No. 175. Thursday, September 20, 1711. Budgell.

Proximus à tectis ignis defenditur ágre:'
Ov. 'Rem. Am.'

I shall this Day entertain my Readers with two or three Letters I have received from my Correspondents: The first discovers to me a Species of Females which have hitherto escaped my Notice, and is as follows.

Mr. SPECTATOR,

'I am a young Gentleman of a competent Fortune, and a sufficient Taste of Learning, to spend five or six Hours every Day very agreeably among my Books. That I might have nothing to divert me from my Studies, and to avoid the Noises of Coaches and Chair-men, I have taken Lodgings in a very narrow Street, not far from Whitehall; but it is my Misfortune to be so posted, that my Lodgings are directly opposite to those of a Jezebel. You are to know, Sir, that a Jezebel (so call'd by the Neighbourhood from displaying her pernicious Charms at her Window) appears constantly dress'd at her Sash, and has a thousand little Tricks and Fooleries to attract the Eyes of all the idle young Fellows in the Neighbourhood. I have seen more than six Persons at once from their several Windows observing the Jezebel I am now complaining of. I at first looked on her my self with the highest Contempt, could divert my self with her Airs for half an Hour, and afterwards take up my Plutarch with great Tranquillity of Mind; but was a little vexed to find that in less than a Month she had considerably stoln upon my Time, so that I resolved to look at her no more. But the Jezebel, who, as I suppose, might think it a Diminution to her Honour, to have the Number of her Gazers lessen'd, resolved not to part with me so, and began to play so many new Tricks at her Window, that it was impossible for me to forbear observing her. I verily believe she put her self to the Expence of a new Wax Baby on purpose to plague me; she us'd to dandle and play with this Figure as impertinently as if it had been a real Child: sometimes she would let fall a Glove or a Pin Cushion in the Street, and shut or open her Casement three or four times in a Minute. When I had almost wean'd my self from this, she came in her Shift-Sleeves, and dress'd at the Window. I had no Way left but to let down my Curtains, which I submitted to, though it considerably darkned my Room, and was pleased to think that I had at last got the better of her; but was surpriz'd the next Morning to hear her talking out of her Window quite cross the Street, with another Woman that lodges over me: I am since informed, that she made her a Visit, and got acquainted with her within three Hours after the Fall of my Window Curtains.

Sir, I am plagued every Moment in the Day one way or other in my own Chambers; and the Jezebel has the Satisfaction to know, that, tho' I am not looking at her, I am list'ning to her impertinent Dialogues that pass over my Head. I would immediately change my Lodgings, but that I think it might look like a plain Confession that I am conquer'd; and besides this, I am told that most Quarters of the Town are infested with these Creatures. If they are so, I am sure 'tis such an Abuse, as a Lover of Learning and Silence ought to take notice of.

I am, SIR, Yours, &c.'

I am afraid, by some Lines in this Letter, that my young Student is touched with a Distemper which he hardly seems to dream of and is too far gone in it to receive Advice. However, I shall animadvert in due time on the Abuse which he mentions, having my self observed a Nest of Jezebels near the Temple, who make it their Diversion to draw up the Eyes of young Templars, that at the same time they may see them stumble in an unlucky Gutter which runs under the Window.

Mr. SPECTATOR,

'I have lately read the Conclusion of your forty-seventh Speculation upon Butts with great Pleasure, and have ever since been thoroughly perswaded that one of those Gentlemen is extreamly necessary to enliven Conversation. I had an Entertainment last Week upon the Water for a Lady to whom I make my Addresses, with several of our Friends of both Sexes. To divert the Company in general, and to shew my Mistress in particular my Genius for Raillery, I took one of the most celebrated Butts in Town along with me. It is with the utmost Shame and Confusion that I must acquaint you with the Sequel of my Adventure: As soon as we were got into the Boat, I played a Sentence or two at my Butt which I thought very smart, when my ill Genius, who I verily believe inspir'd him purely for my Destruction, suggested to him such a Reply, as got all the Laughter on his Side. I was clashed at so unexpected a Turn; which the Butt perceiving, resolved not to let me recover my self, and pursuing his Victory, rallied and tossed me in a most unmerciful and barbarous manner 'till we came to Chelsea. I had some small Success while we were eating Cheese-Cakes; but coming Home, he renewed his Attacks with his former good Fortune, and equal Diversion to the whole Company. In short, Sir, I must ingenuously own that I was never so handled in all my Life; and to compleat my Misfortune, I am since told that the Butt, flushed with his late Victory, has made a Visit or two to the dear Object of my Wishes, so that I am at once in danger of losing all my Pretensions to Wit, and my Mistress [into [1]] the Bargain. This, Sir, is a true Account of my present Troubles, which you are the more obliged to assist me in, as you were your self in a great measure the Cause of them, by recommending to us an Instrument, and not instructing us at the same time how to play upon it.

I have been thinking whether it might not be highly convenient, that all Butts should wear an Inscription affixed to some Part of their Bodies, shewing on which Side they are to be come at, and that if any of them are Persons of unequal Tempers, there should be some Method taken to inform the World at what Time it is safe to attack them, and when you had best to let them alone. But, submitting these Matters to your more serious Consideration,

I am, SIR, Yours, &c.'

I have, indeed, seen and heard of several young Gentlemen under the same Misfortune with my present Correspondent. The best Rule I can lay down for them to avoid the like Calamities for the future, is thoroughly to consider not only Whether their Companions are weak, but Whether themselves are Wits.

The following Letter comes to me from Exeter, and being credibly informed that what it contains is Matter of Fact, I shall give it my Reader as it was sent me.

Mr. SPECTATOR,

Exeter, Sept. 7.

'You were pleased in a late Speculation to take notice of the Inconvenience we lie under in the Country, in not being able to keep Pace with the Fashion: But there is another Misfortune which we are subject to, and is no less grievous than the former, which has hitherto escaped your Observation. I mean, the having Things palmed upon us for London Fashions, which were never once heard of there.

A Lady of this Place had some time since a Box of the newest Ribbons sent down by the Coach: Whether it was her own malicious Invention, or the Wantonness of a London Milliner, I am not able to inform you; but, among the rest, there was one Cherry-coloured Ribbon, consisting of about half a Dozen Yards, made up in the Figure of a small Head-Dress. The foresaid Lady had the Assurance to affirm, amidst a Circle of Female Inquisitors, who were present at the opening of the Box, that this was the newest Fashion worn at Court. Accordingly the next Sunday we had several Females, who came to Church with their Heads dress'd wholly in Ribbons, and looked like so many Victims ready to be Sacrificed. This is still a reigning Mode among us. At the same time we have a Set of Gentlemen who take the Liberty to appear in all Publick Places without any Buttons to their Coats, which they supply with several little Silver Hasps, tho' our freshest Advices from London make no mention of any such Fashion; and we are something shy of affording Matter to the Button-Makers for a second Petition. [2]

What I would humbly propose to the Publick is, that there may be a Society erected in London, to consist of the most skilful Persons of both Sexes, for the Inspection of Modes and Fashions; and that hereafter no Person or Persons shall presume to appear singularly habited in any Part of the Country, without a Testimonial from the foresaid Society, that their Dress is answerable to the Mode at London. By this means, Sir, we shall know a little whereabout we are.

If you could bring this Matter to bear, you would very much oblige great Numbers of your Country Friends, and among the rest,

Your very Humble Servant, Jack Modish.

X.

[Footnote 1: in]

[Footnote 2: In 1609 the Button-Makers sent a petition to Parliament, which produced the Act of the 8th year of Anne (1709), framed because

'the maintenance and subsistence of many thousands of men, women and children depends upon the making of silk, mohair, gimp, and thread buttons, and button-holes with the needle,' and these have been ruined by 'a late unforeseen practice of making and binding button-holes with cloth, serge,' &c.]

Translation of motto:
OVID, Rem. Am. v. 625.
'To save your house from neighb'ring fire is hard.'
(Tate).