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No. 189 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

Saturday, October 6, 1711.

‘… Patriae pietatis imago.’


The following Letter being written to my Bookseller, upon a Subject of which I treated some time since, I shall publish it in this Paper, together with the Letter that was inclosed in it.

Mr. Buckley,

“Mr. SPECTATOR having of late descanted upon the Cruelty of Parents to their Children, I have been induced (at the Request of several of Mr. SPECTATOR’S Admirers) to inclose this Letter, which I assure you is the Original from a Father to his own Son, notwithstanding the latter gave but little or no Provocation. It would be wonderfully obliging to the World, if Mr. SPECTATOR would give his Opinion of it, in some of his Speculations, and particularly to”

(Mr. Buckley)

Your Humble Servant.


“You are a sawcy audacious Rascal, and both Fool and Mad, and I care not a Farthing whether you comply or no; that does not raze out my Impressions of your Insolence, going about Railing at me, and the next Day to sollicit my Favour: These are Inconsistencies, such as discover thy Reason depraved. To be brief, I never desire to see your Face; and, Sirrah, if you go to the Work-house, it is no Disgrace to me for you to be supported there; and if you Starve in the Streets, I’ll never give any thing underhand in your Behalf. If I have any more of your scribling Nonsense I’ll break your Head the first Time I set Sight on you. You are a stubborn Beast; is this your Gratitude for my giving you Mony? You Rogue, I’ll better your Judgment, and give you a greater Sense of your Duty to (I regret to say) your Father, etc.”

“P.S. It’s Prudence for you to keep out of my Sight; for to reproach me, that Might overcomes Right, on the Outside of your Letter, I shall give you a great Knock on the Skull for it.”

Was there ever such an Image of Paternal Tenderness! It was usual among some of the Greeks to make their Slaves drink to Excess, and then expose them to their Children, who by that means conceived an early Aversion to a Vice which makes Men appear so monstrous and irrational. I have exposed this Picture of an unnatural Father with the same Intention, that its Deformity may deter others from its Resemblance. If the Reader has a mind to see a Father of the same Stamp represented in the most exquisite Stroaks of Humour, he may meet with it in one of the finest Comedies that ever appeared upon the English Stage: I mean the Part of Sir Sampson [1] in ‘Love for Love’.

I must not however engage my self blindly on the Side of the Son, to whom the fond Letter above-written was directed. His Father calls him a sawcy and audacious Rascal in the first Line, and I am afraid upon Examination he will prove but an ungracious Youth. To go about railing at his Father, and to find no other Place but the Outside of his Letter to tell him that Might overcomes Right, if it does not discover his Reason to be depraved, and that he is either Fool or Mad, as the cholerick old Gentleman tells him, we may at least allow that the Father will do very well in endeavouring to better his Judgment, and give him a greater Sense of his Duty. But whether this may be brought about by breaking his Head, or giving him a great Knock on the Skull, ought, I think, to be well considered. Upon the whole, I wish the Father has not met with his Match, and that he may not be as equally paired with a Son, as the Mother in Virgil.

… Crudelis tu quoque mater:
Crudelis mater magis an puer Improbus ille?
Improbus ille puer, crudelis tu quoque mater. [2]