« PředchozíPokračovat »
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 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 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 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 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 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 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
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 glasses to a great distance from him into the street and broke them into ten thousand pieces..
N° 536. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER, 14, 1712.
Overa Phrygia, neque enim Phryges!
O! lefs than women in the shapes of men!
VIRG. Æn. ix. 617.
As I was the other day standing in my bookseller's shop, a pretty young thing about eighteen years of age stepped out of her coach, and, brushing by me, beckoned 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 ob
served, 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 passing by me, the pretty blooming creature smiled in my face, and dropped me a curtsy. She scarce gave me time to return her salute, before she quitted the shop with an easy skuttle, and stepped again into her coach, giving the footmen 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 herself 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 myself, 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 women's men, or beaux, &c. Mr. Spectator, you are sensible these pretty gentlemen are not made for any manly employments, 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 amusement, that you will recommend it to these gentlemen as something that may make them
useful to the ladies they admire. And since it is 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. It is besides an employment that allows, as we see by the fair sex, of many graces, which will make the beaux more readily come into it; it shows a white hand and a 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 it is needless to urge it farther, 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 it is 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, though I do not remember that I have yet taken notice of them, as they are drawn in the following letter.