No. 266. Friday, January 4, 1712. Steele.

Id vero est, quod ego mihi puto palmarium, Me reperisse, quomodo adolescentulus Meretricum ingenia et mores possit noscere: Mature ut cum cognórit perpetuo oderit.
Ter. Eun. Act. 5, Sc. 4.

No Vice or Wickedness which People fall into from Indulgence to Desire[s] which are natural to all, ought to place them below the Compassion of the virtuous Part of the World; which indeed often makes me a little apt to suspect the Sincerity of their Virtue, who are too warmly provoked at other Peoples personal Sins. The unlawful Commerce of the Sexes is of all other the hardest to avoid; and yet there is no one which you shall hear the rigider Part of Womankind speak of with so little Mercy. It is very certain that a modest Woman cannot abhor the Breach of Chastity too much; but pray let her hate it for her self, and only pity it in others. WILL. HONEYCOMB calls these over-offended Ladies, the Outragiously Virtuous.

I do not design to fall upon Failures in general, with relation to the Gift of Chastity, but at present only enter upon that large Field, and begin with the Consideration of poor and publick Whores. The other Evening passing along near Covent-Garden, I was jogged on the Elbow as I turned into the Piazza, on the right Hand coming out of James-street, by a slim young Girl of about Seventeen, who with a pert Air asked me if I was for a Pint of Wine. I do not know but I should have indulged my Curiosity in having some Chat with her, but that I am informed the Man of the Bumper knows me; and it would have made a Story for him not very agreeable to some Part of my Writings, though I have in others so frequently said that I am wholly unconcerned in any Scene I am in, but meerly as a Spectator. This Impediment being in my Way, we stood [under [1]] one of the Arches by Twilight; and there I could observe as exact Features as I had ever seen, the most agreeable Shape, the finest Neck and Bosom, in a Word, the whole Person of a Woman exquisitely Beautiful. She affected to allure me with a forced Wantonness in her Look and Air; but I saw it checked with Hunger and Cold: Her Eyes were wan and eager, her Dress thin and tawdry, her Mein genteel and childish. This strange Figure gave me much Anguish of Heart, and to avoid being seen with her I went away, but could not forbear giving her a Crown. The poor thing sighed, curtisied, and with a Blessing, expressed with the utmost Vehemence, turned from me. This Creature is what they call newly come upon the Town, but who, I suppose, falling into cruel Hands was left in the first Month from her Dishonour, and exposed to pass through the Hands and Discipline of one of those Hags of Hell whom we call Bawds. But lest I should grow too suddenly grave on this Subject, and be my self outragiously good, I shall turn to a Scene in one of Fletchers Plays, where this Character is drawn, and the Oeconomy of Whoredom most admirably described. The Passage I would point to is in the third Scene of the second Act of The Humorous Lieutenant. Leucippe who is Agent for the Kings Lust, and bawds at the same time for the whole Court, is very pleasantly introduced, reading her Minutes as a Person of Business, with two Maids, her Under-Secretaries, taking Instructions at a Table before her. Her Women, both those under her present Tutelage, and those which she is laying wait for, are alphabetically set down in her Book; and as she is looking over the Letter C, in a muttering Voice, as if between Soliloquy and speaking out, she says,

Her Maidenhead will yield me; let me see now; She is not Fifteen they say: For her Complexion--- Cloe, Cloe, Cloe, here I have her, Cloe,_ the Daughter of a Country Gentleman; Here Age upon Fifteen. Now her Complexion, A lovely brown; here tis; Eyes black and rolling, The Body neatly built; she strikes a Lute well, Sings most enticingly: These Helps consider'd, Her Maidenhead will amount to some three hundred, Or three hundred and fifty Crowns, twill bear it handsomly. Her Fathers poor, some little Share deducted, To buy him a Hunting Nag_--

These Creatures are very well instructed in the Circumstances and Manners of all who are any Way related to the Fair One whom they have a Design upon. As Cloe is to be purchased with [350] [2] Crowns, and the Father taken off with a Pad; the Merchants Wife next to her, who abounds in Plenty, is not to have downright Money, but the mercenary Part of her Mind is engaged with a Present of Plate and a little Ambition. She is made to understand that it is a Man of Quality who dies for her. The Examination of a young Girl for Business, and the crying down her Value for being a slight Thing, together with every other Circumstance in the Scene, are inimitably excellent, and have the true Spirit of Comedy; tho it were to be wished the Author had added a Circumstance which should make Leucippe's Baseness more odious.

It must not be thought a Digression from my intended Speculation, to talk of Bawds in a Discourse upon Wenches; for a Woman of the Town is not thoroughly and properly such, without having gone through the Education of one of these Houses. But the compassionate Case of very many is, that they are taken into such Hands without any the least Suspicion, previous Temptation, or Admonition to what Place they are going. The last Week I went to an Inn in the City to enquire for some Provisions which were sent by a Waggon out of the Country; and as I waited in one of the Boxes till the Chamberlain had looked over his Parcel, I heard an old and a young Voice repeating the Questions and Responses of the Church- Catechism. I thought it no Breach of good Manners to peep at a Crevice, and look in at People so well employed; but who should I see there but the most artful Procuress in the Town, examining a most beautiful Country-Girl, who had come up in the same Waggon with my Things, Whether she was well educated, could forbear playing the Wanton with Servants, and idle fellows, of which this Town, says she, is too full: At the same time, Whether she knew enough of Breeding, as that if a Squire or a Gentleman, or one that was her Betters, should give her a civil Salute, she should curtsy and be humble, nevertheless. Her innocent forsooths, yess, and't please yous, and she would do her Endeavour, moved the good old Lady to take her out of the Hands of a Country Bumpkin her Brother, and hire her for her own Maid. I staid till I saw them all marched out to take Coach; the brother loaded with a great Cheese, he prevailed upon her to take for her Civilities to [his] Sister. This poor Creatures Fate is not far off that of hers whom I spoke of above, and it is not to be doubted, but after she has been long enough a Prey to Lust she will be delivered over to Famine; the Ironical Commendation of the Industry and Charity of these antiquated Ladies[, these] [3] Directors of Sin, after they can no longer commit it, makes up the Beauty of the inimitable Dedication to the Plain-Dealer, [4] and is a Masterpiece of Raillery on this Vice. But to understand all the Purleues of this Game the better, and to illustrate this Subject in future Discourses, I must venture my self, with my Friend WILL, into the Haunts of Beauty and Gallantry; from pampered Vice in the Habitations of the Wealthy, to distressed indigent Wickedness expelled the Harbours of the Brothel.


[Footnote 1: [under in]]

[Footnote 2: fifty]

[Footnote 3: [. These]]

[Footnote 4: Wycherley's Plain-Dealer having given offence to many ladies, was inscribed in a satirical billet doux dedicatory To My Lady B .]

Translation of motto:
TER. Eun. Act v. Sc. 4.
'This I conceive to be my master-piece, that I have discovered how
unexperienced youth may detect the artifices of bad women, and by
knowing them early, detest them for ever.'