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to be dallied with: and I shall expect from all my young people a satisfactory account of appearances. Strephon has from the publication hereof seven days to explain the riddle he presented to Eudamia; and Chloris an hour after this comes to her hand, to declare whether she will have Philotas, whom a woman of no less merit than herself, and of superior fortune, languishes to call her own.
"TO THE SPECTATOR. * SIR,
SINCE so many dealers turn authors, and write quaint advertisements in praise of their wares, one who from an author turned dealer may be allowed for the advancement of trade to turn author again. I will not however set up like some of them, for selling cheaper than the most able honest tradesman can; nor do I send this to be better known for choice and cheapness of China and Japan wares, tea fans, muslins, pictures, arrack, and other Indian goods. Placed as I am in Leadenhall-street, near the India company, and the centre of that trade, thanks to my fair customers, my warehouse is graced as well as the benefit days of my plays and operas; and the foreign goods I sell seem no less acceptable than the foreign books I translated, Rabelais, and Don Quixote. This the critics allow me, and while they like my wares they may dispraise my writings. But as it is not so well known yet, that I frequently cross the seas of late, and speak in Dutch and French, besides other languages, I have the conveniency of buying and importing rich brocades, Dutch atlases, with gold and silver, or without, and other foreign silks of the newest modes and best fabrics, fine Flanders lace, linens, and pictures, at the best hand; this way of trade I have fallen into, I cannot better publish than by an application to you. My wares are fit only for such as your readers; and I would beg of you to print this address in your paper, that those whose minds you adorn may take the ornaments for their persons and houses from me. This, Sir, if I may presume to beg it, will be the greater favour, as I have lately received rich silks and fine lace to a considerable value, which will be sold cheap for a quick return, and as I have also a large stock of other goods. Indian silks were formerly a great branch of our trade; and since we must not sell them, we must seek amends by dealing in others. This I hope will plead for one who would lessen the number of teasers of the Muses, and who suiting his spirit to his circumstances, bumbles the poet to exalt the citizen. Like a true tradesman, I hardly ever look into any books, but those of accounts. To say the truth, I cannot, I think, give you a better idea of my being a downright man of traffic, than by acknowledging I oftener read the advertisements, than the matter of even your paper. I am under a great temptation to take this opportunity of admonishing other writers to follow my example, and trouble the town no more; but as it is my present business to increase the number of buyers rather than sellers, I hasten to tell you
N° 289. THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 1711-12.
Vitæ summa breris spem nos vetat inchoare longam.
HOR. 1 Od. iv. 15.
Life's span forbids us to extend our cares,
CREECH. UPON taking my seat in a coffee-house I often draw the
eyes of the whole room upon me, when in the hottest seasons of news, and at a time perhaps that the Dutch mail is just come in, they hear me ask the coffee-man for his last week's bill of mortality. I find that I have been sometimes taken on this occasion for a parish sexton, sometimes for an undertaker, and sometimes for a doctor of physic. In this, however, I am guided by the spirit of a philosopher, as I take occasion from thence to reflect upon the regular increase and diminution of mankind, and consider the several various ways through which we pass from life to eternity. I am very well pleased with these weekly admonitions, that bring into my mind such thoughts as ought to be the daily entertainment of every reasonable creature; and can consider with pleasure to myself, by which of those deliverances, or as we commonly call them, distempers, I may possibly make my.escape out of this world of sorrows, into that condition of existence, wherein I hope to be happier than it is possible for me at present to conceive.
But this is not all the use I make of the abovementioned weekly paper. A bill of mortality is, in my opinion, an unanswerable argument for a Providence. How can we, without supposing ourselves under the constant care of a Supreme Being, give
any possible account for that nice proportion, which we find in every great city, between the deaths and births of its inhabitants, and between the number of males and that of females brought into the world ? What else could adjust in so exact a manner the recruits of every nation to its losses, and divide these new supplies of people into such equal bodies of both sexes? Chance could never hold the balance with so steady a hand. Were we not counted out by an intelligent supervisor, we should sometimes be overcharged with multitudes, and at others waste away into a desert: we should be sometimes a populus virorum, as Florus elegantly expresses it, a generation of males, and at others a species of wo
We may extend this consideration to every species of living creatures, and consider the whole animal world as an huge army made of innumerable corps, if I may use that term, whose quotas have been kept entire near five thousand years, in so wonderful a manner, that there is not probably a single species lost during this long tract of time. Could we have general bills of mortality of every kind of animals, or particular ones of every species in each continent and island, I could almost say in every wood, marsh, or mountain, what astonishing instances would they be of that Providence which watches over all his works?
I have heard of a great man in the Romish church, who upon reading those words in the fifth chapter of Genesis, “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died; and all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died; and all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died; immediately shut himself up in a convent, and retired from the world, as not thinking any thing in this life worth pursuing, which had not regard to another. VOL. X.
The truth of it is, there is nothing in history which is so improving to the reader as those accounts which we meet with of the deaths of eminent persons, and of their behaviour in that dreadful
may also add, that there are no parts in history which affect and please the reader in so sensible a manner. The reason I take to be this, there is no other single circumstance in the story of any person, which can possibly be the case of every one who reads it. A battle or a triumph are conjunctures in which not one man in a million is likely to be engaged; but when we see a person at the point of death, we cannot forbear being attentive to every thing he says or does, because we are sure that some time or other we shall ourselves be in the same melancholy circumstances. The general, the statesman, or the philosopher, are perhaps characters which we may never act in, but the dying man is one whom, sooner or later, we shall certainly resemble.
It is perhaps, for the same kind of reason, that few books written in English have been so inuch perused as Dr. Sherlock's Discourse upon Death ; though at the same time I must own, that he who has not perused this excellent piece, has not perhaps read one of the strongest persuasives to a religious life that ever was written in any language.
The consideration with which I shall close this essay upon death, is one of the most ancient and most beaten morals that has been recommended to mankind. But its being so very common, and so universally received, though it takes away from it the grace of povelty, adds very much to the weight of it, as it shews that it falls in with the general sense of mankind. In short, I would have every one consider that he is in this life nothing more than a passenger, and that he is not to set up his rest here,