No. 298. Monday, February 11, 1712. Steele.

Nusquam Tuta fides.
Virg.

London, Feb. 9, 1711-12.

Mr. SPECTATOR,

I am a Virgin, and in no Case despicable; but yet such as I am I must remain, or else become, tis to be feared, less happy: for I find not the least good Effect from the just Correction you some time since gave, that too free, that looser Part of our Sex which spoils the Men; the same Connivance at the Vices, the same easie Admittance of Addresses, the same vitiated Relish of the Conversation of the greatest of Rakes (or in a more fashionable Way of expressing ones self, of such as have seen the World most) still abounds, increases, multiplies.

The humble Petition therefore of many of the most strictly virtuous, and of my self, is, That you'll once more exert your Authority, and that according to your late Promise, your full, your impartial Authority, on this sillier Branch of our Kind: For why should they be the uncontroulable Mistresses of our Fate? Why should they with Impunity indulge the Males in Licentiousness whilst single, and we have the dismal Hazard and Plague of reforming them when married? Strike home, Sir, then, and spare not, or all our maiden Hopes, our gilded Hopes of nuptial Felicity are frustrated, are vanished, and you your self, as well as Mr. Courtly, will, by smoothing over immodest Practices with the Gloss of soft and harmless Names, for ever forfeit our Esteem. Nor think that I'm herein more severe than need be: If I have not reason more than enough, do you and the World judge from this ensuing Account, which, I think, will prove the Evil to be universal.

You must know then, that since your Reprehension of this Female Degeneracy came out, I've had a Tender of Respects from no less than five Persons, of tolerable Figure too as Times go: But the Misfortune is, that four of the five are professed Followers of the Mode. They would face me down, that all Women of good Sense ever were, and ever will be, Latitudinarians in Wedlock; and always did, and will, give and take what they profanely term Conjugal Liberty of Conscience.

The two first of them, a Captain and a Merchant, to strengthen their Argument, pretend to repeat after a Couple, a Brace of Ladies of Quality and Wit, That Venus was always kind to Mars; and what Soul that has the least spark of Generosity, can deny a Man of Bravery any thing? And how pitiful a Trader that, whom no Woman but his own Wife will have Correspondence and Dealings with? Thus these; whilst the third, the Country Squire, confessed, That indeed he was surprized into good Breeding, and entered into the Knowledge of the World unawares. That dining tother Day at a Gentleman's House, the Person who entertained was obliged to leave him with his Wife and Nieces; where they spoke with so much Contempt of an absent Gentleman for being slow at a Hint, that he had resolved never to be drowsy, unmannerly, or stupid for the future at a Friends House; and on a hunting Morning, not to pursue the Game either with the Husband abroad, or with the Wife at home.

The next that came was a Tradesman, [no [1]] less full of the Age than the former; for he had the Gallantry to tell me, that at a late Junket which he was invited to, the Motion being made, and the Question being put, twas by Maid, Wife and Widow resolved nemine contradicente, That a young sprightly Journeyman is absolutely necessary in their Way of Business: To which they had the Assent and Concurrence of the Husbands present. I dropped him a Curtsy, and gave him to understand that was his Audience of Leave.

I am reckoned pretty, and have had very many Advances besides these; but have been very averse to hear any of them, from my Observation on these above-mentioned, till I hoped some Good from the Character of my present Admirer, a Clergyman. But I find even amongst them there are indirect Practices in relation to Love, and our Treaty is at present a little in Suspence, till some Circumstances are cleared. There is a Charge against him among the Women, and the Case is this: It is alledged, That a certain endowed Female would have appropriated her self to and consolidated her self with a Church, which my Divine now enjoys; (or, which is the same thing, did prostitute her self to her Friends doing this for her): That my Ecclesiastick, to obtain the one, did engage himself to take off the other that lay on Hand; but that on his Success in the Spiritual, he again renounced the Carnal.

I put this closely to him, and taxed him with Disingenuity. He to clear himself made the subsequent Defence, and that in the most solemn Manner possible: That he was applied to and instigated to accept of a Benefice: That a conditional Offer thereof was indeed made him at first, but with Disdain by him rejected: That when nothing (as they easily perceived) of this Nature could bring him to their Purpose, Assurance of his being entirely unengaged before-hand, and safe from all their After-Expectations (the only Stratagem left to draw him in) was given him: That pursuant to this the Donation it self was without Delay, before several reputable Witnesses, tendered to him gratis, with the open Profession of not the least Reserve, or most minute Condition; but that yet immediately after Induction, his insidious Introducer (or her crafty Procurer, which you will) industriously spread the Report, which had reached my Ears, not only in the Neighbourhood of that said Church, but in London, in the University, in mine and his own County, and where-ever else it might probably obviate his Application to any other Woman, and so confine him to this alone: And, in a Word, That as he never did make any previous Offer of his Service, or the least Step to her Affection; so on his Discovery of these Designs thus laid to trick him, he could not but afterwards, in Justice to himself, vindicate both his Innocence and Freedom by keeping his proper Distance.

This is his Apology, and I think I shall be satisfied with it. But I cannot conclude my tedious Epistle, without recommending to you not only to resume your former Chastisement, but to add to your Criminals the Simoniacal Ladies, who seduce the sacred Order into the Difficulty of either breaking a mercenary Troth made to them whom they ought not to deceive, or by breaking or keeping it offending against him whom they cannot deceive. Your Assistance and Labours of this sort would be of great Benefit, and your speedy Thoughts on this Subject would be very seasonable to,

SIR, Your most obedient Servant, Chastity Loveworth.

T.

[Footnote 1: [nor]]

Translation of motto:
VIRG. AEn. iv. 373.
'Honour is nowhere safe.'