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who had forty sons and thirty grandsons, that rode on threescore and ten ass-colts, according to the magnificence of the Eastern countries ? how must the heart of the old man rejoice, when he saw such a beautiful procession of his own descendants, such a numerous cavalcade of his own raising ? For my own part, I can sit in my parlour with great content, when I take a review of half a dozen of my little boys mounted upon their hobbyhorses, and of as many little girls tutoring their babies, each of them endeavoring to excel the rest, and to do something that may gain my favour and approbation. I cannot question but he who has blessed me with so many children, will assist my endeavours in providing for them. There is one thing I am able to give each of them, which is, a virtuous education. think it Sir Francis Bacon's observation, that in a numerous family of children, the eldest is often spoiled by the prospect of an estate, and the youngest, by being the darling of the parent; but that some one or other in the middle, who has not perhaps been regarded, has made his way in the world, and overtopped the rest. It is my business to implant in every one of my children the same seeds of industry, and the same honest principles. By this means, I think I have a fair chance, that one or other of them may grow considerable in some or other way of life, whether it be in the army, or in the fleet; in trade, or any of the three learned professions; for you must know, sir, that from long experience and observation, I am persuaded of what seems a paradox to most of those with whom I converse, namely, that a man who has many children, and gives them a good education, is more likely to raise a family, than he who has but one, notwithstanding he leaves him his whole estate. For this reason, I cannot forbear amusing myself with finding out a general, an admiral, or an alderman of London ; a divine, a physician, or a lawyer, among my little people who are now, perhaps, in petticoats; and when I see the motherly airs of my little daughters when they are playing with their puppets, I cannot but flatter myself that their husbands and children will be happy in the possession of such wives and mothers.
"If you are a father, you will not, perhaps, think this letter impertinent; but if you are a single man, you will not know the meaning of it, and probably throw it into the fire: whatever you determine of it, you may assure yourself that it comes from one who is “ Your most humble servant,
" and well-wisner,
Non habeo denique nauci Marsum augurem,
ne'er consult, and heartily despise :
Those who have maintained that men would be more miserable than bcasts, were their hopes confined to this life only, among
other considerations, take notice that the latter are only afflicted with the anguish of the present evil, whereas the former are very often pained by the reflection of what is passed, and the fear of what is to come. This fear of any future difficulties or misfortunes, is so natural to the mind, that were a man's sorrows and disquietudes summed up at the end of his life, it would generally be found that he had suffered more from the apprehension of such evils as never happened to him, than from those evils which had really befallen him. To this we may add, that among those evils which befal us, there are many that have been more painful to us in the prospect, than by their actual pressure.
This natural impatience to look into futurity, and to know what accidents may happen to us hereafter, has given birth to many ridiculous arts and inventions.
Some found their prescience on the lines of a man's hand, others on the features of his face; some on the signatures which nature has impressed on his body, and others on his own hand writing : some read men's fortunes on the stars, as others have searched after them in the entrails of beasts, or the flights of birds. Men of the best sense have been touched, more or less, with these groundless horrors and presages of futurity, upon surveying the most indifferent works of nature. Can any thing be more surprising, than to consider Cicero, who made the greatest figure at the bar, and in the senate of the Roman commonwealth, and, at the same time, outshined all the philosophers of antiquity in his library and in his retirements, as busying himself in the college of augurs, and observing, with a religious attention, after what manner the chickens pecked the several grains of corn which were thrown to them? 1
Notwithstanding these follies are pretty well worn out of the
* Addison had forgotten Cicero's well-known saying, that he wondered how one angur could look another in the face without laughing.-G.
minds of the wise and learned in the present age, multitudes of weak and ignorant persons are still slaves to them. There are numberless arts of prediction among the vulgar, which are too trifling to enumerate; and infinite observations of days, numbers, voices, and figures which are regarded by them as portents and prodigies. In short, every thing prophecies to the superstitious man, there is scarce a straw or a rusty piece of iron that lies in his way by accident.
It is not to be conceived, how many wizards, gypsies, and cunning-men are dispersed through all the countries and markettowns of Great Britain, not to mention the fortune-tellers and astrologers, who live very comfortably upon the curiosity of several well-disposed persons in the cities of London and Westminster.
Among the many pretended arts of divination, there is none which so universally amuses, as that by dreams. I have, indeed, observed, in a late speculation,' that there have been sometimes, upon very extraordinary occasions, supernatural revelations made to certain persons by this means; but as it is the chief business of this paper, to root out popular errors, I must endeavour to expose the folly and superstition of those persons, who, in the common and ordinary course of life, lay any stress upon things of so uncertain, shadowy, and chimerical a nature. This I cannot do more effectually, than by the following letter, which is dated from a quarter of the town that has always been the habitation of some prophetic Philomath; it having been usual, time out of mind, for all such people as have lost their wits, to resort to that place either for their cure or for their instruction.
*No. 487, par. 8.-C.
“Moorfields, October 4, 1712. " Mr. SPECTATOR, “ Having long considered whether there be any trade want. ing in this great city, after having surveyed very attentively all kinds of ranks and professions, I do not find, in any quarter of the town, an Oneirocritic, or, in plain English, an interpreter of dreams. For want of so useful a person, there are several good people who are very much puzzled in this particular, and dream a whole year together, without being ever the wiser for it. I hope I am pretty well qualified for this office, having studied by candlelight all the rules of art which have been laid down upon this subject. My great uncle, by my wife's side, was a Scotch Highlander, and second-sighted. I have four fingers and two thumbs upon one hand, and was born on the longest night of the year. My christian and surname begin and end with the same letters. I am lodged in Moorfields, in a house that for these fifty years has been always tenanted by a conjurer.
“ If you had been in company, so much as myself, with ordinary women of the town, you must know that there are many of them who, every day in their lives, upon seeing or hearing of any thing that is unexpected, cry, 'My dream is out;' and cannot go to sleep in quiet the next night, till something or other has happened, which has expounded the visions of the preceding
There are others who are in very great pain for not being able to recover the circumstances of a dream, that made strong impressions upon them while it lasted. In short, sir, there are many whose waking thoughts are wholly employed on their sleeping ones. For the benefit, therefore, of this curious and inquisitive part of my fellow-subjects, I shall, in the first place, tell those
persons what they dreamt of, who fancy they never dream at all. In the next place, I shall make out any dream, upon hearing a single circumstance of it; and, in the last place, shall