Friday, April 25, 1712. Steele.
Laudibus arguitur Vini vinosus–
Temple, Apr. 24.
Several of my Friends were this Morning got together over a Dish of Tea in very good Health, though we had celebrated Yesterday with more Glasses than we could have dispensed with, had we not been beholden to Brooke and Hillier. In Gratitude therefore to those good Citizens, I am, in the Name of the Company, to accuse you of great Negligence in overlooking their Merit, who have imported true and generous Wine, and taken care that it should not be adulterated by the Retailers before it comes to the Tables of private Families, or the Clubs of honest Fellows. I cannot imagine how a SPECTATOR can be supposed to do his Duty, without frequent Resumption of such Subjects as concern our Health, the first thing to be regarded, if we have a mind to relish anything else. It would therefore very well become your Spectatorial Vigilance, to give it in Orders to your Officer for inspecting Signs, that in his March he would look into the Itinerants who deal in Provisions, and enquire where they buy their several Wares. Ever since the Decease of [Cully ]- Mully-Puff  of agreeable and noisy Memory, I cannot say I have observed any thing sold in Carts, or carried by Horse or Ass, or in fine, in any moving Market, which is not perished or putrified; witness the Wheel-barrows of rotten Raisins, Almonds, Figs, and Currants, which you see vended by a Merchant dressed in a second-hand Suit of a Foot Soldier. You should consider that a Child may be poisoned for the Worth of a Farthing; but except his poor Parents send to one certain Doctor in Town,  they can have no advice for him under a Guinea. When Poisons are thus cheap, and Medicines thus dear, how can you be negligent in inspecting what we eat and drink, or take no Notice of such as the above-mentioned Citizens, who have been so serviceable to us of late in that particular? It was a Custom among the old Romans, to do him particular Honours who had saved the Life of a Citizen, how much more does the World owe to those who prevent the Death of Multitudes? As these Men deserve well of your Office, so such as act to the Detriment of our Health, you ought to represent to themselves and their Fellow-Subjects in the Colours which they deserve to wear. I think it would be for the publick Good, that all who vend Wines should be under oaths in that behalf. The Chairman at a Quarter Sessions should inform the Country, that the Vintner who mixes Wine to his Customers, shall (upon proof that the Drinker thereof died within a Year and a Day after taking it) be deemed guilty of Wilful Murder: and the Jury shall be instructed to enquire and present such Delinquents accordingly. It is no Mitigation of the Crime, nor will it be conceived that it can be brought in Chance-Medley or Man-Slaughter, upon Proof that it shall appear Wine joined to Wine, or right Herefordshire poured into Port O Port; but his selling it for one thing, knowing it to be another, must justly bear the foresaid Guilt of wilful Murder: For that he, the said Vintner, did an unlawful Act willingly in the false Mixture; and is therefore with Equity liable to all the Pains to which a Man would be, if it were proved he designed only to run a Man through the Arm, whom he whipped through the Lungs. This is my third Year at the Temple, and this is or should be Law. An ill Intention well proved should meet with no Alleviation, because it [out-ran ] it self. There cannot be too great Severity used against the Injustice as well as Cruelty of those who play with Mens Lives, by preparing Liquors, whose Nature, for ought they know, may be noxious when mixed, tho innocent when apart: And Brooke and Hillier,  who have ensured our Safety at our Meals, and driven Jealousy from our Cups in Conversation, deserve the Custom and Thanks of the whole Town; and it is your Duty to remind them of the Obligation. I am, SIR,