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Indian journal, when we fancy the customs, | desire of multiplying our species, and that
Saturday, April 28, 1711. Torquet ab obscœnis jam nunc sermonibus aurem. Hor. Lib. 2. Ep. 1. 127.
He from the taste obscene reclaims our youth.-Pope. MR. SPECTATOR,-My fortune, quality, and person, are such as render me as conspicuous as any young woman in town. It is in my power to enjoy it in all its vanities, but I have from a very careful education, contracted a great aversion to the forward air and fashion which is practised in all public places and assemblies. I attribute this very much to the style and manner of our plays. I was last night at the Funeral,* where a confident lover in the play speaking of his mistress, cries out "Oh that Harriet! to fold these arms about the waist of that beauteous, struggling, and at last yielding fair!" Such an image as this ought by no means to be presented to a chaste and regular audience. I expect your opinion of this sentence, and recommend to your consideration, as a Spectator, the conduct of the stage at present with_relation to chastity and modesty. I am, Sir, your constant reader and well-wisher.'
is the polite Sir George Etheridge; if I un-
It lifts a heavy empty sentence, when there is added to it a lascivious gesture of body; and when it is too low to be raised even by that, a flat meaning is enlivened by making it a double one. Writers who want genius, never fail of keeping this secret in reserve, to create a laugh or raise a clap. I, who know nothing of women but from seeing plays, can give great guesses at the whole structure of the fair sex, by being innocently placed in the pit, and insulted by the petticoats of their dancers; the advantages of whose pretty persons are a great help to a dull play. When a poet flags in writing lusciously, a pretty girl can move lasciviously, and have the same good The complaint of this young lady is so this case use their audiences, as dull paraconsequence for the author. Dull poets in just, that the offence is gross enough to have sites do their patrons; when they cannot displeased persons who cannot pretend to that delicacy and modesty, of which she is longer divert them with their wit or humistress. But there is a great deal to be which is agreeable to their temper, though mour, they bait their ears with something said in behalf of an author. If the audience below their understanding. Apicius cannot would but consider the difficulty of keeping resist being pleased, if you give him an acup a sprightly dialogue for five acts to count of a delicious meal; or Clodius, if you gether, they would allow a writer, when describe a wanton beauty: though at the he wants wit, and cannot please any other- same time, if you do not awake those inwise, to help it out with a little smuttiness.clinations in them, no men are better judges I will answer for the poets, that no one of what is just and delicate in conversation. ever writ bawdry, for any other reason but But as I have before observed, it is easier to dearth of invention. When the author can- talk to the man than to the man of sense. not strike out of himself any more of that which he has superior to those who make learning are best skilled in the luscious up the bulk of his audience, his natural recourse is to that which he has in common wonders in this kind; and we are obliged way. The poetesses of the age have done with them; and a description which grati- to the lady who writ Ibrahim,† for introfies a sensual appetite will please, when the ducing a preparatory scene to the very acauthor has nothing about him to delight a tion, when the emperor throws his handrefined imagination. It is to such a poverty kerchief as a signal for his mistress to folwe must impute this and all other sentences in plays, which are of this kind, and which are commonly termed luscious expressions. This expedient to supply the deficiencies of wit, has been used more or less by most
of the authors who have succeeded on the stage; though I know but one who has professedly writ a play upon the basis of the
The Funeral, or Grief Alamode, a comedy by Sir Richard Steele.-Much to the honour of Sir Richard, he attended to the letter of his fair correspondent, and in a ubsequent edition of his comedy; expunged all the obnoxious passa ga
It is remarkable that the writers of least
low him into the most retired part of the
almost naked has been since practised | faithful, and honest, may, at the same time, (where indeed it should have been begun) have wit, humour, mirth, good breeding, very successfully at Bartholomew fair.* and gallantry. While he exerts these latIt is not to be here omitted, that in one ter qualities, twenty occasions might be inof the above-mentioned female composi- vented to show he is master of the other tions, the Rover is very frequently sent on noble virtues. Such characters would smite the same errand; as I take it, above once and reprove the heart of a man of sense, every act. This is not wholly unnatural; when he is given up to his pleasures. He for, they say, the men authors draw them- would see he has been mistaken all this selves in their chief characters, and the while, and be convinced that a sound conwomen writers may be allowed the same stitution and an innocent mind, are the true liberty. Thus, as the male wit gives his ingredients for becoming and enjoying life. hero a great fortune, the female gives her All men of true taste would call a man of heroine a good gallant at the end of the wit, who should turn his ambition this way, play. But, indeed, there is hardly a play a friend and benefactor to his country; but one can go to, but the hero or fine gentle- I am at a loss what name they would give man of it struts off upon the same account, him, who makes use of his capacity for and leaves us to consider what good office he contrary purposes. has put us to, or to employ ourselves as we please. To be plain, a man who frequents plays would have a very respectful notion No. 52.] Monday, April 30, 1711. of himself, were he to recollect how often he has been used as a pimp to ravishing tyrants, or successful rakes. When the actors make their exit on this good occasion, the ladies are sure to have an examining glance from the pit, to see how they relish what passes; and a few lewd fools are very ready to employ their talents upon the composure or freedom of their looks. Such incidents as these make some ladies wholly absent themselves from the playhouse; and others never miss the first day of a play, lest it should prove too luscious to admit their going with any countenance to it on the second.
Omnes ut tecum meritis pro talibus annos
Virg. Æn. i. 78.
AN ingenious correspondent, like a sprightly wife, will always have the last word. I did not think my last letter to the deformed fraternity would have occasioned any answer, especially since I had promised them so sudden a visit; but as they think they cannot show too great a venera
of their make.
my person, they have already sent me up an answer. As to the proposal of a If men of wit, who think fit to write for marriage between myself and the matchthe stage, instead of this pitiful way of giv-less Hecatissa, I have but one objection to ing delight, would turn their thoughts upon to be acquainted with her; and who can be it; which is, that all the society will expect raising it from such good natural impulses as are in the audience, but are choaked up sure of keeping a woman's heart long by vice and luxury, they would not only where she may have so much choice? I please, but befriend us at the same time. am the more alarmed at this, because the If a man had a mind to be new in his way lady seems particularly smitten with men of writing, might not he who is represented as a fine gentleman, though he betrays the honour and bed of his neighbour and friend, and lies with half the women in the play, and is at last rewarded with her of the best character in it; I say, upon giving the comedy another cast, might not such a one divert the audience quite as well, if at the catastrophe he were found out for a traitor, and met with contempt accordingly? There is seldom a person devoted to above one darling vice at a time, so that there is room enough to catch at men's hearts to their good and advantage, if the poets will attempt it with the honesty which becomes their character.
There is no man who loves his bottle or his mistress, in a manner so very abandoned, as not to be capable of relishing an agreeable character, that is in no way slave to either of those pursuits. A man that is temperate, generous, valiant, chaste,
I believe I shall set my heart upon her;
Tacta places, audita places, si non videare,
Your letter to us we have received, asa signal mark of your favour and brotherly affection. We shall be heartily glad to see your short face in Oxford: and since the wisdom of our legislature has been immortalized in your speculations, and our perso anal deformities in some sort by you recorded to all posterity; we hold curselves in gratitude bound to receive, with the highest respect, all such persons as for their extraordinary merit you shall think fit, from time to time, to recommend unto the board. As
The appearance of Lady Mary, a rope-dancer at Bartholomew fair, gave occasion to this proper animad
face betwixt them; and this my worthy
'HUGH GOBLIN, Præses.'
The following letter has not much in it, but as it is written in my own praise, I cannot from my heart suppress it.
SIR,-You proposed in your Spectator of last Tuesday, Mr. Hobbs's hypothesis for solving that very odd phænomenon of laughter. You have made the hypothesis valuable by espousing it yourself; for had it continued Mr. Hobbs's, nobody would have minded it. Now here this perplexed case arises. A certain company laughed very heartily upon the reading of that very paper of yours; and the truth of it is, he must be a man of more than ordinary constancy that could stand out against so much comedy, and not do as we did. Now there are few men in the world so far lost to all good sense, as to look upon you to be a man in a state of folly "inferior to himself."-Pray then how do you justify your hypothesis of laughter?
for the Pictish damsel, we have an easy
"Your most humble,
"Your humble servant,
No. 53.] Tuesday, May 1, 1711.
-Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus,
My correspondents grow so numerous, that I cannot avoid frequently inserting their applications to me.
'MR. SPECTATOR,-I am glad I can in form you, that your endeavours to adorn that sex, which is the fairest part of the visible creation, are well received, and like to prove not unsuccessful. The triumph of Daphne over her sister Lætitia has been the subject of conversation at several tea-tables where I have been present; and I have observed the fair circle not a little pleased to find you considering them as reasonable creatures, and endeavouring to
banish that Mahometan custom, which had the rules of honour and prudence; and too much prevailed even in this island, of have thought it an observation not ill-made, treating women as if they had no souls. that where that was wholly denied, the must do them the justice to say, that there women lost their wit, and the men their seems to be nothing wanting to the finish- good manners. It is, sure, from those iming of these lovely pieces of human nature, proper liberties you mentioned, that a sort besides the turning and applying their am- of undistinguishing people shall banish bition properly, and the keeping them up from their drawing-rooms the best-bred to a sense of what is their true merit. men in the world, and condemn those that Epictetus, that plain, honest philosopher, do not. Your stating this point might, I as little as he had of gallantry, appears to think, be of good use, as well as much have understood them, as well as the po- oblige, sir, your admirer and most humble lite St. Evremont, and has hit this point servant, ANNA BELLA.' very luckily. When young women,' says he, arrive at a certain age, they hear themselves called Mistresses, and are made to believe that their only business is to please the men; they immediately begin to dress, and place all their hopes in the adorning of their persons; it is therefore,' continues he, worth the while to endeavour by all means to make them sensible that the honour paid to them is only upon account of their conducting themselves with virtue, modesty, and discretion.'
No answer to this, till Anna Bella sends bred men in the world. a description of those she calls the best
'MR. SPECTATOR,-I am a gentleman who for many years last past have been well known to be truly splenetic, and that my spleen arises from having contracted so great a delicacy, by reading the best authors, and keeping the most refined company, that I cannot bear the least impropriety of language, or rusticity of behaviour. Now, to pursue the matter yet further, Now, sir, I have ever looked upon this as and to render your cares for the improve- a wise distemper; but by late observations ment of the fair ones more effectual, I find, that every heavy wretch, who has nowould propose a new method, like those thing to say, excuses his dulness by comapplications which are said to convey their plaining of the spleen. Nay, I saw the virtue by sympathy; and that is, that in other day, two fellows in a tavern kitchen order to embellish the mistress, you should set up for it, call for a pint and pipes, and give a new education to the lover, and only by guzzling liquor, to cach other's teach the mehi not to be any longer dazzled health, and by wafting smoke in each by false charms and unreal beauty. I can- other's face, pretend to throw off the not but think that if our sex knew always spleen. I appeal to you whether these how to place their esteem justly, the other dishonours are to be done to the distemper would not be so often wanting to themselves in deserving it. For as the being enamoured with a woman of sense and virtue is an improvement to a man's understanding and morals, and the passion is ennobled by the object which inspires it; so on the other side, the appearing amiable to a man of a wise and elegant mind, carries in itself no small degree of merit and accomplishment. I conclude, therefore, that one way to make the women yet more agreeable is, to make the men more virtuous. I am, sir, your most humble servant, R. B.'
'April 26th. 'SIR,-Yours of Saturday last I read, not without some resentment; but I will suppose, when you say you expect an inundation of ribands and brocades, and to see many new vanities which the women will fall into upon a peace with France, that you intend only the unthinking part of our sex; and what methods can reduce them to reason is hard to imagine.
But, sir, there are others yet, that your instructions might be of great use to, who, after their best endeavours, are sometimes at a loss to acquit themselves to a censorious world. I am far from thinking you can altogether disapprove of conversation between ladies and gentlemen, regulated by
of the great and the polite. I beseech you, sir, to inform these fellows that they have not the spleen, because they cannot talk without the help of a glass at their mouths, or convey their meaning to each other without the interposition of clouds. If you will not do this with all speed, I assure you, for my part, I will wholly quit the disease, and for the future be merry with the vulgar. I am, sir, your humble servant.'
'SIR, This is to let you understand that I am a reformed Starer, and conceived a detestation for that practice from what you have writ upon the subject. But as you have been very severe upon the behaviour of us men at divine service, I hope you will not be so apparently partial to the women, as to let them go wholly unobserved. they do every thing that is possible to attract our eyes, are we more culpable than they, for looking at them? I happened last Sunday to be shut into a pew, which was full of young ladies in the bloom of youth and beauty. When the service began, I had not room to kneel at the confession, but as I stood kept my eyes from wander ing as well as I was able, till one of the young ladies, who is a Peeper, resolved to bring down my looks and fix my devotion on herself. You are to know, sir, that a Peeper works with her hands, eyes, and
'Given at our court in Vinegar-yard, story the third from the earth, April 28, 1711.'
Wednesday, May 2, 1711.
-Strenua nos exercet inertia.
have received from the learned university
fan; one of which is continually in motion,
This Peeper using both fan and eyes, to be considered as a Pict, and proceed accordingly.
'KING LATINUS to the SPECTATor, greeting.
Though some may think we descend from our imperial dignity, in holding correspondence with a private literato; yet as we have great respect to all good intentions for our service, we do not esteem it beneath us to return you our royal thanks for what you have published in our behalf, while under confinement in the enchanted castle of the Savoy, and for your mention of a subsidy for a prince in misfortune. This your timely zeal has inclined the hearts of divers to be aiding unto us, if we could propose the means. We have taken their good-will into consideration, and have contrived a method which will be easy to those who shall give the aid, and not unacceptable to us who receive it. A concert of music shall be prepared at Haberdasher's-hall, for Wednesday the second of May, and we will honour the said entertainment with our own presence, where each person shall be assessed but at two shillings and sixpence. What we expect from you is, that you publish these our royal intentions, with injunction that they be read at all tea-tables within the cities of London and Westminster; and so we bid you heartily farewell.
'LATINUS, King of the Volscians.
tioning no philosophers of this sort. Some
"I have with great pains and industry