« AnteriorContinuar »
dition, for want of the obvious reflection that all parts of human life is a commerce. It is not only paying wages, and giving commands, that constitutes a master of a family; but prudence, equal behaviour, with readiness to protect and cherish them, is what entitles a man to that character in their very hearts and sentiments. It is pleasant enough to observe, that men expect from their dependents, from their sole motive of fear, all the good effects which a liberal education, and affluent fortune, and every other advantage, cannot produce in themselves. A man will have his servant, just, diligent, sober, and chaste, for no other reasons but the terror of losing his master's favour; when all the laws divine and human cannot keep him whom he serves within bounds with relation to any one of those virtues. But both in great and ordinary affairs, all superiority which is not founded on merit and virtue, is supported only by artifice and stratagem. Thus you see flatterers are the agents in families of humourists, and those who govern themselves by any thing but reason. Make-bates, distant relations, poor kinsmen, and indigent followers, are the fry which support the economy of an humoursome rich man. He is eternally whispered with intelligence of who are true or false to him in matters of no consequence; and he maintains twenty friends to defend him against the insinuations of one who would perhaps cheat him of an old coat.
I shall not enter into further speculation upon this subject at present, but think the following letters and petition are made up of proper sentiments on this occasion.
“ MR. SPECTATOR, “I AM servant to an old lady who is governed by one she calls her friend; who is so familiar an one, that she takes upon her to advise her without being called to it, and makes her uneasy with all about her. Pray, Sir, be pleased to give us some remarks upon voluntary counsellors; and let these people know that to give any body advice, is to say to that person, 'I am your betters.' Pray Sir, as near as you can, describe that eternal flirt and disturber of families, Mrs. Taperty, who is always visiting, and putting people in a way, as they call it. If you can make her stay at home one evening, you will be a general benefactor to all the ladies' women in town, and particularly to
“Your loving friend,
“ SUSAN CIVIL.”
« MR. SPECTATOR, “ I am a footman, and live with one of those men, each of whom is said to be one of the besthumoured men in the world, but that he is passionate. Pray be pleased to inform them, that he who is passionate, and takes no care to command his hastiness, does more injury to his friends and servants in one half hour, than whole years can atone for. This master of mine, who is the best man alive in common fame, disobliges somebody every day he lives; and strikes me for the next thing I do, because he is out of humour at it. If these gentlemen know that they do all the mischief that is ever done in conversation, they would reform; and I who have been a Spectator of gentlemen at dinner, for many years, have seen that indiscretion does ten times more mischief than ill-nature. But you will represent this better than “Your abused humble servant,
" THOMAS SMOKY.”
“ TO THE SPECTATOR. “The humble petition of John Steward, Robert
Butler, Harry Cook, and Abigail Chambers, in behalf of themselves and their relations belonging to and dispersed in the several services of most of the great families within the cities of London and Westminster;
“Showeth, “That in many of the families in which your petitioners live and are employed, the several heads of them are wholly unacquainted with what is business, and are very little judges when they are well or ill used by us your said petitioners.
“That for want of such skill in their own affairs, and by indulgence of their own laziness and pride, they continually keep about them certain mischievous animals called spies.
“That whenever a spy is entertained, the peace of that house is from that moment banished.
“That spies never give an account of good services, but represent our mirth and freedom by the words wantonness and disorder.
“That in all families where there are spies, there is a general jealousy and misunderstanding.
“That the masters and mistresses of such houses live in continual suspicion of their ingenuous and true servants, and are given up to the management of those who are false and perfidious.
“That such masters and mistresses who entertain spies, are no longer more than ciphers in their own
families; and that we your petitioners are with great disdain obliged to pay all our respect, and expect all our maintenance from such spies. “ Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray,
that you would represent the premises to all persons of condition; and your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall for ever pray,” &c.
No. 203. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1711.
Phæbe pater, si das hujus mihi nominis usum
OVID MET. ii. 38.
THERE is a loose tribe of men whom I have not yet taken notice of, that ramble into all the corners of this great city, in order to seduce such unfortunate females as fall into their walks. These abandoned profligates raise up issue in every quarter of the town and very often, for a valuable consideration, father it upon the church warden. By this means there are several married men who have a little family in most of the parishes of London and Westminster, and several bachelors who are undone by a charge of children.
When a man once gives himself this liberty of preying at large, and living upon the common, he finds so much game in a populous city, that it is surprising to consider the numbers which he sometimes propagates. We see many a young fellow who is scarce of age, that could lay his claim to the jus trium liberorum, or the privileges which were granted by the Roman laws to all such as were fathers of three children. Nay, I have heard a rake, who was not quite five and twenty, declare himself the father of a seventh son, and very prudently determine to breed him up a physician. In short, the town is full of those young patriarchs, not to mention several battered beaux, who, like heedless spendthrifts that squander away their estates before they are masters of them, have raised up their whole stock of children before marriage.
I must not here omit the particular whim of an impudent libertine, that had a little smattering of heraldry; and observing how the genealogies of great families were often drawn up in the shape of trees, had taken a fancy to dispose of his own illegitimate issue in a figure of the same kind :
- Nec longum tempus, et ingens
VIRG. GEORG. ii. 80.
The trunk of the tree was marked with his own name, Will Maple. Out of the side of it grew a large barren branch, incribed Mary Maple, the name of his unhappy wife. The head was adorned with five huge boughs. On the bottom of the first was written in capital characters, Kate Cole, who branched