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No. CCXII. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2.
.....Loose thy neck from this ignoble chain, And boldly say thou’rt free.
• Mr. Spectator, • I NEVER look upon my dear wife, but I think • of the happiness Sir Roger de Coverly enjoys, • in having such a friend as you to expose in proper • colours the cruelty and perverseness of his mistress. • I have very often wished you visited in our family, ' and were acquainted with my spouse ; she would • afford you for some months at least matter enough ' for one Spectator a week. Since we are not so . happy as to be of your acquaintance, give me leave
to represent to you our present circumstances as • well as I can in writing. You are to know then • that I am not of a very different constitution from • Nathaniel Henroost, whom you have lately record • ed in your speculations ; and have a wife who ( makes a more tyrannical use of the knowledge of
my easy temper than that lady ever pretended to.
We had not been a month married, when she found • in me a certain pain to give offence, and an indo• lence that made me bear little inconveniences ra• ther than dispute about them. From this observa• tion it soon came to that pass, that if I offered to
go abroad, she would get between me and the door, • kiss me, and say she could not part with me; and
then down again I sat. In a day or two after this • first pleasant step towards confining me, she de( clared to me, that I was all the world to her, and I she thought she ought to be all the world to me. If, ( said she, my dear loves me as much as I love him,
he will never be tired of my company. This de• claration was followed by my being denied to all
my acquaintance; and it very soon came to that
pass, that to give an answer at the door before my ' face, the servants would ask her whether I was
within or not; and she would answer No with great fondness, and tell me I was a good dear. I will not enumerate more little circumstances to give you a livelier sense of my condition ; but tell you ' in general, thạt from such steps as these at first, " I now live the life of a prisoner of state ; my let. • ters are opened, and I have not the use of pen, ink,
and paper, but in her presence. I never go abroad, except she sometimes takes me with her in her ( coach to take the air, if it may be called so when
we drive, as we generally do, with the glasses up. " I have over-heard my servants lament my condi' tion, but they dare not bring me messages without ' her knowledge, because they doubt my resolution " to stand by them. In the midst of this insipid way
of life, an old acquaintance of mine, Tom Meggot, (who is a favourite with her, and allowed to visit
me in her company because he sings prettily, has 'roused me to rebel, and conveyed his intelligence 'to me in the following manner. My wife is a great
pretender to music, and very ignorant of it; but 'far gone in the Italian taste. Tom goes to Arm
strong, the famous fine writer of music, and de'sires him to put this sentence of Tully in the scale • of an Italian air, and write it out for my spouse from him. An ille mihi liber cui mulier imperat? Cui leges imponit, præscribit, jubet, vetat, quod videtur? Qui nihil imperanti negare nihil recusare "audet? Poscit? dandum est. Vocat ? veniendem. • Ejicit ? abeundum, Minitatur? extimiscendum. * Does he live like a gentleman who is commanded " by a woman? He to whom she gives law, grants and denies what she pleases ? who can neither de
her any thing she asks, or refuse to do any 6 thing she commands?
• To be short, my wife was extremely pleased (with it ; said, the Italian was the only language
for music; and admired how wonderfully tender
the sentiment was, nd how pretty the accent is of " that language, with the rest that is said by rote oa
that occasion. Mr. Meggot is sent for to sing this air, which he performs with mighty applause ; and
my wife is in ecstacy on the occasion, and glad to • find, by my being so much pleased, that I was at I last come into the notion of the Italian ; for, said * she, it grows upon one when one once comes to
know a little of the language: and pray, Mr. Meggot, sing again those notes, “ Nihil imperanti nė
gare, nihil rescusare”. You may believe I was not • a little delighted with my friend Tom's expedient (to alarm me, and in obedience to his summons I • give all this story thus at large ; and I am resolved,
when this appears in the Spectator to declare for myself. The manner of the insurrection I contrive
by your means, which shall be no other than that · Tom Meggot, who is at our tea-table every morn(ing, shall read it to us; and if my dear can take • the hint, and say not one word, but let this be the
beginning of a new life without farther explana* tion, it is very well : for as soon as the Spectator is ( read out. I shall without more ado, call forthe coach, " name the hour when I shall be at home, if I come " at all; if I do not, they may go to dinner. If my
spouse only swells and says nothing, Tom and I
go out together, and all is well, as I said before ; " but if she begins to command or expostulate, you « shall in my next to you receive a full account of her
resistance and submission, for submit the dear 6 thing must to,
P. S. " I hope I need not tell you that I desire this may be in your very next.
No. CCXIII. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3.
Mens sibi conscia recti.
A good intention.
IT is the great art and secret of Christianity, if I may use that phrase, to manage our actions to the best advantage, and direct them in such a manner, that every thing we do may turn to account at that great day, when every thing we have done will be set before us.
In order to give this consideration its full weight, we may cast all our actions under the division of such as are in themselves either good, evil, or indifferent. If we divide our intentions after the same manner, and consider them with regard to our actions, we may discover that great art and secret of religion which I have here mentioned.
A good intention joined to a good action, gives it its proper force and efficacy; joined to an evil action, extenuates its malignity, and in some cases may take it wholly away ; and joined to an indifferent action turns it to a virtue, and makes it meritorious as far as human actions can be so.
In the next place, to consider in the same manner the influence of an evil intention
actions. An evil intention perverts the best of actions, and makes them in reality, what the fathers with a witty kind of zeal have termed the virtues of the heathen world, so many shining sins. It destroys the inno
cence of an indifferent action, and gives an evil action all possible blackness and horror, or in the emphatical language of sacred writ, “ makes sin ex“ ceecing sinful.”
If, in the last place, we consider the nature of an indifferent intention, we shall find that it destroys the merit of a good action ; abates, but never takes away, the malignity of an evil action ; and leaves an indifierent action in its natural state of indifference.
It is therefore of unspeakable advantage to possess our minds with an habitual good intention, and to aim all our thoughts, words and actions at some laudable end, whether it be the glory of our Maker, the good of mankind, or the benefit of our own souls.
This is a sort of thrift or good husbandry in moral life, which does not throw away any single action, but makes every one go as far as it can. It multiplies the means of salvation, increases the number of our virtues, and diminishes that of our vices.
There is something very devout, though not solid, in Acosta's answer to Limborch, who objects to him the multiplicity of ceremonies in the Jewish religion, as washings. dresses, meats, purgations, and the like. The reply which the Jew makes upon this occasion, is, to the best of my remembrance, as follows: • There are not duties enough (says he) in the es• sential parts of the law for a zealous and active
obedience.' Time, place, and person are requisite • before you have an opportunity of putting a moral ! virtue into practice. We have therefore, says he, • enlarged the sphere of our duty, and made many
things which are in themselves indifferent a part
of our religion, that we may have more occasions ' of shewing our love to God, and in all the circum• stances of life be doing something to please him.
Monsieur St. Evremond has endeavoured to palliate the superstitions of the Roman Catholic relizion with the same kind of apology, where he pretends to