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• Mr. SPECTATOR,
in the condition of the idol you was once pleased to mention, and bar-keeper of a coffeehouse. I believe it is needless to tell you the opportunities 1 must give, and the importunities I suffer. But there is one gentleman wlio besieges me as close as the French did Bouchain. His gravity makes him work cautious, and his regular approaches denote a good engineer. You need not doubt of his oratory, as he is a lawyer; and especially since he has had so little use of it at Westminster, he may spare the more for me.
• What then can weak woman do? I am willing to surrender, but he would have it at discretion, and I with discretion. In the mean time, whilst we parley, our several interests are neglected. As his siege grows stronger, my tea grows weaker; and while he pleads at my bar, none come to him for counsel but in forma puuperis. Dear Mr. Spectator, advise him not to insist upon hard articles, nor by his irregular desires contradict the well-meaning lines of his countenance. If we were agreed, we might settle to something, as soon as we could determine where we should get most by the lawmat the coffee-house, or at Westminster,
Your humble servant,
A Minute from Mr. John Sly. • The world is pretty regular for about forty rod east and ten west of the observatory of the said Mr. Sly; but he is credibly informed, that when they are got beyond the pass. into the Strand, or those who move city-ward are got within Templebar, tliey are just as they were before. It is therefore humbly proposed, that moving centries may be
appointed all the busy hours of the day between the Exchange and Westminster, and report what passes to your honour, or your subordinate officers, from time to time.'
Ordered, That Mr. Sly name the said officers, provided he will answer for their principles and morals.
N° 535. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 1719.
Spem longam reseces.
HOR. 1. Od. si. 7.
Cut short vain hope.
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 a 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 whică 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 landscapes 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 attoo great a distance from us, it is possible that we may be intercepted by death in our m progress towards them, If we hope for things
which we have not thoroughly considered the value of, 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 towering 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; 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 amusements of hope which have sometimes passed in his mind, as a near relation to the Persian glassman.
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 money. Alnaschar, in order to make the best of it, laid it out in glasses, bottles, and the finest earthen
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 overheard 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 these means I am master of ten thousand, I will lay aside my trade of a glassman, and turn jeweller. I shall then deal in diamonds, pearls, and all sorts of rich stones. When I bave 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 myself and make a noise in the world. I will not however stop there, but still continue my traffic, until I have got together a hundred thousand drachmas. When I have thus made myself master of a hundred thousand drachmas, I shall naturally set myself 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 daughater 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 will buy her ten black eunuchs, the youngest and the best that can be got for money. 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 surprise, will present him with 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 her in 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