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notice of one which I have known two persons practise, who joined religion to that elegance of sentiment with which the passion of love generally inspires its votaries. This was, at the return of such an hour, to offer up a certain prayer for each other, which they had agreed upon before their parting. The husband, who is a man that makes a figure in the polite world as well as in his own family, has often told me, that he could not have supported an absence of three years without this expedient.
Strada, in one of his Prolusions*, gives an account of a chimerical correspondence between two friends by the help of a certain load-stone, which had such virtue in it, that if it touched two several needles, when one of the needles so touched began to move, the other, though at never so great a distance, moved at the same time, and in the same manner. He tells us, that the two friends being each of them possessed of one of these needles, made a kind of dial-plate, inscribing it with the four-and-twenty letters, in the same manner as the hours of the day are marked upon the ordinary dial-plate. They then fixed one of the needles on each of these plates in such a manner, that it could move round without impediment, so as to touch any of the four-and-twenty letters. Upon their separating from one another into distant countries, they agreed to withdraw themselves punctually into their ciosets at a certain hour of the day, and to converse with one another by means of this their invention. Accordingly when they were some hundred miles asunder, each of them shut himself up in his closet at the time appointed, and immediately cast his eye upon his dial-plate. If he had a mind to write any thing to his friend, he directed his needle to every letter that formed the words which he had occasion for, making a little
* Lib. ii. prol. 6.
pause at the end of every word or sentence, to avoid confusion. The friend in the meanwhile saw his own sympathetic needle moving of itself to every letter which that of his correspondent pointed at. By this means they talked together across a whole continent, and conveyed their thoughts to one another in an instant over cities or mountains, seas or deserts.
If Monsieur Scudery, or any other writer of romance, had introduced a necromancer, who is gene. rally in the train of a knight-errant, making a present to two lovers of a couple of these above-mentioned needles, the reader would not have been a little pleased to have seen them corresponding with one another when they were guarded by spies and watches, or separated by castles and adventures.
In the meanwhile, if ever this invention should be revived or put in practice, I would propose that upon the lover's dial-plate there should be written not only the four-and-twenty letters, but several entire words which have always a place in passionate epistles ; as flames, darts, die, language, absence, Cupid, heart, eyes, hang, drown, and the like. This would very much abridge the lover's pains in this way of writing a letter, as it would enable him to express the most useful and significant words with a single touch of the needle.-C.
N° 242. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1711.
Creditur, ex medio quia res arcessit, habere
Hor. 2 Ep. i. 168. .
· MR. SPECTATOR, Your speculations do not so generally prevail over men's manners as I could wish. A former paper of your's concerning the misbehaviour of people who are necessarily in each other's company in travelling, ought to have been a lasting admonition against transgressions of that kind. But I had the fate of your Quaker, in meeting with a rude fellow in a stage-coach, who entertained two or three women of us (for there was no man besides himself) with language as indecent as ever was heard upon the water. The impertinent observations which the coxcomb made upon our shame and confusion were such, that it is an unspeakable grief to reflect upon them. As much as you have declaimed against duelling, I hope you will do us the justice to declare, that if the brutė has courage enough to send to the place where he saw us all alight together to get rid of him, there is not one of us but has a lover who shall avenge the insult. It would certainly be worth your consideration, to look into the frequent misfortunes of this kind, to which the modest and innocent are exposed, by the licentious behaviour of such as are as much strangers to good-breeding as to virtue. Could we avoid hearing what we do not approve, as easily as we can seeing what is disagreeable, there were some consolation; but since in a box at a play, in an assembly of ladies, or even
in a pew at church, it is in the power of a gross coxcomb to utter what a woman cannot avoid hearing, how miserable is her condition who comes within the power of such impertinents ? and how necessary is it to repeat invectives against such a behaviour ? If the licentious had not utterly forgot what it is to be modest, they would know that offended modesty labours under one of the greatest sufferings to which human life can be exposed. If these brutes could reflect thus much, though they want shame, they would be moved by their pity, to abhor an impudent behaviour in the presence of the chaste and innocent. If you will oblige us with a Spectator on this subject, and procure it to be pasted against every stage-coach in Great Britain as the law of the journey, you will highly oblige the whole sex, for which you have professed so great an esteem; and in particular, the two ladies my late fellow-sufferers, and, Sir, your most humble servant,
REBECCA RIDINGHOOD.' • MR. SPECTATOR, · The matter which I am now going to send you, is an unhappy story in low life, and will recommend itself, so that you must excuse the manner of expressing it. A poor idle drunken weaver in Spitalfields has a faithful laborious wife, who by her frugality and industry has laid by her as much money as purchased her a ticket in the present lottery. She had hid this very privately in the bottom of a trunk, and had given her number to a friend and confidant, who had promised to keep the secret, and bring her news of the success. The poor adventurer was one day gone abroad, when her careless husband, suspecting she had saved some money, searches every corner, till at length he finds this same ticket; which he immediately carries abroad,
sells, and squanders away the money, withont the wife's suspecting any thing of the matter. A day or two after this, this friend, who was a woman, comes and brings the wife word, that she had a benefit of 5001. The poor creature, overjoyed, flies up stairs to her husband, who was then at work, and desires him to leave his loom for that evening, and come and drink with a friend of his and her's below. The man received this cheerful invitation as bad husbands sometimes do, and after a cross word or two, told her he wou'dn't come. His wife with tenderness renewed her importunity, and at length said to him, “ My love! I have within these few months, unknown to you, scraped together as much money as has bought us a ticket in the lottery, and now here is Mrs. Quick come to tell me, that it is come up this morning a 5001. prize.” The husband replies immediately, “ You lie, you slut, you have no ticket, for I have sold it.” The poor woman upon this faints away in a fit, recovers, and is now run distracted. As she had no design to defraud her husband, but was willing only to participate in his good fortune, every one pities her, but thinks her husband's punishment but just. This, Sir, is a matter of fact, and would, if the persons and circumstances were greater, in a well-wrought play be called Beautiful Distress. I have only sketched it out with chalk, and know a good hand can make a moving picture with worse materials.
Sir, &c.' • MR. SPECTATOR,
I am what the world calls a warm fellow, and by good success in trade I have raised myself to a capacity of making some figure in the world; but no matter for that, I have now under my guardianship a couple of nieces, who will certainly make me run mad ; which you will not wonder at, when I