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not have been a woman in the country better dressed than my lady Coverley. Sir Roger, perhaps, may in this, as well as in many other of his devices, appear something odd and singular, but if the humour of pin-money prevails, I think it would be very proper for every gentleman of an estate to mark out so many acres of it under the title of The Pins.
No. 299. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12.
Malo Venusinam, quam te, Cornelia, mater
It is observed, that a man improves more by reading the story of a person eminent for prudence and virtue, than by the finest rules and precepts of morality. In the same manner a representation of those calamities and misfortunes which a weak man suffers from wrong measures and illconcerted schemes of life, is apt to make a deeper impression upon our minds, than the wisest maxims and instructions that can be given us for avoiding the like follies and indiscretions in our own private conduct. It is for this reason that I lay before my reader the following letter, and leave it with him to make his own use of it, without adding any reflections of my own upon the subject-matter.
Having carefully perused a letter sent you by Josiah Fribble, Esq., with your subsequent discourse upon pinmoney, I do presume to trouble you with an account of my own case, which I look upon to be no less deplorable than that of Squire Fribble. I am a person of no extraction, having begun the world with a small parcel of rusty iron, and was for some years commonly known by the name of Jack Anvil. I have naturally a very happy genius for getting money, insomuch that by the age of five and twenty, I had scraped together four thousand two hundred pounds, five shillings, and a few odd pence. I then launched out into considerable business, and became a bold trader both by sea and land, which in a few years raised me a very
considerable fortune. For these my good services I was knighted in the thirty-fifth year of my age, and lived with great dignity among my city neighbours by the name of Sir John Anvil. Being in my temper very ambitious, I was. now bent upon making a family, and accordingly resolved that my descendants should have a dash of good blood in their veins. In order to this I made love to the Lady Mary Oddly, an indigent young woman of quality. To cut short the marriage treaty, I threw her a charte blanche, as our newspapers call it, desiring her to write upon it her own terms. She was very concise in her demands, insisting only that the disposal of my fortune, and the regulation of my family, should be entirely in her hands. Her father and brothers appeared exceedingly averse to this match, and would not see me for some time; but at present are so well reconciled, that they dine with me almost every day, and have borrowed considerable sums of me; which my Lady Mary very often twits me with, when she would show me how kind her relations are to me. She had no portion, as I told you before, but what she wanted in fortune she makes up in spirit. She at first changed my name to Sir John Envil, and at present writes herself Mary Enville. I have had some children by her, whom she has christened with the surnames of her family, in order, as she tells me, to wear out the homeliness of their parentage by the father's side. Our eldest son is the Honourable Oddly Enville, Esq., and our eldest daughter, Harriot Enville. Upon her first coming into my family, she turned off a parcel of very careful servants, who had been long with me, and introduced in their stead a couple of Blackamoors, and three or four very genteel fellows in laced liveries, besides her French woman, who is perpetually making a noise in the house in a language which nobody understands, except my Lady Mary. She next set herself to reform every room of my house, having glazed all my chimney-pieces with looking-glass, and planted every corner with such heaps of china, that I am obliged to move about my own house with the greatest caution and circumspection, for fear of hurting some of our brittle furniture. She makes an illumination once a week with wax-candles in one of the largest rooms, in order, as she phrases it, to see company. At which time she always desires me to be abroad, or to confine myself to the cock-loft, that I may not
disgrace her among her visitants of quality. Her footmen, as I told you before, are such beaus, that I do not much care for asking them questions; when I do, they answer me with a saucy frown, and say that everything, which I find fault with, was done by my Lady Mary's order. She tells me that she intends they shall wear swords with their next liveries, having lately observed the footmen of two or three persons of quality hanging behind the coach with swords by their sides. As soon as the first honey-moon was over, I represented to her the unreasonableness of those daily innovations which she made in my family; but she told me I was no longer to consider myself as Sir John Anvil, but as her husband; and added with a frown, that I did not seem to know who she was. I was surprised to be treated thus, after such familiarities as had passed between us. But she has since given me to know, that whatever freedoms she may sometimes indulge me in, she expects in general to be treated with the respect that is due to her birth and quality. Our children have been trained up from their infancy with so many accounts of their mother's family, that they know the stories of all the great men and women it had produced. Their mother tells them, that such an one commanded in such a sea engagement, that their great-grandfather had a horse shot under him at Edgehill, that their uncle was at the siege of Buda, and that her mother danced in a ball at court with the Duke of Monmouth; with abundance of fiddlefaddle of the same nature. I was, the other day, a little out of countenance at a question of my little daughter Harriot, who asked me, with a great deal of innocence, why I never told them of the generals and admirals that had been in my family. As for my eldest son Oddly, he has been so spirited up by his mother, that if he does not mend his manners I shall go near to disinherit him. He drew his sword upon me before he was nine years old, and told me, that he expected to be used like a gentleman; upon my offering to correct him for his insolence, my Lady Mary stept in between us, and told me, that I ought to consider there was some difference between his mother and mine. She is perpetually finding out the features of her own relations in every one of my children, though, by the way, I have a little chub-faced boy as like me as he can stare, if I durst say so; but what most angers me, when she sees me playing with
any of them upon my knee, she has begged me more than once to converse with the children as little as possible, that they may not learn any of my awkward tricks. "You must further know, since I am opening my heart to you, that she thinks herself my superior in sense, as much as she is in quality, and therefore treats me like a plain wellmeaning man, who does not know the world. She dictates to me in my own business, sets me right in a point of trade, and if I disagree with her about any of my ships at sea, wonders that I will dispute with her, when I know very well that her great-grandfather was a flag officer.
"To complete my sufferings, she has teased me for this quarter of a year last past, to remove into one of the Squares at the other end of the town, promising, for my encouragement, that I shall have as good a cock-loft as any gentleman in the Square: to which the Honourable Oddly Enville, Esq. always adds, like a jack-a-napes as he is, that he hopes it will be as near the court as possible.
In short, Mr. SPECTATOR, I am so much out of my natural element, that to recover my old way of life I would be content to begin the world again, and be plain Jack Anvil; but alas! I am in for life, and am bound to subscribe myself, with great sorrow of heart,
"Your humble servant,
JOHN ENVILLE, Knt."
No. 305. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19.
Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis
OUR late newspapers being full of the project now on foot in the court of France, for establishing a political academy, and I myself having received letters from several virtuosos among my foreign correspondents, which give some light into that affair, I intend to make it the subject of this day's speculation. A general account of this project may be met with in the Daily Courant of last Friday, in the following words, translated from the Gazette of Amsterdam.
Paris, February 12. "It is confirmed, that the king has resolved to establish a new academy for politics, of which
the Marquis de Torcy, minister and secretary of state, is to be protector. Six academicians are to be chosen, endowed with proper talents, for beginning to form this academy, into which no person is to be admitted under twenty-five years of age: they must likewise have each an estate of two thousand livres a year, either in possession, or to come to them by inheritance. The king will allow to each a pension of a thousand livres. They are likewise to have able masters to teach them the necessary sciences, and to instruct them in all the treaties of peace, alliance, and others, which have been made in several ages past. These members are to meet twice a week at the Louvre. From this seminary are to be chosen secretaries to embassies, who by degrees may advance to higher employments."
Cardinal Richelieu's politics made France the terror of Europe. The statesmen who have appeared in that nation of late years, have on the contrary rendered it either the pity or contempt of its neighbours. The cardinal erected that famous academy which has carried all the parts of polite learning to the greatest height. His chief design in that institution was to divert the men of genius from meddling with politics, a province in which he did not care to have any one else to interfere with him. On the contrary, the Marquis de Torcy seems resolved to make several young men in France as wise as himself, and is therefore taken up at present in establishing a nursery of statesmen.
Some private letters add, that there will also be erected a seminary of petticoat politicians, who are to be brought up at the feet of Madam de Maintenon, and to be despatched into foreign courts upon any emergencies of state; but as the news of this last project has not been yet confirmed, I shall take no further notice of it.
Several of my readers may doubtless remember, that upon
the conclusion of the last war, which had been carried on so successfully by the enemy, their generals were many of them transformed into ambassadors; but the conduct of those who have commanded in the present war, has, it seems, brought so little honour and advantage to their great monarch, that he is resolved to trust his affairs no longer in the hands of those military gentlemen.
The regulations of this new academy very much deserve our attention. The students are to have in possession, or