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Since on this subject I have already admitted several quotations which have occurred to my memory upon writing this paper, I will conclude it with a little Persian fable. A drop of water fell out of a cloud into the sea, and finding itself lost in such an immensity of fluid matter, broke out into the following reflection : * Alas! what an inconsiderable creature am I in this prodigious ocean of waters ! my existence is of no concern to the universe, I am reduced to a kind of nothing, and am less than the least of the works of God.' It so happened, that an oyster, which lay in the neighbourhood of this drop, chanced to gape and swallow it up in the midst of this his humble soliloquy. The drop, says the fable, lay a great while hardening in the shell, until by degrees it was ripened into a pearl, which falling into the hands of a diver, after a long series of adventures, is at present that famous pearl which is fixed on the top of the Persian diadem.
1 Altered from insignificant, according to a direction in Spectator in fol. No. 295.-C.
2 Some copies have the signature T instead of L., which is that of the original folio.-G.
No. 295. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7.
Prodiga non sentit pereantem fæmina censum:
Jov. Sat. vi. 362.
16 MR. SPECTATOR, “I am turned of my great climacteric, and am naturally a man of a meek temper. About a dozen years ago I was married, for my sins, to a young woman of a good family, and of an high spirit; but could not bring her to close with me, before I had entered into a treaty with her longer than that of the grand alliance. Among other articles, it was therein stipulated, that she should have 4001. a year for pin-money, which I obliged myself to pay quarterly into the hands of one who acted as her plenipotentiary in that affair. I have ever since religiously observed my part in this solemn agreement. Now, sir, so it is, that the lady has had several children since I married her; to which, if I should credit our malicious neighbours, her pin-money has not a little contributed. The education of these my children, who, contrary to my expectation, are born to me every year, straitens me so much that I have begged their mother to free me from the obligation of the above-mentioned pin-money, that it may go towards making a provision for her family. This proposal makes her noble blood swell in her veins, insomuch that finding me a little tardy in her last quarter's payment, she threatens me every day to arrest me; and proceeds so far as to tell me, that if I do not do her justice, I shall die in a jail. To this she adds, when her passion will let her argue calmly, that she has several play-debts on her hand, which must be discharged very suddenly, and that she cannot lose her money as becomes a woman of her fashion, if she makes me any abatements in this article. I hope, sir, you will take an occasion from hence to give your opinion upon a subject which you have not yet touched, and inform us if there are any precedents for this usage among our ancestors; or whether you find any mention of pin-money in Grotius, Puffendorf, or any other of the civilians." I am ever the humblest of your admirers,
Josiah FRIBBLE, Esq.
As there is no man living who is a more professed advocate for the fair sex than myself, so there is none that would be more unwilling to invade any of their ancient rights and privileges; but as the doctrine of pin-money is of a very late date, unknown to our great grandmothers, and not yet received by many of our modern ladies, I think it is for the interest of both sexes to keep it from spreading
Mr. Fribble may not, perhaps, be much mistaken where he intimates, that the supplying a man's wife with pin-money, is furnishing her with arms against himself, and in a manner becoming accessary to his own dishonour. We may, indeed, generally observe, that in proportion as a woman is more or less beautiful, and her husband advanced in years, she stands in need of a greater or less number of pins, and upon a treaty of marriage, rises or falls in her demands accordingly. It must likewise be owned, that high quality in a mistress does very much inflame this article in the marriage reckoning.
But where the age and circumstances of both parties are pretty much upon a level, I cannot but think the insisting upon pin-money is very extraordinary; and yet we find several matches broken off
What would a foreigner, or one who is a stranger to this practice, think of a lover that forsakes his mistress, because he is not willing to keep her in pins; but what would he think of the mistress, should he be informed that she asks five or six hundred pounds a year for this use? Should a man unacquainted with our customs be told the sums which are allowed in Great Britain, under the title of pin-money, what a prodigious consumption of pins would he think there was in this island ? 'A pin a day (says our frugal proverb) is a groat a year;' so that according to this calculation, my friend Fribble's wife must every year make use of eight millions six hundred and forty thousand new pins.
I am not ignorant that our British ladies alledge they comprehend under this general term several other conveniencies of life; I could therefore wish, for the honour of my country-women, that they had rather called it needle-money, which might have implied something of good-housewifery, and not have given the malicious world occasion to think, that dress and trifle have always the uppermost place in a woman's thoughts.
I know several of my fair readers urge, in defence of this practice, that it is but a necessary provision to make for themselves, in case their husband proves a churl or a miser; so that they consider this allowance as a kind of alimony, which they may lay their claim to without actually separating from their husbands. But with submission, I think a woman who will give up herself to a man in marriage, where there is the least room for such an apprehension, and trust her person to one whom she will not rely on for the common necessaries of life, may very properly be accused in the phrase of an homely proverb) of being 'penny wise and pound foolish.'
It is observed of over-cautious generals, that they never engage in a battle without securing a retreat, in case the event should not answer their expectations; on the other hand, the greatest conquerors have burnt their ships, and broke down the bridges behind them, as being determined either to succeed or die in the engagement. In the same manner I should very much suspect a woman who takes such precautions for her retreat, and contrives methods how she may live happily, without the affection of one to whom she joins herself for life. Separate purses, between man and wife, are, in my opinion, as unnatural as separate beds. A marriage cannot be happy, where the pleasures, inclinations, and interests of both parties are not the same. There is no greater incitement to love in the mind of man, than the sense of a person's depending upon him for her ease and happiness; as - a woman uses all her endeavours to please the person whom she looks upon as her honour, her comfort, and her support.
For this reason I am not very much surprised at the behaviour of a rough country squire, who, being not a little shocked at the proceeding of a young widow that would not recede from her demands of pin-money, was so enraged at her mercenary temper, that he told her in great warmth, “ As much as she thought him her slave, he would shew all the world he did not care a pin for her.” Upon which he flew out of the room, and never saw her more.
Socrates, in Plato's Alcibiades, says, he was informed by one, who had travelled through Persia, that as he passed over a tract of lands and inquired what the name of the place was, they told him it was the queen's girdle; to which he adds, that another wide field which lay by it, was called the queen's veil, and that in the same manner there was a large portion of ground set aside for every part of her Majesty's dress. These lands might not be improperly called the Queen of Persia's pin-money.
I remember my friend, Sir Roger, who I dare say never read this passage in Plato, told me some time since, that
his courting the perverse widow (of whom I have given an account