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No. 064 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

I had been wonderfully at a Loss for many Months together, to guess at the Character of a Man who came now and then to our Coffee-house: He ever ended a News-paper with this Reflection, Well, I see all the Foreign Princes are in good Health. If you asked, Pray, Sir, what says the Postman from Vienna? he answered, Make us thankful, the German Princes are all well: What does he say from Barcelona? He does not speak but that the Country agrees very well with the new Queen. After very much Enquiry, I found this Man of universal Loyalty was a wholesale Dealer in Silks and Ribbons: His Way is, it seems, if he hires a Weaver, or Workman, to have it inserted in his Articles,

‘That all this shall be well and truly performed, provided no foreign Potentate shall depart this Life within the Time above-mentioned.’

It happens in all publick Mournings, that the many Trades which depend upon our Habits, are during that Folly either pinched with present Want, or terrified with the apparent Approach of it. All the Atonement which Men can make for wanton Expences (which is a sort of insulting the Scarcity under which others labour) is, that the Superfluities of the Wealthy give Supplies to the Necessities of the Poor: but instead of any other Good arising from the Affectation of being in courtly Habits of Mourning, all Order seems to be destroyed by it; and the true Honour which one Court does to another on that Occasion, loses its Force and Efficacy. When a foreign Minister beholds the Court of a Nation (which flourishes in Riches and Plenty) lay aside, upon the Loss of his Master, all Marks of Splendor and Magnificence, though the Head of such a joyful People, he will conceive greater Idea of the Honour done his Master, than when he sees the Generality of the People in the same Habit. When one is afraid to ask the Wife of a Tradesman whom she has lost of her Family; and after some Preparation endeavours to know whom she mourns for; how ridiculous is it to hear her explain her self, That we have lost one of the House of Austria! Princes are elevated so highly above the rest of Mankind, that it is a presumptuous Distinction to take a Part in Honours done to their Memories, except we have Authority for it, by being related in a particular Manner to the Court which pays that Veneration to their Friendship, and seems to express on such an Occasion the Sense of the Uncertainty of human Life in general, by assuming the Habit of Sorrow though in the full possession of Triumph and Royalty.


[Footnote 1: of a]

[Footnote 2: The death of Charles II of Spain, which gave occasion for the general war of the Spanish succession, took place in 1700. John V, King of Portugal, died in 1706, and the Emperor Joseph I died on the 17th of April, 1711, less than a month before this paper was written. The black suit that was now ‘scouring for the Emperor’ was, therefore, more than ten years old, and had been turned five years ago.]