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No 608. MONDAY, OCTOBER 18, 1714.
- Perjuria ridet amantum.
Ovid. Ars Amor. i. 633. - Forgiving with a smile The perjuries that easy maids beguile.
· DRYDEN. MR. SPECTATOR, • 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 bye-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 falsely 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, add
ing 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 well-bred man, being observed to hesitate at the words ' after our marriage,' was thereupon required to explain himself. He replied, by talking very largely of his exact complaisance while he was a lover; and alleged 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 preserved 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 sat 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, “O my dear; you are never in the wrong!”
• The violent passion of one lady for her lapdog ; the turning away of the old housemaid by another; a tavern bill torn by the wife, and a tailor's by the husband; a quarrel about the kissing crust; spoil· ing 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 myself 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 usurped the dominion of the coal fire (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 until 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.'
No 609. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1714.
- Farrago libelli.
Juv. Sat. i. 86. The miscellaneous subjects of my book.
"I HAVE for some time desired to appear in your paper, and have therefore chosen a day* to steal into the Spectator, when I take it for granted you will not have many spare minutes for speculations of your own. As I was the other day walking with an honest country gentleman, he very often was expressing his astonishment to see the town so mightily crowded with doctors of divinity; upon which I told him he was very much mistaken if he took all those gentlemen he saw in scarfs to be persons of that dignity; for that a young divine, after his first degree in the university, usually comes hither only to shew himself; and on that occasion, is apt to think he is but half equipped with a gown and cassock for his public appearance, if he hath not the additional ornament of a scarf of the first magnitude to entitle him to the appellation of Doctor from his landlady and the boy at Child's. Now since I know that this piece of garniture is looked upon as a mark of vanity or affectation, as it is made use of among some of the little spruce adventurers of the town, I should be glad if you would give it a place among those extravagancies you have justly exposed in several of your papers, being very well as
* The 20th of October, 1714, was the day of the coronation of king George I.
sured that the main body of the clergy, both in the country and the universities, who are almost to a man untainted with it, would be very well pleased to see this venerable foppery well exposed. When my patron did me the honour to take me into his family (for I must own myself of this order), he was pleased to say he took me as a friend and companion: and whether he looked upon the scarf like the lace and shoulder-knot of a footman, as a badge of servitude and dependence, I do not know, but he was so kind as to leave my wearing of it to my own discretion; and, not having any just title to it from my degrees, I am content to be without the ornament. The privileges of our nobility to keep a certain number of chaplains are undisputed, though perhaps not one in ten of those reverend gentlemen have any relation to the noble families their scarfs belong to: the right generally of creating all chaplains, except the domestic (where there is one), being nothing more than the perquisite of a steward's place, who, if he happens to outlive any considerable number of his noble masters, shall probably at one and the same time have fifty chaplains, all in their proper accoutrements, of his own creation; though perhaps there hath been neither grace nor prayer said in the family since the introduction of the first coronet.
I am, &c.'
'I wish you would write a philosophical paper about natural antipathies, with a word or two concerning the strength of imagination. I can give you a list, upon the first notice, of a rational china cup, of an egg that walks upon two legs, and a quart-pot that sings like a lightingale. There is in my neighbourhood a very pretty prattling shoulder