No. 276. Wednesday, January 16, 1712. Steele.

Errori nomen virtus posuisset honestum.


I hope you have Philosophy enough to be capable of bearing the Mention of your Faults. Your Papers which regard the fallen Part of the Fair Sex, are, I think, written with an Indelicacy, which makes them unworthy to be inserted in the Writings of a Moralist who knows the World. I cannot allow that you are at Liberty to observe upon the Actions of Mankind with the Freedom which you seem to resolve upon; at least if you do, you should take along with you the Distinction of Manners of the World, according to the Quality and Way of Life of the Persons concerned. A Man of Breeding speaks of even Misfortune among Ladies without giving it the most terrible Aspect it can bear: And this Tenderness towards them, is much more to be preserved when you speak of Vices. All Mankind are so far related, that Care is to be taken, in things to which all are liable, you do not mention what concerns one in Terms which shall disgust another. Thus to tell a rich Man of the Indigence of a Kinsman of his, or abruptly inform a virtuous Woman of the Lapse of one who till then was in the same degree of Esteem with her self, is in a kind involving each of them in some Participation of those Disadvantages. It is therefore expected from every Writer, to treat his Argument in such a Manner, as is most proper to entertain the sort of Readers to whom his Discourse is directed. It is not necessary when you write to the Tea-table, that you should draw Vices which carry all the Horror of Shame and Contempt: If you paint an impertinent Self-love, an artful Glance, an assumed Complection, you say all which you ought to suppose they can possibly be guilty of. When you talk with this Limitation, you behave your self so as that you may expect others in Conversation may second your Raillery; but when you do it in a Stile which every body else forbears in Respect to their Quality, they have an easy Remedy in forbearing to read you, and hearing no more of their Faults. A Man that is now and then guilty of an Intemperance is not to be called a Drunkard; but the Rule of polite Raillery, is to speak of a Man's Faults as if you loved him. Of this Nature is what was said by Cæsar: When one was railing with an uncourtly Vehemence, and broke out, What must we call him who was taken in an Intrigue with another Man's Wife? Cæsar answered very gravely, A careless Fellow. This was at once a Reprimand for speaking of a Crime which in those Days had not the Abhorrence attending it as it ought, as well as an Intimation that all intemperate Behaviour before Superiors loses its Aim, by accusing in a Method unfit for the Audience. A Word to the Wise. All I mean here to say to you is, That the most free Person of Quality can go no further than being [a kind [1]] Woman; and you should never say of a Man of Figure worse, than that he knows the World.

I am, SIR, Your most humble Servant, Francis Courtly.

Mr. SPECTATOR, I am a Woman of an unspotted Reputation, and know nothing I have ever done which should encourage such Insolence; but here was one the other Day, and he was dressed like a Gentleman too, who took the Liberty to name the Words Lusty Fellow in my Presence. I doubt not but you will resent it in Behalf of,

SIR, Your Humble Servant, CELIA.

Mr. SPECTATOR, You lately put out a dreadful Paper, wherein you promise a full Account of the State of criminal Love; and call all the Fair who have transgressed in that Kind by one very rude Name which I do not care to repeat: But 1 desire to know of you whether I am or I am not of those? My Case is as follows. I am kept by an old Batchelour, who took me so young, that I knew not how he came by me: He is a Bencher of one of the Inns of Court, a very gay healthy old Man; which is a lucky thing for him, who has been, he tells me, a Scowrer, a Scamperer, a Breaker of Windows, an Invader of Constables, in the Days of Yore when all Dominion ended with the Day, and Males and Females met helter skelter, and the Scowrers drove before them all who pretended to keep up Order or Rule to the Interruption of Love and Honour. This is his way of Talk, for he is very gay when he visits me; but as his former Knowledge of the Town has alarmed him into an invincible Jealousy, he keeps me in a pair of Slippers, neat Bodice, warm Petticoats, and my own Hair woven in Ringlets, after a Manner, he says, he remembers. I am not Mistress of one Farthing of Money, but have all Necessaries provided for me, under the Guard of one who procured for him while he had any Desires to gratify. I know nothing of a Wench's Life, but the Reputation of it: I have a natural Voice, and a pretty untaught Step in Dancing. His Manner is to bring an old Fellow who has been his Servant from his Youth, and is gray-headed: This Man makes on the Violin a certain Jiggish Noise to which I dance, and when that is over I sing to him some loose Air, that has more Wantonness than Musick in it. You must have seen a strange window'd House near Hide-Park, which is so built that no one can look out of any of the Apartments; my Rooms are after that manner, and I never see Man, Woman, or Child, but in Company with the two Persons above-mentioned. He sends me in all the Books, Pamphlets, Plays, Operas and Songs that come out; and his utmost Delight in me as a Woman, is to talk over old Amours in my Presence, to play with my Neck, say the Time was, give me a Kiss, and bid me be sure to follow the Directions of my Guardian (the above-mentioned Lady) and I shall never want. The Truth of my Case is, I suppose, that I was educated for a Purpose he did not know he should be unfit for when I came to Years. Now, Sir, what I ask of you, as a Casuist, is to tell me how far in these Circumstances I am innocent, though submissive; he guilty, though impotent? I am, SIR, Your constant Reader, PUCELLA.

To the Man called the SPECTATOR.

Friend, Forasmuch as at the Birth of thy Labour, thou didst promise upon thy Word, that letting alone the Vanities that do abound, thou wouldst only endeavour to strengthen the crooked Morals of this our Babylon, I gave Credit to thy fair Speeches, and admitted one of thy Papers, every Day save Sunday, into my House; for the Edification of my Daughter Tabitha, and to the end that Susannah the Wife of my Bosom might profit thereby. But alas, my Friend, I find that thou art a Liar, and that the Truth is not in thee; else why didst thou in a Paper which thou didst lately put forth, make mention of those vain Coverings for the Heads of our Females, which thou lovest to liken unto Tulips, and which are lately sprung up amongst us? Nay why didst thou make mention of them in such a seeming, as if thou didst approve the Invention, insomuch that my Daughter Tabitha beginneth to wax wanton, and to lust after these foolish Vanities? Surely thou dost see with the Eyes of the Flesh. Verily therefore, unless thou dost speedily amend and leave off following thine own Imaginations, I will leave off thee.

Thy Friend as hereafter thou dost demean thyself, Hezekiah Broadbrim.


[Footnote 1: [an unkind]]

Translation of motto:
HOR. 1 Sat. iii. 42.
'Misconduct screen'd behind a specious name.'