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who being a great enemy to popery, and believing that bad men are the most fortunate in this world, will lay two to one on the number, 666 against any other number, because, says he, it is the number of the beast.* Several would prefer the number 12,000 before any other, as it is the number of the pounds in the great prize. In short, some are pleased to find their own age in their number; some that have got a number which makes a pretty appearance in the cyphers; and others, because it is the same number that succeeded in the last lottery. Each of these, upon no other grounds, thinks he stands fairest for the great lot, and that he is possessed of what may not be improperly called, 'the golden number.'t
These principles of election are the pastimes and extravagances of human reason, which is of so busy a nature, that it will be exerting itself in the meanest trifles, and working even when it wants materials. The wisest of men are sometimes acted by such unaccountable motives, as the life of the fool and the superstitious is guided by nothing else.
I am surprised that none of the fortune-tellers, or, as the French call them, the Diseures de bonne Avanture, who publish their bills in every quarter of the town, have turned our lotteries to their advantage. Did any of them set up for a caster of fortunate figures, what might he not get by his pretended discoveries and predictions?
I remember among the advertisements in the Post-Boy of September the 27th, I was surprised to see the following one:
In the Revelations. See ch. xiii. ver. 18.
Alluding to the number so called in the Calendar.
This is to give notice, that ten shillings over and above the market-price, will be given for the ticket in the 1,500,0001. lottery, No. 132, by Nath. Cliff at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside.'
This advertisement has given great matter of speculation to coffee-house theorists. Mr. Cliff's principles and conversation have been canvassed upon this occasion, and various conjectures made why he should thus set his heart upon No. 132. I have examined all the powers in those numbers, broken them into fractions, extracted the square and cube root, divided and multiplied them all ways, but could not arrive at the secret until about three days ago, when I received the following letter from an unknown hand; by which I find that Mr. Nath. Cliff is only the agent, and not the principal in this advertisment.
" MR. SPECTATOR,
'I AM the person that lately advertised I would give ten shillings more than the current price for the ticket No. 132, in the lottery now drawing; which is a secret which I have communicated to some friends, who rally me incessantly upon that account. You must know I have but one ticket, for which reason, and a certain dream I have lately had more than once, I was resolved it should be the number I most approved. I am so positive I have pitched upon the great lot, that I could almost lay all I am worth of it. My visions are so frequent and strong upon this occasion, that I have not only possessed the lot, but disposed of the money which in all probability it will sell for. This morning in particular, I set up an equipage which I look upon to be the gayest in
the town; the liveries are very rich, but not gaudy. I should be very glad to see a speculation or two upon lottery subjects, in which you would oblige all people concerned, and in particular, Your most humble servant,
'P. S. Dear Spec, if I get the 12,000 pound, I'll make thee a handsome present.'
After having wished my correspondent good luck, and thanked him for his intended kindness, I shall for this time dismiss the subject of the lottery, and only observe, that the greatest part of mankind are in some degree guilty of my friend Gosling's extravagance. We are apt to rely upon future prospects, and become really expensive while we are only rich in possibility. We live up to our expectations, not to our possessions, and make a figure proportionable to what we may be, not what we are. We outrun our present income, as not doubting to disburse* ourselves out of the profits of some future place, project, or reversion that we may have in view. It is through this temper of mind, which is so common among us, that we see tradesmen break, who have met with no misfortunes in their business; and men of estates reduced to poverty, who have never suffered from losses or repairs, tenants, taxes, or law-suits. In short, it is this foolish sanguine temper, this depending upon contingent futurities, that occasions romantic generosity, chimerical grandeur, senseless ostentation, and generally ends in beggary and ruin. The man who will Live above his present circumstances, is in great
* Disburse seems to stand here for reimburse
danger of living in a little time much beneath them; or, as the Italian proverb runs, 'The man who lives by hope, will die by hunger.'
It should be an indispensable rule in life, to contract our desires to our present condition, and, whatever may be our expectations, to live within the compass of what we actually possess. It will be time enough to enjoy an estate when it comes into our hands; but if we anticipate our good fortune, we shall lose the pleasure of it when it arrives, and may possibly never possess what we have so foolishly counted upon.
No. 192. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 10, 1711.
Uno ore omnes omnia
Bona dicere, et laudare fortunas meas,
TER. Andr. Act i. Sc..
All the world
With one accord said all good things, and prais'd
I STOOD the other day, and beheld a father sitting in the middle of a room with a large family of children about him; and methought I could observe in his countenance different motions of delight, as he turned his eye towards the one and the other of them. The man is a person moderate in his designs for their preferment and welfare and as he has an easy fortune, he is not solicitous to make a great one. His eldest son is a child of a very towardly disposition, and as much
as the father loves him, I dare say he will never be a knave to improve his fortune. I do not know any man who has a juster relish of life than the person I am speaking of, or keeps a better guard against the terrors of want, or the hopes of gain. It is usual in a crowd of children, for the parent to name out of his own flock all the great officers of the kingdom. There is something so very surprising in the parts of a child of a man's own, that there is nothing too great to be expected from his endowments. I know a good woman who has but three sons, and there is, she says, nothing she expected with more certainty, than that she shall see one of them a bishop, the other a judge, and the third a court-physician. The humour is, that any thing which can happen to any man's child, is expected by every man for But my friend, whom I was going to speak of, does not flatter himself with such vain expectations, but has his eye more upon the virtue and disposition of his children, than their advancement or wealth. Good habits are what will certainly improve a man's fortune and reputation; but, on the other side, affluence of fortune will not as probably produce good affections of the mind.
It is very natural for a man of a kind disposi tion, to amuse himself with the promises his imagination makes to him of the future condition of his children, and to represent to himself the figure they shall bear in the world after he has left it. When his prospects of this kind are agreeable, his fondness gives as it were a longer date to his own life; and the survivorship of a worthy man in his son, is a pleasure scarce inferior to the hopes of the continuance of his own life. That man is happy who can believe of his son, that he