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No. 398 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 398
Friday, June 6, 1712. Steele.

‘Insanire pares certa ratione modoque.’

Hor.

Cynthio and Flavia are Persons of Distinction in this Town, who have been Lovers these ten Months last past, and writ to each other for Gallantry Sake, under those feigned Names; Mr. Such a one and Mrs. Such a one not being capable of raising the Soul out of the ordinary Tracts and Passages of Life, up to that Elevation which makes the Life of the Enamoured so much superior to that of the rest of the World. But ever since the beauteous Cecilia has made such a Figure as she now does in the Circle of Charming Women, Cynthio has been secretly one of her Adorers. Laetitia has been the finest Woman in Town these three Months, and so long Cynthio has acted the Part of a Lover very awkwardly in the Presence of Flavia. Flavia has been too blind towards him, and has too sincere an Heart of her own to observe a thousand things which would have discovered this Change of Mind to any one less engaged than she was. Cynthio was musing Yesterday in the Piazza in Covent-Garden, and was saying to himself that he was a very ill Man to go on in visiting and professing Love to Flavia, when his Heart was enthralled to another. It is an Infirmity that I am not constant to Flavia; but it would be still a greater Crime, since I cannot continue to love her, to profess that I do. To marry a Woman with the Coldness that usually indeed comes on after Marriage, is ruining one’s self with one’s Eyes open; besides it is really doing her an Injury. This last Consideration, forsooth, of injuring her in persisting, made him resolve to break off upon the first favourable Opportunity of making her angry. When he was in this Thought, he saw Robin the Porter who waits at Will’s Coffee-House, passing by. Robin, you must know, is the best Man in Town for carrying a Billet; the Fellow has a thin Body, swift Step, demure Looks, sufficient Sense, and knows the Town. This Man carried Cynthio’s first Letter to Flavia, and by frequent Errands ever since, is well known to her. The Fellow covers his Knowledge of the Nature of his Messages with the most exquisite low Humour imaginable: The first he obliged Flavia to take, was, by complaining to her that he had a Wife and three Children, and if she did not take that Letter, which, he was sure, there was no Harm in, but rather Love, his Family must go supperless to Bed, for the Gentleman would pay him according as he did his Business. Robin therefore Cynthio now thought fit to make use of, and gave him Orders to wait before Flavia’s Door, and if she called him to her, and asked whether it was Cynthio who passed by, he should at first be loth to own it was, but upon Importunity confess it. There needed not much Search into that Part of the Town to find a well-dressed Hussey fit for the Purpose Cynthio designed her. As soon as he believed Robin was posted, he drove by Flavia’s Lodgings in an Hackney-Coach and a Woman in it. Robin was at the Door talking with Flavia’s Maid, and Cynthio pulled up the Glass as surprized, and hid his Associate. The Report of this Circumstance soon flew up Stairs, and Robin could not deny but the Gentleman favoured his Master; yet if it was he, he was sure the Lady was but his Cousin whom he had seen ask for him; adding that he believed she was a poor Relation, because they made her wait one Morning till he was awake. Flavia immediately writ the following Epistle, which Robin brought to Wills