No. 508. Monday, October 13, 1712. Steele.

Omnes autem et habentur et dicuntur Tyranni, qui potestate sunt perpetua, in ea Civitate quæ libertate usa est.'
Corn. Nepos.

The following Letters complain of what I have frequently observed with very much Indignation; therefore I shall give them to the Publick in the Words with which my Correspondents, who suffer under the Hardships mention'd in them, describe them.


'In former Ages all Pretensions to Dominion have been supported and submitted to, either upon Account of Inheritance, Conquest or Election; and all such Persons who have taken upon 'em any Soveraignty over their Fellow-Creatures upon any other Account, have been always called Tyrants, not so much because they were guilty of any particular Barbarities, as because every Attempt to such a Superiority was in its Nature tyrannical. But there is another sort of Potentates, who may with greater Propriety be call'd Tyrants, than those last mention'd, both as they assume a despotick Dominion over those as free as themselves, and as they support it by Acts of notable Oppression and Injustice; and these are the Rulers in all Clubs and Meetings. In other Governments, the Punishments of some have been alleviated by the Reward of others; but what makes the Reign of these Potentates so particularly grievous, is, that they are exquisite in punishing their Subjects, at the same time they have it not in their power to reward 'em. That the Reader may the better comprehend the Nature of these Monarchs, as well as the miserable State of those that are their Vassals, I shall give an Account of the King of the Company I am fallen into, whom for his particular Tyranny I shall call Dionysius; as also of the Seeds that sprung up to this odd sort of Empire.

'Upon all Meetings at Taverns, 'tis necessary some one of the Company should take it upon him to get all things in such order and readiness, as may contribute as much as possible to the Felicity of the Convention; such as hastening the Fire, getting a sufficient number of Candles, tasting the Wine with a judicious Smack, fixing the Supper, and being brisk for the Dispatch of it. Know then, that Dionysius went thro' these Offices with an Air that seem'd to express a Satisfaction rather in serving the Publick, than in gratifying any particular Inclination of his own. We thought him a Person of an exquisite Palate, and therefore by consent beseeched him to be always our Proveditor; which Post, after he had handsomely denied, he could do no otherwise than accept. At first he made no other use of his Power, than in recommending such and such things to the Company, ever allowing these Points to be disputable; insomuch that I have often carried the Debate for Partridge, when his Majesty has given Intimation of the high Relish of Duck, but at the same time has chearfully submitted, and devour'd his Partridge with most gracious Resignation. This Submission on his side naturally produc'd the like on ours; of which he in a little time made such barbarous Advantage, as in all those Matters, which before seem'd indifferent to him, to issue out certain Edicts as uncontroulable and unalterable as the Laws of the Medes and Persians. He is by turns outragious, peevish, froward and jovial. He thinks it our Duty for the little Offices, as Proveditor, that in Return all Conversation is to be interrupted or promoted by his Inclination for or against the present Humour of the Company. We feel, at present, in the utmost Extremity, the Insolence of Office; however, I being naturally warm, ventur'd to oppose him in a Dispute about a Haunch of Venison. I was altogether for roasting, but Dionysius declar'd himself for boiling with so much Prowess and Resolution, that the Cook thought it necessary to consult his own Safety rather than the Luxury of my Proposition. With the same Authority that he orders what we shall eat and drink, he also commands us where to do it, and we change our Taverns according as he suspects any Treasonable Practices in the settling the Bill by the Master, or sees any bold Rebellion in point of Attendance by the Waiters. Another Reason for changing the Seat of Empire, I conceive to be the Pride he takes in the Promulgation of our Slavery, tho' we pay our Club for our Entertainments even in these Palaces of our grand Monarch. When he has a mind to take the Air, a Party of us are commanded out by way of Life-Guard, and we march under as great Restrictions as they do. If we meet a neighbouring King, we give or keep the Way according as we are outnumber'd or not; and if the Train of each is equal in number, rather than give Battle, the Superiority is soon adjusted by a Desertion from one of 'em.

'Now, the Expulsion of these unjust Rulers out of all Societies, would gain a Man as everlasting a Reputation, as either of the Brutus's got from their Endeavours to extirpate Tyranny from among the Romans. I confess my self to be in a Conspiracy against the Usurper of our Club; and to shew my Reading, as well as my merciful Disposition, shall allow him till the Ides of March to dethrone himself. If he seems to affect Empire till that time, and does not gradually recede from the Incursions he has made upon our Liberties, he shall find a Dinner dress'd which he has no Hand in, and shall be treated with an Order, Magnificence and Luxury as shall break his proud Heart; at the same time that he shall be convinc'd in his Stomach he was unfit for his Post, and a more mild and skilful Prince receive the Acclamations of the People, and be set up in his Room: but, as Milton says,

'--These Thoughts
Full Counsel must mature. Peace is despair'd,
And who can think Submission? War, then War
Open, or understood, must be resolved.' [1]

'I am, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant.


'I am a young Woman at a Gentleman's Seat in the Country, who is a particular Friend of my Father's, and came hither to pass away a Month or two with his Daughters. I have been entertained with the utmost Civility by the whole Family, and nothing has been omitted which can make my Stay easy and agreeable on the Part of the Family; but there is a Gentleman here, a Visitant as I am, whose Behaviour has given me great Uneasinesses. When I first arrived here, he used me with the utmost Complaisance; but, forsooth, that was not with regard to my Sex, and since he has no Designs upon me, he does not know why he should distinguish me from a Man in things indifferent. He is, you must know, one of those familiar Coxcombs, who have observed some well-bred Men with a good Grace converse with Women, and say no fine things, but yet treat them with that sort of Respect which flows from the Heart and the Understanding, but is exerted in no Professions or Compliments. This Puppy, to imitate this Excellence, or avoid the contrary Fault of being troublesome in Complaisance, takes upon him to try his Talent upon me, insomuch that he contradicts me upon all Occasions, and one day told me I lied. If I had stuck him with my Bodkin, and behaved my self like a Man, since he won't treat me as a Woman, I had, I think, served him right. I wish, Sir, you would please to give him some Maxims of Behaviour in these Points, and resolve me if all Maids are not in point of Conversation to be treated by all Batchelors as their Mistresses? if not so, are they not to be used as gently as their Sisters? Is it sufferable, that the Fop of whom I complain should say, as he would rather have such a-one without a Groat, than me with the Indies? What right has any Man to make Suppositions of things not in his Power, and then declare his Will to the dislike of one that has never offended him? I assure you these are things worthy your Consideration, and I hope we shall have your Thoughts upon them. I am, tho' a Woman justly offended, ready to forgive all this, because I have no Remedy but leaving very agreeable Company sooner than I desire. This also is an heinous Aggravation of his Offence, that he is inflicting Banishment upon me. Your printing this Letter may perhaps be an Admonition to reform him: As soon as it appears I will write my Name at the End of it, and lay it in his Way; the making which just Reprimand, I hope you will put in the Power of,

SIR, Your constant Reader, and humble Servant.


[Footnote 1: Paradise Lost, i. 659-662.]

Translation of motto:
CORN. NEPOS in Milt. c. 8.
'For all those are accounted and denominated tyrants, who exercise a
perpetual power in that state which was before free.'