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notice of. It is very visible, as the audience is not a little abashed, if they find themselves betrayed into a clap, when their friend in the upper gallery does not come into it; so the actors do not value themselves upon the clap, but regard it as a mere brutum fulmen, or empty noise, when it has not the sound of the oaken plank in it. I know it has been given out by those who are enemies to the trunk-maker, that he has sometimes been þribed to be in the interest of a bad poet, or a vicious player ; but this is a surmise which has no foundation : his strokes are always just, and his admonitions seasonable: he does not deal about his blows at random, but always hits the right nail upon the head. The inexpressible force wherewith he lays them on sufficiently shews the evidence and strength of his conviction. His zeal for a good author is indeed outrageous, and breaks down every fence and partition, every board and plank, that stands within the expression of his applause.
As I do not care for terminating my thoughts in barren speculations, or in reports of pure matter of fact, without drawing something from them for the advantage of my countrymen, I shall take the liberty to make an humble proposal, that whenever the trunk-maker shall depart this life, or whenever he shall have lost the spring of his arm by sickness, old age, infirmity, or the like, some able-bodied critic should be advanced to this post, and have a competent salary settled on him for life, to be furnished with bamboos for operas, crab-tree cudgels for comedies, and oaken planks for tragedy, at the public expense. And to the end that this place should be always disposed of according to merit, I would have none preferred to it, who has not given convincing proofs both of a sound judgment, and a strong arm ; and who could not, upon occasion, either knock down an ox, or write a comment upon
Horace's Art of Poetry. In short, I would have him a due composition of Hercules and Apollo, and so rightly qualified for this important office, that the trunk-maker may not be missed by our posterity.
No 236. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 1711.
- Dare jura maritis.-Hor. Ars Poet. v. 398. With laws connubial tyrants to restrain.
• MR. SPECTATOR, • You have not spoken in so direct a manner upon the subject of marriage, as that important case deserves. It would not be improper to observe upon the peculiarity in the youth of Great Britain of railing and laughing at that institution; and when they fall into it, from a profligate habit of mind, being insensible of the satisfaction in that way of life, and treating their wives with the most barbarous disrespect.
• Particular circumstances, and cast of temper, must teach a man the probability of mighty uneasinesses in that state; (for unquestionably some there are whose very dispositions are strangely averse to conjugal friendship) but no one, I believe, is by his own natural complexion prompted to tease and torment another for no reason but being nearly allied to him. And can there be any thing more base, or serve to sink a man so much below his own distinguishing characteristic (I mean reason), than returning evil for good in so open a manner, as that of treating a helpless creature with unkindness, who has had so good an opinion of him as to believe what he said relating to one of the greatest concerns of life, by delivering her happiness in this world to his care and protection ? Must not that man be abandoned even to all manner of humanity, who can deceive a woman with appearances of affection and kindness, for no other end but to torment her with more ease and authority? Is any thing more unlike a gentleman, than when his honour is engaged for the performing his promises, because nothing but that can oblige him to it, to become afterward false to his word, and be alone the occasion of misery to one whose happiness he but lately pretended was dearer to him than his own? Ought. such a one to be trusted in his common affairs ? or treated but as one whose honesty consisted only in his incapacity of being otherwise ?,
• There is one cause of this usage no less absurd than common, which takes place among the more unthinking men; and that is, the desire to appear to their friends free and at liberty, and without those trammels they have so much ridiculed. To avoid this they fly into the other extreme, and grow tyrants that they may seem masters. Because an uncontrollable command of their own actions is a certain sign of entire dominion, they won't so much as recede from the government even in one muscle of their faces. A kind look they believe would be fawning, and a civil answer yielding the superiority. To this must we attribute an austerity they betray in every action. What but this can put a man out of humour in his wife's company, though he is so distinguishingly pleasant every where else? The bitterness of his replies, and the severity of his frowns to the tenderest of wives, clearly demonstrate, that an ill-grounded fear of being thought too submissive, is at the bottom of this, as I am willing to call it, affected moroseness; but if it be such, only
put on to convince his acquaintance of his entire dominion, let him take care of the consequence, which will be certain and worse than the present evil; his seeming indifference will by degrees grow into real contempt, and if it doth not wholly alienate the affections of his wife for ever from him, make both him and her more miserable than if it really did so.
• However inconsistent it may appear, to be thought a well-bred person has no small share in this clownish behaviour. A discourse therefore relating to good-breeding towards a loving and a tender wife, would be of great use to this sort of gentlemen. Could you but once convince them, that to be civil at least is not beneath the character of a gentleman, nor even tender affection towards one who would make it reciprocal, betrays any softness or effeminacy that the most masculine disposition need be ashamed of; could you satisfy them of the generosity of voluntary civility, and the greatness of soul that is conspicuous in benevolence without immediate obligations ; could you recommend to people's practice the saying of the gentleman quoted in one of your speculations, “ That he thought it incumbent upon him to make the inclinations of a woman of merit go along with her duty;" could you, I say, persuade these men of the beauty and reasonableness of this sort of behaviour, I have so much charity, for some of them at least, to believe you would convince them of a thing they are only ashamed to allow. Besides, you would recommend that state in its truest, and consequently its most agreeable colours ; and the gentlemen, who have for any time been such professed enemies to it, when occasion should serve, would return you their thanks for assisting their interest in prevailing over their prejudices. Marriage in general would by this means be a more easy and comfortable condition; the husband would be no where so well satisfied as in his own parlour, nor the wife so pleasant as in the company of her husband. A desire of being agreeable in the lover would be increased in the husband, and the mistress be more amiable by becoming the wife. Besides all which, I am apt to believe we should find the race of men grow wiser as their progenitors grew kinder, and the affection of their parents would be conspicuous in the wisdom of their children; in short, men would in general be much better humoured than they are, did they not so frequently exercise the worst turns of their temper. where they ought to exert the best.'
"MR. SPECTATOR, . I am a woman who left the admiration of this whole town to throw myself (for love of wealth) into the arms of a fool. When I married him, I could have had any one of several men of sense who languished for me; but my case is just. I believed my superior understanding would form him into a tractable creature. But, alas! my spouse has cunning and suspicion, the inseparable companions of little minds; and every attempt I make to divert, by putting on an agreeable air, a sudden cheerfulness, or kind behaviour, he looks upon as the first act towards an insurrection against his undeserved dominion over me. Let every one who is still to choose, and hopes to govern a fool, remember
TRISTISSA.' • MR. SPECTATOR, St. Martin's, Nov. 25. • This is to complain of an evil practice which I think very well deserves a redress, though you have not as yet taken any notice of it; if you mention it in your paper, it may perhaps have a very good effect. What I mean is, the disturbance some people give