No. 278. Friday, January 18, 1712. Steele.

Sermones ego mallem Repentes per humum.


Your having done considerable Service in this great City, by rectifying the Disorders of Families, and several Wives having preferred your Advice and Directions to those of their Husbands, emboldens me to apply to you at this Time. I am a Shop-keeper, and tho but a young Man, I find by Experience that nothing but the utmost Diligence both of Husband and Wife (among trading People) can keep Affairs in any tolerable Order. My Wife at the Beginning of our Establishment shewed her self very assisting to me in my Business as much as could lie in her Way, and I have Reason to believe twas with her Inclination; but of late she has got acquainted with a Schoolman, who values himself for his great Knowledge in the Greek Tongue. He entertains her frequently in the Shop with Discourses of the Beauties and Excellencies of that Language; and repeats to her several Passages out of the Greek Poets, wherein he tells her there is unspeakable Harmony and agreeable Sounds that all other Languages are wholly unacquainted with. He has so infatuated her with his Jargon, that instead of using her former Diligence in the Shop, she now neglects the Affairs of the House, and is wholly taken up with her Tutor in learning by Heart Scraps of Greek, which she vents upon all Occasions. She told me some Days ago, that whereas I use some Latin Inscriptions in my Shop, she advised me with a great deal of Concern to have them changed into Greek; it being a Language less understood, would be more conformable to the Mystery of my Profession; that our good Friend would be assisting to us in this Work; and that a certain Faculty of Gentlemen would find themselves so much obliged to me, that they would infallibly make my Fortune: In short her frequent Importunities upon this and other Impertinences of the like Nature make me very uneasy; and if your Remonstrances have no more Effect upon her than mine, I am afraid I shall be obliged to ruin my self to procure her a Settlement at Oxford with her Tutor, for she's already too mad for Bedlam. Now, Sir, you see the Danger my Family is exposed to, and the Likelihood of my Wife's becoming both troublesome and useless, unless her reading her self in your Paper may make her reflect. She is so very learned that I cannot pretend by Word of Mouth to argue with her. She laughed out at your ending a Paper in Greek, and said twas a Hint to Women of Literature, and very civil not to translate it to expose them to the Vulgar. You see how it is with,

SIR, Your humble Servant.

Mr. SPECTATOR, If you have that Humanity and Compassion in your Nature that you take such Pains to make one think you have, you will not deny your Advice to a distressed Damsel, who intends to be determined by your Judgment in a Matter of great Importance to her. You must know then, There is an agreeable young Fellow, to whose Person, Wit, and Humour no body makes any Objection, that pretends to have been long in Love with me. To this I must add, (whether it proceeds from the Vanity of my Nature, or the seeming Sincerity of my Lover, I wont pretend to say) that I verily believe he has a real Value for me; which if true, you'll allow may justly augment his Merit for his Mistress. In short, I am so sensible of his good Qualities, and what I owe to his Passion, that I think I could sooner resolve to give up my Liberty to him than any body else, were there not an Objection to be made to his Fortunes, in regard they don't answer the utmost mine may expect, and are not sufficient to secure me from undergoing the reproachful Phrase so commonly used, That she has played the Fool. Now, tho I am one of those few who heartily despise Equipage, Diamonds, and a Coxcomb, yet since such opposite Notions from mine prevail in the World, even amongst the best, and such as are esteemed the most prudent People, I cant find in my Heart to resolve upon incurring the Censure of those wise Folks, which I am conscious I shall do, if when I enter into a married State, I discover a Thought beyond that of equalling, if not advancing my Fortunes. Under this Difficulty I now labour, not being in the least determined whether I shall be governed by the vain World, and the frequent Examples I meet with, or hearken to the Voice of my Lover, and the Motions I find in my Heart in favour of him. Sir, Your Opinion and Advice in this Affair, is the only thing I know can turn the Ballance; and which I earnestly intreat I may receive soon; for till I have your Thoughts upon it, I am engaged not to give my Swain a final Discharge.

Besides the particular Obligation you will lay on me, by giving this Subject Room in one of your Papers, tis possible it may be of use to some others of my Sex, who will be as grateful for the Favour as, SIR, Your Humble Servant, Florinda.

P. S. To tell you the Truth I am Married to Him already, but pray say something to justify me.

Mr. SPECTATOR, You will forgive Us Professors of Musick if We make a second Application to You, in order to promote our Design of exhibiting Entertainments of Musick in York-Buildings. It is industriously insinuated that Our Intention is to destroy Operas in General, but we beg of you to insert this plain Explanation of our selves in your Paper. Our Purpose is only to improve our Circumstances, by improving the Art which we profess. We see it utterly destroyed at present; and as we were the Persons who introduced Operas, we think it a groundless Imputation that we should set up against the Opera in it self. What we pretend to assert is, That the Songs of different Authors injudiciously put together, and a Foreign Tone and Manner which are expected in every thing now performed among us, has put Musick it self to a stand; insomuch that the Ears of the People cannot now be entertained with any thing but what has an impertinent Gayety, without any just Spirit, or a Languishment of Notes, without any Passion or common Sense. We hope those Persons of Sense and Quality who have done us the Honour to subscribe, will not be ashamed of their Patronage towards us, and not receive Impressions that patronising us is being for or against the Opera, but truly promoting their own Diversions in a more just and elegant Manner than has been hitherto performed. We are, SIR, Your most humble Servants, Thomas Clayton. Nicolino Haym. Charles Dieupart. [1]

There will be no Performances in York-buildings till after that of the Subscription.


[Footnote 1: See No. 258.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. 1 Ep. ii. 250.
'I rather choose a low and creeping style.'