No. 431. Tuesday, July 15, 1712. Steele.

Quid Dulcius hominum generi a Natura datum est quam sui cuique liberi?'

I have lately been casting in my Thoughts the several Unhappinesses of Life, and comparing the Infelicities of old Age to those of Infancy. The Calamities of Children are due to the Negligence and Misconduct of Parents, those of Age to the past Life which led to it. I have here the History of a Boy and Girl to their Wedding-Day, and I think I cannot give the Reader a livelier Image of the insipid way which Time uncultivated passes, than by entertaining him with their authentick Epistles, expressing all that was remarkable in their Lives, 'till the Period of their Life above mentioned. The Sentence at the Head of this Paper, which is only a warm Interrogation, What is there in Nature so dear as a Man's own Children to him? is all the Reflection I shall at present make on those who are negligent or cruel in the Education of them.


I am now entring into my One and Twentieth Year, and do not know that I had one Day's thorough Satisfaction since I came to Years of any Reflection, till the Time they say others lose their Liberty, the Day of my Marriage. I am Son to a Gentleman of a very great Estate, who resolv'd to keep me out of the Vices of the Age; and in order to it never let me see any Thing that he thought could give me the least Pleasure. At ten Years old I was put to a Grammar-School, where my Master received Orders every Post to use me very severely, and have no regard to my having a great Estate. At Fifteen I was removed to the University, where I liv'd, out of my Father's great Discretion, in scandalous Poverty and Want, till I was big enough to be married, and I was sent for to see the Lady who sends you the Underwritten. When we were put together, we both considered that we could not be worse than we were in taking one another, out of a Desire of Liberty entered into Wedlock. My Father says I am now a Man, and may speak to him like another Gentleman.

_I am, SIR,

Your most humble Servant_,

Richard Rentfree.


I grew tall and wild at my Mother's, who is a gay Widow, and did not care for shewing me 'till about two Years and a half ago; at which time my Guardian Uncle sent me to a Boarding-School, with Orders to contradict me in nothing, for I had been misused enough already. I had not been there above a Month, when being in the Kitchin, I saw some Oatmeal on the Dresser; I put two or three Corns in my Mouth, liked it, stole a Handful, went into my Chamber, chewed it, and for two Months after never failed taking Toll of every Pennyworth of Oatmeal that came into the House: But one Day playing with a Tobacco-pipe between my Teeth, it happened to break in my Mouth, and the spitting out the Pieces left such a delicious Roughness on my Tongue, that I could not be satisfied 'till I had champed up the remaining Part of the Pipe. I forsook the Oatmeal, and stuck to the Pipes three Months, in which Time I had dispensed with thirty seven foul Pipes, all to the Boles; They belonged to an old Gentleman, Father to my Governess--He lock'd up the clean ones. I left off eating of Pipes, and fell to licking of Chalk. I was soon tired of this; I then nibbled all the red Wax of our last Ball-Tickets, and three Weeks after the black Wax from the Burying-Tickets of the old Gentleman. Two Months after this I liv'd upon Thunder-bolts, a certain long, round bluish Stone, which I found among the Gravel in our Garden. I was wonderfully delighted with this; but Thunder-bolts growing scarce, I fasten'd Tooth and Nail upon our Garden-Wall, which I stuck to almost a Twelvemonth, and had in that time peeled and devoured half a Foot towards our Neighbour's Yard. I now thought my self the happiest Creature in the World, and I believe in my Conscience, I had eaten quite through, had I had it in my Chamber; but now I became lazy, and unwilling to stir, and was obliged to seek Food nearer Home. I then took a strange Hankering to Coals; I fell to scranching 'em, and had already consumed, I am certain, as much as would have dressed my Wedding Dinner, when my Uncle came for me Home. He was in the Parlour with my Governess when I was called down. I went in, fell on my Knees, for he made me call him Father; and when I expected the Blessing I asked, the good Gentleman, in a Surprize, turns himself to my Governess, and asks, Whether this (pointing to me) was his Daughter? This (added he) is the very Picture of Death. My Child was a plump-fac'd, hale, fresh-coloured Girl; but this looks as if she was half-starved, a mere Skeleton. My Governess, who is really a good Woman, assured my Father I had wanted for nothing; and withal told him I was continually eating some Trash or other, and that I was almost eaten up with the Green-sickness, her Orders being never to cross me. But this magnified but little with my Father, who presently, in a kind of Pett, paying for my Board, took me home with him. I had not been long at home, but one Sunday at Church (I shall never forget it) I saw a young neighbouring Gentleman that pleased me hugely; I liked him of all Men I ever saw in my Life, and began to wish I could be as pleasing to him. The very next Day he came, with his Father, a visiting to our House: We were left alone together, with Directions on both Sides to be in Love with one another, and in three Weeks time we were married. I regained my former Health and Complexion, and am now as happy as the Day is long. Now, Mr. SPEC., I desire you would find out some Name for these craving Damsels, whether dignified or distinguished under some or all of the following Denominations, (to wit) Trash-eaters, Oatmeal-chewers, Pipe-champers, Chalk-lickers, Wax-nibbles, Coal-Scranchers, Wall-peelers, or Gravel-diggers: And, good Sir, do your utmost endeavour to prevent (by exposing) this unaccountable Folly, so prevailing among the young ones of our Sex, who may not meet with such sudden good Luck as,

SIR, Your constant Reader, and very humble Servant, Sabina Green, Now Sabina Rentfree.


Translation of motto:
'What is there in nature so dear to man as his own children?'