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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
"This is to give notice, that ten shillings over and above the market-price will be given for the ticket in the £1500000 Lottery, No. 132, by Nath. Cliff, at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside."
This advertisement has given great matter of speculation 10 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 number 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 till about three days ago, when I received the following letter from an unknown hand, by which I find that Mr. Nathaniel Cliff is only the agent, and not the principal, in this advertisement.
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 I have communicated to some friends, who rally me incessantly on 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 30 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 12000 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 10 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 out-run our present income, as not doubting to disburse ourselves out of the profits of some future place, project, or reversion, that we have in view. It is through this temper of mind, which is so common among us, that we see tradesmen break, who 20 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 circum· stances, is in great 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. L.
XXII. THE TRUNK-MAKER AT THE PLAY.
Thursday, November 29, 1711.
Vincentem strepitus.-Hor. Ars Poet, 81.
Awes the tumultuous noises of the pit.-Roscommon.
THERE is nothing which lies more within the province of a Spectator than public shows and diversions; and as among these there are none which can pretend to vie with those elegant entertainments that are exhibited in our theatres, I think it particularly incumbent on me to take notice of everything that is remarkable in such numerous and refined assemblies.
It is observed, that of late years there has been a certain person in the upper gallery of the play-house, who, when he is pleased with anything that is acted upon the stage, expresses his approbation by a loud knock upon the benches or the wainscot, which may be heard over the whole theatre. This person is commonly known by the name of the "Trunkmaker in the upper gallery." Whether it be, that the blow he gives on these occasions resembles that which is often heard in the shops of such artisans, or that he was supposed to have been a real trunk-maker, who, after the finishing of 20 his day's work used to unbend his mind at these public diversions with his hammer in his hand, I cannot certainly tell. There are some, I know, who have been foolish enough to imagine it is a spirit which haunts the upper gallery, and from time to time makes those strange noises, and the rather, because he is observed to be louder than ordinary every time the ghost of Hamlet appears. Others have reported that it is a dumb man, who has chosen this way of uttering himself, when he is transported with anything he sees or hears. Others will have it to be the play-house thunderer, that 30
exerts himself after this manner in the upper gallery, when he has nothing to do upon the roof.
But having made it my business to get the best information I could in a matter of this moment, I find that the Trunk-maker, as he is commonly called, is a large black man, whom nobody knows. He generally leans forward on a huge oaken plant, with great attention to everything that passes upon the stage. He is never seen to smile; but upon hearing anything that pleases him, he takes up his staff with both 10 hands, and lays it upon the next piece of timber that stands in his way with exceeding vehemence: after which he composes himself in his former posture, till such time as something new sets him again at work.
It has been observed, his blow is so well timed, that the most judicious critic could never except against it. As soon as any shining thought is expressed in the poet, or any uncommon grace appears in the actor, he smites the bench or wainscot. If the audience does not concur with him, he smites a second time; and if the audience is not yet awaked, 20 looks round him with great wrath, and repeats the blow a third time, which never fails to produce the clap. He sometimes lets the audience begin the clap of themselves, and at the conclusion of their applause ratifies it with a single thwack.
He is of so great use to the play-house, that it is said a former director of it, upon his not being able to pay his attendance by reason of sickness, kept one in pay to officiate for him till such time as he recovered; but the person so employed, though he laid about him with incredible violence, 30 did it in such wrong places, that the audience soon found out that it was not their old friend the Trunk-maker.
It has been remarked, that he has not yet exerted himself with vigour this season. He sometimes plies at the opera ; and upon Nicolini's first appearance, was said to have demolished three benches in the fury of his applause. He has broken half a dozen oaken plants upon Dogget; and seldom
goes away from a tragedy of Shakespeare, without leaving the wainscot extremely shattered.
The players do not only connive at this his obstreperous approbation, but very cheerfully repair at their own cost whatever damage he makes. They had once a thought of erecting a kind of wooden anvil for his use, that should be made of a very sounding plank, in order to render his strokes more deep and mellow; but as this might not have been distinguished from the music of a kettle-drum, the project was laid aside.
In the mean while I cannot but take notice of the great use it is to an audience, that a person should thus preside ́ over their heads, like the director of a concert, in order to awaken their attention, and beat time to their applauses; or, to raise my simile, I have sometimes fancied the Trunk-maker in the upper gallery to be like Virgil's ruler of the wind, seated upon the top of a mountain, who, when he struck his sceptre upon the side of it, roused an hurricane, and set the whole cavern in an uproar.
It is certain the Trunk-maker has saved many a good play, 20 and brought many a graceful actor into reputation, who would not otherwise have been taken notice of. It is very visible, as the audience is not a little abashed if they find themselves betrayed into a clap, when their friend in the upper gallery does not come into it; so the actors do not value themselves upon the clap, but regard it as a mere brutum fulmen, or empty noise, when it has not the sound of the oaken plant in it. I know it has been given out by those who are enemies to the Trunk-maker, that he has sometimes been bribed to be in the interest of a bad poet, or a vicious 30 player; but this is a surmise which has no foundation; his strokes are always just, and his admonitions seasonable; he does not deal about his blows at random, but always hits the right nail upon the head. That inexpressible force wherewith he lays them on, sufficiently shows the evidence and strength of his conviction. His zeal for a good author is in