No. 212. Friday, November 2, 1711. Steele.

--Eripe turpi Colla jugo, liber, liber dic, sum age--


I Never look upon my dear Wife, but I think of the Happiness Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY enjoys, in having such a Friend as you to expose in proper Colours the Cruelty and Perverseness of his Mistress. I have very often wished you visited in our Family, and were acquainted with my Spouse; she would afford you for some Months at least Matter enough for one Spectator a Week. Since we are not so happy as to be of your Acquaintance, give me leave to represent to you our present Circumstances as well as I can in Writing. You are to know then that I am not of a very different Constitution from Nathaniel Henroost, whom you have lately recorded in your Speculations; and have a Wife who makes a more tyrannical Use of the Knowledge of my easy Temper than that Lady ever pretended to. We had not been a Month married, when she found in me a certain Pain to give Offence, and an Indolence that made me bear little Inconveniences rather than dispute about them. From this Observation it soon came to that pass, that if I offered to go abroad, she would get between me and the Door, kiss me, and say she could not part with me; and then down again I sat. In a Day or two after this first pleasant Step towards confining me, she declared to me, that I was all the World to her, and she thought she ought to be all the World to me. If, she said, my Dear loves me as much as I love him, he will never be tired of my Company. This Declaration was followed by my being denied to all my Acquaintance; and it very soon came to that pass, that to give an Answer at the Door before my Face, the Servants would ask her whether I was within or not; and she would answer No with great Fondness, and tell me I was a good Dear. I will not enumerate more little Circumstances to give you a livelier Sense of my Condition; but tell you in general, that from such Steps as these at first, I now live the Life of a Prisoner of State; my Letters are opened, and I have not the Use of Pen, Ink and Paper, but in her Presence. I never go abroad, except she sometimes takes me with her in her Coach to take the Air, if it may be called so, when we drive, as we generally do, with the Glasses up. I have overheard my Servants lament my Condition, but they dare not bring me Messages without her Knowledge, because they doubt my Resolution to stand by em. In the midst of this insipid Way of Life, an old Acquaintance of mine, Tom Meggot, who is a Favourite with her, and allowed to visit me in her Company because he sings prettily, has roused me to rebel, and conveyed his Intelligence to me in the following Manner. My Wife is a great Pretender to Musick, and very ignorant of it; but far gone in the Italian Taste. Tom goes to Armstrong, the famous fine Writer of Musick, and desires him to put this Sentence of Tully [1] in the Scale of an Italian Air, and write it out for my Spouse from him. An ille mihi liber cui mulier imperat? Cui leges imponit, praescribit, jubet, vetat quod videtur? Qui nihil imperanti negare, nihil recusare audet? Poscit? dandum est. Vocat? veniendum. Ejicit? abeundum. Minitatur? extimiscendum. Does he live like a Gentleman who is commanded by a Woman? He to whom she gives Law, grants and denies what she pleases? who can neither deny her any thing she asks, or refuse to do any thing she commands?

To be short, my Wife was extremely pleased with it; said the Italian was the only Language for Musick; and admired how wonderfully tender the Sentiment was, and how pretty the Accent is of that Language, with the rest that is said by Rote on that Occasion. Mr. Meggot is sent for to sing this Air, which he performs with mighty Applause; and my Wife is in Ecstasy on the Occasion, and glad to find, by my being so much pleased, that I was at last come into the Notion of the Italian; for, said she, it grows upon one when one once comes to know a little of the Language; and pray, Mr. Meggot, sing again those Notes, Nihil Imperanti negare, nihil recusare. You may believe I was not a little delighted with my Friend Toms Expedient to alarm me, and in Obedience to his Summons I give all this Story thus at large; and I am resolved, when this appears in the Spectator, to declare for my self. The manner of the Insurrection I contrive by your Means, which shall be no other than that Tom Meggot, who is at our Tea-table every Morning, shall read it to us; and if my Dear can take the Hint, and say not one Word, but let this be the Beginning of a new Life without farther Explanation, it is very well; for as soon as the Spectator is read out, I shall, without more ado, call for the Coach, name the Hour when I shall be at home, if I come at all; if I do not, they may go to Dinner. If my Spouse only swells and says nothing, Tom and I go out together, and all is well, as I said before; but if she begins to command or expostulate, you shall in my next to you receive a full Account of her Resistance and Submission, for submit the dear thing must to,


Your most obedient humble Servant,

Anthony Freeman.

P. S. I hope I need not tell you that I desire this may be in your very next.


[Footnote 1: Paradox V. on the Thesis that All who are wise are Free, and the fools Slaves.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. 2 Sat. vii. 92.
'--Loose thy neck from this ignoble chain,
And boldly say thou'rt free.'