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I remember a country neighbour of my lady Lizard's, squire Wiseacre by name, who enjoyed a very clear estate of 500l. per annum, and by living frugally upon it was beforehand in the world. This gentleman unfortunately fell in love with Mrs. Fanny Flippant, the then reigning toast in those parts. In a word, he married her, and to give a lasting proof of his affection, consented to make both her and himself miserable by setting out in the high mode of wedlock. He, in less than the space of five years, was reduced to starve in prison for debt; and his lady, with a son and three daughters, became a burden to the parish. The conduct of Frank Foresight was the very reverse to squire Wiseacre's. He had lived a bachelor some years about this town, in the best of companies; kept a chariot and four footmen, besides six saddle horses; he did not exceed, but went to the utmost stretch of his income; but when he married the beautiful Clarinda (who brought him a plentiful fortune) he dismissed two of his footmen, four of the saddle horses, and his chariot; and kept only a chair for the use of his lady. Embroidered clothes and laced linen were quite laid aside; he was married in a plain drugget, and from that time forward, in all the accommodations of life, never coveted any thing beyond cleanliness and conveniency. When any of his acquaintance asked him the reason of this sudden change, he would answer, In single life I could easily compute my wants, and provide against them; but the condition of life I am now engaged in, is attended with a thousand casualties, as well as a great many distant, but unavoidable expences. The happiness or misery, in this world, of a future progeny, will probably depend upon my good or ill husbandry. I shall never think I have
discharged my duty until I have laid up a provision for three or four children at least.' But, pr'ythee, Frank,' says a pert coxcomb that stood by, why shouldst thou reckon thy chickens before upon which he cut him short, and replied, no matter; a brave man can never want heirs, while there is one man of worth living.' This precautious way of reasoning and acting has proved to Mr. Foresight and his lady an uninterrupted source of felicity. Wedlock sits light and easy upon them; and they are at present happy in two sons and a daughter, who a great many years hence will feel the good effects of their parents prudence.
My memory fails me in recollecting where I have read, that in some parts of Holland it is provided by law, that every man, before he marries, shall be obliged to plant a certain number of trees, proportionable to his circumstances, as a pledge to the government for the maintenance of his children. Every honest as well as every prudent man should do something equivalent to this, by retrenching all superfluous and idle expences, instead of following the extravagant practice of persons, who sacrifice every thing to their present vanity, and never are a day beforehand in thought. I know not what delight splendid nuptials may afford to the generality of the great world: I could never be present at any of them without a heavy heart. It is with pain I refrain from tears, when I see the bride thoughtlessly jigging it about the room, dishonoured with jewels, and dazzling the eyes of the whole assembly at the expence of her children's future subsistence. How singular, in the age we live in, is the moderate behaviour of young Sophia, and how amiable does she appear in the eyes of wise men! Her lover, a little before marriage, acquainted her,
that he intended to lay out a thousand pounds for a present in jewels; but before he did it, desired to know what sort would be most acceptable to her.
Sir,' replied Sophia, I thank for your kind and generous intentions, and only beg they may be executed in another manner: be pleased only to give me the money, and I will try to lay it out to a better advantage. I am not,' continues she, all fond of those expensive trifles; neither do I think the wearing of diamonds can be any addition, nor the absence of them any diminution, to my happiness. I should be ashamed to appear in public for a few days in a dress which does not become me at all times. Besides, I see by that modest plain garb of yours, that you are not yourself affected with the gaiety of apparel. When I am your wife, my only care will be to keep my person clean and neat for you, and not to make it fine for others. The gentleman, transported with this excellent turn of mind in his mistress, presented her with the money in new gold. She purchased an annuity with it; out of the income of which, at every revolution of her wedding-day, she makes her husband some pretty present, as a token of her gratitude, and a fresh pledge of her love; part of it she yearly distributes among her indigent and best deserving neighbours; and the small remainder she lays out in something useful for herself, or the children.
N° 148. MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 1713. .
Fas est et ab hoste doceri.
OVID. Met. iv. 428.
"Tis good to learn even from an enemy.
THERE is a kind of apophthegm, which I have frequently met with in my reading, to this purpose:
That there are few, if any books, out of which a man of learning may not extract something for his use.' I have often experienced the truth of this maxim, when calling in at my bookseller's, I have taken the book next to my hand off the counter, to employ the minutes I have been obliged to linger away there, in waiting for one friend or other, Yesterday when I came there, the Turkish Tales happened to lie in my way; upon opening that amusing author, I happened to dip upon a short tale, which gave me a great many serious reflections. The very same fable may fall into the hands of a great many men of wit and pleasure, who it is probable, will read it with their usual levity; but since it may as probably divert and instruct a great many persons of plain and virtuous minds, I shall make no scruple of making it the entertainment of this day's paper. The moral to be drawn from it is entirely Christian, and is so very obvious, that I shall leave to every reader the pleasure of picking it out for himself. I shall only premise, to obviate any offence that may be taken, that a great many notions in the Mahometan religion are borrowed from the holy scriptures.
The History of Santon Barsisa.
THERE was formerly a santon whose name was Barsisa, which for the space of an hundred years, very fervently applied himself to prayers; and scarce ever went out of the grotto in which he made his residence, for fear of exposing himself to the danger of offending God. He fasted in the daytime, and watched in the night.
All the inhabitants of the country had such a great veneration for him, and so highly valued his prayers, that they commonly applied to him, when they had any favour to beg of Heaven. When he made vows for the health of a sick person, the patient was immediately cured.
It happened that the daughter of the king of that country fell into a dangerous distemper, the cause of which the physicians could not discover, yet they continued prescribing remedies by guess; but instead of helping the princess, they only augmented her disease. In the mean time the king was inconsolable, for he passionately loved his daughter; wherefore, one day, finding all human assistance vain, he declared it as his opinion that the princess ought to be sent to the santon Barsisa.
All the beys applauded his sentiment, and the king's officers conducted her to the santon; who, notwithstanding his frozen age, could not see such a beauty without being sensibly moved. He gazed on her with pleasure; and the devil taking this opportunity, whispered in his ear thus: O santon! don't let slip such a fortunate minute: tell the king's servants that it is requisite for the princess to pass this night in the grotto, to see whether it will please God to cure her; that you will put up a prayer for her, and that they need only come to fetch her to-morrow.'