A Moral Dilemma

tailorSnippets 84. In the previous post we looked at a quote from The British Apollo, which illustrated the “agony aunt” question and answer format of the short-lived publication (more information below). The following quote concerns a moral dilemma which could be equally valid today.

Q. Gentlemen, my tailor has sent me his bill, and reckons 15 shillings for altering an old coat and waistcoat, which is not worth so much now ’tis done, and sets me down 3 pound for the making of a new suit of clothes, which is very unreasonable: but he has wrote a receipt at the bottom, Received the full contents of this bill. Now whether or no is it lawful for me to cheat him, and say I have paid him this money? A speedy answer will oblige.

A. The giving more for altering old things than they are worth is no argument the tailor earned not his money, but that you had no good forecast. As for the loss of his bill, should he draw a longer upon you in chancery, to bring you upon your oath for the payment of it, and had he money and courage to maintain the suit, your clothes with their consequences may cost you more than you are aware of; but be your tailor an honest man or a mere tailor, you cannot in honour or honesty pretend to the benefit of an acquittance for what you have not discharged.

Comparing the value of money from the past is virtually impossible to do with any accuracy, but to give a very rough idea the 15 shillings paid for the alterations would be about £100 today, and the three pounds for the new suit about £350. Clothing is of course nowadays much cheaper in proportion to wages.

The British Apollo ran for little more than 3 years, from February 1708 to May 1711. The magazines were later gathered together into book volumes. It was a twice-weekly and later thrice-weekly publication, so there are many issues to enjoy. The magazines followed a question/answer format (with also some poetry and other information). The British Apollo was launched by Aaron Hill, manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, who subsequently became a successful playwright and poet. He based his publication on the format of Athenian Mercury, which ran from 1691 to 1697, and assembled a team of experts to help answer the questions. The legacy of his work lives on in modern-day “agony aunt” columns.

At the height of its popularity, The British Apollo had over a thousand subscribers, but its success was hampered by the quality of the questions being send in, some of which are clearly a little repetitive. Hill sold off the publication in 1710, and it was a very sensible move, because it soon declined financially from that point onwards.


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About Windows into History

Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com Co-writer on junkyardview.wordpress.com Administrator of frontiersmenhistorian.wordpress.com
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