No. 299. Tuesday, February 12, 1712. Addison.

Malo Venusinam, quam te, Cornelia, Mater Gracchorum, si cum magnis virtutibus affers Grande supercilium, et numeras in dote triumphos. Tolle tuum precor Annibalem victumque Syphacem In castris, et cum totâ Carthagine migra.

It is observed, that a Man improves more by reading the Story of a Person eminent for Prudence and Virtue, than by the finest Rules and Precepts of Morality. In the same manner a Representation of those Calamities and Misfortunes which a weak Man suffers from wrong Measures, and ill-concerted Schemes of Life, is apt to make a deeper Impression upon our Minds, than the wisest Maxims and Instructions that can be given us, for avoiding the like Follies and Indiscretions on our own private Conduct. It is for this Reason that I lay before my Reader the following Letter, and leave it with him to make his own use of it, without adding any Reflections of my own upon the Subject Matter.


Having carefully perused a Letter sent you by Josiah Fribble, Esq., with your subsequent Discourse upon Pin-Money, I do presume to trouble you with an Account of my own Case, which I look upon to be no less deplorable than that of Squire Fribble. I am a Person of no Extraction, having begun the World with a small parcel of Rusty Iron, and was for some Years commonly known by the Name of Jack Anvil. [1] I have naturally a very happy Genius for getting Money, insomuch that by the Age of Five and twenty I had scraped together Four thousand two hundred Pounds Five Shillings, and a few odd Pence. I then launched out into considerable Business, and became a bold Trader both by Sea and Land, which in a few Years raised me a very [great [2]] Fortune. For these my Good Services I was Knighted in the thirty fifth Year of my Age, and lived with great Dignity among my City-Neighbours by the Name of Sir John Anvil. Being in my Temper very Ambitious, I was now bent upon making a Family, and accordingly resolved that my Descendants should have a Dash of Good Blood in their Veins. In order to this, I made Love to the Lady Mary Oddly, an Indigent young Woman of Quality. To cut short the Marriage Treaty, I threw her a Charte Blanche, as our News Papers call it, desiring her to write upon it her own Terms. She was very concise in her Demands, insisting only that the Disposal of my Fortune, and the Regulation of my Family, should be entirely in her Hands. Her Father and Brothers appeared exceedingly averse to this Match, and would not see me for some time; but at present are so well reconciled, that they Dine with me almost every Day, and have borrowed considerable Sums of me; which my Lady Mary very often twits me with, when she would shew me how kind her Relations are to me. She had no Portion, as I told you before, but what she wanted in Fortune, she makes up in Spirit. She at first changed my Name to Sir John Envil, and at present writes her self Mary Enville. I have had some Children by her, whom she has Christened with the Sirnames of her Family, in order, as she tells me, to wear out the Homeliness of their Parentage by the Fathers Side. Our eldest Son is the Honourable Oddly Enville, Esq., and our eldest Daughter Harriot Enville. Upon her first coming into my Family, she turned off a parcel of very careful Servants, who had been long with me, and introduced in their stead a couple of Black-a-moors, and three or four very genteel Fellows in Laced Liveries, besides her French woman, who is perpetually making a Noise in the House in a Language which no body understands, except my Lady Mary. She next set her self to reform every Room of my House, having glazed all my Chimney-pieces with Looking-glass, and planted every Corner with such heaps of China, that I am obliged to move about my own House with the greatest Caution and Circumspection, for fear of hurting some of our Brittle Furniture. She makes an Illumination once a Week with Wax-Candles in one of the largest Rooms, in order, as she phrases it, to see Company. At which time she always desires me to be Abroad, or to confine my self to the Cock-loft, that I may not disgrace her among her Visitants of Quality. Her Footmen, as I told you before, are such Beaus that I do not much care for asking them Questions; when I do, they answer me with a sawcy Frown, and say that every thing, which I find Fault with, was done by my Lady Marys Order. She tells me that she intends they shall wear Swords with their next Liveries, having lately observed the Footmen of two or three Persons of Quality hanging behind the Coach with Swords by their Sides. As soon as the first Honey-Moon was over, I represented to her the Unreasonableness of those daily Innovations which she made in my Family, but she told me I was no longer to consider my self as Sir John Anvil, but as her Husband; and added, with a Frown, that I did not seem to know who she was. I was surprized to be treated thus, after such Familiarities as had passed between us. But she has since given me to know, that whatever Freedoms she may sometimes indulge me in, she expects in general to be treated with the Respect that is due to her Birth and Quality. Our Children have been trained up from their Infancy with so many Accounts of their Mothers Family, that they know the Stories of all the great Men and Women it has produced. Their Mother tells them, that such an one commanded in such a Sea Engagement, that their Great Grandfather had a Horse shot under him at Edge-hill, that their Uncle was at the Siege of Buda, and that her Mother danced in a Ball at Court with the Duke of Monmouth; with abundance of Fiddle-faddle of the same Nature. I was, the other Day, a little out of Countenance at a Question of my little Daughter Harriot, who asked me, with a great deal of Innocence, why I never told them of the Generals and Admirals that had been in my Family. As for my Eldest Son Oddly, he has been so spirited up by his Mother, that if he does not mend his Manners I shall go near to disinherit him. He drew his Sword upon me before he was nine years old, and told me, that he expected to be used like a Gentleman; upon my offering to correct him for his Insolence, my Lady Mary stept in between us, and told me, that I ought to consider there was some Difference between his Mother and mine. She is perpetually finding out the Features of her own Relations in every one of my Children, tho, by the way, I have a little Chubfaced Boy as like me as he can stare, if I durst say so; but what most angers me, when she sees me playing with any of them upon my Knee, she has begged me more than once to converse with the Children as little as possibly, that they may not learn any of my awkward Tricks.

You must farther know, since I am opening my Heart to you, that she thinks her self my Superior in Sense, as much as she is in Quality, and therefore treats me like a plain well-meaning Man, who does not know the World. She dictates to me in my own Business, sets me right in Point of Trade, and if I disagree with her about any of my Ships at Sea, wonders that I will dispute with her, when I know very well that her Great Grandfather was a Flag Officer.

To compleat my Sufferings, she has teazed me for this Quarter of [a [3]] Year last past, to remove into one of the Squares at the other End of the Town, promising for my Encouragement, that I shall have as good a Cock-loft as any Gentleman in the Square; to which the Honourable Oddly Enville, Esq., always adds, like a Jack-a-napes as he is, that he hopes twill be as near the Court as possible.

In short, Mr. SPECTATOR, I am so much out of my natural Element, that to recover my old Way of Life I would be content to begin the World again, and be plain Jack Anvil; but alas! I am in for Life, and am bound to subscribe my self, with great Sorrow of Heart,

Your humble Servant,

John Enville, Knt.


[Footnote 1: This has been said to refer to a Sir Ambrose Crowley, who changed his name to Crawley.]

[Footnote 2: [considerable] corrected by an erratum in No. 301.]

[Footnote 3: [an]]

Translation of motto:
JUV. Sat. vi. 166.
'Some country girl, scarce to a curtsey bred,
Would I much rather than Cornelia wed;
If supercilious, haughty, proud, and vain,
She brought her father's triumphs in her train.
Away with all your Carthaginian state;
Let vanquish'd Hannibal without-doors wait,
Too burly and too big to pass my narrow gate.'