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No. 482. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12.
Floriferis ut apes in saltibus omnia libant.
Lucr. iii. 11.
As from the sweetest flow'rs the lab'ring bee
When I have published any single paper that falls in with the popular taste, and pleases more than ordinary, it always brings me in a great return of letters. My Tuesday's discourse, wherein I gave several admonitions to the fraternity of the Henpecked, has already produced me very many correspondents; the reason I cannot guess at, unless it be that such a discourse is of general use,
married man's money.
An honest tradesman, who dates his letter from Cheapside, sends me thanks in the name of a club, who, he tells me, meet as often as their wives will give them leave, and stay together till they are sent for home. He informs me, that my paper has administered great consolation to their whole club, and desires me to give some further account of Socrates, and to acquaint them in whose reign he lived, whether he was a citizen or a courtier, whether he buried Xantippe, with many other particulars: for that by his sayings he appears to have been a very wise man, and a good christian. Another, who writes himself Benjamin Bamboo, tells me, that being coupled with a shrew, he had endeavoured to tame her by such lawful means as those which I mentioned in my last Tuesday's paper, and that in his wrath he had often
further than Bracton allows in those cases; but that for the future he was resolved to bear it like a man of temper and learning, and consider her only as one who lives in his house to teach him philosophy. Tom Dapperwit says, that he agrees with me in that whole discourse, excepting only the last sentence, where I affirm the married state
'to be either a heaven or a hell. Tom has been at the charge of a penny upon this occasion, to tell me, that by his experience it is neither one nor the other, but rather that middle kind of state commonly known by the name of Purgatory.
The fair sex have likewise obliged me with their reflections upon the same discourse. A lady, who calls herself Euterpe, and seems a woman of letters, asks me whether I am for establishing the Salick law in every family, and why is it not fit that a woman who has discretion and learning should sit at the helm, when the husband is weak and illiterate? Another, of a quite contrary character, subscribes herself Xantippe, and tells me, that she follows the example of her name-sake; for being married to a bookish man, who has no knowledge of the world, she is forced to take their affairs into her own hands, and to spirit him
up now and then, that he may not grow musty, and unfit for conversation.
After this abridgment of some letters which are come to my hands upon this occasion, I shall publish one of them at large.
“ MR. SPECTATOR, “ You have given us a lively picture of that kind of husband, who comes under the denomination of the henpeck'd; but I do not remember that you have ever touched upon one that is of the quite different character, and who, in several places of England, goes by the name of a Cot-quean. I have the misfortune to be joined for life with one of this character, who in reality is more a woman than I am. He was bred up under the tuition of a tender mother, till she made him as good an housewife as herself. He could preserve apricots, and make jellies, before he had been two years out of the nursery. He was never suffered to go abroad, for fear of catching cold : when he should have been hunting down a buck, he was by his mother's side learning how to season it or put it in crust; and was making paper-boats with his sisters, at an age when other young gentlemen are crossing the seas, or travelling into foreign countries. He has the whitest hand that you ever saw in your life, and raises paste better than any woman in England. These qualifications make him a sad husband: he is perpetually in the kitchen, and has a thousand squabbles with the cook-maid. He is better acquainted with the milk-score, than his steward's accounts. I fret to death when I hear him find fault with a dish that is not dressed to his liking, and instructing his friends that dine with him in the best pickle for a walnut, or sauce for an haunch of venison. With all this, he is a very good-natured husband, and never fell out with me in his life but once, upon the over-roasting of a dish, of wild-fowl: at the same time I must own I would rather he was a man of a rough temper, that would treat me harshly sometimes, than of such an effeminate busy nature in a province that does not belong to him.
Since you have given us the character of a wife who wears the breeches, pray say something of a husband that wears the petticoat. Why should not a female character be as ridiculous in a man, as a male character in one of our sex?
“ I am," &c.
No. 483. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13.
Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus
HOR. Ars Poet. 191.
We cannot be guilty of a greater act of uncharitableness, than to interpret the afflictions which befal our neighbours, as punishments and judgments. It aggravates the evil to him who suffers, when he looks upon himself as the mark of divine vengeance, and abates the compassion of those towards him, who regard him in so dreadfal a light. This humour of turning every misfortune into a judgment, proceeds from wrong notions of religion, which, in its own nature, produces good-will towards men, and puts the mildest construction upon every accident that befals them. In this case, therefore, it is not religion that sours a man's temper, but it is his temper that sours his religion: people of gloomy unchearful imaginations, or of envious malignant tempers, whatever kind of life they are engaged in, will discover their natural tincture of mind in all their thoughts, words, and actions. As the finest wines have often the taste of the soil, so even the most religious thoughts often draw something that is particular from the constitution of the mind in which they arise.
When folly or superstition strike in with this natural depravity of temper, it is not in the power, even of religion itself, to preserve the character of the person who is possessed with it, from appearing highly absurd and ridiculous.
An old maiden gentlewoman, whom I shall conceal under the name of Nemesis, is the greatest discoverer of judgments that I have met with. She can tell you what sin it was that set such a man's house on fire, or blew down his barns. Talk to her of an unfortunate young lady that lost her beauty by the small.pox, she fetches a deep sigh, and tells you, that when she had a fine face she was always looking on it in her glass. Tell her of a piece of good fortune that has befallen one of her acquaintances; and she wishes it may prosper with her, but her mother used one of her nieces very barbarously. Her' usual remarks turn upon people who had great estates, but never enjoyed them, by reason of some flaw in their own, or their father's behaviour. She can give you the reason why such an one died childless : why such an one was cut off in the flower of his youth : why such an one was unhappy in her marriage: why one broke his leg on such a particular spot of ground; and why another was killed with a back-sword, rather than with any other kind of weapon.
She has a crime for every misfortune that can befal any of her acquaintance; and when she hears of a robbery that has been made," or a murder that has been committed, enlarges more on the guilt of the suffering person, than on that of the thief or the assassin. In short, she is so good a Christian, that whatever happens to herself is a trial, and whatever happens to her neighbours is a judgment.
The very description of this folly, in ordinary life, is sufficient to expose it: but when it appears in a pomp and dignity of style, it is very apt to amuse and terrify the mind of the reader. Herodotus and Plutarch very often apply their judgments as impertinently as the old woman I have before mentioned, though their manner of relating them makes the folly itself appear venerable. Indeed, most historians, as well Christian as Pagan, have fallen into this idle superstition, and spoken of ill success, unforeseen disasters, and terrible events, as if they had been let into the secrets of Providence, and made acquainted with that private conduct by which the world is governed. One would think several of our own historians, in particular, had many revelations of this kind made to them. Our old English monks seldom let any of their kivgs depart in peace, who had endeavoured to diminish the power or wealth of which the ecclesiastics were in those times possessed. William the Conqueror's race generally found their judgments in the New Forest, where their father had pulled down churches and monasteries. In short, read one of the chronicles written by an author of this frame of mind, and you would think you were reading a history of the kings of Israel or Judah, where
* A robbery that has been made. To make a robbery, is not good Eng. lish.-H.