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be confined, or at least mitigated in such a manner, as to hinder it from destroying its own excellence and utility. On the one hand, if it is restrained too close, the world will say, that it must entirely lose its essence; but, on the other hand, fatal experience has convinced me, that if it is permitted to enjoy a full unlimited sway, this amiable virtue becomes a ridiculous vice; and brings with it, as my wife's case, fruitless expences, ill-judged concessions, and a kind of blind folly, that is always liable to contempt.
Generosity is the daughter of Good-nature. She is very fair and lovely, when under the tuition of judgment and reason; but when she escapes from her tutors, and acts indiscriminately, according as her fancy allures her, she subjects herself, like her mother, to sneer, ridicule, and disdain.
To illustrate these assertions by some examples from among the many mishaps, losses and embarrassments, which have accrued to us in the course of our domestic affairs, give me leave to tell you, that some years ago we had a foot-boy, who acted as butler, and had the custody of the little plate, which our small fortune could afford us. The fellow was awkward, and unfit for the station; but my wife very good-naturedly was determined to keep him in our service, because he intended to marry the nursery-maid, and would undoubtedly make an excellent husband. The rascal was a thief: but as it is ill-natured to suspect people, before we have full proof of their knavery, several of his tricks and petty larcenies were attributed to the itinerant Jews and higlers, (we then living at Newington) who frequently called at our door. At last, however, after several rogueries, too evident to all, except the blindly-good-natured, he went off with my wife's gold repeating watch, and a pair of our best silver candlesticks, with which he voluntarily transported himself, as we have been since told, to the
West-Indies; leaving his mistress the nursery-maid big with child, and thereby giving great license to the neighbourhood to animadvert upon my wife's amazing prescience in foreseeing his excellencies as a husband.
You must know, Sir, that my dear consort, in the full glow of her goodness, is never contented unless her servants marry each other. All I can urge against so impolitic a custom, has been to no purpose : marriage (she says) prevents vice, and saves souls from destruction. Perhaps it may: but are no unmarried servants to be found in Mr. Fielding's Register Office, or elsewhere, but what are vicious? At least I am sure, that this piece of sanctity is very expensive in its effects, and is attended with many inconveniences. One of her maids, about two years ago, was discovered to be very intimate with my footman: my wife, to prevent ill consequences, hastened to have them married, and was present herself at the ceremony. She admired the modesty of the woman, and the sober gravity of the man, during the holy rites; and was entirely convinced that no harm could have happened from so decent a couple. In a short space after the marriage, Patty brought forth a swinging girl; but as it was born almost six months before its time, my wife advised them to keep it the remaining half year in cotton. She did this purely from a motive of good-nature, to shield if possible the newmarried woman's reputation; but finding our neighbours fleer at the incident, and smile contemptously at the prescription of cotton, she contented herself in believing Patty's own account, that "in truth she had "been married eight months before by a Fleet-par66 son, but was afraid to own it."
If my wife's indulging her domestics in matrimony was productive of no other ill consequence than merely their being married, it might, indeed, sometimes prove a benefit: but the chaster and more sober they
have been before marriage, the greater number of children are produced in matrimony; and my wife looks upon herself as in duty obliged to take care of the poor helpless offsprings, that have been begotten under her own roof; so that I assure you, Sir, my house is so well filled with children, that it would put you immediately in mind of the Foundling Hospital; with this difference, however, that in my Hospital not only the children are provided for, whether bastards or legitimate, but also the fathers and mothers.
Your office, Mr. Censor, requires and leads you to hear domestic occurrences; otherwise I should scarce have troubled you with the records of a private family, almost ruined by excrescences of virtue. The same overflowing humanity runs through the whole conduct of the dear woman, whom I have mentioned. Even in trifles she is full of works of supererogation. Our doors are perpetually surrounded with beggars, where the halt, the maimed, and the blind, assemble in as great numbers, as at the door of the Roman catholic chapel in Lincoln's-inn-fields. She not only gives them money, but sends them out great quan · tities of bread, beer, and cold victuals, and she has her different pensioners (as she herself calls them) for every day in the week. But the expence attending these out-door petitioners, many of whom have from time to time been discovered to be impostors, is nothing in comparison to the sums, that are almost daily drawn from her by begging letters. It is impossible to imagine a calamity, by which she has not been a sufferer, in relieving those who have extorted money from her by pretended misfortunes. The poor lady has been much hurt by losses in trade, sustained great damages by fire, undergone many hardships from sickness, and other unforeseen accidents; and it was but yesterday that she paid a long apothecary's bill, brought on by a violent fever. Thus, Sir,
my wife keeps but little company, and the family expences are to all appearance very small, yet this dear woman's superabundant good-nature is such a perpetual drawback on her economy, that we run out considerably. This extravagant and ill-judged generosity renders all her numerous excellencies of none effect and I have often known her almost destitute of cloaths, because she had distributed her whole wardrobe among liars, sycophants, and hypocrites.
Thus, Sir, as briefly as I can, I have set before you my unhappy case, I am perishing by degrees; not by any real extravagance, any designed ruin, or any indulgence of luxury and riot, in the person who destroys me. On the contrary, no woman can excel my wife in the simplicity of her dress, the humility of her desires, or the contented easiness of her nature. What name, Sir, shall I give to my misfortunes? They proceed not from vice, nor even from folly: they proceed from too tender a heart; a heart that hurries away or absorbs all judgment or reflection. To call these errors the fruits of good-nature, is too mild a definition: and yet to give them an harsher appellation, is unkind. Let me suffer what I will, I must kiss the dear hand that ruins me.
In my tender hours of speculation I would willingly impute my wife's faults to our climate and the natural disposition of our natives. When the English are good natured, they are generally so to excess: and as I have not seen this particular character delineated in any of your papers, I have endeavoured to paint it myself; and shall draw to the conclusion of my letter by one piece of advice, not to be generous overmuch'. The highest acts of generosity are seldom repaid in any other coin but baseness and ingratitude: and we ought ever to remember, that, out of ten lepers
cleaned, " one only came back to return thanks; the "rest were made whole, and went their way." I am, Sir,
Your most humble servant
No. XCIX. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18.
Da veniam, servire tuis quod nolo calendis.
Thy works, O Wing, O Partridge, I despise,
To Mr. Town.
AT this season of the year, while the streets resound with the cry of new almanacks, and every stall is covered with news from the stars, diaries, predictions, complete ephemerides, &c. drawn up by Partridge, Parker, Vincent Wing, and the rest of the sagacious body of philomaths and astrologers, give me leave to acquaint you of my intentions of appearing annually in a like capacity. You must know, Sir, that having observed, that among the great variety of almanacs now published, there is not one contrived for the use of people of fashion, I have resolved to remedy this defect by publishing one every year under the title of the Court Calendar, calculated for the meridian of St. James's.
The plan, which has been hitherto followed by our almanac-makers, can be of no use whatever to the polite world, who are as widely separated, in their manner of living, from the common herd of people, as the inhabitants of the Antipodes. To know the