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preposterous an inclination. She perceived my design; and immediately accused herself, with an honest sensibility that burst into tears; but at the time told me, that she was no more able to refrain from cards than to fly:' and a few nights afterwards I observed her chairmen waiting at the door of a great lady, who seldom sees company but on a Sunday, and then has always the happiness of engaging a brilliant assembly at cards.
After I had recollected these incidents, I looked with less contempt upon our Necessitarian; and to confess a truth, with less esteem upon his present opponents. I took for granted, that this gentleman's opinion proceeded from a consciousness, that he was himself the slave of some or all of these vices and follies; and that he was prompted by something like benevolence, to communicate to others a discovery, by which alone he had been able to quiet his own mind, and to regard himself rather as an object of pity than contempt. And indeed no man without great incongruity, can affirm that he has powers which he does not exert, when to exert them is evidently his highest interest; nor should he be permitted to arrogate the dignity of a free agent, who has once professed himself to be the mere instrument of necessity.
While I was making these reflections, the husband of Myrtilla came in; and to atone for any dishonour, which custom or prejudice may suppose to be reflected upon him by the unhappy fatality of his wife, I shall refer to him as an incontestible proof, that though there are some who have sold themselves to do evil, and become the bondmen of iniquity, yet there are others who preserve the birthright of beings that are placed but a little lower than the angels; and who may without reproach deny the doctrine of necessity, by which they are degraded into an equality with brutes that perish. I acknowledge, indeed, that my friend has motives from which he acts; but his motives receive their force from reason illuminated by revelation, and conscience invigorated by hope. I acknowledge too, that he is under subjection to a master; but let it be remembered, that it is to him only, whose service is perfect freedom.'
N° 43. TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 1753.
Its life is motion.
TO THE ADVENTURER.
March, 12, 1753, The adulteration of the copper-coin, as it is highly pernicious to trade in general, so it more immediately affects the itinerate branches of it. Among these, at present, are to be found the only circulators of base metal; and, perhaps, the only dealers, who are obliged to take in payment such counterfeits, as will find a currency no where else: and yet they are not allowed to raise the price of their commodities, though they are abridged of so considerable a portion of their profits.
A Tyburn execution, a duel, a most terrible fire, or a horrid, barbarous, bloody, cruel and inhuman murder, was wont to bring in vast revenues to the lower class of pamphleteers, who get their livelihood by vending these diurnal records publicly in the streets: but since halfpence have been valued at no more than five-pence the pound weight, these occasional pieces will hardly answer the expences of printing and paper; and the servant-maid, who used to indulge her taste for polite literature, by purchasing fifty new playhouse songs, or a whole poetical sheet of the Yorkshire garland or Gloucestershire tragedy, for a halfpenny, can now scarcely procure more than one single slip of ‘ I love Sue, or the Lovier's complaint.'
It is also observable, that the Park no longer echoes with the shrill cry of · Tooth-picks! Take you six, your honour, for a halfpenny,' as it did when halfpence were halfpence worth. The vender contents herself with silently presenting her little portable shop; and guards against the rapacity of the buyer, by exhibiting a very small parcel of her
But the greatest sufferers are undoubtedly the numerous fraternity of beggars; for, as things are circumstanced, it would be almost as profitable to work as to beg, were it not that many more are now induced to deal out their charity in what is of no other use to themselves, in the hope of receiving seven-fold in return. Indeed, since the usual donation has been so much lessened in its value, the beggars have been observed to be more vociferous and importunate. One of these orators, who takes his stand at Spring-gardens, now enforces his piteous complaint, with Good Christians, one good halfpenny to the stone blind!' and another, who tells you he has lost the use of his precious limbs, addresses your compassion by shewing a bad halfpenny, and declaring that he is ready to perish with
hunger, having tried it in vain at twenty-three places to buy a bit of bread. Farthings, we are told, were formerly called in by the beggars, as they threatened the ruin of their community. I should not wonder, therefore, if this public spirited people were also to put a stop to the circulation of bad halfpence, by melting them down from time to time as they come into their hands. The experiment is worth making; and I am assured, that, for some end or other, orders will be issued out from the king of the beggars, to bring all their adulterated copper to their mint in the Borough, or their foundery in Moorfields.
I was led to the consideration of this subject by some halfpence I had just received in change: among which one in particular attracted my regard, that seemed once to have borne the profile of King William, now scarcely visible, as it was very much battered, and besides other marks of ill usage had a hole through the middle. As it happened to be the evening of a day of some fatigue, my reflections did not much interrupt my propensity to sleep, and I insensibly fell into a kind of half-slumber; when to imagination the halfpenny which then laid before me upon the table, erected itself upon its rim, and from the royal lips stamped on its surface articulately uttered the following narration:
• Sir! I shall not pretend to conceal from you the illegitimacy of my birth, or the baseness of my extraction; and though I seem to bear the venerable marks of old age, I received my being at Birmingham not six months ago. From thence I was transported, with many of my brethren of different dates, characters, and configurations to a Jew-pedlar in Duke's place, who paid for us in specie scarce a fifth part of our nominal and extrinsic value. We were soon after separately disposed of, at a more
moderate profit, to coffee-houses, chop-houses, chandler-shops and gin-shops.
• I had not been long in the world, before an ingenious transmuter of metals laid violent hands on me; and observing my thin shape and flat surface, by the help of a little quicksilver exalted me into a shilling. Use, however, soon degraded me again to my native low station; and I unfortunately fell into the possession of an urchin just breeched, who received me as a Christmas-box of his godmother.
• A love of money is ridiculously instilled into children so early, that before they can possibly comprehend the use of it, they consider it as of great value: I lost, therefore, the very essence of my being, in the custody of this hopeful disciple of avarice and folly; and was kept only to be looked at and admired: but a bigger boy after while snatched me from him, and released me from my confinement.
I now underwent various hardships among his play-fellows, and was kicked about, hustled, tossed up, and chucked into holes; which very much battered and impaired me; but I suffered most by the pegging of tops, the marks of which I have burne about me to this day. I was in this state the unwitting cause of rapacity, strife, envy, rancour, malice and revenge, among the little apes of mankind; and became the object and the nurse of those passions which disgrace human nature, while I appeared only to engage children in innocent pastimes. At length, I was dismissed from their service, by a throw with a barrow-woman for an orange.
• From her it is natural to conclude, I posted to the gin-shop; where, indeed, it is probable I should have immediately gone, if her husband, a footsoldier, had not wrested me from her, at the ex