The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

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Broadway, Ludgate hill
Glasgow, Manchester and new york


No. 203.  Tuesday, October 23, 1711.  Addison.

  Phoebe pater, si das hujus mihi nominis usum,
  Nec falsa Clymene culpam sub imagine celat;
  Pignora da, Genitor

  Ov.  Met.

There is a loose Tribe of Men whom I have not yet taken Notice of, that ramble into all the Corners of this great City, in order to seduce such unfortunate Females as fall into their Walks.  These abandoned Profligates raise up Issue in every Quarter of the Town, and very often, for a valuable Consideration, father it upon the Church-warden.  By this means there are several Married Men who have a little Family in most of the Parishes of London and Westminster, and several Batchelors who are undone by a Charge of Children.

When a Man once gives himself this Liberty of preying at large, and living upon the Common, he finds so much Game in a populous City, that it is surprising to consider the Numbers which he sometimes propagates.  We see many a young Fellow who is scarce of Age, that could lay his Claim to the Jus trium Liberorum, or the Privileges which were granted by the Roman Laws to all such as were Fathers of three Children:  Nay, I have heard a Rake [who [1]] was not quite five and twenty, declare himself the Father of a seventh Son, and very prudently determine to breed him up a Physician.  In short, the Town is full of these young Patriarchs, not to mention several batter’d Beaus, who, like heedless Spendthrifts that squander away their Estates before they are Masters of them, have raised up their whole Stock of Children before Marriage.

I must not here omit the particular Whim of an Impudent Libertine, that had a little Smattering of Heraldry; and observing how the Genealogies of great Families were often drawn up in the Shape of Trees, had taken a Fancy to dispose of his own illegitimate Issue in a Figure of the same kind.

 —­Nec longum tempus et ingens
  Exiit ad coelum ramis felicibus arbos,
  Miraturque novas frondes, et non sua poma.

  Virg. [2]

The Trunk of the Tree was mark’d with his own Name, Will Maple.  Out of the Side of it grew a large barren Branch, Inscribed Mary Maple, the Name of his unhappy Wife.  The Head was adorned with five huge Boughs.  On the Bottom of the first was written in Capital Characters Kate Cole, who branched out into three Sprigs, viz.  William, Richard, and Rebecca.  Sal Twiford gave Birth to another Bough, that shot up into Sarah, Tom, Will, and Frank.  The third Arm of the Tree had only a single Infant in it, with a Space left for a second, the Parent from whom it sprung being near her Time when the Author took this Ingenious Device into his Head.  The two other great Boughs were very plentifully loaden with Fruit of the same kind; besides which there were many Ornamental Branches that did not bear.  In short, a more flourishing Tree never came out of the Heralds Office.

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The Spectator, Volume 2. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.