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are few who do not at one time or other endeavour to step forward beyond their rank, who do not make some struggles for fame, and show that they think all other conveniences and delights imperfectly enjoyed without a name.
To get a name, can happen but to few. A name, even in the most commercial nation, is one of the few things which cannot be bought. It is the free gift of mankind, which must be deserved before it will be granted, and is at last unwillingly bestowed. But this unwillingness only increases desire in him who believes his merit sutlicient to overcome it.
There is a particular period of life, in which this fondness for a name seems principally to predominate in both sexes. Scarce any couple comes together, but the nuptials are declarcd in the news-papers with encomiums on each party. Many an eye, ranging over the page with eager curiosity in quest of statesinen and heroes, is stopped by a marriage celebrated between Mr. Buckram, an eininent salesman in Threadneedle-street, and Miss Dolly Juniper, the only daughter of an eminent distiller, of the parish of St. Giles's in the Fields, a young lady adorned with every accomplishment that can give happiness to the married state. Or we are told, amidst our impatience for the event of a battle, that on a certain day Mr. Winker, a tide-waiter at Yarmouth, was married to Mrs. Cackle, a widow lady of great accomplishments, and that as soon as the ceremony was performed they set out in a post-chaise for Yarmouth.
Many are the inquiries which such intelligence must undoubtedly raise, but nothing in this world is lasting. When the reader has contemplated with envy, or with gladness, the felicity of Mr. Buckrain and Mr. Winker and ransacked his memory for the names of Juniper and Cackle, his attention is diverted to other thoughts, by finding that Mirza will not cover this scason; or that a spaniel has been lost or stolen, that answers to the name of Ranger.
Whence it arises that on the day of marriage all agree to call thus openly for honours, I am not able to discover. Some, perhaps, think it kind, by a public declaration, to put an end to the hopes of rivalry and the fears of jealousy, to let parents know that they may set their daughters at liberty whom they have locked up for fear of the bridegroom, or to dismiss to their counters and to their offices the amorous youths that had been used to hover round the dwelling of the bride.
These connubial praises may bave another cause. It may be the intention of the husband and wife to dignify themselves in the eyes of each other, and, according to their different tempers or expectations, to win affection, or enforce respect.
It was said of the family of Lucas, that it was noble, for all the brothers were valiant, and all the sisters were virtuous. What would a stranger say of the English nation, in which on the day of marriage all the men are eminent, and all the women beautiful, accomplished, and rich ?
How long the wife will be persuaded of the eminence of her husband, or the husband continue to believe that his wife has the qualities required to make marriage happy, may reasonably be questioned. I am afraid that much time seldom passes before each is convinced that praises are fallacious, and particularly those praises which we confer upon ourselves.
I should therefore think, that this custom might be omitted without any loss to the community, and that the sons and daughters of lanes and alleys might go hereafter to the next church, with no witnesses of their worth or happiness but their parents and their friends, but if they cannot be happy on the bridal day without some gratification of their vanity, I hope they will be willing to encourage a friend of mine who proposes to devote his powers to their service.
Mr. Settle, a man whose eminence was once allowed by the eminent, and whose accomplishments were confessed by the accomplished, in the latter part of a long life supported himself by an uncommon expedient. He bad a standing elegy and epithalamium, of which only the first and last leaves were varied occasionally, and the intermediate pages were, by general terms, left applicable alike to every character. When any marriage became known, Settle ran to the bridegroom with bis epithalamium; and when he heard of any death, ran to the heir with his elegy.
Who can think himself disgraced by a trade that was practised so long by the rival of Dryden, by the poet whose Empress of Morocco was played before princes by ladies of the court.
My friend purposes to open an office in the Fleet for matrimonial panegyrics, and will accommodate all with praise who think their own powers of expression inadequate to their merit. He will sell any man or woman the virtue or qualification which is most fashionable or most desired; but desires his customers to remember, that he sets beauty at the highest price, and riches at the next, and, if he be well paid, throws in virtue for nothing.
No. 13. SATURDAY, July 8, 1758.
TO THE IDLER.
DEAR MR. IDLER_Though few men of prudence are much inclined to interpose in disputes between man and wife, who commonly, make peace at the expense of the arbitrator; yet I will venture to lay before you a controversy, by which the quiet of my house has been long disturbed, and which, unless you can decide it, is likely to produce lasting evils, and embitter those lours which nature seems to have appropriated to tenderness and repose.
I married a wise with no great fortune, but of a family remarkable for domestic prudence, and elegant frugality. I lived with her at ease, if not with happiness, and seldom had any reason of complaint. The house was always clean, the servants were active and regular, dinner was on the table every day at the same minute, and the ladies of the neighbombood were frightened when I invited their husbands, lest their own economy should be less esteemed.
During this gentle lapse of life, my dear brought me three daughters. I wished for a son to continue the family ; but my wife often tells me, that boys are dirty things, and are always troublesome in a house ; and declares that she has hated the sight of them ever since she saw Lady Fondle's eldest son ride over a carpet with his hobby-horse all mire.
I did not much attend to her opinion, but knew that girls could not be made boys; and therefore composed myself to bear what I could not remedy, and resolved to bestow that care on my daughters, to which only the sons are commonly thought entitled.
But my wife's notions of education differ widely from minc. She is an irreconcileable enemy to idleness, and considers every state of life as idleness, in which the hands are not employed, or soine art acquired, by which she thinks money may be got or saved.
In pursuance of this principle, she calls up her daughters at a certain hour, and appoints them a task of needle work to be performed before breakfast. They are confined in a garret, which has its window in the roof, both because work is best done at a sky-light, and because children are apt to lose time by looking about them.
They bring down their work to breakfast, and as they deserve are commended or reproved ; they are then sent up with a new task till dinner; if no company is expected, their mother sits with them the whole afternoon, to direct their operations, and to draw patterns, and is sometimes denied to her nearest relations when she is engaged in teaching them a new stitch.
By this continual exercise of their diligence, she has obtained a very considerable number of laborious performances. We have twice as many fire-skreens as chimneys, and three flourished quilts for every bed. Half the rooms are adorned with a kind of futile pictures, which imitate tapestry. But all their work is not set out to show ; she has boxes filled with knit garters and braided shoes. She has twenty covers for side-saddles embroidered with silver flowers, and has curtains wrought with gold in various figures, which she resolves some time or other to hang up. All these she displays to her company whenever she is elate with merit, and eager for praise : and amidst the praises which her friends and herself bestow
her merit, she never fails to turn to me, and ask what all these would cost, if I had been to buy them.
I sometimes venture to tell her, that many of the ornaments are superfluous; that what is done with so much labour might have been supplied by a very easy purchase ; that the work is not always worth the materials, and that I know not why the children should be persecuted with useless tasks, or obliged to make shoes that are never worn. She answers with a look of contempt, that men never care how money goes, and proceeds to tell of a dozen new chairs for which she is contriving covers, and of a couch which she intends to stand as a monument of needle-work.
In the mean time the girls grow up in total ignorance of every thing past, present, and future. Molly asked me the other day, whether Ireland was in France, and was ordered by her mother to mend her hem. Kitty knows not, at sixteen, the difference between a Protestant and a Papist, because she has been employed three years in filling the side of a closet with a hanging that is to represent Cranmer in the flames. And Dolly, my eldest girl, is now unable to read a chapter in the Bible, having spent all the time, which other children pass at school, in working the interview between Solomon and the queen of Sheba.
About a month ago, tent and turkey-stitch seemed at a stand ; my wife knew not what new work to introduce; I ventured to propose that the girls should now learn to read and write, and mentioned the necessity of a little arithmetic; but, unhappily, my wife has discovered that linen wears out, and has bought the girls three little wheels that they may
spin hukkaback for the servants' table. I remonstrated, that with larger wheels they might despatch in an hour what must now cost them a day; but she told me, with irresistible authority, that any business is better than idleness ; that when these wheels are set upon a table, with mats under them, they will turn without noise, and keep the girls upright; that great wheels are not fit for gentlewomen ; and that with these, small as they are, she does not doubt but that the three girls, if they are kept close, will spin every year as much cloth as would cost five pounds if one was to buy it.
No. 14. SATURDAY, July 15, 1758.
When Diogenes received a visit in his tub from Alexander the Great, and was asked, according to the ancient forms of royal courtesy, what petition he had to offer ; "I have nothing,” said he, "to ask, but that you would remove to the other side, that you may not, by intercepting the sunshine, take from me what you cannot give me."
Such was the demand of Diogenes from the greatest monarch of the earth, which those who have less power than Alexander, may, with yet more propriety, apply to themselves. He that does much good may be allowed to do sometimes a little harm. But if the opportunities of beneficence be denied by fortune, innocence should at least be vigilantly preserved.
I is well known, that time once past never returns, and that the moment which is lost is lost for ever. Time therefore, ought, above all other kinds of property, to be free from invasion ; and yet there is no man who does not claim the power of wasting that time which is the right of others.
This usurpation is so general, that a very small part of the year is spent by choice; scarcely any thing is done when it is intended, or obtained when it is desired. Life is continually ravaged by invaders; one steals away an hour, and another a day; one conceals the robbery by hurrying us into business, another by lulling us with amusement; the depredation is continued through a thousand vicissitudes of tumult and tranquillity, till, having lost all, we can lose no more.
This waste of the lives of men has been very frequently charged upon the great, whose followers linger from year to year in expectations, and die at last with petitions in their