As we were admiring this strange Phoenomenon, and standing round the Heart in a Circle, it gave a most prodigious Sigh or rather Crack, and dispersed all at once in Smoke and Vapour. This imaginary Noise, which methought was louder than the burst of a Cannon, produced such a violent Shake in my Brain, that it dissipated the Fumes of Sleep, and left me in an Instant broad awake.
* * * * *
No. 282. Wednesday, January 23, 1712. Steele.
[—Spes incerta futuri.
It is a lamentable thing that every Man is full of Complaints, and constantly uttering Sentences against the Fickleness of Fortune, when People generally bring upon themselves all the Calamities they fall into, and are constantly heaping up Matter for their own Sorrow and Disappointment. That which produces the greatest Part of the [Delusions ] of Mankind, is a false Hope which People indulge with so sanguine a Flattery to themselves, that their Hearts are bent upon fantastical Advantages which they had no Reason to believe should ever have arrived to them. By this unjust Measure of calculating their Happiness, they often mourn with real Affliction for imaginary Losses. When I am talking of this unhappy way of accounting for our selves, I cannot but reflect upon a particular Set of People, who, in their own Favour, resolve every thing that is possible into what is probable, and then reckon on that Probability as on what must certainly happen. WILL. HONEYCOMB, upon my observing his looking on a Lady with some particular Attention, gave me an Account of the great Distresses which had laid waste that her very fine Face, and had given an Air of Melancholy to a very agreeable Person, That Lady, and a couple of Sisters of hers, were, said WILL., fourteen Years ago, the greatest Fortunes about Town; but without having any Loss by bad Tenants, by bad Securities, or any Damage by Sea or Land, are reduced to very narrow Circumstances. They were at that time the most inaccessible haughty Beauties in Town; and their Pretensions to take upon them at that unmerciful rate, was rais’d upon the following Scheme, according to which all their Lovers were answered.
Our Father is a youngish Man, but then our Mother is somewhat older, and not likely to have any Children: His Estate, being L800 per Annum, at 20 Years Purchase, is worth L16,000. Our Uncle who is above 50, has L400 per Annum, which at the foresaid Rate, is L8000. There’s a Widow Aunt, who has L10,000 at her own Disposal left by her Husband, and an old Maiden Aunt who has L6000. Then our Fathers Mother has L900 per Annum, which is worth L18,000 and L1000 each of us has of her own, which cant be taken from us. These summ’d up together stand thus.
Fathers 800- 16,000 This equally
Uncles 400- 8000 us three amounts to L20,000
Aunts 10,000 each; and Allowance being
6000- 16,000 given for Enlargement upon
Grandmother 900- 18,000 common Fame, we may lawfully
Own 1000 each- 3000 pass for L30,000 Fortunes.