No. 398. Friday, June 6, 1712. Steele.

Insanire pares certa ratione modoque.'

Cynthio and Flavia are Persons of Distinction in this Town, who have been Lovers these ten Months last past, and writ to each other for Gallantry Sake, under those feigned Names; Mr. Such a one and Mrs. Such a one not being capable of raising the Soul out of the ordinary Tracts and Passages of Life, up to that Elevation which makes the Life of the Enamoured so much superior to that of the rest of the World. But ever since the beauteous Cecilia has made such a Figure as she now does in the Circle of Charming Women, Cynthio has been secretly one of her Adorers. Lætitia has been the finest Woman in Town these three Months, and so long Cynthio has acted the Part of a Lover very awkwardly in the Presence of Flavia. Flavia has been too blind towards him, and has too sincere an Heart of her own to observe a thousand things which would have discovered this Change of Mind to any one less engaged than she was. Cynthio was musing Yesterday in the Piazza in Covent-Garden, and was saying to himself that he was a very ill Man to go on in visiting and professing Love to Flavia, when his Heart was enthralled to another. It is an Infirmity that I am not constant to Flavia; but it would be still a greater Crime, since I cannot continue to love her, to profess that I do. To marry a Woman with the Coldness that usually indeed comes on after Marriage, is ruining one's self with one's Eyes open; besides it is really doing her an Injury. This last Consideration, forsooth, of injuring her in persisting, made him resolve to break off upon the first favourable Opportunity of making her angry. When he was in this Thought, he saw Robin the Porter who waits at Will's Coffee-House, passing by. Robin, you must know, is the best Man in Town for carrying a Billet; the Fellow has a thin Body, swift Step, demure Looks, sufficient Sense, and knows the Town. This Man carried Cynthio's first Letter to Flavia, and by frequent Errands ever since, is well known to her. The Fellow covers his Knowledge of the Nature of his Messages with the most exquisite low Humour imaginable: The first he obliged Flavia to take, was, by complaining to her that he had a Wife and three Children, and if she did not take that Letter, which, he was sure, there was no Harm in, but rather Love, his Family must go supperless to Bed, for the Gentleman would pay him according as he did his Business. Robin therefore Cynthio now thought fit to make use of, and gave him Orders to wait before Flavia's Door, and if she called him to her, and asked whether it was Cynthio who passed by, he should at first be loth to own it was, but upon Importunity confess it. There needed not much Search into that Part of the Town to find a well-dressed Hussey fit for the Purpose Cynthio designed her. As soon as he believed Robin was posted, he drove by Flavia's Lodgings in an Hackney-Coach and a Woman in it. Robin was at the Door talking with Flavia's Maid, and Cynthio pulled up the Glass as surprized, and hid his Associate. The Report of this Circumstance soon flew up Stairs, and Robin could not deny but the Gentleman favoured his Master; yet if it was he, he was sure the Lady was but his Cousin whom he had seen ask for him; adding that he believed she was a poor Relation, because they made her wait one Morning till he was awake. Flavia immediately writ the following Epistle, which Robin brought to Wills

June 4, 1712.


It is in vain to deny it, basest, falsest of Mankind; my Maid, as well as the Bearer, saw you.

The injur'd Flavia.

After Cynthio had read the Letter, he asked Robin how she looked, and what she said at the Delivery of it. Robin said she spoke short to him, and called him back again, and had nothing to say to him, and bid him and all the Men in the World go out of her Sight; but the Maid followed, and bid him bring an Answer.

Cynthio returned as follows.

June 4, Three Afternoon, 1712.


That your Maid and the Bearer has seen me very often is very certain; but I desire to know, being engaged at Picket, what your Letter means by 'tis in vain to deny it. I shall stay here all the Evening.

Your amazed Cynthio.

As soon as Robin arrived with this, Flavia answered:

Dear Cynthio,

I have walked a Turn or two in my Anti-Chamber since I writ to you, and have recovered my self from an impertinent Fit which you ought to forgive me, and desire you would come to me immediately to laugh off a Jealousy that you and a Creature of the Town went by in an Hackney-Coach an Hour ago. I am Your most humble Servant,


I will not open the Letter which my Cynthio writ, upon the Misapprehension you must have been under when you writ, for want of hearing the whole Circumstance.

Robin came back in an Instant, and Cynthio answered:

Half Hour, six Minutes after Three,

June 4. Will's Coffee-house.

Madam, It is certain I went by your Lodgings with a Gentlewoman to whom I have the Honour to be known, she is indeed my Relation, and a pretty sort of Woman. But your starting Manner of Writing, and owning you have not done me the Honour so much as to open my Letter, has in it something very unaccountable, and alarms one that has had Thoughts of passing his Days with you. But I am born to admire you with all your little Imperfections.


Robin run back, and brought for Answer;

Exact Sir, that are at Will's Coffee-house six Minutes after Three, June 4; one that has had Thoughts and all my little Imperfections. Sir, come to me immediately, or I shall determine what may perhaps not be very pleasing to you. FLAVIA.

Robin gave an Account that she looked excessive angry when she gave him the Letter; and that he told her, for she asked, that Cynthio only looked at the Clock, taking Snuff, and writ two or three Words on the Top of the Letter when he gave him his.

Now the Plot thickened so well, as that Cynthio saw he had not much more to do to accomplish being irreconciliably banished, he writ,

Madam, I have that Prejudice in Favour of all you do, that it is not possible for you to determine upon what will not be very pleasing to Your Obedient Servant, CYNTHIO.

This was delivered, and the Answer returned, in a little more than two Seconds.

SIR, Is it come to this? You never loved me; and the Creature you were with is the properest Person for your Associate. I despise you, and hope I shall soon hate you as a Villain to The Credulous Flavia.

Robin ran back, with

Madam, Your Credulity when you are to gain your Point, and Suspicion when you fear to lose it make it a very hard Part to behave as becomes Your humble Slave, CYNTHIO.

Robin whipt away, and returned with,

Mr. Wellford, Flavia and Cynthio are no more. I relieve you from the hard Part of which you complain, and banish you from my Sight for ever. Ann Heart.

Robin had a Crown for his Afternoon's Work; and this is published to admonish Cecilia to avenge the Injury done to Flavia.


Translation of motto:
HOR. 2 Sat. iii. 271.
'You'd be a fool
With art and wisdom, and be mad by rule.'