No. 336. Wednesday, March 26, 1712. Steele.

--Clament periisse pudorem Cuncti penè patres, ea cum reprehendere coner, Quæ gravis Æsopus, quæ doctus Roscius egit: Vel quia nil rectum, nisi quod placuit sibi, ducunt; Vel quia turpe putant parere minoribus, et, quæ Imberbes didicere, senes perdenda fateri.


As you are the daily Endeavourer to promote Learning and good Sense, I think myself obliged to suggest to your Consideration whatever may promote or prejudice them.. There is an Evil which has prevailed from Generation to Generation, which grey Hairs and tyrannical Custom continue to support; I hope your Spectatorial Authority will give a seasonable Check to the Spread of the Infection; I mean old Mens overbearing the strongest Sense of their Juniors by the mere Force of Seniority; so that for a young Man in the Bloom of Life and Vigour of Age to give a reasonable Contradiction to his Elders, is esteemed an unpardonable Insolence, and regarded as a reversing the Decrees of Nature. I am a young Man, I confess, yet I honour the grey Head as much as any one; however, when in Company with old Men, I hear them speak obscurely, or reason preposterously (into which Absurdities, Prejudice, Pride, or Interest, will sometimes throw the wisest) I count it no Crime to rectifie their Reasoning, unless Conscience must truckle to Ceremony, and Truth fall a Sacrifice to Complaisance. The strongest Arguments are enervated, and the brightest Evidence disappears, before those tremendous Reasonings and dazling Discoveries of venerable old Age: You are young giddy-headed Fellows, you have not yet had Experience of the World. Thus we young Folks find our Ambition cramp'd, and our Laziness indulged, since, while young, we have little room to display our selves; and, when old, the Weakness of Nature must pass for Strength of Sense, and we hope that hoary Heads will raise us above the Attacks of Contradiction. Now, Sir, as you would enliven our Activity in the pursuit of Learning, take our Case into Consideration; and, with a Gloss on brave Elihus Sentiments, assert the Rights of Youth, and prevent the pernicious Incroachments of Age. The generous Reasonings of that gallant Youth would adorn your Paper; and I beg you would insert them, not doubting but that they will give good Entertainment to the most intelligent of your Readers.

So these three Men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous
in his own Eyes. Then was kindled the Wrath of Elihu the Son of
Barachel the Buzite, of the Kindred of Ram: Against Job was his
Wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also
against his three Friends was his Wrath kindled, because they had
found no Answer, and yet had condemned Job. Now Elihu had waited
till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he. When Elihu saw
there was no Answer in the Mouth of these three Men, then his Wrath
was kindled. And Elihu the Son of Barachel the Buzite answered and
said, I am young, and ye are very old, wherefore I was afraid, and
durst not shew you mine Opinion. I said, Days should speak, and
Multitude of Years should teach Wisdom. But there is a Spirit in
Man; and the Inspiration of the Almighty giveth them Understanding.
Great Men are not always wise: Neither do the Aged understand
Judgment. Therefore I said, hearken to me, I also will shew mine
Opinion. Behold, I waited for your Words; I gave ear to your
Reasons, whilst you searched out what to say. Yea, I attended unto
you: And behold there was none of you that convinced Job, or that
answered his Words; lest ye should say, we have found out Wisdom:
God thrusteth him down, not Man. Now he hath not directed his Words
against me: Neither will I answer him with your Speeches. They were
amazed, they answered no more: They left off speaking. When I had
waited (for they spake not, but stood still and answered no more) I
said, I will answer also my Part, I also will shew mine Opinion. For
I am full of Matter, the Spirit within me constraineth me. Behold my
Belly is as Wine which hath no vent, it is ready to burst like new
Bottles. I will speak that I may be refreshed: I will open my Lips,
and answer. Let me not, I pray you, accept any Man's Person, neither
let me give flattering Titles unto Man. For I know not to give
flattering Titles; in so doing my Maker would soon take me away. [1]


I have formerly read with great Satisfaction your Papers about Idols, and the Behaviour of Gentlemen in those Coffee-houses where Women officiate, and impatiently waited to see you take India and China Shops into Consideration: But since you have pass'd us over in silence, either that you have not as yet thought us worth your Notice, or that the Grievances we lie under have escaped your discerning Eye, I must make my Complaints to you, and am encouraged to do it because you seem a little at leisure at this present Writing. I am, dear Sir, one of the top China-Women about Town; and though I say it, keep as good Things, and receive as fine Company as any o this End of the Town, let the other be who she will: In short, I am in a fair Way to be easy, were it not for a Club of Female Rakes, who under pretence of taking their innocent Rambles, forsooth, and diverting the Spleen, seldom fail to plague me twice or thrice a-day to cheapen Tea, or buy a Skreen; What else should they mean? as they often repeat it. These Rakes are your idle Ladies of Fashion, who having nothing to do, employ themselves in tumbling over my Ware. One of these No-Customers (for by the way they seldom or never buy any thing) calls for a Set of Tea-Dishes, another for a Bason, a third for my best Green-Tea, and even to the Punch Bowl, there's scarce a piece in my Shop but must be displaced, and the whole agreeable Architecture disordered; so that I can compare em to nothing but to the Night-Goblins that take a Pleasure to over-turn the Disposition of Plates and Dishes in the Kitchens of your housewifely Maids. Well, after all this Racket and Clutter, this is too dear, that is their Aversion; another thing is charming, but not wanted: The Ladies are cured of the Spleen, but I am not a Shilling the better for it. Lord! what signifies one poor Pot of Tea, considering the Trouble they put me to? Vapours, Mr. SPECTATOR, are terrible Things; for though I am not possess'd by them my self, I suffer more from em than if I were. Now I must beg you to admonish all such Day-Goblins to make fewer Visits, or to be less troublesome when they come to ones Shop; and to convince em, that we honest Shop-keepers have something better to do, than to cure Folks of the Vapours gratis. A young Son of mine, a School-Boy, is my Secretary, so I hope you'll make Allowances. I am, SIR, Your constant Reader, and very humble Servant, Rebecca the Distress'd.

March the 22nd.


[Footnote 1: Job, ch. xii.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. 2 Ep. i. 80. _Imitated._
'One tragic sentence if I dare deride,
Which Betterton's grave action dignified,
Or well-mouth'd Booth with emphasis proclaims
(Tho' but, perhaps, a muster-roll of names),
How will our fathers rise up in a rage,
And swear, all shame is lost in George's age!
You'd think no fools disgraced the former reign,
Did not some grave examples yet remain,
Who scorn a lad should teach his father skill,
And, having once been wrong, will be so still.'