No. 250. Monday, December 17, 1711.

Disce docendus adhuc, quæ censet amiculus, ut si Cæcus iter monstrare velit; tamen aspice si quid Et nos, quod cures proprium fecisse, loquamur.


You see the Nature of my Request by the Latin Motto which I address to you. I am very sensible I ought not to use many Words to you, who are one of but few; but the following Piece, as it relates to Speculation in Propriety of Speech, being a Curiosity in its Kind, begs your Patience. It was found in a Poetical Virtuosos Closet among his Rarities; and since the several Treatises of Thumbs, Ears, and Noses, have obliged the World, this of Eyes is at your Service.

The first Eye of Consequence (under the invisible Author of all) is the visible Luminary of the Universe. This glorious Spectator is said never to open his Eyes at his Rising in a Morning, without having a whole Kingdom of Adorers in Persian Silk waiting at his Levée. Millions of Creatures derive their Sight from this Original, who, besides his being the great Director of Opticks, is the surest Test whether Eyes be of the same Species with that of an Eagle, or that of an Owl: The one he emboldens with a manly Assurance to look, speak, act or plead before the Faces of a numerous Assembly; the other he dazzles out of Countenance into a sheepish Dejectedness. The Sun-Proof Eye dares lead up a Dance in a full Court; and without blinking at the Lustre of Beauty, can distribute an Eye of proper Complaisance to a Room crowded with Company, each of which deserves particular Regard; while the other sneaks from Conversation, like a fearful Debtor, who never dares [to] look out, but when he can see no body, and no body him.

The next Instance of Opticks is the famous Argus, who (to speak in the Language of Cambridge) was one of an Hundred; and being used as a Spy in the Affairs of Jealousy, was obliged to have all his Eyes about him. We have no Account of the particular Colours, Casts and Turns of this Body of Eyes; but as he was Pimp for his Mistress Juno, tis probable he used all the modern Leers, sly Glances, and other ocular Activities to serve his Purpose. Some look upon him as the then King at Arms to the Heathenish Deities; and make no more of his Eyes than as so many Spangles of his Heralds Coat.

The next upon the Optick List is old Janus, who stood in a double-sighted Capacity, like a Person placed betwixt two opposite Looking-Glasses, and so took a sort of retrospective Cast at one View. Copies of this double-faced Way are not yet out of Fashion with many Professions, and the ingenious Artists pretend to keep up this Species by double-headed Canes and Spoons [1]; but there is no Mark of this Faculty, except in the emblematical Way of a wise General having an Eye to both Front and Rear, or a pious Man taking a Review and Prospect of his past and future State at the same Time.

I must own, that the Names, Colours, Qualities, and Turns of Eyes vary almost in every Head; for, not to mention the common Appellations of the Black, the Blue, the White, the Gray, and the like; the most remarkable are those that borrow their Title[s] from Animals, by Vertue of some particular Quality or Resemblance they bear to the Eyes of the respective Creature[s]; as that of a greedy rapacious Aspect takes its Name from the Cat, that of a sharp piercing Nature from the Hawk, those of an amorous roguish Look derive their Title even from the Sheep, and we say such a[n] one has a Sheep's Eye, not so much to denote the Innocence as the simple Slyness of the Cast: Nor is this metaphorical Inoculation a modern Invention, for we find Homer taking the Freedom to place the Eye of an Ox, Bull, or Cow in one of his principal Goddesses, by that frequent Expression of

[Greek: Boôpis pótnia haerae--][2]

Now as to the peculiar Qualities of the Eye, that fine Part of our Constitution seems as much the Receptacle and Seat of our Passions, Appetites and Inclinations as the Mind it self; and at least it is the outward Portal to introduce them to the House within, or rather the common Thorough-fare to let our Affections pass in and out. Love, Anger, Pride, and Avarice, all visibly move in those little Orbs. I know a young Lady that cant see a certain Gentleman pass by without shewing a secret Desire of seeing him again by a Dance in her Eye-balls; nay, she cant for the Heart of her help looking Half a Streets Length after any Man in a gay Dress. You cant behold a covetous Spirit walk by a Goldsmiths Shop without casting a wistful Eye at the Heaps upon the Counter. Does not a haughty Person shew the Temper of his Soul in the supercilious Rowl of his Eye? and how frequently in the Height of Passion does that moving Picture in our Head start and stare, gather a Redness and quick Flashes of Lightning, and make all its Humours sparkle with Fire, as Virgil finely describes it.

--Ardentis ab ore Scintillæ absistunt: oculis micat acribus ignis. [3]

As for the various Turns of [the] Eye-sight, such as the voluntary or involuntary, the half or the whole Leer, I shall not enter into a very particular Account of them; but let me observe, that oblique Vision, when natural, was anciently the Mark of Bewitchery and magical Fascination, and to this Day tis a malignant ill Look; but when tis forced and affected it carries a wanton Design, and in Play-houses, and other publick Places, this ocular Intimation is often an Assignation for bad Practices: But this Irregularity in Vision, together with such Enormities as Tipping the Wink, the Circumspective Rowl, the Side-peep through a thin Hood or Fan, must be put in the Class of Heteropticks, as all wrong Notions of Religion are ranked under the general Name of Heterodox. All the pernicious Applications of Sight are more immediately under the Direction of a SPECTATOR; and I hope you will arm your Readers against the Mischiefs which are daily done by killing Eyes, in which you will highly oblige your wounded unknown Friend, T. B.


You professed in several Papers your particular Endeavours in the Province of SPECTATOR, to correct the Offences committed by Starers, who disturb whole Assemblies without any Regard to Time, Place or Modesty. You complained also, that a Starer is not usually a Person to be convinced by Reason of the Thing, nor so easily rebuked, as to amend by Admonitions. I thought therefore fit to acquaint you with a convenient Mechanical Way, which may easily prevent or correct Staring, by an Optical Contrivance of new Perspective-Glasses, short and commodious like Opera Glasses, fit for short-sighted People as well as others, these Glasses making the Objects appear, either as they are seen by the naked Eye, or more distinct, though somewhat less than Life, or bigger and nearer. A Person may, by the Help of this Invention, take a View of another without the Impertinence of Staring; at the same Time it shall not be possible to know whom or what he is looking at. One may look towards his Right or Left Hand, when he is supposed to look forwards: This is set forth at large in the printed Proposals for the Sale of these Glasses, to be had at Mr. Dillons in Long-Acre, next Door to the White-Hart. Now, Sir, as your Spectator has occasioned the Publishing of this Invention for the Benefit of modest Spectators, the Inventor desires your Admonitions concerning the decent Use of it; and hopes, by your Recommendation, that for the future Beauty may be beheld without the Torture and Confusion which it suffers from the Insolence of Starers. By this means you will relieve the Innocent from an Insult which there is no Law to punish, tho it is a greater Offence than many which are within the Cognizance of Justice.

I am, SIR,

Your most humble Servant,

Abraham Spy.


[Footnote 1: Apostle spoons and others with fancy heads upon their handles.]

[Footnote 2: The ox-eyed, venerable Juno.]

[Footnote 3: Æn. 12, v. 101.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. 1 Ep. xvii. 3.
'Yet hear what an unskilful friend can say:
As if a blind man should direct your way;
So I myself, though wanting to be taught,
May yet impart a hint that's worth your thought.'