasion serves, and that every Spark ought to produce a Certificate of his being a Shoeing-Horn, before he be admitted as a Shoe. A certain Lady, whom I could name, if it was necessary, has at present more Shoeing-Horns of all Sizes, Countries, and Colours, in her Service, than ever she had new Shoes in her Life. I have known a Woman make use of a Shoeing-Horn for several Years, and finding him unsuccessful in that Function, convert him at length into a Shoe. I am mistaken if your Friend _Mr_. WILLIAM HONEYCOMB, was not a cast Shoeing-Horn before his late Marriage. As for my self, I must frankly declare to you, that I have been an errant Shoeing-Horn for above these twenty Years. I served my first Mistress in that Capacity above five of the Number, before she was shod. I confess, though she had many who made their Applications to her, I always thought my self the best Shoe in her Shop, and it was not till a Month before her Marriage that I discovered what I was. This had like to have broke my Heart, and raised such Suspicions in me, that I told the next I made Love to, upon receiving some unkind Usage from her, that I began to look upon my self as no more than her Shoeing-Horn. Upon which, my Dear, who was a Coquet in her Nature, told me I was Hypocondriacal, and that I might as well look upon my self to be an Egg or a Pipkin. But in a very short time after she gave me to know that I was not mistaken in my self. It would be tedious to recount to you the Life of an unfortunate Shoeing-Horn, or I might entertain you with a very long and melancholy Relation of my Sufferings. Upon the whole, I think, Sir, it would very well become a Man in your Post, to determine in what Cases a Woman may be allowed, with Honour, to make use of a Shoeing-Horn, as also to declare whether a Maid on this side Five and Twenty, or a Widow who has not been three Years in that State, may be granted such a Privilege, with other Difficulties which will naturally occur to you upon that Subject.
_I am, SIR,
With the most profound Veneration,
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