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waiting on my customers: but my wife, though she could be of as much use as a shopman to me, if she would put her hand to it, is now only in my way. She walks all the morning sauntering about the shop, with her arms through her pocket-holes, or stands gaping at the door-sill, and looking at every person that passes by. She is continually asking me a thousand frivolous questions about every customer that comes in and goes out; and all the while that I am entering any thing in my day-book, she is lolling over the counter, and staring at it, as if I was only scribbling or drawing figures for her amusement. Sometimes, indeed, she will take a needle: but as she always works at the door, or in the middle of the shop, she has so many interrup tions, that she is longer hemming a towel, or darning a stocking, than I am in breaking forty loaves of sugar, and making it up into pounds.
In the afternoon I am sure, likewise, to have her company, except she is called upon by some of her acquaintance: and then, as we let out all the upper part of our house, and have only a little room backwards for ourselves, they either keep such a chattering, or else are calling out every moment to me, that I cannot mind my business for them.
My wife, I am sure, might do all the little matters our family requires; and I could wish that she would employ herself in them; but, instead of that, we have a girl to do the work, and look after a little boy about two years old, which I may fairly say is the mother's own child. The brat must be humoured in every thing he is, therefore, suffered constantly to play in the shop, pull all the goods about, and clamber up the shelves to get at the plums and sugar. I dare not correct him; because, if I did, I should have wife and maid both
upon me at once. As to the latter, she is as lazy and sluttish as her mistress; and because she complains she has too much work, we can scarcely get her to do any thing at all: nay, what is worse than that, I am afraid she is hardly honest; and as she is entrusted to buy in all our provisions, the jade, I am sure, makes a market-penny out of every article.
But to return to my deary.-The evenings are the only time, when it is fine weather, that I am left to myself; for then she generally takes the child out to give it milk in the park. When she comes home again, she is so fatigued with walking, that she cannot stir from her chair: and it is an hour after shop is shut, before I can get a bit of supper, while the maid is taken up in undressing and putting the child to bed.
But you will pity me much more when I tell you the manner in which we generally pass our Sundays. In the morning she is commonly too ill to dress herself to go to church; she, therefore, never gets up till noon; and what is still more vexatious, keeps me in bed with her, when I ought to be busily engaged in better employment. It is well if she can get her things on by dinner-time; and when that is over, I am sure to be dragged out by her, either to Georgia, or Hornsey Wood, or the WhiteConduit House. Yet even these near excursions are so very fatiguing to her, that, besides what it costs me in tea and hot rolls, and syllabubs, and cakes for the boy, I am frequently forced to take a hackney-coach, or drive them out in a one-horse chair. At other times, as my wife is rather of the fattest, and a very poor walker, besides bearing her whole weight upon my arm, I am obliged to carry the child myself.
Thus, Sir, does she constantly drawl out her time,
without either profit or satisfaction; and, while I see my neighbours' wives helping in the shop, and almost earning as much as their husbands, I have the mortification to find, that mine is nothing but a dead weight upon me. In short, I do not know any greater misfortune can happen to a plain hard-working tradesman, as I am, than to be joined to such a woman, who is rather a clog than an helpmate to him.
I am, SIR,
Your humble servant,
N° 16. SATURDAY, JULY 29, 1758.
I PAID a visit yesterday to my old fried Ned Drugget, at his country lodgings. Ned began trade with a very small fortune; he took a small house in an obscure street, and for some years dealt only in remnants. Knowing that light gains make a heavy purse, he was content with moderate profit; having observed or heard the effects of civility, he bowed down to the counter-edge at the entrance and depar ture of every customer, listened without impatience to the objections of the ignorant, and refused without resentment the offers of the penurious. His only recreation was to stand at his own door and look into the street. His dinner was sent him from a neigh
bouring alehouse, and he opened and shut the shop. at a certain hour with his own hands.
His reputation soon extended from one end of the street to the other; and Mr. Drugget's exemplary conduct was recommended by every master to his apprentice, and by every father to his son. Ned was not only considered as a thriving trader, but as a man of elegance and politeness, for he was remark-. ably neat in his dress, and would wear his coat threadbare without spotting it; his hat was always brushed, his shoes glossy, his wig nicely curled, and his stockings without a wrinkle. With such qualifications it was not very difficult for him to gain the heart of Miss Comfit, the only daughter of Mr. Comfit the confectioner.
Ned is one of those whose happiness marriage has increased. His wife had the same disposition with himself; and his method of life was very little changed, except that he dismissed the lodgers from the first floor, and took the whole house into his own hands.
He had already, by his parsimony, accumulated a considerable sum, to which the fortune of his wife was now added. From this time he began to grasp at greater acquisitions, and was always ready with money in his hand, to pick up the refuse of a sale, or to buy the stock of a trader who retired from business. He soon added his parlour to his shop, and was obliged, a few months afterwards, to hire a warehouse.
He had now a shop splendidly and copiously furnished with every thing that time had injured, or fashion had degraded, with fragments of tissues, odd yards of brocade, vast bales of faded silk, and innumerable boxes of antiquated ribbons. His shop was soon celebrated through all quarters of the town, and frequently by every form of ostentatious poverty.. Every maid, whose misfortune it was to be taller than
her lady, matched her gown at Mr. Drugget's; and many a maiden, who had passed a winter with her aunt in London, dazzled the rustics, at her return with cheap finery which Drugget had supplied. His shop was often visited in a morning by ladies who left their coaches in the next street, and crept through the ally in linen gowns. Drugget knows the rank of his customers by their bashfulness; and when he finds them unwilling to be seen, invites them up stairs, or retires with them to the back window.
I rejoiced at the increasing prosperity of my friend, and imagined, that as he grew rich, he was growing happy. His mind has partaken the enlargement of his fortune. When I stepped in for the first five years, I was welcomed only with a shake of the hand; in the next period of his life, he beckoned across the way for a pot of beer; but for six years past, he invited me to dinner; and if he bespeaks me the day before, never fails to regale me with a fillet of veal.
His riches neither made him uncivil nor negligent; he rose at the same hour, attended with the same assiduity, and bowed with the same gentleness. But for some years he has been much inclined to talk of the fatigues of business, and the confinement of a shop, and to wish that he had been so happy as to have renewed his uncle's lease of a farm, that he might have lived without noise and hurry, in a pure air, in the artless society of honest villagers, and the contemplation of the works of nature.
I soon discovered the cause of my friend's philosophy. He thought himself grown rich enough to have a lodging in the country, like the mercers on Ludgate-hill, and was resolved to enjoy himself in the decline of life. This was a revolution not to be made suddenly. He talked three years of the plea