No. 308. Friday, February 22, 1712. Steele.

Jam proterva Fronte petet Lalage maritum.
Hor.

Mr. SPECTATOR,

I give you this Trouble in order to propose my self to you as an Assistant in the weighty Cares which you have thought fit to undergo for the publick Good. I am a very great Lover of Women, that is to say honestly, and as it is natural to study what one likes, I have industriously applied my self to understand them. The present Circumstance relating to them, is, that I think there wants under you, as SPECTATOR, a Person to be distinguished and vested in the Power and Quality of a Censor on Marriages. I lodge at the Temple, and know, by seeing Women come hither, and afterwards observing them conducted by their Council to Judges Chambers, that there is a Custom in Case of making Conveyance of a Wife's Estate, that she is carried to a Judges Apartment and left alone with him, to be examined in private whether she has not been frightened or sweetned by her Spouse into the Act she is going to do, or whether it is of her own free Will. Now if this be a Method founded upon Reason and Equity, why should there not be also a proper Officer for examining such as are entring into the State of Matrimony, whether they are forced by Parents on one Side, or moved by Interest only on the other, to come together, and bring forth such awkward Heirs as are the Product of half Love and constrained Compliances? There is no Body, though I say it my self, would be fitter for this Office than I am: For I am an ugly Fellow of great Wit and Sagacity. My Father was an hail Country-Squire, my Mother a witty Beauty of no Fortune: The Match was made by Consent of my Mothers Parents against her own: and I am the Child of a Rape on the Wedding-Night; so that I am as healthy and as homely as my Father, but as sprightly and agreeable as my Mother. It would be of great Ease to you if you would use me under you, that Matches might be better regulated for the future, and we might have no more Children of Squabbles. I shall not reveal all my Pretensions till I receive your Answer; and am, Sir, Your most humble Servant, Mules Palfrey.

Mr. Spectator,

I am one of those unfortunate Men within the City-Walls, who am married to a Woman of Quality, but her Temper is something different from that of Lady Anvil. My Lady's whole Time and Thoughts are spent in keeping up to the Mode both in Apparel and Furniture. All the Goods in my House have been changed three times in seven Years. I have had seven Children by her; and by our Marriage Articles she was to have her Apartment new furnished as often as she lay in. Nothing in our House is useful but that which is fashionable; my Pewter holds out generally half a Year, my Plate a full Twelvemonth; Chairs are not fit to sit in that were made two Years since, nor Beds fit for any thing but to sleep in that have stood up above that Time. My Dear is of Opinion that an old-fashioned Grate consumes Coals, but gives no Heat: If she drinks out of Glasses of last Year, she cannot distinguish Wine from Small-Beer. Oh dear Sir you may guess all the rest. Yours.

P. S. I could bear even all this, if I were not obliged also to eat fashionably. I have a plain Stomach, and have a constant Loathing of whatever comes to my own Table; for which Reason I dine at the Chop-House three Days a Week: Where the good Company wonders they never see you of late. I am sure by your unprejudiced Discourses you love Broth better than Soup.

Wills, Feb. 19.

Mr. Spectator, You may believe you are a Person as much talked of as any Man in Town. I am one of your best Friends in this House, and have laid a Wager you are so candid a Man and so honest a Fellow, that you will print this Letter, tho it is in Recommendation of a new Paper called The Historian. [1] I have read it carefully, and find it written with Skill, good Sense, Modesty, and Fire. You must allow the Town is kinder to you than you deserve; and I doubt not but you have so much Sense of the World, Change of Humour, and instability of all humane Things, as to understand, that the only Way to preserve Favour, is to communicate it to others with Good-Nature and Judgment. You are so generally read, that what you speak of will be read. This with Men of Sense and Taste is all that is wanting to recommend The Historian. I am, Sir, Your daily Advocate, Reader Gentle.

I was very much surprised this Morning, that any one should find out my Lodging, and know it so well, as to come directly to my Closet-Door, and knock at it, to give me the following Letter. When I came out I opened it, and saw by a very strong Pair of Shoes and a warm Coat the Bearer had on, that he walked all the Way to bring it me, tho dated from York. My Misfortune is that I cannot talk, and I found the Messenger had so much of me, that he could think better than speak. He had, I observed, a polite Discerning hid under a shrewd Rusticity: He delivered the Paper with a Yorkshire Tone and a Town Leer.

Mr. Spectator, The Privilege you have indulged John Trot has proved of very bad Consequence to our illustrious Assembly, which, besides the many excellent Maxims it is founded upon, is remarkable for the extraordinary Decorum always observed in it. One Instance of which is that the Carders, (who are always of the first Quality) never begin to play till the French-Dances are finished, and the Country-Dances begin: But John Trot having now got your Commission in his Pocket, (which every one here has a profound Respect for) has the Assurance to set up for a Minuit-Dancer. Not only so, but he has brought down upon us the whole Body of the Trots, which are very numerous, with their Auxiliaries the Hobblers and the Skippers, by which Means the Time is so much wasted, that unless we break all Rules of Government, it must redound to the utter Subversion of the Brag-Table, the discreet Members of which value Time as Fribble's Wife does her Pin-Money. We are pretty well assured that your Indulgence to Trot was only in relation to Country-Dances; however we have deferred the issuing an Order of Council upon the Premisses, hoping to get you to join with us, that Trot, nor any of his Clan, presume for the future to dance any but Country-Dances, unless a Horn-Pipe upon a Festival-Day. If you will do this you will oblige a great many Ladies, and particularly Your most humble Servant, Eliz. Sweepstakes. York, Feb. 16.

I never meant any other than that Mr. Trott should confine himself to Country-Dances. And I further direct, that he shall take out none but his own Relations according to their Nearness of Blood, but any Gentlewoman may take out him.

London, Feb. 21.

The Spectator.

T.

[Footnote 1: Steele's papers had many imitations, as the Historian, here named; the Rhapsody, Observator, Moderator, Growler, Censor, Hermit, Surprize, Silent Monitor, Inquisitor, Pilgrim, Restorer, Instructor, Grumbler, &c. There was also in 1712 a Rambler, anticipating the name of Dr. Johnsons Rambler of 1750-2.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. Od. 5. lib. ii. ver. 15.
'--Lalage will soon proclaim
Her love, nor blush to own her flame.'
(Creech).