Obrázky stránek

you may imagine: you have undoubtedly heard that it was a courtesan who discovered Catiline's conspiracy. If you print this I'll tell you more; and am in the mean time, “Sir,

[ocr errors]

"Your most humble servant,


"I am an idle young woman that would work for my livelihood, but that I am kept in such a manner as I cannot stir out. My tyrant is an old jealous fellow, who allows me nothing to appear in. I have, but one shoe and one slipper; no headdress, and no upper petticoat. As you set up for a reformer, I desire you would take me out of this wicked way, and keep me yourself.



"I am to complain to you of a set of impertinent coxcombs, who visit the apartments of us women of the town, only, as they call it, to see the world. I must confess to you, this to men of delicacy might have an effect to cure them; but as they are stupid, noisy, and drunken fellows, it tends only to make vice in themselves, as they think, pleasant and humorous, and at the same time nauseous in us. I shall, sir, hereafter from time to time give you the names of these wretches who pretend to enter our houses merely as Spectators. These men think it wit to use us ill: pray tell them, however worthy we are of such treatment, it is unworthy them to be guilty of it towards us. Pray, sir, take notice of this, and pity the oppressed: I wish we could add to it, the innocent."


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

SOME ludicrous schoolmen have put the case, that if an ass were placed between two bundles of hay, which affected his senses equally on each side, and tempted him in the very same degree, whether it would be possible for him to eat of either. They generally determine this question to the disadvantage of the ass, who they say would starve in the midst of plenty, as not having a single grain of free-will, to determine him more to the one than to the other. The bundle of hay on either side striking his sight and smell in the same proportion, would keep him in perpetual suspense, like the two magnets, which travellers have told us, are placed one of them in the roof, and the other in the floor of Mahomet's burying-place at Mecca, and by that means, say they, pull the impostor's iron coffin with such an equal attraction, that it hangs in the air between both of them. As for the ass's behaviour in such nice circumstances, whether he would starve sooner than violate his neutrality to the two bundles of hay, I shall not presume to determine; but only take notice of the conduct of our own species in the same perplexity. When a man has a mind to venture his money in a lottery, every figure of it appears equally alluring, and as likely to succeed as any of its fellows. They all of them have the same pretensions

[ocr errors]

to good luck, stand upon the same foot of competition, and no manner of reason can be given why a man should prefer one to the other before the lottery is drawn. In this case, therefore, caprice very often acts in the place of reason, and forms to itself some groundless imaginary motive, where real and substantial ones are wanting. I know a well-meaning man that is very well pleased to risk his good fortune upon the number 1711, because it is the year of our Lord. I am acquainted with a tacker that would give a good deal for the number 134.* On the contrary, I have been told of a certain zealous dissenter, who being a great enemy to popery, and believing that bad men are the most fortunate in this world, will lay two to one on the number 666 against any other number, because, says he, it is the number of the beast. Several would prefer the number 12,000 before any other, as it is the number of the pounds in the great prize. In short, some are pleased to find their own age in their number; some that have got a number which makes a pretty appearance in the ciphers; and others, because it is the same number that succeeded in the last lottery. Each of these, upon no other grounds, thinks he stands fairest for the great lot, and that he is possessed of what may not be improperly called the golden number.' t

These principles of election are the pastimes and

* In the year 1704 a bill was brought into the house of commons against occasional conformity; and in order to make it pass through the house of lords, it was proposed to tack it to a money-bill. This occasioned warm debates, and at length it was put to the vote; when 134 were for tacking; but a large majority being against it, the motion was overruled, and the bill iniscarried.

† In the Revelations. See ch. xiii. ver. 18.

Alluding to the number so called in the calendar.

extravagances of human reason, which is of so busy. a nature, that it will be exerting itself in the meanest trifles, and working even when it wants materials. The wisest of men are sometimes acted by such unaccountable motives, as the life of the fool and the superstitious is guided by nothing else.


I am surprised that none of the fortune-tellers, or as the French call them, the Diseurs de bonne Aventure, who publish their bills in every quarter of the town, have turned our lotteries to their advantage. Did any of them set up for a caster of fortunate figures, what might he not get by his pretended discoveries and predictions?

I remember among the advertisements in the Post-Boy, of September the 27th, I was surprised to see the following one :

'This is to give notice, that ten shillings over and above the market price, will be given for the ticket "in the 1,500,000l. lottery, No. 132, by Nath. Cliff, at the Bible and Three Crowns, in Cheapside.'.

This advertisement has given great matter of speculation to coffee-house theorists. Mr. Cliff's principles and conversation have been canvassed upon this occasion, and various conjectures made why he should thus set his heart upon No. 132. I have examined all the powers in those numbers, broken them into fractions, extracted the square and cube root, divided and multiplied them all ways, but could not arrive at the secret till about three days ago, when I received the following letter from an unknown hand; by which I find that Mr. Nath. Cliff is only the agent, and not the principal in this advertisement.

* Actuated.


"I am the person that lately advertised I would give ten shillings more than the current price for the ticket No. 132 in the lottery now drawing; which is a secret I have communicated to some friends, who rally me incessantly upon that account. You must know I have but one ticket, for which reason, and a certain dream I have lately had more than once, I was resolved it should be the number I most approved. I am so positive I have pitched upon the great lot, that I could almost lay all I am worth of it. My visions are so frequent and strong upon this occasion, that I have not only possessed the lot, but disposed of the money which in all probability it will sell for. This morning in particular, I set up an equipage which I look upon to be the gayest in the town; the liveries are very rich, but not gaudy. I should be very glad to see a speculation or two upon lottery subjects, in which you would oblige all people concerned, and in particular,

"Your most humble servant,

"P. S. Dear Spec, if I get the 12,000 pound, I'll make thee a handsome present.'

After having wished my correspondent good luck, and thanked him for his intended kindness, I shall for this time dismiss the subject of the lottery, and only observe, that the greatest part of mankind are in some degree guilty of my friend Gosling's extravagance. We are apt to rely upon future prospects, and become really expensive while we are only rich in possibility. We live up to our expectations, not to our possessions, and make a figure proportionable to what we may be, not what we are. We outrun

« PředchozíPokračovat »