No. 252. Wednesday, December 19, 1711. Steele.

Erranti, passimque oculos per cuncta ferenti.
Virg. [1]


I am very sorry to find by your Discourse upon the Eye, 1 that you have not thoroughly studied the Nature and Force of that Part of a beauteous Face. Had you ever been in Love, you would have said ten thousand things, which it seems did not occur to you: Do but reflect upon the Nonsense it makes Men talk, the Flames which it is said to kindle, the Transport it raises, the Dejection it causes in the bravest Men; and if you do believe those things are expressed to an Extravagance, yet you will own, that the Influence of it is very great which moves Men to that Extravagance. Certain it is, that the whole Strength of the Mind is sometimes seated there; that a kind Look imparts all, that a Years Discourse could give you, in one Moment. What matters it what she says to you, see how she looks, is the Language of all who know what Love is. When the Mind is thus summed up and expressed in a Glance, did you never observe a sudden Joy arise in the Countenance of a Lover? Did you never see the Attendance of Years paid, over-paid in an Instant? You a SPECTATOR, and not know that the Intelligence of Affection is carried on by the Eye only; that Good-breeding has made the Tongue falsify the Heart, and act a Part of continual Constraint, while Nature has preserved the Eyes to her self, that she may not be disguised or misrepresented. The poor Bride can give her Hand, and say, I do, with a languishing Air, to the Man she is obliged by cruel Parents to take for mercenary Reasons, but at the same Time she cannot look as if she loved; her Eye is full of Sorrow, and Reluctance sits in a Tear, while the Offering of the Sacrifice is performed in what we call the Marriage Ceremony. Do you never go to Plays? Cannot you distinguish between the Eyes of those who go to see, from those who come to be seen? I am a Woman turned of Thirty, and am on the Observation a little; therefore if you or your Correspondent had consulted me in your Discourse on the Eye, I could have told you that the Eye of Leonora is slyly watchful while it looks negligent: she looks round her without the Help of the Glasses you speak of, and yet seems to be employed on Objects directly before her. This Eye is what affects Chance-medley, and on a sudden, as if it attended to another thing, turns all its Charms against an Ogler. The Eye of Lusitania is an Instrument of premeditated Murder; but the Design being visible, destroys the Execution of it; and with much more Beauty than that of Leonora, it is not half so mischievous. There is a brave Soldiers Daughter in Town, that by her Eye has been the Death of more than ever her Father made fly before him. A beautiful Eye makes Silence eloquent, a kind Eye makes Contradiction an Assent, an enraged Eye makes Beauty deformed. This little Member gives Life to every other Part about us, and I believe the Story of Argus implies no more than that the Eye is in every Part, that is to say, every other Part would be mutilated, were not its Force represented more by the Eye than even by it self. But this is Heathen Greek to those who have not conversed by Glances. This, Sir, is a Language in which there can be no Deceit, nor can a Skilful Observer be imposed upon by Looks even among Politicians and Courtiers. If you do me the Honour to print this among your Speculations, I shall in my next make you a Present of Secret History, by Translating all the Looks of the next Assembly of Ladies and Gentlemen into Words, to adorn some future Paper. I am, SIR, Your faithful Friend, Mary Heartfree.

Dear Mr. SPECTATOR, I have a Sot of a Husband that lives a very scandalous Life, and wastes away his Body and Fortune in Debaucheries; and is immoveable to all the Arguments I can urge to him. I would gladly know whether in some Cases a Cudgel may not be allowed as a good Figure of Speech, and whether it may not be lawfully used by a Female Orator. Your humble Servant, Barbara Crabtree.


Though I am a Practitioner in the Law of some standing, and have heard many eminent Pleaders in my Time, as well as other eloquent Speakers of both Universities, yet I agree with you, that Women are better qualified to succeed in Oratory than the Men, and believe this is to be resolved into natural Causes. You have mentioned only the Volubility of their Tongue; but what do you think of the silent Flattery of their pretty Faces, and the Perswasion which even an insipid Discourse carries with it when flowing from beautiful Lips, to which it would be cruel to deny any thing? It is certain too, that they are possessed of some Springs of Rhetorick which Men want, such as Tears, fainting Fits, and the like, which I have seen employed upon Occasion with good Success. You must know I am a plain Man and love my Money; yet I have a Spouse who is so great an Orator in this Way, that she draws from me what Sum she pleases. Every Room in my House is furnished with Trophies of her Eloquence, rich Cabinets, Piles of China, Japan Screens, and costly Jars; and if you were to come into my great Parlour, you would fancy your self in an India Ware-house: Besides this she keeps a Squirrel, and I am doubly taxed to pay for the China he breaks. She is seized with periodical Fits about the Time of the Subscriptions to a new Opera, and is drowned in Tears after having seen any Woman there in finer Cloaths than herself: These are Arts of Perswasion purely Feminine, and which a tender Heart cannot resist. What I would therefore desire of you, is, to prevail with your Friend who has promised to dissect a Female Tongue, that he would at the same time give us the Anatomy of a Female Eye, and explain the Springs and Sluices which feed it with such ready Supplies of Moisture; and likewise shew by what means, if possible, they may be stopped at a reasonable Expence: Or, indeed, since there is something so moving in the very Image of weeping Beauty, it would be worthy his Art to provide, that these eloquent Drops may no more be lavished on Trifles, or employed as Servants to their wayward Wills; but reserved for serious Occasions in Life, to adorn generous Pity, true Penitence, or real Sorrow. I am, &c.


[Footnote 1: quis Temeros oculus mihi fascinat Agnos.--Virg.]

[Footnote 2: This letter is by John Hughes.]

Translation of motto:
VIRG. AEn. ii. 570.
'Exploring every place with curious eyes.'