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No. 375 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 375
Saturday, May 10, 1712. Hughes.
‘Non possidentem multa vocaveris
Recte beatum: rectius occupat
Nomen beati, qui Deorum
Muneribus sapienter uti,
Duramque callet Pauperiem pati,
Pejusque Letho flagitium timet.’

Hor.

I have more than once had occasion to mention a noble Saying of Seneca the Philosopher, That a virtuous Person struggling with Misfortunes, and rising above them, is an Object on which the Gods themselves may look down with Delight. [1] I shall therefore set before my Reader a Scene of this kind of Distress in private Life, for the Speculation of this Day.

An eminent Citizen, who had lived in good Fashion and Credit, was by a Train of Accidents, and by an unavoidable Perplexity in his Affairs, reduced to a low Condition. There is a Modesty usually attending faultless Poverty, which made him rather chuse to reduce his Manner of Living to his present Circumstances, than sollicit his Friends in order to support the Shew of an Estate when the Substance was gone. His Wife, who was a Woman of Sense and Virtue, behaved her self on this Occasion with uncommon Decency, and never appear’d so amiable in his Eyes as now. Instead of upbraiding him with the ample Fortune she had brought, or the many great Offers she had refused for his sake, she redoubled all the Instances of her Affection, while her Husband was continually pouring out his Heart to her in Complaints that he had ruined the best Woman in the World. He sometimes came home at a time when she did not expect him, and surpriz’d her in Tears, which she endeavour’d to conceal, and always put on an Air of Chearfulness to receive him. To lessen their Expence, their eldest Daughter (whom I shall call Amanda) was sent into the Country, to the House of an honest Farmer, who had married a Servant of the Family. This young Woman was apprehensive of the Ruin which was approaching, and had privately engaged a Friend in the Neighbourhood to give her an account of what passed from time to time in her Father’s Affairs. Amanda was in the Bloom of her Youth and Beauty, when the Lord of the Manor, who often called in at the Farmer’s House as he followd his Country Sports, fell passionately in love with her. He was a Man of great Generosity, but from a loose Education had contracted a hearty Aversion to Marriage. He therefore entertained a Design upon Amanda’s Virtue, which at present he thought fit to keep private. The innocent Creature, who never suspected his Intentions, was pleased with his Person; and having observed his growing Passion for her, hoped by so advantageous a Match she might quickly be in a capacity of supporting her impoverish’d Relations. One day as he called to see her, he found her in Tears over a Letter she had just receiv’d from her Friend, which gave an Account that her Father had lately been stripped of every thing by an Execution. The Lover, who with some Difficulty found out the Cause of her Grief, took this occasion to make her a Proposal. It is impossible to express Amanda’s Confusion when she found his Pretensions were not honourable. She was now deserted of all her Hopes, and had no Power to speak; but rushing from him in the utmost Disturbance, locked her self up in her Chamber. He immediately dispatched a Messenger to her Father with the following Letter.

SIR,

I have heard of your Misfortune, and have offer’d your Daughter, if she will live with me, to settle on her Four hundred Pounds a year, and to lay down the Sum for which you are now distressed. I will be so ingenuous as to tell you that I do not intend Marriage: But if you are wise, you will use your Authority with her not to be too nice, when she has an opportunity of saving you and your Family, and of making her self happy. I am, etc.