No. 608. Monday, October 18, 1714. Addison. [1]

--Perjuria ridet Amantum--'


'According to my Promise, I herewith transmit to you a List of several Persons, who from time to time demanded the Flitch of Bacon of Sir Philip de Somervile and his Descendants; as it is preserved in an ancient Manuscript under the Title of The Register of Whichenovre-Hall, and of the Bacon Flitch there maintained.

'In the Beginning of this Record is recited the Law or Institution in Form, as it is already printed in your last Paper: To which are added Two By-Laws, as a Comment upon the General Law, the Substance whereof is, that the Wife shall take the same Oath as the Husband, mutatis mutandis; and that the Judges shall, as they think meet, interrogate or cross-examine the Witnesses. After this proceeds the Register in Manner following.

'Aubry de Falstaff, Son of Sir John Falstaff, Kt. with Dame Maude his Wife, were the first that demanded the Bacon, he having bribed twain of his Father's Companions to swear falsly in his Behoof whereby he gained the Flitch: But he and his said Wife falling immediately into a Dispute how the said Bacon should be dressed, it was by Order of the Judges taken from him, and hung up again in the Hall.

'Alison the Wife of Stephen Freckle, brought her said Husband along with her, and set forth the good Conditions and Behaviour of her Consort, adding withal that she doubted not but he was ready to attest the like of her, his Wife; whereupon he, the said Stephen, shaking his Head, she turned short upon him, and gave him a Box on the Ear.

'Philip de Waverland, having laid his Hand upon the Book, when the Clause, Were I sole and she sole, was rehearsed, found a secret Compunction rising in his Mind, and stole it off again.

'Richard de Loveless, who was a Courtier, and a very wellbred Man, being observed to hesitate at the Words after our Marriage, was thereupon required to explain himself. He reply'd, by talking very largely of his exact Complaisance while he was a Lover; and alledg'd, that he had not in the least disobliged his Wife for a Year and a Day before Marriage, which he hoped was the same Thing.


'Joceline Jolly, Esq., making it appear by unquestionable Testimony, That he and his Wife had presented full and entire Affection for the Space of the first Month, commonly called the Honey-Moon; he had in Consideration thereof one Rasher bestowed upon him.

'After this, says the Record, many Years passed over before any Demandant appeared at Whichenovre-Hall; insomuch that one would have thought that the whole Country were turned Jews, so little was their Affection to the Flitch of Bacon.

'The next Couple enrolled had like to have carried it, if one of the Witnesses had not deposed, That dining on a Sunday with the Demandant, whose Wife had sate below the Squire's Lady at Church, she the said Wife dropped some Expressions, as if she thought her Husband deserved to be knighted; to which he returned a passionate Pish! The Judges taking the Premises into Consideration, declared the aforesaid Behaviour to imply an unwarrantable Ambition in the Wife, and Anger in the Husband.

'It is recorded as a sufficient Disqualification of a certain Wife, that speaking of her Husband, she said, God forgive him.

'It is likewise remarkable, that a Couple were rejected upon the Deposition of one of their Neighbours, that the Lady had once told her Husband, that it was her Duty to obey; to which he replied, Oh! my Dear, you are never in the wrong.

'The violent Passion of one Lady for her Lap-Dog; the turning away of the old House-Maid by another; a Tavern-Bill torn by the Wife, and a Taylor's by the Husband; a Quarrel about the Kissing-Crust; spoiling of Dinners, and coming in late of Nights; are so many several Articles which occasioned the Reprobation of some Scores of Demandants, whose Names are recorded in the aforesaid Register.

'Without enumerating other particular Persons, I shall content my self with observing, that the Sentence pronounced against one Gervase Poacher is, that he might have had Bacon to his Eggs, if he had not heretofore scolded his Wife when they were over boiled. And the Deposition against Dorothy Dolittle runs in these Words; That she had so far usuped the Dominion of the Coalfire, (the Stirring whereof her Husband claimed to himself) that by her good Will she never would suffer the Poker out of her Hand.

'I find but two Couples, in this first Century, that were successful: The first, was a Sea-Captain and his Wife, who since the Day of their Marriage, had not seen one another till the Day of the Claim. The Second, was an honest Pair in the Neighbourhood; The Husband was a Man of plain good Sense, and a peaceable Temper; the Woman was dumb.'

[Footnote 1: Lord Macaulay, in a letter published p. 1433 ... of Mr. Bohn's edition of Lowndes's 'Bibliographer's Manual', calls this paper 'undoubtedly Addison's, and one of his best,' although not claimed, because he could not own it without admitting what Lord Macaulay rightly considered quite as obvious, his authorship of No. 623. Addison wrote, evidently, some other of these unappropriated papers.]

Translation of motto:
OVID, Ars Amor. i. 633.
'Forgiving with a smile
The perjuries that easy maids beguile.'