Silence Dogood, No. 6

Get a FREE ebook of Family Prayers from Proverbs!

* indicates required
What's your primary interest in this subscription?

Quem Dies videt veniens Superbum,

Hunc Dies vidit fugiens jacentem.
Seneca.

To the author of the New England Courant.

SIR,

Among the many reigning Vices of the Town which may at any Time come under my Consideration and Reprehension, there is none which I am more inclin’d to expose than that of Pride. It is acknowledg’d by all to be a Vice the most hateful to God and Man. Even those who nourish it in themselves, hate to see it in others. The proud Man aspires after Nothing less than an unlimited Superiority over his Fellow-Creatures. He has made himself a King in Soliloquy; fancies himself conquering the World; and the Inhabitants thereof consulting on proper Methods to acknowledge his Merit. I speak it to my Shame, I my self was a Queen from the Fourteenth to the Eighteenth Year of my Age, and govern’d the World all the Time of my being govern’d by my Master. But this speculative Pride may be the Subject of another Letter: I shall at present confine my Thoughts to what we call Pride of Apparel. This Sort of Pride has been growing upon us ever since we parted with our Homespun Cloaths for Fourteen Penny Stuffs, &c.;

And the Pride of Apparel has begot and nourish’d in us a Pride of Heart, which portends the Ruin of Church and State. Pride goeth before Destruction, and a haughty Spirit before a Fall: And I remember my late Reverend Husband would often say upon this Text, That a Fall was the natural Consequence, as well as Punishmentof Pride. Daily Experience is sufficient to evince the Truth of this Observation. Persons of small Fortune under the Dominion of this Vice, seldom consider their Inability to maintain themselves in it, but strive to imitate their Superiors in Estate, or Equals in Folly, until one Misfortune comes upon the Neck of another, and every Step they take is a Step backwards. By striving to appear rich they become really poor, and deprive themselves of that Pity and Charity which is due to the humble poor Man, who is made so more immediately by Providence.

This Pride of Apparel will appear the more foolish, if we consider, that those airy Mortals, who have no other Way of making themselves considerable but by gorgeous Apparel, draw after them Crowds of Imitators, who hate each other while they endeavour after a Similitude of Manners. They destroy by Example, and envy one another’s Destruction.

I cannot dismiss this Subject without some Observations on a particular Fashion now reigning among my own Sex, the most immodest and inconvenient of any the Art of Woman has invented, namely, that of Hoop-Petticoats. By these they are incommoded in their General and Particular Calling, and therefore they cannot answer the Ends of either necessary or ornamental Apparel. These monstrous topsy-turvy Mortar-Pieces, are neither fit for the Church, the Hall, or the Kitchen; and if a Number of them were well mounted on Noddles-Island, they would look more like Engines of War for bombarding the Town, than Ornaments of the Fair Sex. An honest Neighbour of mine, happening to be in Town some time since on a publick Day, inform’d me, that he saw four Gentlewomen with their Hoops half mounted in a Balcony, as they withdrew to the Wall, to the great Terror of the Militia, who (he thinks) might attribute their irregular Volleys to the formidable Appearance of the Ladies Petticoats.

I assure you, Sir, I have but little Hopes of perswading my Sex, by this Letter, utterly to relinquish the extravagant Foolery, and Indication of Immodesty, in this monstrous Garb of their’s; but I would at least desire them to lessen the Circumference of their Hoops, and leave it with them to consider,Whether they, who pay no Rates or Taxes, ought to take up more Room in the King’s High-Way, than the Men, who yearly contribute to the Support of the Government.

I am, Sir,
Your Humble Servant,
SILENCE DOGOOD.

The New-England Courant, June 11, 1722

Silence Dogood, No. 7

Get a FREE ebook of Family Prayers from Proverbs!

* indicates required
What's your primary interest in this subscription?

Give me the Muse, whose generous Force,
Impatient of the Reins,
Pursues an unattempted Course,
Breaks all the Criticks Iron Chains.

Watts.

To the author of the New England Courant.

SIR,

It has been the Complaint of many Ingenious Foreigners, who have travell’d amongst us,That good Poetry is not to be expected in New-England. I am apt to Fancy, the Reason is, not because our Countreymen are altogether void of a Poetical Genius, nor yet because we have not those Advantages of Education which other Countries have, but purely because we do not afford that Praise and Encouragement which is merited, when any thing extraordinary of this Kind is produc’d among us: Upon which Consideration I have determined, when I meet with a Good Piece of New-EnglandPoetry, to give it a suitable Encomium, and thereby endeavour to discover to the World some of its Beautys, in order to encourage the Author to go on, and bless the World with more, and more Excellent Productions.

There has lately appear’d among us a most Excellent Piece of Poetry, entituled, An Elegy upon the much Lamented Death of Mrs. Mehitebell Kitel, Wife of Mr. John Kitel of Salem, &c. It may justly be said in its Praise, without Flattery to the Author, that it is the most Extraordinary Piece that ever was wrote in New-England. The Language is so soft and Easy, theExpression so moving and pathetick, but above all, the Verse and Numbers so Charming and Natural, that it is almost beyond Comparison,

The Muse disdains
Those Links and Chains,
Measures and Rules of vulgar Strains,
And o’er the Laws of Harmony a Sovereign Queen she reigns.

I find no English Author, Ancient or Modern, whose Elegies may be compar’d with this, in respect to the Elegance of Stile, or Smoothness of Rhime; and for the affecting Part, I will leave your Readers to judge, if ever they read any Lines, that would sooner make them draw their Breath and Sigh, if not shed Tears, than these following.

Come let us mourn, for we have lost a Wife, a Daughter,
and a Sister,
Who has lately taken Flight, and greatly we have mist her.

In another Place,

Some little Time before she yielded up her Breath,
She said, I ne’er shall hear one Sermon more on Earth.
She kist her Husband
 some little Time before she expir’d,
Then lean’d her Head the Pillow on, just out of Breath and tir’d.

But the Threefold Appellation in the first Line

—— a Wife, a Daughter, and a Sister,

must not pass unobserved. That Line in the celebrated Watts,

GUNSTON the Just, the Generous, and the Young,

is nothing Comparable to it. The latter only mentions three Qualifications of one Person who was deceased, which therefore could raise Grief and Compassion but for One.Whereas the former, (our most excellent Poet) gives his Reader a Sort of an Idea of the Death of Three Persons, viz.

—— a Wife, a Daughter, and a Sister,

which is Three Times as great a Loss as the Death of One, and consequently must raiseThree Times as much Grief and Compassion in the Reader.

I should be very much straitned for Room, if I should attempt to discover even half the Excellencies of this Elegy which are obvious to me. Yet I cannot omit one Observation, which is, that the Author has (to his Honour) invented a new Species of Poetry, which wants a Name, and was never before known. His Muse scorns to be confin’d to the old Measures and Limits, or to observe the dull Rules of Criticks;

Nor Rapin gives her Rules to fly, nor Purcell Notes to Sing.
Watts.

Now ’tis Pity that such an Excellent Piece should not be dignify’d with a particular Name; and seeing it cannot justly be called, either EpicSapphicLyric, or Pindaric, nor any other Name yet invented, I presume it may, (in Honour and Remembrance of the Dead) be called the KITELIC. Thus much in the Praise of Kitelic Poetry.

It is certain, that those Elegies which are of our own Growth, (and our Soil seldom produces any other sort of Poetry) are by far the greatest part, wretchedly Dull and Ridiculous. Now since it is imagin’d by many, that our Poets are honest, well-meaning Fellows, who do their best, and that if they had but some Instructions how to govern Fancy with Judgment, they would make indifferent good Elegies; I shall here subjoin a Receipt for that purpose, which was left me as a Legacy, (among other valuable Rarities) by my Reverend Husband. It is as follows,

A RECEIPT to make a New-England Funeral ELEGY.

For the Title of your Elegy. Of these you may have enough ready made to your Hands; but if you should chuse to make it your self, you must be sure not to omit the Words Aetatis Suae, which will Beautify it exceedingly.

For the Subject of your Elegy. Take one of your Neighbours who has lately departed this Life; it is no great matter at what Age the Party dy’d, but it will be best if he went away suddenly, being Kill’d, Drown’d, or Froze to Death.

Having chose the Person, take all his Virtues, Excellencies, &c. and if he have not enough, you may borrow some to make up a sufficient Quantity: To these add his last Words, dying Expressions, &c. if they are to be had; mix all these together, and be sure you strain them well. Then season all with a Handful or two of Melancholly Expressions, such as, Dreadful, Deadly, cruel cold Death, unhappy Fate, weeping Eyes, &c. Have mixed all these Ingredients well, put them into the empty Scull of someyoung Harvard; (but in Case you have ne’er a One at Hand, you may use your own,) there let them Ferment for the Space of a Fortnight, and by that Time they will be incorporated into a Body, which take out, and having prepared a sufficient Quantity of double Rhimes, such as, Power, Flower; Quiver, Shiver; Grieve us, Leave us; tell you, excel you; Expeditions, Physicians; Fatigue him, Intrigue him; &c. you must spread all upon Paper, and if you can procure a Scrap of Latin to put at the End, it will garnish it mightily; then having affixed your Name at the Bottom, with a Maestus Composuit, you will have an Excellent Elegy.

N. B. This Receipt will serve when a Female is the Subject of your Elegy, provided you borrow a greater Quantity of Virtues, Excellencies, &c.

SIR,
Your Servant,
SILENCE DOGOOD.

P. S. I shall make no other Answer to Hypercarpus‘s Criticism on my last Letter than this, Mater me genuit, peperit mox filia matrem.

The following Lines coming to Hand soon after I had receiv’d the above Letter from Mrs. Dogood, I think it proper to insert them in this Paper, that the Dr. may at once be paid for his Physical Rhimes administred to the Dead.

To the Sage and Immortal Doctor H —— k, on his Incomparable ELEGY, upon the Death of Mrs. Mehitebell Kitel, &c.

A PANEGYRICK.

Thou hast, great Bard, in thy Mysterious Ode,
Gone in a Path which ne’er before was trod,
And freed the World from the vexatious Toil,
Of Numbers, Metaphors, of Wit and Stile,
Those Childish Ornaments, and gravely chose
The middle Way between good Verse and Prose.
Well might the Rhiming Tribe the Work decline,
Since ’twas too great for every Pen but thine.
What Scribbling Mortal dare the Bayes divide?
Thou shalt alone in Fame’s bright Chariot ride;
For thou with matchless Skill and Judgment fraught,
Hast, Learned Doggrell, to Perfection brought.
The Loftyest Piece renowned LAW can show,
Deserves less Wonder, than to thine we owe.
No more shall TOM’s, but henceforth thine shall be,
The Standard of Eleg’ac Poetry.
The healing Race thy Genius shall admire,
And thee to imitate in vain aspire:
For if by Chance a Patient you should kill,
You can Embalm his Mem’ry with your Quill.
What tho’ some captious Criticks discommend
What they with all their Wit, can’t comprehend,
And boldly doom to some Ignoble Use,
The Shining Product of thy Fertile Muse?
From your exhaustless Magazine of Sence
To their Confusion keen Replies dispence;
And them behold with a Contemptuous Mien,
Since not a Bard can boast of such a Strain.
By none but you cou’d Kitel‘s Worth be shown;
And none but your great Self can tell your Own;
Then least what is your due should not be said,
Write your own Elegy against you’re Dead.
PHILOMUSUS.

The New-England Courant, June 25, 1722

Silence Dogood, No. 8

Get a FREE ebook of Family Prayers from Proverbs!

* indicates required
What's your primary interest in this subscription?

To the author of the New England Courant.

SIR,

I prefer the following Abstract from the London Journal to any Thing of my own, and therefore shall present it to your Readers this week without any further Preface.

‘Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or controul the Right of another: And this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know.

‘This sacred Privilege is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a Man cannot call his Tongue his own, he can scarce call any Thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation, must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech; a Thingterrible to Publick Traytors.

‘This Secret was so well known to the Court of King Charles the First, that his wicked Ministry procured a Proclamation, to forbid the People to talk of Parliaments, which those Traytors had laid aside. To assert the undoubted Right of the Subject, and defend his Majesty’s legal Prerogative, was called Disaffection, and punished as Sedition. Nay, People were forbid to talk of Religion in their Families: For the Priests had combined with the Ministers to cook up Tyranny, and suppress Truth and the Law, while the late King James, when Duke of York, went avowedly to Mass, Men were fined, imprisoned and undone, for saying he was a Papist: And that King Charles the Second might live more securely a Papist, there was an Act of Parliament made, declaring it Treason to say that he was one.

‘That Men ought to speak well of their Governours is true, while their Governours deserve to be well spoken of; but to do publick Mischief, without hearing of it, is only the Prerogative and Felicity of Tyranny: A free People will be shewing that they are so, by their Freedom of Speech.

‘The Administration of Government, is nothing else but the Attendance of the Trustees of the People upon the Interest and Affairs of the People: And as it is the Part and Business of the People, for whose Sake alone all publick Matters are, or ought to be transacted, to see whether they be well or ill transacted; so it is the Interest, and ought to be the Ambition, of all honest Magistrates, to have their Deeds openly examined, and publickly scann’d: Only the wicked Governours of Men dread what is said of them;Audivit Tiberius probra queis lacerabitur, atque perculsus est. The publick Censure was true, else he had not felt it bitter.

‘Freedom of Speech is ever the Symptom, as well as the Effect of a good Government. In old Rome, all was left to the Judgment and Pleasure of the People, who examined the publick Proceedings with such Discretion, & censured those who administred them with such Equity and Mildness, that in the space of Three Hundred Years, not five publick Ministers suffered unjustly. Indeed whenever the Commons proceeded to Violence, the great Ones had been the Agressors.

GUILT only dreads Liberty of Speech, which drags it out of its lurking Holes, and exposes its Deformity and Horrour to Day-light. Horatius,ValeriusCincinnatus, and other vertuous and undesigning Magistrates of the Roman Commonwealth, had nothing to fear from Liberty of Speech.Their virtuous Administration, the more it was examin’d, the more it brightned and gain’d by Enquiry. When Valerius in particular, was accused upon some slight grounds of affecting the Diadem; he, who was the first Minister of Rome, does not accuse the People for examining his Conduct, but approved his Innocence in a Speech to them; and gave such Satisfaction to them, and gained such Popularity to himself, that they gave him a new Name; inde cognomen factum Publicolae est; to denote that he was their Favourite and their Friend — Latae deinde leges — Ante omnes de provocatione ADVERSUS MAGISTRATUS AD POPULUM, Livii, lib. 2. Cap. 8.

‘But Things afterwards took another Turn. Rome, with the Loss of its Liberty, lost also its Freedom of Speech; then Mens Words began to be feared and watched; and then first began the poysonous Race of Informers, banished indeed under the righteous Administration of Titus,NarvaTrajanAurelius, &c. but encouraged and enriched under the vile Ministry of SejanusTigillinusPallas, and CleanderQueri libet, quod in secreta nostra non inquirant principes, nisi quos Odimus, says Plinyto Trajan.

‘The best Princes have ever encouraged and promoted Freedom of Speech; they know that upright Measures would defend themselves, and that all upright Men would defend them. Tacitus, speaking of the Reign of some of the Princes above-mention’d, says with Extasy, Rara Temporum felicitate, ubi sentire quae velis, & quae sentias dicere licet: A blessed Time when you might think what you would, and speak what you thought.

‘I doubt not but old Spencer and his Son, who were the Chief Ministersand Betrayers of Edward the Second, would have been very glad to have stopped the Mouths of all the honest Men in England. They dreaded to be called Traytors, because they were Traytors. And I dare say, QueenElizabeth’s Walsingham, who deserved no Reproaches, feared none. Misrepresentation of publick Measures is easily overthrown, by representing publick Measures truly; when they are honest, they ought to be publickly known, that they may be publickly commended; but if they are knavish or pernicious, they ought to be publickly exposed, in order to be publickly detested.’

Yours, &c.,
SILENCE DOGOOD.

The New-England Courant, July 9, 1722

Silence Dogood, No. 9

Get a FREE ebook of Family Prayers from Proverbs!

* indicates required
What's your primary interest in this subscription?

Corruptio optimi est pessima.

To the author of the New England Courant.

SIR,

It has been for some Time a Question with me, Whether a Common-wealth suffers more by hypocritical Pretenders to Religion, or by the openly Profane? But some late Thoughts of this Nature, have inclined me to think, that the Hypocrite is the most dangerous Person of the Two, especially if he sustains a Post in the Government, and we consider his Conduct as it regards the Publick. The first Artifice of a State Hypocrite is, by a few savoury Expressions which cost him Nothing, to betray the best Men in his Country into an Opinion of his Goodness; and if the Country wherein he lives is noted for the Purity of Religion, he the more easily gains his End, and consequently may more justly be expos’d and detested. A notoriously profane Person in a private Capacity, ruins himself, and perhaps forwards the Destruction of a few of his Equals; but a publick Hypocrite every day deceives his betters, and makes them the Ignorant Trumpeters of his supposed Godliness: They take him for a Saint, and pass him for one, without considering that they are (as it were) the Instruments of publick Mischief out of Conscince, and ruin their Country for God’s sake.

This Political Description of a Hypocrite, may (for ought I know) be taken for a new Doctrine by some of your Readers; but let them consider, that a little Religion, and a little Honesty, goes a great way in Courts. ‘Tis not inconsistent with Charity to distrust a Religious Man in Power, tho’ he may be a good Man; he has many Temptations “to propagate publick Destruction for Personal Advantages and Security:” And if his Natural Temper be covetous, and his Actions often contradict his pious Discourse, we may with great Reason conclude, that he has some other Design in his Religion besides barely getting to Heaven. But the most dangerous Hypocrite in a Common-Wealth, is one who leaves the Gospel for the sake of the Law: A Man compounded of Law and Gospel, is able to cheat a whole Country with his Religion, and then destroy them under Colour of Law: And here the Clergy are in great Danger of being deceiv’d, and the People of being deceiv’d by the Clergy, until the Monster arrives to such Power and Wealth, that he is out of the reach of both, and can oppress the People without their own blind Assistance. And it is a sad Observation, that when the People too late see their Error, yet the Clergy still persist in their Encomiums on the Hypocrite; and when he happens to die for the Good of his Country, without leaving behind him the Memory of one good Action, he shall be sure to have his Funeral Sermon stuff’d with Pious Expressions which he dropt at such a Time, and at such a Place, and on such an Occasion; than which nothing can be more prejudicial to the Interest of Religion, nor indeed to the Memory of the Person deceas’d. The Reason of this Blindness in the Clergy is, because they are honourably supported (as they ought to be) by their People, and see nor feel nothing of the Oppression which is obvious and burdensome to every one else.

But this Subject raises in me an Indignation not to be born; and if we have had, or are like to have any Instances of this Nature in New England, we cannot better manifest our Love to Religion and the Country, than by setting the Deceivers in a true Light, and undeceiving the Deceived, however such Discoveries may be represented by the ignorant or designing Enemies of our Peace and Safety.

I shall conclude with a Paragraph or two from an ingenious Political Writer in theLondon Journal, the better to convince your Readers, that Publick Destruction may be easily carry’d on by hypocritical Pretenders to Religion.

“A raging Passion for immoderate Gain had made Men universally and intensely hard-hearted: They were every where devouring one another. And yet the Directors and their Accomplices, who were the acting Instruments of all this outrageous Madness and Mischief, set up for wonderful pious Persons, while they were defying Almighty God, and plundering Men; and they set apart a Fund of Subscriptions for charitable Uses; that is, they mercilesly made a whole People Beggars, and charitably supported a few necessitous and worthless FAVOURITES. I doubt not, but if the Villany had gone on with Success, they would have had their Names handed down to Posterity with Encomiums; as the Names of otherpublick Robbers have been! We have Historians and ODE MAKERSnow living, very proper for such a Task. It is certain, that most People did, at one Time, believe the Directors to be great and worthy Persons. And an honest Country Clergyman told me last Summer, upon the Road, thatSir John was an excellent publick-spirited Person, for that he had beautified his Chancel.

” Upon the whole we must not judge of one another by their best Actions; since the worst Men do some Good, and all Men make fine Professions: But we must judge of Men by the whole of their Conduct, and the Effects of it. Thorough Honesty requires great and long Proof, since many a Man, long thought honest, has at length proved a Knave. And it is from judging without Proof, or false Proof, that Mankind continue Unhappy.”

I am, SIR,
Your humble Servant,
SILENCE DOGOOD.

The New-England Courant, July 23, 1722

Silence Dogood, No. 10

Get a FREE ebook of Family Prayers from Proverbs!

* indicates required
What's your primary interest in this subscription?

Optime societas hominum servabitur.
Cic.

To the author of the New England Courant.

SIR,

Discoursing lately with an intimate Friend of mine of the lamentable Condition of Widows, he put into my Hands a Book, wherein the ingenious Author proposes (I think) a certain Method for their Relief. I have often thought of some such Project for their Benefit my self, and intended to communicate my Thoughts to the Publick; but to prefer my own Proposals to what follows, would be rather an Argument of Vanity in me than Good Will to the many Hundreds of my Fellow-Sufferers now in New-England.

“We have (says he) abundance of Women, who have been Bred well, and Liv’d well, Ruin’d in a few Years, and perhaps, left Young, with a House full of Children, and nothing to Support them; which falls generally upon the Wives of the Inferior Clergy, or of Shopkeepers and Artificers.

“They marry Wives with perhaps 300 l. to 1000 l. Portion, and can settle no Jointure upon them; either they are Extravagant and Idle, and Waste it, or Trade decays, or Losses, or a Thousand Contingences happen to bring a Tradesman to Poverty, and he Breaks; the Poor Young Woman, it may be, has Three or Four Children, and is driven to a thousand shifts, while he lies in the Mint or Fryars under the Dilemma of a Statute of Bankrupt; but if he Dies, then she is absolutely Undone, unless she has Friends to go to.

“Suppose an Office to be Erected, to be call’d An Office of Ensurance for Widows, upon the following Conditions;

“Two thousand Women, or their Husbands for them, Enter their Names into a Register to be kept for that purpose, with the Names, Age, and Trade of their Husbands, with the Place of their abode, Paying at the Time of their Entring 5 s. down with 1 s. 4 d. per Quarter, which is to the setting up and support of an Office with Clerks, and all proper Officers for the same; for there is no maintaining such without Charge; they receive every one of them a Certificate, Seal’d by the Secretary of the Office, and Sign’d by the Governors, for the Articles hereafter mentioned.

“If any one of the Women becomes a Widow, at any Time after Six Months from the Date of her Subscription, upon due Notice given, and Claim made at the Office in form, as shall be directed, she shall receive within Six Months after such Claim made, the Sum of 500 l. in Money, without any Deductions, saving some small Fees to the Officers, which the Trustees must settle, that they may be known.

“In Consideration of this, every Woman so Subscribing, Obliges her self to Pay as often as any Member of the Society becomes a Widow, the due Proportion or Share allotted to her to Pay, towards the 500 l. for the said Widow, provided her Share does not exceed the Sum of 5 s.

“No Seamen or Soldiers Wives to be accepted into such a Proposal as this, on the Account before mention’d, because the Contingences of their Lives are not equal to others, unless they will admit this general Exception, supposing they do not Die out of the Kingdom.

“It might also be an Exception, That if the Widow, that Claim’d, had really, bona fide, left her by her Husband to her own use, clear of all Debts and Legacies, 2000 l. she shou’d have no Claim; the Intent being to Aid the Poor, not add to the Rich. But there lies a great many Objections against such an Article: As

“1. It may tempt some to forswear themselves.

“2. People will Order their Wills so as to defraud the Exception.

“One Exception must be made; and that is, Either very unequal Matches, as when a Woman of Nineteen Marries an old Man of Seventy; or Women who have infirm Husbands, I mean known and publickly so. To remedy which, Two things are to be done.

“1.The Office must have moving Officers without doors, who shall inform themselves of such matters, and if any such Circumstances appear, the Office should have 14 days time to return their Money, and declare their Subscriptions Void.

“2. No Woman whose Husband had any visible Distemper, should claim under a Year after her Subscription.

“One grand Objection against this Proposal, is, How you will oblige People to pay either their Subscription, or their Quarteridge.

“To this I answer, By no Compulsion (tho’ that might be perform’d too) but altogether voluntary; only with this Argument to move it, that if they do not continue their Payments, they lose the Benefit of their past Contributions.

“I know it lies as a fair Objection against such a Project as this, That the number of Claims are so uncertain, That no Body knows what they engage in, when they Subscribe, for so many may die Annually out of Two Thousand, as may perhaps make my Payment 20 or 25 l. per Ann, and if a Woman happen to Pay that for Twenty Years, though she receives the 500 l. at last she is a great Loser; but if she dies before her Husband, she has lessened his Estate considerably, and brought a great Loss upon him.

First, I say to this, That I wou’d have such a Proposal as this be so fair and easy, that if any Person who had Subscrib’d found the Payments too high, and the Claims fall too often, it shou’d be at their Liberty at any Time, upon Notice given, to be released and stand Oblig’d no longer; and if so, Volenti non fit Injuria; every one knows best what their own Circumstances will bear.

“In the next Place, because Death is a Contingency, no Man can directly Calculate, and all that Subscribe must take the Hazard; yet that a Prejudice against this Notion may not be built on wrong Grounds, let’s examine a little the Probable hazard, and see how many shall die Annually out of 2000 Subscribers, accounting by the common proportion of Burials, to the number of the Living.

“Sir William Petty in his Political Arithmetick, by a very Ingenious Calculation, brings the Account of Burials in London, to be 1 in 40 Annually, and proves it by all the proper Rules of proportion’d Computation; and I’le take my Scheme from thence. If then One in Forty of all the People in England should Die, that supposes Fifty to Die every Year out of our Two Thousand Subscribers; and for a Woman to Contribute 5 s.to every one, would certainly be to agree to Pay 12 l. 10 s. per Ann. upon her Husband’s Life, to receive 500 l. when he Di’d, and lose it if she Di’d first; and yet this wou’d not be a hazard beyond reason too great for the Gain.

“But I shall offer some Reasons to prove this to be impossible in our Case; First, SirWilliam Petty allows the City of London to contain about a Million of People, and our Yearly Bill of Mortality never yet amounted to 25000 in the most Sickly Years we have had, Plague Years excepted, sometimes but to 20000, which is but One in Fifty: Now it is to be consider’d here, that Children and Ancient People make up, one time with another, at least one third of our Bills of Mortality; and our Assurances lies upon none but the Midling Age of the People, which is the only age wherein Life is any thing steady; and if that be allow’d, there cannot Die by his Computation, above One in Eighty of such People, every Year; but because I would be sure to leave Room for Casualty, I’le allow one in Fifty shall Die out of our Number Subscrib’d.

“Secondly, It must be allow’d, that our Payments falling due only on the Death of Husbands, this One in Fifty must not be reckoned upon the Two thousand; for ’tis to be suppos’d at least as many Women shall die as Men, and then there is nothing to Pay; so that One in Fifty upon One Thousand, is the most that I can suppose shall claim the Contribution in a Year, which is Twenty Claims a Year at 5 s. each, and is 5 l. per Ann. and if a Woman pays this for Twenty Year, and claims at last, she is Gainer enough, and no extraordinary Loser if she never claims at all: And I verily believe any Office might undertake to demand at all Adventures not above 6 l. per Ann. and secure the Subscriber 500 l. in case she come to claim as a Widow.”

I would leave this to the Consideration of all who are concern’d for their own or their Neighbour’s Temporal Happiness; and I am humbly of Opinion, that the Country is ripe for many such Friendly Societies, whereby every Man might help another, without any Disservice to himself. We have many charitable Gentlemen who Yearly give liberally to the Poor, and where can they better bestow their Charity than on those who become so by Providence, and for ought they know on themselves. But above all, the Clergy have the most need of coming into some such Project as this. They as well as poor Men (according to the Proverb) generally abound in Children; and how many Clergymen in the Country are forc’d to labour in their Fields, to keep themselves in a Condition above Want? How then shall they be able to leave any thing to their forsaken, dejected, & almost forgotten Wives and Children. For my own Part, I have nothing left to live on, but Contentment and a few Cows; and tho’ I cannot expect to be reliev’d by this Project, yet it would be no small Satisfaction to me to see it put in Practice for the Benefit of others.

I am, SIR, &c.
SILENCE DOGOOD.

The New-England Courant, August 13, 1722