No. 486. Wednesday, September 17, 1712. Steele.

--Audire est operæ pretium procedere recte Qui mechis non vultis--'


'There are very many of my Acquaintance Followers of Socrates, with more particular regard to that part of his Philosophy which we, among, our selves, call his Domesticks; under which Denomination, or Title, we include all the Conjugal Joys and Sufferings. We have indeed, with very great Pleasure, observed the Honour you do the whole Fraternity of the Hen-peck'd, in placing that illustrious Man at our Head, and it does in a very great measure baffle the Raillery of pert Rogues, who have no advantage above us, but in that they are single. But when you look about into the Crowd of Mankind, you will find the Fair Sex reigns with greater Tyranny over Lovers than Husbands. You shall hardly meet one in a thousand who is wholly exempt from their Dominion, and those that are so, are capable of no Taste of Life, and breathe and walk about the Earth as Insignificants. But I am going to desire your further Favour in behalf of our harmless Brotherhood, and hope you will shew in a true light the un-married Hen-peck'd, as well as you have done Justice to us, who submit to the Conduct of our Wives. I am very particularly acquainted with one who is under entire Submission to a kind Girl, as he calls her; and tho' he knows I have been Witness both to the ill Usage he has received from her, and his Inability to resist her Tyranny, he still pretends to make a Jest of me for a little more than ordinary Obsequiousness to my Spouse. No longer than Tuesday last he took me with him to visit his Mistress; and he having, it seems, been a little in Disgrace before, thought by bringing me with him she would constrain herself, and insensibly fall into general Discourse with him; and so he might break the Ice, and save himself all the ordinary Compunctions and Mortifications she used to make him suffer before she would be reconciled after any Act of Rebellion on his Part. When we came into the Room, we were received with the utmost Coldness; and when he presented me as Mr. Such-a-one, his very good Friend, she just had Patience to suffer my Salutation; but when he himself, with a very gay Air, offered to follow me, she gave him a thundering Box on the Ear, called him pitiful poor-spirited Wretch, how durst he see her Face? His Wig and Hat fell on different Parts of the Floor. She seized the Wig too soon for him to recover it, and kicking it down Stairs, threw herself into an opposite Room, pulling the Door after her with a Force, that you would have thought the Hinges would have given Way. We went down, you must think, with no very good Countenances; and as we sneaked off, and were driving home together, he confessed to me, that her Anger was thus highly raised, because he did not think fit to fight a Gentleman who had said she was what she was; but, says he, a kind Letter or two, or fifty pieces, will put her in Humour again. I asked him why he did not part with her; he answered, he loved her with all the Tenderness imaginable, and she had too many Charms to be abandoned for a little Quickness of Spirit. Thus does this illegitimate Hen-pecked over-look the Hussy's having no Regard to his very Life and Fame, in putting him upon an infamous Dispute about her Reputation; yet has he the Confidence to laugh at me, because I obey my poor Dear in keeping out of Harm's Way, and not staying too late from my own Family, to pass through the Hazards of a Town full of Ranters and Debauchees. You that are a Philosopher should urge in our behalf, that when we bear with a froward Woman, our Patience is preserved, in consideration that a breach with her might be a Dishonour to Children who are descended from us, and whose Concern makes us tolerate a thousand Frailties, for fear they should redound Dishonour upon the Innocent. This and the like Circumstances, which carry with them the most valuable Regards of human Life, may be mentioned for our long Suffering; but in the case of Gallants, they swallow ill Usage from one to whom they have no Obligation, but from a base Passion, which it is mean to indulge, and which it would be glorious to overcome.

'These Sort of Fellows are very numerous, and some have been conspicuously such, without Shame; nay they have carried on the Jest in the very Article of Death, and, to the Diminution of the Wealth and Happiness of their Families, in bar of those honourably near to them, have left immense Wealth to their Paramours. What is this but being a Cully in the Grave! Sure this is being Hen-peck'd with a Vengeance! But without dwelling upon these less frequent Instances of eminent Cullyism, what is there so common as to hear a Fellow curse his Fate that he cannot get rid of a Passion to a Jilt, and quote an Half-Line out of a Miscellany Poem to prove his Weakness is natural? If they will go on thus, I have nothing to say to it: But then let them not pretend to be free all this while, and laugh at us poor married Patients.

'I have known one Wench in this Town carry an haughty Dominion over her Lovers so well, that she has at the same time been kept by a Sea-Captain in the Straits, a Merchant in the City, a Country Gentleman in Hampshire, and had all her Correspondences managed by one she kept for her own Uses. This happy Man (as the Phrase is) used to write very punctually every Post, Letters for the Mistress to transcribe. He would sit in his Night-Gown and Slippers, and be as grave giving an Account, only changing Names, that there was nothing in those idle Reports they had heard of such a Scoundrel as one of the other Lovers was; and how could he think she could condescend so low, after such a fine Gentleman as each of them? For the same Epistle said the same thing to and of every one of them. And so Mr. Secretary and his Lady went to Bed with great Order.

'To be short, Mr. SPECTATOR, we Husbands shall never make the Figure we ought in the Imaginations of young Men growing up in the World, except you can bring it about that a Man of the Town shall be as infamous a Character as a Woman of the Town. But of all that I have met in my time, commend me to Betty Duall: She is the Wife of a Sailor, and the kept Mistress of a Man of Quality; she dwells with the latter during the Sea-faring of the former. The Husband asks no Questions, sees his Apartments furnished with Riches not his, when he comes into Port, and the Lover is as joyful as a Man arrived at his Haven when the other puts to Sea. Betty is the most eminently victorious of any of her Sex, and ought to stand recorded the only Woman of the Age in which she lives, who has possessed at the same time two Abused, and two Contented...


Translation of motto:
HOR. 1 Sat. ii. 37. _Imitated_.
'All you who think the city ne'er can thrive,
Till ev'ry cuckold-maker's flay'd alive,