No. 509. Tuesday, October 14, 1712. Steele.

Hominis frugi et temperantis functus officium.'

The useful Knowledge in the following Letter shall have a Place in my Paper, tho' there is nothing in it which immediately regards the Polite or the Learned World; I say immediately, for upon Reflection every Man will find there is a remote Influence upon his own Affairs, in the Prosperity or Decay of the Trading Part of Mankind. My present Correspondent, I believe, was never in Print before; but what he says well deserves a general Attention, tho' delivered in his own homely Maxims, and a Kind of Proverbial Simplicity; which Sort of Learning has rais'd more Estates than ever were, or will be, from attention to Virgil, Horace, Tully, Seneca, Plutarch, or any of the rest, whom, I dare say, this worthy Citizen would hold to be indeed ingenious, but unprofitable Writers. But to the Letter.

Broadstreet, Oct. 10, 1712.



'I accuse you of many Discourses on the Subject of Money, which you have heretofore promis'd the Publick, but have not discharg'd your self thereof. But, forasmuch as you seem to depend upon Advice from others what to do in that Point, have sate down to write you the Needful upon that Subject. But, before I enter thereupon, I shall take this Opportunity to observe to you, that the thriving frugal Man shews it in every Part of his Expence, Dress, Servants, and House; and I must in the first place, complain to you, as SPECTATOR, that in these Particulars there is at this Time, throughout the City of London, a lamentable Change from that Simplicity of Manners, which is the true Source of Wealth and Prosperity. I just now said, the Man of Thrift shews Regularity in every thing; but you may, perhaps, laugh that I take Notice of such a Particular as I am going to do, for an Instance that this City is declining, if their antient Oeconomy is not restor'd. The Thing which gives me this Prospect, and so much Offence, is the Neglect of the Royal-Exchange, I mean the Edifice so called, and the Walks appertaining thereunto. The Royal-Exchange is a Fabrick that well deserves to be so called, as well to express that our Monarch's highest Glory and Advantage consists in being the Patrons of Trade, as that it is commodious for Business, and an Instance of the Grandeur both of Prince and People. But alas! at present it hardly seems to be set apart for any such Use or Purpose. Instead of the Assembly of honourable Merchants, substantial Tradesmen, and knowing Masters of Ships; the Mumpers, the Halt, the Blind, and the Lame; your Venders of Trash, Apples, Plumbs; your Ragamuffins, Rakeshames, and Wenches, have justled the greater Number of the former out of that Place. Thus it is, especially on the Evening-Change; so that what with the Din of Squalings, Oaths and Cries of Beggars, Men of the greatest Consequence in our City absent themselves from the Place. This Particular, by the way, is of evil Consequence; for if the Change be no Place for Men of the highest Credit to frequent, it will not be a Disgrace to those of less Abilities to absent. I remember the time when Rascally Company were kept out, and the unlucky Boys with Toys and Balls were whipped away by a Beadle. I have seen this done indeed of late, but then it has been only to chase the Lads from Chuck, that the Beadle might seize their Copper.

I must repeat the Abomination, that the Walnut Trade is carry'd on by old Women within the Walks, which makes the Place impassable by reason of Shells and Trash. The Benches around are so filthy, that no one can sit down, yet the Beadles and Officers have the Impudence at Christmas to ask for their Box, though they deserve the Strapado. I do not think it impertinent to have mentioned this, because it speaks a neglect in the Domestick Care of the City, and the Domestick is the truest Picture of a Man every where else.

But I designed to speak on the Business of Money and Advancement of Gain. The Man proper for this, speaking in the general, is of a sedate, plain, good Understanding, not apt to go out of his way, but so behaving himself at home, that Business may come to him. Sir William Turner, that valuable Citizen, has left behind him a most excellent Rule, and couched it in very few Words, suited to the meanest Capacity. He would say, Keep your Shop and your Shop will keep you. It must be confessed, that if a Man of a great Genius could add Steadiness to his Vivacities, or substitute slower Men of Fidelity to transact the methodical part of his Affairs, such a one would outstrip the rest of the World: But Business and Trade is not to be managed by the same Heads which write Poetry, and make Plans for the Conduct of Life in general. So tho' we are at this day beholden to the late witty and inventive Duke of Buckingham for the whole Trade and Manufacture of Glass, yet I suppose there is no one will aver, that, were his Grace yet living, they would not rather deal with my diligent Friend and Neighbour, Mr. Gumley, for any Goods to be prepared and delivered on such a Day, than he would with that illustrious Mechanick abovementioned.

'No, no, Mr. SPECTATOR, you Wits must not pretend to be rich; and it is possible the Reason may be, in some Measure, because you despise, or at least you do not value it enough to let it take up your chief Attention; which the Trader must do, or lose his Credit, which is to him what Honour, Reputation, Fame, or Glory is to other sort of Men.

'I shall not speak to the Point of Cash it self, till I see how you approve of these my Maxims in general: But, I think, a Speculation upon Many a Little makes a Mickle, A Penny sav'd is a Penny got, Penny wise and Pound foolish, It is Need that makes the old Wife trot, would be very useful to the World, and if you treated them with Knowledge would be useful to your self, for it would make Demands for your Paper among those who have no Notion of it at present. But of these Matters more hereafter. If you did this, as you excel many Writers of the present Age for Politeness, so you would outgo the Author of the true Strops of Razors for Use.

'I shall conclude this Discourse with an Explanation of a Proverb, which by vulgar Errour is taken and used when a Man is reduced to an Extremity, whereas the Propriety of the Maxim is to use it when you would say, there is Plenty, but you must make such a Choice, as not to hurt another who is to come after you.

'Mr. Tobias Hobson, from whom we have the Expression, was a very honourable Man, for I shall ever call the Man so who gets an Estate honestly. Mr. Tobias Hobson was a Carrier, and being a Man of great Abilities and Invention, and one that saw where there might good Profit arise, though the duller Men overlooked it; this ingenious Man was the first in this Island who let out Hackney-Horses. He lived in Cambridge, and observing that the Scholars rid hard, his manner was to keep a large Stable of Horses, with Boots, Bridles, and Whips to furnish the Gentlemen at once, without going from College to College to borrow, as they have done since the Death of this worthy Man: I say, Mr. Hobson kept a Stable of forty good Cattle, always ready and fit for travelling; but when a Man came for a Horse, he was led into the Stable, where there was great Choice, but he obliged him to take the Horse which stood next to the Stable-Door; so that every Customer was alike well served according to his Chance, and every Horse ridden with the same Justice: From whence it became a Proverb, when what ought to be your Election was forced upon you, to say, Hobson's Choice. This memorable Man stands drawn in Fresco at an Inn (which he used) in Bishopsgate-street, with an hundred Pound Bag under his Arm, with this Inscription upon the said Bag,

'The fruitful Mother of an Hundred more.'

'Whatever Tradesman will try the Experiment, and begin the day after you publish this my Discourse to treat his Customers all alike, and all reasonably and honestly, I will ensure him the same Success.

I am, Sir, Your loving Friend,

Hezekiah Thrift


Translation of motto:
TER. Heaut. Act iii. Sc. 3.
'Discharging the part of a good economist.'