No. 216. Wednesday, November 7, 1711. Steele.

Siquidem hercle possis, nil prius, neque fortius: Verum si incipies, neque perficies naviter, Atque ubi pati non poteris, cum nemo expetet, Infecta pace ultrò ad eam venies indicans Te amare, et ferre non posse: Actum est, ilicet, Perîsti: eludet ubi te victum senserit.



This is to inform you, that Mr. Freeman [1] had no sooner taken Coach, but his Lady was taken with a terrible Fit of the Vapours, which, 'tis feared will make her miscarry, if not endanger her Life; therefore, dear Sir, if you know of any Receipt that is good against this fashionable reigning Distemper, be pleased to communicate it for the Good of the Publick, and you will oblige




The Uproar was so great as soon as I had read the Spectator concerning Mrs. Freeman, that after many Revolutions in her Temper, of raging, swooning, railing, fainting, pitying herself, and reviling her Husband, upon an accidental coming in of a neighbouring Lady (who says she has writ to you also) she had nothing left for it but to fall in a Fit. I had the Honour to read the Paper to her, and have a pretty good Command of my Countenance and Temper on such Occasions; and soon found my historical Name to be Tom Meggot in your Writings, but concealed my self till I saw how it affected Mrs. Freeman. She looked frequently at her Husband, as often at me; and she did not tremble as she filled Tea, till she came to the Circumstance of Armstrong's writing out a Piece of Tully for an Opera Tune: Then she burst out, She was exposed, she was deceiv's, she was wronged and abused. The Tea-cup was thrown in the Fire; and without taking Vengeance on her Spouse, she said of me, That I was a pretending Coxcomb, a Medler that knew not what it was to interpose in so nice an Affair as between a Man and his Wife. To which Mr. Freeman; Madam, were I less fond of you than I am, I should not have taken this Way of writing to the SPECTATOR, to inform a Woman whom God and Nature has placed under my Direction with what I request of her; but since you are so indiscreet as not to take the Hint which I gave you in that Paper, I must tell you, Madam, in so many Words, that you have for a long and tedious Space of Time acted a Part unsuitable to the Sense you ought to have of the Subordination in which you are placed. And I must acquaint you once for all, that the Fellow without, ha Tom! (here the Footman entered and answered Madam) Sirrah don't you know my Voice; look upon me when I speak to you: I say, Madam, this Fellow here is to know of me my self, whether I am at Leisure to see Company or not. I am from this Hour Master of this House; and my Business in it, and every where else, is to behave my self in such a Manner, as it shall be hereafter an Honour to you to bear my Name; and your Pride, that you are the Delight, the Darling, and Ornament of a Man of Honour, useful and esteemed by his Friends; and I no longer one that has buried some Merit in the World, in Compliance to a froward Humour which has grown upon an agreeable Woman by his Indulgence. Mr. Freeman ended this with a Tenderness in his Aspect and a downcast Eye, which shewed he was extremely moved at the Anguish he saw her in; for she sat swelling with Passion, and her Eyes firmly fixed on the Fire; when I, fearing he would lose all again, took upon me to provoke her out of that amiable Sorrow she was in, to fall upon me; upon which I said very seasonably for my Friend, That indeed Mr. Freeman was become the common Talk of the Town; and that nothing was so much a Jest, as when it was said in Company Mr. Freeman had promised to come to such a Place. Upon which the good Lady turned her Softness into downright Rage, and threw the scalding Tea-Kettle upon your humble Servant; flew into the Middle of the Room, and cried out she was the unfortunatest of all Women: Others kept Family Dissatisfactions for Hours of Privacy and Retirement: No Apology was to be made to her, no Expedient to be found, no previous Manner of breaking what was amiss in her; but all the World was to be acquainted with her Errors, without the least Admonition. Mr. Freeman was going to make a softning Speech, but I interposed; Look you, Madam, I have nothing to say to this Matter, but you ought to consider you are now past a Chicken; this Humour, which was well enough in a Girl, is insufferable in one of your Motherly Character. With that she lost all Patience, and flew directly at her Husbands Periwig. I got her in my Arms, and defended my Friend: He making Signs at the same time that it was too much; I beckoning, nodding, and frowning over her Shoulder, that [he] was lost if he did not persist. In this manner [we] flew round and round the Room in a Moment, till the Lady I spoke of above and Servants entered; upon which she fell on a Couch as breathless. I still kept up my Friend; but he, with a very silly Air, bid them bring the Coach to the Door, and we went off, I forced to bid the Coachman drive on. We were no sooner come to my Lodgings, but all his Wife's Relations came to enquire after him; and Mrs. Freeman's Mother writ a Note, wherein she thought never to have seen this Day, and so forth.

In a word, Sir, I am afraid we are upon a thing we have no Talents for; and I can observe already, my Friend looks upon me rather as a Man that knows a Weakness of him that he is ashamed of, than one who has rescu'd him from Slavery. Mr. SPECTATOR, I am but a young Fellow, and if Mr. Freeman submits, I shall be looked upon as an Incendiary, and never get a Wife as long as I breathe. He has indeed sent Word home he shall lie at Hampstead to-night; but I believe Fear of the first Onset after this Rupture has too great a Place in this Resolution. Mrs. Freeman has a very pretty Sister; suppose I delivered him up, and articled with the Mother for her for bringing him home. If he has not Courage to stand it, (you are a great Casuist) is it such an ill thing to bring my self off, as well as I can? What makes me doubt my Man, is, that I find he thinks it reasonable to expostulate at least with her; and Capt. SENTREY will tell you, if you let your Orders be disputed, you are no longer a Commander. I wish you could advise me how to get clear of this Business handsomely.


Tom Meggot.


[Footnote 1: See No. 212]

[Footnote 2: we]

[Footnote 3: he]

Translation of motto:
TER. Eun. Act i. Sc. 1.
'Oh brave! oh excellent! if you maintain it!
But if you try, and can't go through with spirit,
And finding you can't bear it, uninvited,
Your peace unmade, all of your own accord,
You come and swear you love, and can't endure it,
Good night! all's over! ruin'd! and undone!
She'll jilt you, when she sees you in her power.'