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further Consideration, but leave the Author of the No. 176. Epistle to express his Condition his own Way.
Sept. 24 •Mr. SPECTATOR,
1711 I do not deny but you appear in many of your Papers to understand humane Life pretty well; but there are very many things which you cannot possibly have a true Notion of, in a single Life; these are such as respect the married State ; otherwise I cannot account for your having over-looked a very good sort of People, which are commonly called in Scorn the Hen-peckt. You are to understand that I am one of those innocent Mortals, who suffer Derision under that Word, for being governed by the best of Wives, It would be worth your Consideration to enter into the Nature of Affection it self, and tell us, according to your Philosophy, why it is that our Dears should do what they will with us, shall be froward, ill-natured, assuming, sometimes whine, at others rail, then swoon away, then come to Life, have the Use of Speech to the greatest Fluency imaginable, and then sink away again, and all because they fear we do not love them enough; that is, the poor things love us so heartily, that they cannot think it possible we should be able to love them in so great a Degree, which makes them take on so. I
Sir, a true good-natur'd Man, whom Rakes and Libertines call Hen-peckt, shall fall into all these different Moods with his dear Life, and at the same time see they are wholly put on; and yet not be hard-hearted enough to tell the dear good Creature that she is an Hypocrite,
This sort of good Man is very frequent in the populous and wealthy City of London, and is the true hen-peckt Man, the kind Creature cannot break through his Kind nesses so far as to come to an Explanation with the tender Soul, and therefore goes on to comfort her when nothing ails her, to appease her when she is not angry, and to give her his Cash when he knows she does not want it; rather than be uneasie for a whole Month, which is computed by hard-hearted Men the Space of Time which a froward Woman takes to come to her self if you have Courage to stand out
No. 176. There are indeed several other Species of the HenFriday: peckt, and in my opinion they are certainly the best Sept. 21, Subjects the Queen has; and for that Reason I take it to
be your Duty to keep us above Contempt.
I do not know whether I make my self understood in the Representation of an hen-peckt Life, but I shall take Leave to give you an Account of my self
, and my own Spouse. You are to know that am reckoned no Fool, have on several Occasions been tried whether I will take ill Usage, and yet the Event has been to my Ado? vantage; and yet there is not such a Slave in Turkey : as I am to my Dear. She has a good Share of Wit, and is what you call a very pretty agreeable Woman. I perfectly doat on her, and my Affection to her gives : me all the Anxieties imaginable but that of Jealousie. My being thus confident of her, I take, as much as I can judge of my Heart, to be the Reason, that whatever she does, tho' it be never so much against my Inclination, there is still left something in her Manner that is amiable. She will sometimes look at me with an assumed Grandeur, and pretend to resent that I have not had Respect enough for her Opinion in such an Instance in Company. I cannot but smile at the pretty Anger she is in, and then she pretends she is used like a Child. In a Word, our great Debate is which has the Superiority in Point of Understanding. She is eternally forming, an Argument of Debate; to which I very indolently answer, Thou art mighty pretty. To this she answers, All the World but you think I have as much Sense as your self
. I repeat to her, Indeed you are pretty. Upon this there is no Patience; she will throw down any thing about her, stamp, and pull off her Head-Cloaths. Fie, my Dear, say I; how can Woman of your Sense fall into such an intemperate Rage? This is an Argument which never fails. Indeed, my Dear, says she, you make me mad sometimes, so you do, with the silly Way you have of treating me like a pretty Idiot. Well, what have I got by putting her into good Humour ? Nothing, but that I must con vince her of my good Opinion by my Practice; and then I am to give her Possession of my little ready
Money, and for a Day and a half following dislike all No. 176. she dislikes, and extol every thing she approves. I am Friday, so exquisitely fond of this Darling, that I seldom see Sept. 26, any of my Friends, am uneasie in all Companies till I see her again ; and when I come home she is in the Dumps, because she says she's sure I came so only because I think her handsome. I dare not upon this Occasion laugh; but tho' I am one of the warmest Churchmen in the Kingdom I am forced to rail at the Times, because she is a violent Whig. Upon this we talk Politicks so long, that she is convinc'd I kiss her for her Wisdom. It is a common Practice with me to ask her some Question concerning the Constitution, which she answers me in general out of Harington's Oceana: Then I commend her strange Memory, and her Arm is immediately locked in mine. While I keep her in this Temper she plays before me, sometimes dancing in the Midst of the Room, sometimes striking an Air at her Spinet, varying her Posture and her Charms in such a Manner that I am in continual Pleasure: She will play the Fool if I allow her to be wise, but if she suspects I like her for her trifling she immediately grows grave.
These are the Toils in which I am taken, and I carry off my Servitude as well as most Men; but my Application to you is in Behalf of the Hen-peckt in general
, and I desire a Dissertation from you in Defence of us. You have, as I am informed, very good Authorities in our Favour, and hope you will not omit the Mention of the renowned Socrates, and his philosophick Resig. nation to his Wife Xantippe. This would be a very good Office to the World in general, for the Hen-peckt are powerful in their Quality and Numbers, not only in Cities but in Courts; in the latter they are ever the most obsequious, in the former the most wealthy of all Men. When you have considered Wedlock throughly, you ought to enter into the Suburbs of Matrimony, and give us an Account of the Thraldom of kind Keepers and irresolute Lovers; the Keepers who cannot quit their fair ones tho' they see their approaching Ruin; the Lovers who dare not marry, tho' they know they
shall never be happy without the Mistresses whom they cannot purchase on other Terms.
What will be a great Embellishment to your Discourse, will be, that you may find Instances of the Haughty, the Proud, the Frolick, the Stubborn, who are each of them in secret down-right Slaves to their Wives or Mistresses. I must beg of you in the last Place to dwell upon this, That the Wise and Valiant in all Ages have been hen-peckt; and that the sturdy_ Tempers who are not Slaves to Affection, owe that Exemption to their being enthraled by Ambition, Avarice, or some meaner Passion. I have ten thousand thousand things more to say, but my Wife sees me Writing, and will, according to Custom be consulted, if I do not seal this immediately,
Saturday, September 22.
Ulla aliena sibi credat mala 1—-Juv.
The first may
now speak of it as it is a Moral Virtue.
in Sickness and in Health, in Prosperity and in Ad No. 177. versity, if otherwise, it is to be looked upon as nothing Saturday, else but an Irradiation of the Mind from some new
1711 Supply of Spirits, or a more kindly Circulation of the Blood. Sir Francis Bacon mentions a cunning Sollicitor, who would never ask a Favour of a great Man before Dinner, but took care to prefer his Petition at a time when the Party petitioned had his Mind free from Care, and his Appetites in good Humour. Such a transient Temporary Good-nature as this, is not that Philanthrophie, that Love of Mankind, which deserves the Title of a Moral Virtue.
The next way of a Man's bringing his Good-nature to the Test is, to consider whether it operates according to the Rules of Reason and Duty: For if, notwithstand ing its general Benevolence to Mankind, it makes no distinction between its Objects, if it exerts it self promiscuously towards the Deserving and the Undeserving, if it relieves alike the Idle and the Indigent, if it gives it self up to the first Petitioner, and lights upon any one rather by Accident than Choice, it may pass for an amiable Instinct, but must not assume the Name of a Moral Virtue,
The third Tryal of Good nature will be the examining our selves, whether or no we are able to exert it to our own Disadvantage, and employ it on proper Objects, notwithstanding any little Pain, Want or Inconvenience which may arise to our selves from it: In a word, whether we are willing to risque any part of our Fortune, our Reputation, our Health or Ease, for the Benefit of Mankind. Among all these Expressions of Good-nature, I shall single out that which goes under the general Name of Charity, as it consists in relieving the Indigent; that being a Tryal of this kind which offers it self to us almost at all Times and in
Place. I should propose it as a Rule to every one, who is provided with any Competency of Fortune more than sufficient for the Necessaries of Life, to lay aside a certain Proportion of his Income for the use of the Poor. This I would look upon as an Offering to him who has a Right to the whole, for the Use of those,