Upon withdrawing into my Room after Dinner, I was secretly touched with Compassion towards the honest Gentleman that had dined with us; and could not but consider with a great deal of Concern, how so good an Heart and such busy Hands were wholly employed in Trifles; that so much Humanity should be so little beneficial to others, and so much Industry so little advantageous to himself. The same Temper of Mind and Application to Affairs might have recommended him to the publick Esteem, and have raised his Fortune in another Station of Life. What Good to his Country or himself might not a Trader or Merchant have done with such useful tho’ ordinary Qualifications?
Will. Wimble’s is the Case of many a younger Brother of a great Family, who had rather see their Children starve like Gentlemen, than thrive in a Trade or Profession that is beneath their Quality. This Humour fills several Parts of Europe with Pride and Beggary. It is the Happiness of a Trading Nation, like ours, that the younger Sons, tho’ uncapabie of any liberal Art or Profession, may be placed in such a Way of Life, as may perhaps enable them to vie with the best of their Family: Accordingly we find several Citizens that were launched into the World with narrow Fortunes, rising by an honest Industry to greater Estates than those of their elder Brothers. It is not improbable but Will, was formerly tried at Divinity, Law, or Physick; and that finding his Genius did not lie that Way, his Parents gave him up at length to his own Inventions. But certainly, however improper he might have been for Studies of a higher Nature, he was perfectly well turned for the Occupations of Trade and Commerce. As I think this is a Point which cannot be too much inculcated, I shall desire my Reader to compare what I have here written with what I have said in my Twenty first Speculation.
[Footnote 1: Will Wimble has been identified with Mr. Thomas Morecraft, younger son of a Yorkshire baronet. Mr. Morecraft in his early life became known to Steele, by whom he was introduced to Addison. He received help from Addison, and, after his death, went to Dublin, where he died in 1741 at the house of his friend, the Bishop of Kildare. There is no ground for this or any other attempt to find living persons in the creations of the ‘Spectator’, although, because lifelike, they were, in the usual way, attributed by readers to this or that individual, and so gave occasion for the statement of Pudgell in the Preface to his ‘Theophrastus’ that
‘most of the characters in the Spectator were conspicuously known.’
The only original of Will Wimble, as Mr. Wills has pointed out, is Mr. Thomas Gules of No. 256 in the ’Tatler’.]
[Footnote 2: begun]
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No. 109. Thursday, July 5, 1711. Steele.